Safe in the Seat

Why Do Car Seats Get Recalled

Like other baby items, car seats sometimes experience recalls. These seat recalls can be scary for you as a parent. But, in reality, recalls aren’t that common. And, often when car seats are recalled, it’s a simple fix. Furthermore, if they do need a full replacement, you’ll receive support from the car seat manufacturer for that switch. 

But, why do car seats get recalled? Simply put, car seats are recalled because of an oversight. Something on the seat is found not to meet federal car seat requirements. This oversight could be related to any of the car seat features, even something as simple as a missing label—not always crash performance. So, don’t stress, but keep your eye out for recalls and make sure your car seat is registered. This way, you’ll be notified of any safety issues! 

To fully explore the topic of car seat recalls, we’ve listed the main reasons car seats get recalled:

Why Do Car Seats Get Recalled?

Crash Performance Issues 

First up, manufacturers sometimes do recalls because of unexpected poor crash testing. When the car seats fail to perform under minimum federal safety standards, a recall will be issued to replace the car seat or the defective part. 

In the past, car seats have been recalled due to faulty strap webbing, weak infant car seat bases, and poor frame construction—all of which could mean disaster in the event of a crash. In other cases, some have inaccurately listed weight limits and are recalled because of that. 

Poor crash performance is just one reason a seat might be recalled, but, of course, it’s a really important factor! Safety in a motor vehicle accident is the number one reason we utilize car seats. So every child restraint system needs to meet the highest standards. If a car seat is recalled due to a crash performance issue, you will most likely be told to stop using it until the manufacturer can provide a fix—which could be a simple replacement part. Like new strap webbing; an official change in the limits or rules for the car seat; or potentially a whole new seat.

General Safety Issues

Sometimes car seats are recalled because of safety concerns that don’t have to do with crash performance. Choking hazards are a big reason car seats are recalled. Whether it’s due to chipping pieces of foam, peeling stickers, or brittle plastic. 

If you have a car seat manufactured to go with a travel system, they might recall the seat because of safety issues with the seat in stroller mode. Additionally, cracking and breaking of an infant car seat handle or canopy structure over time could warrant a recall. There are a lot of potential safety concerns with such a vital piece of equipment, even outside of their crash safety function!

This is important to understand, because if your car seat is recalled due to a non-crash-related safety issue, you might need to change how you use your seat even out of the car. A fall from a stroller or a choking incident from accessible styrofoam can be devastating! Even if the car seat manufacturer states that your car seat is still usable in your vehicle while you wait for them to address the problem, it’s important to pay attention to these potential safety hazards and fix them right away.

Missing Required Materials 

Car seat reading material and labels must contain certain information. If the information is unclear or missing, the manufacturer may issue a recall. 

These recalls would not require a full replacement of your car seat, of course. Instead, you’d receive the missing labels or an updated manual in the mail. And usually, you can still use your seat like normal while you wait!

Parts Not Working As Intended

A manufacturer may do a recall because the parts don’t function appropriately. If the car seat is too difficult to attach to the base or unbuckle, it could easily be recalled. Car seats manufactured to be in a stroller might also be recalled due to difficult latching into the stroller. 

If straps are too hard to tighten or the infant carrier handle doesn’t move properly, those could also be recall-worthy problems. These aren’t directly crash safety related. But could have safety consequences if they keep caregivers from buckling their child correctly!

Car seats are recalled for a variety of reasons, including poor functionality, safety issues, and missing information. 

Hopefully this article hasn’t scared you, but informed you! Remember, car seat recalls are rare. Still, it’s a good idea to keep your eye out for recalls. But in the meantime, continue to use your car seat confidently. You can take a look at the ongoing recall lists on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.

Really, a much bigger issue with car seats is incorrect use. But, this is a stressor you can eliminate by meeting with a Child Passenger Safety Technician – a professional who can educate you on all things related to your car seat. With these two resources, you can know without a doubt that your child is safe in their seat!

Also, make sure your child’s seat is registered with the manufacturer, so you are notified of all recalls without the need for extra research and legwork. You can find your registration card with your new seat. Then, you just need the model name, manufacturer name, model number, and date of manufacture to register your seat. For more information on car seat registration, check out this post!

If you do need a replacement seat, head over to our Car Seat Buying Kits for more info on selecting the right stage for your kiddo.

If you found this information helpful, definitely check out our blog for more on car seat safety. Safe in the Seat is a community that helps educate parents on one of the most important safety purchases they’ll ever make—their child’s car seat! We have courses, videos, and consults to make sure you have the utmost confidence in your child’s safety in your car. Drive with peace with all of us here at Safe in the Seat!

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