Atlanta-based Graco Children’s Products Inc. issued a voluntary recall this past Tuesday that included close to 3.7 million child car seats due to a malfunctioning seat belt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has declared Graco’s recall the fourth-largest child car seat recall in United States history.
According to Graco’s Harness Buckle Recall announcement, toddler convertible car seats and harnessed booster seats manufactured between 2009 and July 2013 have been recalled after the company “identified that food and dried liquids that can make some harness buckles progressively more difficult to open over time or become stuck in the latched position.” At this point, Graco and the NHTSA have not received an injury reports involved with faulty car seats; however, both have received complaints of harness buckles becoming stuck.
Graco has included 11 of the 18 car seat models it manufactures which would have cost consumers between $99 and $400. Recalled models include toddler convertible car seats: 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; harnessed booster seats: Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Elite, and Argos. Consumers who contact Graco regarding a car seat malfunction will receive a new and improved harness buckle free of charge.
A report from the NHTSA claims that harness buckles stuck in the latched position can increase a child’s risk of injury in the event of an accident, fire, or other emergency. In some cases consumers have even been forced to cut harness straps in order to free their child from the restraints. Graco estimated that less than one percent of car seat models named in the recall was affected by a malfunctioning harness buckle, The Associated Press reported.
In a letter to Graco, the NHTSA also criticized the company for not including the seven models left out of the recall. The U.S. government’s highway safety regulator said the recall should include an additional 1.8 million car seats, making it the largest car seat recall in U.S. history. The NHTSA also "encourages parents and caregivers to consider acquiring an alternative car seat for transporting children until their Graco seat is fixed."