Graco Car Seat Recall

16115680_lOn February 11, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that Graco was voluntarily recalling 11 models of its car seats. The recall affects over 3.7 million units. All of the recalled seats are toddler seats, but the NHTSA had requested that seven other models be recalled, which would expand the recall to include infant models. The problem is with the harness buckle which can become difficult or impossible to unlatch.

The Danger

According to Graco, the harness buckle defect does not affect the seat’s ability to restrain a child. That is great, but it does not mean the seats are still safe. If you need to get your child out of the vehicle quickly, and the buckle sticks, your child could be injured or killed.

According to the NHTSA, parents who have complained about the defect say they have had to use excessive force, or even cut the straps to get their children out of the seats. That is an unacceptable risk in an emergency such as a vehicle which is on fire, in high water, or in the flow of traffic, or if the child is experiencing a medical emergency and needs CPR.

The recalled models were sold from 2009 through 2013. Graco says the infant sets did not need to be included in the recall because they are designed to be easily detached from their base.

The Solution

Graco will send a free replacement buckle for the recalled seats to parents who request one, and they say they will send them for the infant seats which were not recalled, as well.

Graco also offers tips for cleaning the buckle, and claims that it makes a big difference. That comes across as if the problem is not really with the buckle, but with parents who let their toddlers make a mess.

The company recommends continuing to use the seat while you wait for a replacement buckle, but the NHTSA recommends using an alternative car seat until your harness buckle has been replaced.