Graco is recalling nearly 3.8 million car safety seats because children can be trapped, but is refusing to recall seven other infant seat models, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall notice shows.
The buckles may not unlatch, making it difficult to remove the child from the seat. That increases the risk of injury in a crash, fire, or other emergency when a speedy exit from the vehicle is required. (Click on photo at right for larger image and specs.)
"NHTSA's investigation will remain open pending its evaluation of the Graco recall and until the Agency's consideration of the review of the 7 remaining seat models is completed," the agency said in a statement.
That means the agency and company will continue to negotiate whether a recall is warranted for the infant seats, a disagreement that could wind up in court if it proves contentious.
Graco has not responded to requests for comment.
The child seat recall covers 11 models sold from 2009 through 2013.
NHTSA says it has at least 80 complaints about the seats. Parents said they had to use excessive force to unlatch the harness buckle. In some cases, the straps even had to be cut to free children.
Graco said in a letter to NHTSA that it had been monitoring the performance of the buckles since 2009 and had given owners advice on how to use and clean them and offered replacement buckles.
The recalled models include Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride with Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size 4 Me 70, Smartseat, Nautilus, Nautilus Elite and Argos 70.
Graco hasn't told NHTSA yet how it will fix the seats or when it will notify owners. Consumers can contact Graco at 1-800-345-4109 (toll-free).