Graco is recalling 403,222 more child car seats over a potentially deadly downside to their buckles.
The maker of child products announced Thursday it would add the seats to last month’s recall of more than 3.8 million car seats since they have the same buckles, which have been difficult or impossible to unlatch in certain situations.
But that may not be the final of the recall. The federal agency that regulates vehicle safety wants Graco to recall an additional 1.8 million car seats it says are at risk of developing the same problem. So far, Graco has refused.
Already, at approximately 4.2 million car seats, the recall is the fourth-largest in history for child seats. If the disputed seats are eventually added, the recall would be the largest ever.
In a written statement, Graco attributed the down sides to dried juices or food that may gunk in the mechanism. The organization said customers are experiencing perception and frustration issues, not mechanical ones.
caregivers and Parents have disputed that finding, saying the defect is much more serious. In more than 6,100 complaints reviewed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they’ve said the buckles can be difficult and even impossible to unlatch. Occasionally, children have already been trapped in their car seats until parents either cut the straps or called 911 for further help.
In a minimum of one case, parents allege the problem caused the death of a child. The company is a named defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit filed in California, in which the plaintiff says that a Graco car seat was extremely difficult to unlatch after a vehicle accident, and that two-year-old Leiana Ramirez died in a ensuing car fire.
NHTSA has asked company officials to submit an explanation on why the latest batch of recalled seats weren’t contained in the original announcement by March 20.
Michael Polk, the CEO of Newell Rubbermaid, parent company of Graco, did not react to a ask for comment Friday. A spokesperson for the company said, within a written statement, as we have suggested all along, these buckles have gone through substantial testing that far exceed the government requirements, and they are effective and safe in restraining children.
A statement of the company’s corporate principles on its website says it encourages employees to make an effect, to take action and responsibility.
In a written filing with NHTSA, it had expanded the recall to include more seats manufactured before 2009. The recalled seats include several models produced through 2013. Consequently, the company has redesigned the latch.
Models currently under recall include: Toddler Convertible Car Seats, Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride 70, Size4Me 70, My Size 70, Head Wise 70, Smart Seat, harnessed Booster Seats, Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Elite, Nautilus Plus, Argos, Argos 70 Elite, Ready Ride and Step 2.
On the list of 1.8 million child car seats still disputed, Graco says they are safe for parents to use. NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation disagrees. In a written statement, it advises parents to use a substitute car seat for transporting children until their Graco child car seat is fixed.