The government and Graco Children's Products Inc., a popular maker of child safety seats, have announced a recall of more than 3.7 million car seats in what is the fourth-largest recall of these products ever.
Graco is recalling 11 of 18 car seat models that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says should have their buckling mechanism replaced. According to Graco, when food and liquid spills into the harness buckle and dries, the device can become difficult to unlatch, which could be dangerous in an emergency situation.
NHTSA, however, dismisses this explanation and says the problem is the result of a safety defect in the latches used by the company from 2009 to 2013. In a January letter to Graco obtained Tuesday by ABC News, NHTSA requested the car seat recall, citing 135 complaints received about the troublesome car seats since October 2012. The last complaint was reported Jan. 8, 2014.
Additionally, NHSTA says Graco has received 6,100 complaints. Of those, 74 customers said they had to cut the harness to remove their child from the seat.
The seat models included in the recall are as follows:
The seven remaining models not included in the recall are the following rear facing infant seats:
NHTSA says the remaining seven safety seats should be recalled as well.
Graco has stopped using its "proprietary latch" last May and switch to another supplier, the letter notes. The new supplier's harness buckle will replace the recalled seats.