Graco is voluntarily recalling 3.7 million child car seats because the harness buckle can become stuck and difficult to release.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Tuesday that Graco is recalling 11 of 18 model seats that the government agency had asked it to recall.
The NHTSA said the red release button in the center of the harness can become difficult to release and become stuck. Concern is that the stuck latch can make it difficult or impossible to remove the child quickly in an emergency.
Graco said it found that "that food and dried liquids can make some harness buckles progressively more difficult to open over time or become stuck in the latched position."
In a statement, Graco said the voluntary recall affects "harness buckles used on all toddler convertible car seats and harnessed booster seats manufactured from 2009 to July 2013."
"This is not a new issue for us," Graco spokeswoman Ashley Mowrey said, noting that all products sold since July don't have the same problem. "We've been working to help consumers for some time now."
The children's products company added that it was offering a "new and improved replacement harness buckle to affected customers at no cost." People can obtain one by calling 800-345-4109 or emailing email@example.com.
Graco’s website also offers tips for cleaning the harness buckle on its website:
- To clean your buckle, turn the restraint over and push the retainer through the harness strap slot. Place the buckle in a cup of warm water and gently agitate the buckle, pressing the red button several times while it is in the water.
- Do not submerge the harness webbing and do not use soaps or lubricants, only rinse the harness buckle with warm water.
- Shake out the excess water and allow the harness buckle to air dry.
- Reattach the harness buckle into the same slot and re-check harness for correct installation according to the car seat manual before use.
The website also has a video online to show consumers how to replace the harness button.
The NHTSA is still investigating Graco’s 7 remaining car seat models to determine if they should be recalled as well.
Graco believes parents should clean the harness button and continue to use the product until a replacement button arrives.
"This does not, in any way, affect the performance of the car seat or the effectiveness of the buckle to restrain a child," the company said.
However, The NHTSA said it "encourages parents and caregivers to consider acquiring an alternative car seat for transporting children until their Graco seat is fixed."
Graco says that no injuries associated with the recalled car seats have been reported.
The recall models include these toddler convertible car seats:
- The Cozy Cline
- Comfort Sport
- Classic Ride 50
- My Ride 65
- My Ride 65 with Safety Surround
- My Ride 70
- Size4Me 70
- My Size 70
- Head Wise 70
- Smart Seat.
The harnessed booster seats that are part of the recall are:
- Nautilus 3-in-1
- Nautilus Elite
According to the government, the seven models that Graco isn't recalling despite being asked to do so by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are all infant seats. Specifically, they are:
- Snugride 30
- Snugride 32
- Infant Safe Seat-Step 1
- Snugride 35
- Tuetonia 35
- Snugride Click Connect 40
Asked about these models, Graco's spokeswoman said that any customers with those or other car seats can still call and get a new harness buckle sent to them for free.
"They are not officially recalled; however, customers experiencing any difficulty with their harness buckle can still get a new one," said Mowrey.
Sources: Greg Botelho, Mike Ahlers, http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/11/us/graco-child-seat-recall/