Child-safety-seat manufacturer Graco is expanding its earlier recall of 3.8 million child-safety seats to include approximately 403,000 more seats, bringing the total number affected by the recall to around 4.2 million, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
At issue is a sticky harness buckle. If food and dried liquids become trapped in the buckle, it can become difficult to unlatch, which poses a safety risk in the event of an emergency exit from the vehicle. The original recall affected harnessed boosters and convertible child-safety seats and the expansion includes more convertibles: certain model-year 2006-2014 versions of the Argos 70 Elite, Ready Ride, Step 2, My Ride 65 with Safety Surround, My Size 70, Head Wise 70 with Safety Surround, Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Plus and Smart Seat with Safety Surround.
Some parents may be wondering why Graco's infant seats, with their similar harness buckle, aren't affected. "Graco SnugRide infant car seats are excluded from this recall because they are uniquely designed to detach from their base for quick release if needed," the company said in a statement.
The manufacturer is sending affected owners buckle repair kits and has stated that consumers can continue using their child-safety seats until the kit arrives. Versions of the seats that are equipped with a square red harness release button already have the new buckle (photo above).
"Graco would like to stress this does not in any way affect the performance of the car seat or the effectiveness of the buckle to restrain the child," the company said in a statement. It also offers the following tips for the cleaning and care of the harness buckles:
- 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 recheck the harness for correct installation according to the car seat manual before use.
Concerned consumers can call Graco at 800-345-4109 for more information. To make sure you're contacted about recalls, register your car seat.