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Graco Issues Massive Recall of Child Car Seats

Posted by copeland on February 17, 2014

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Does your little one ride in a Graco car seat? If so, listen up - Atlanta-based Graco Children's Products Inc. has issued a massive recall of nearly 3.8 million child car safety seats, warning parents that children can get trapped by buckles that won't unlatch. And federal safety regulators are urging the company to recall another 1.8 million rear-facing car seats designed for infants.

As it stands currently, the recall involves 11 models made from 2009 through 2013. Affected models include:

  • Cozy Cline
  • Comfort Sport
  • Classic Ride 50
  • My Ride 65
  • My Ride 70
  • My Ride 65 with Safety Surround
  • Size4Me 70
  • My Size 70
  • Head Wise 70
  • Smart Seat
  • Nautilus 3-in-1
  • Nautilus Elite
  • Argos

The affected units all are front-facing seats designed for toddlers and children. Company officials say the buckles, made by AmSafe Commercial Products Inc. of Elkhart, Indiana, can become harder to use over time, primarily because of food or drink spills that can make the buckle mechanisms sticky. Graco spokeswoman Ashley Mowrey said the company doesn't plan to recall the rear-facing infant seats because infants can't hold food or drinks and, therefore, spills shouldn't happen.

But the National Highway Traffic Transportation Administration, the US government's road safety watchdog, isn't buying that claim. NHTSA officials point out that both the agency and Graco have received numerous complaints of stuck buckles in the infant seats.

"Some of these consumers have had no choice but to resort to the extreme measure of cutting the harness straps to remove their child from the car seat," NHTSA officials wrote in a sternly worded letter released earlier this week. The letter warned that the issue could make it "difficult to remove the child from the restraint, increasing the risk of injury in the event of a vehicle crash, fire or other emergency."

It also accused Graco of downplaying the potential danger and urging the company to delete from its documents "any statements that may lead the public to discount the seriousness of the safety risk presented by this defect."

The NHTSA, which has been investigating reports of problems with the buckles since 2012, has threatened to hold a public forum and force Graco to recall the seven infant car seat models excluded. In the meantime, Graco has issued buckle cleaning tips and already has begun sending replacement buckles to registered buyers of the affected models. They'll send replacement buckles to owners of the excluded infant seats upon request. Those replacements come with instructions, and parents can view an instructional video on the company's website.

If you own one of the affected units and your child has not been injured, contact Graco at 800-345-4109 or consumerservices@gracobaby.com to request a replacement buckle. However, if your child has been injured by use of one of the recalled child seats or the rear-facing infant seats in question, get medical attention immediately. Keep the seat and buckle intact and contact a product liability attorney with Orlando-based Todd E. Copeland & Associates. Reach us at 407-999-8995 in Orlando or 407-847-7277 in Kissimmee.