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Most Car Seats Not Registered, Fixed After a Recall

It’s National Child Passenger Safety Week, so it’s a good time for parents to check their car seats for recalls and to make sure their seat is registered. More than 6 million child-safety seats were recalled in 2014 but less than half of those recalled car seats have been fixed. What’s causing this gap? As it turns out, it’s a simple postage-paid registration card that many parents forget to mail in.

Related: Car Seat Checks

A study by Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization focused on child safety, found that only 42 percent of families fill out and return the car-seat registration card. Eighty percent of parents surveyed said the registration card is important, but only 68 percent knew that the registration card pertains to safety.

Car-seat registration allows the manufacturer to contact owners directly if there’s a recall and send any needed items for repairs. Filling out the registration card should be considered one of the necessary steps of car-seat ownership, along with reading both your car-seat manual and your car’s owner’s manual before installing the seat.

If a car seat isn’t registered, parents have to learn about recalls other ways, and many don’t. In a study of 562 parents with children in car seats and 44 responses from an online bulletin board discussion conducted by Harris Poll, 71 percent of parents said they learned of car-seat recalls through the news; 36 percent heard about recalls via social media and 31 percent said it was family and friends who told them of a recall. Only 19 percent learned of recalls through nonprofit organizations or government agencies. Forty-one percent of parents surveyed said they were alerted to recalls by car-seat manufacturers.

For parents wondering whether they registered their child’s car seat or if it’s been recalled, there are a few things they can do:

Register the Car Seat Online: If parents have misplaced the registration card, simply go to the car-seat manufacturer’s website to register the seat. Parents will need the car seat’s model number and manufacture date, which is found on a label on the car seat.

Check for Recalls: With the car seat’s manufacturer name, model number and manufacture date in hand, parents can look up their car seat using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s tool to see if it’s been recalled. 

Child Passenger Safety Week is also a good time to remind parents about proper car-seat use and installation. Have your installation checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. On Saturday, there will be car seat checks conducted nationwide. Find one in your area here.

At Cars.com, Jennifer Geiger and I are certified child passenger safety technicians, and we use our expertise to cover car-seat news, recalls and reviews as well as conduct Car Seat Checks with test cars at our Chicago headquarters.