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News: Combi Coccoro Convertible Carseat Safety Recall

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Grape CoccoroCombi has issued a recall for all Coccoro convertible car seats whose models numbers begin with 8220 and were manufactured between January 2009 and June 2016. When installed in a forward-facing position with only a lap belt (and not tethered), the seats might transfer too much force to the child occupant’s chest, thereby failing to meet FMVSS 213 standards for Chest Gs. To remedy this problem, Combi will send owners of affected seats a cover to place on the bottom of the seat.

There are potentially 39,395 Coccoro seats affected by this recall. Individual affected model numbers are listed below:

Combi             Coccoro          8220104                      Hazelnut

Combi             Coccoro          8220105                      Licorice

Combi             Coccoro          8220102                      Carrot Cake

Combi             Coccoro          822062                        Keylime

Combi             Coccoro          822099                        Cool Mint

Combi             Coccoro          8220103                      Strawberry Shake

Combi             Coccoro          8220100                      Cherry Pie

Combi             Coccoro          8220101                      Chestnut

Combi             Coccoro          8220105A                   Licorice

Combi             Coccoro          8220102A                   Carrot Cake

Combi             Coccoro          822062A                     Key Lime

Combi             Coccoro          8220100A                   Cherry Pie

Combi             Coccoro          8220101A                   Chestnut

Combi             Coccoro          8220134                      Grape

The model/serial number can be found on a sticker on the bottom of the Coccoro.

combi label

The fix appears to be a rigid cover that owners will screw onto the bottom of the seat. Here are the instructions for the piece, which should be available around August 15, 2016.

combi fix

If you have an affected seat:

The seats failed when tested in the forward-facing position using only a lap belt. If you’re using the seat rear-facing (with a lap belt, lower anchors, or a lap-shoulder belt), you can continue safely using the seat. You can also continue using the seat if it’s forward-facing if it’s installed with a lap-shoulder belt, or with any method (including lap-only belt) if the top tether is used.

If you’re using the seat forward-facing with just a lap belt, attach the top tether (if available) or move the Coccoro to another seating position where a tether anchor or lap-shoulder belt is available. If that’s not possible, we recommend discontinuing use of the seat until you receive the fix kit.

It is not clear whether this recall also applies to seats being used forward-facing with just the lower anchors and no top tether. The top tether should always be used forward-facing, but the reality is that some people don’t attach it. If you’re using this seat (or any seat) forward-facing with the lower anchors, make sure you attach the top tether as well.

Combi’s letter to consumers and replacement instructions can be found here, and owners can register their seats here. If you have already registered your seat with Combi, you should automatically receive notification, but it can’t hurt to register again just in case.

Full text of the recall from NHTSA:

Report Receipt Date: JUL 05, 2016
NHTSA Campaign Number: 16C006000
Component(s): CHILD SEAT
Potential Number of Units Affected: 39,395
Manufacturer: Combi USA, Inc.
SUMMARY:

Combi USA, Inc. (Combi) is recalling certain Coccoro Convertible Child Restraints, model number 8220, manufactured January 1, 2009, to June 29, 2016. When the Coccoro car seat is installed in a forward facing position and only secured with the vehicle’s lap belt, excessive force may be transmitted to the car seat occupant in the event of a crash, increasing their risk of injury. As such, these child seats fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 213, “Child Restraint Systems.”

CONSEQUENCE:

In the event of a crash, the seat occupant is at an increased risk of injury.

REMEDY:

Combi will notify owners, and provide them with a cover to be added to the bottom of the seat, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in July 2016. Owners may contact Combi customer service at 1-888-232-3294, or by going to http://registration.combiusa.com/recall. Combi’s number for this recall is 610. Note: This recall does not affect the use of the Coccoro child restraint when it is installed in a rearward-facing position.

NOTES:

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

New from Nuna: RAVA Convertible and AACE Booster

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Iberry aacet’s been two years since the Nuna Pipa infant seat arrived, and now Nuna is adding to its family with a new convertible seat and a new booster seat.

While we haven’t seen them in person yet, both seats appear to be sleek and stylish, plus full of safety features, just like the popular Pipa. Here are the details on both.indigo rava

The Nuna Rava convertible car seat features a 50-lb rear-facing weight limit, making it one of a handful of seats with such a high capacity. It also features two “True Tension Doors” (one for rear-facing, one for forward-facing), which are panels that clamp down on top of the seatbelt, making for an easy and tight installation. A retractable Calf Support Panel adds extra legroom for rear-facing and provides extra support for forward-facing kids.

Rava Features:

  • Rear-facing from 5-50 lbs. and 49 inches or less
  • Forward-facing from 25-65 pounds, 49 inches or less, and suggested age of at least 2 years old
  • True Tension panels for easy installation
  • Retractable Calf Support Panel
  • Bubble-free recline—recline angle guides confirm the perfect riding angle
  • Energy-absorbing foam and side-impact protection pods
  • One-hand, no-rethread harness
  • Steel frame and reinforced belt path
  • Ten-position head support
  • Ten-position recline (five for forward-facing, five for rear-facing)
  • Two crotch buckle positions
  • Removable infant inserts (for babies 5-11 lbs)
  • Dual, flip-open cupholders that tuck away when not needed
  • Ventilation panels within the shell
  • Breathable, machine-washable fabric
  • Premium LATCH connectors
  • LATCH weight limits: 35 lbs rear-facing, 40 lbs forward-facing (Nuna prefers a seatbelt install)
  • Certified for airplane use
  • 10-year expiration

The Nuna Aace booster seat is a high-back booster that also converts to a backless booster. It features backless Aacerigid LATCH connectors to hold the seat in the car, which can help it from becoming a projectile in a crash. The seat’s shoulder wings adjust out as the headrest is raised, allowing for a more comfortable fit as kids grow. The Aace also features a three-position expandable seat depth to accommodate growing legs.nuna aace growth

Aace Features:

  • High-back limits: 40-110 lbs, 38-60 inches, minimum age of 4 years
  • Backless limits: 50-120 lbs, 38-60 inches, minimum age of 5 years
  • Rigid LATCH
  • One-hand, 9-position heigh adjustment
  • Shoulder system moves in/out in tandem with the height adjustment
  • Three seat depths
  • Eight recline positions (when used as high-back with rigid LATCH)
  • Energy-absorbing foam and side-impact protection pods
  • Removable, dishwasher-safe cupholder (additional cupholder available separately)
  • Ventilation panels and breathable, machine-washable cover
  • LATCH guides for easy lower anchor attachment
  • 10-year expiration

Both seats will be available in a range of solid colors: Slate, Indigo, Berry, and Caviar.

Rava lineup Aace lineup

The Aace booster seat is scheduled to start shipping to retailers Friday, July 15. Shipping for the Rava convertible is still to be determined, but we will update when we hear more.

Collapsing Vehicle Seat Backs: What Can You Do?

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nhtsa collapseIf you’ve paid attention to the news during the past year or two, you’ve probably come across some stories about front vehicle seats collapsing in crashes. In some cases, drivers and backseat passengers—including children—have been killed. Clearly, this is a potentially important safety matter, and one that an outlet like CarseatBlog should tackle, which we haven’t done until now.

It’s not that we haven’t noticed; it’s that usually when a subject like this comes up, there’s some kind of relatively easy way to avoid the problem. This one, like the Takata Airbag issue, is tough to write about because so much is out of a consumer’s power to avoid it. But we’ll try.

Basically, this is an issue of seat strength. In some rear-end crashes, especially high-speed ones, front vehicle seats have been found to collapse backwards. This can cause injuries to the front seat occupant, from “simple” whiplash to more extreme injuries like paralysis or death when the occupant ramps upward and hits the back seat or another part of the car. It’s also possible for people to be ejected backwards.

Clearly, a front seat collapsing also becomes a hazard for anyone riding behind that seat. There have been fatalities due to the front seat collapsing onto a rear passenger.

Because of reporting procedures, it’s hard to get an exact number on the amount of fatalities caused by collapsing seat backs. One expert interviewed by CBS news says that seat backs collapse (though not necessarily fatally) every day. That same report says that at the time of the story, nine children were known to have died due to collapsing seat backs. In another CBS report, a spokesman for The Center for Auto Safety, a consumer protection organization, says that 50 children a year are killed that way. Clearly there is a huge discrepancy between 50 per year and nine in an unknown timeframe, and I don’t know if anyone has definitive answers.

NHTSAThe National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and vehicle manufacturers have been aware of this problem for decades. CBS’s 60 Minutes first tackled the issue back in 1992. According to one of the recent CBS reports, back in 1992 a man named Paul Sheridan was in charge of a minivan safety team at Chrysler. He knew about the problem of seats collapsing and tried to take steps to research and correct it, but Chrysler instead dismantled his team and withheld evidence. At the time (remember, this is 1992) NHTSA said it would look into the issue. Nearly 25 years later, nothing has changed.

NHTSA and manufacturers claim that current seat backs meet or exceed the federal standard (FMVSS 207) for seat strength, and that’s probably true. The problem is that the standard was established in 1967 and has not been updated since then. Also, the test is static not dynamic (meaning that seats are exposed to a long pull of increasing resistance rather than a sudden change of force, like what happens in a real-life crash).

It’s not FMVSS 207 that the seats are failing. Where they’re found failing (other than in real life) is in FMVSS 301, which tests fuel system integrity. According to this article (admittedly from a law firm that specializes in crash lawsuits) in the crash tests for FMVSS 301, “almost all bucket seatbacks and split bench seatbacks fail and strike the rear seats.”

I was unable to access the source they used, but I did find a report submitted to NHTSA from SAFE Laboratories, an independent research and crash testing facility. That report showed of 21 tests, nearly all resulted in the seats collapsing. It said, “Although all of the above vehicles incorporated FVMSS 207 compliant seats, when loaded dynamically in a rear impact these seats consistently failed to prevent occupant excursion into the rear compartment and potentially injurious impacts with rear structures or rear seated occupants.”

nhtsa collapse 2How has NHTSA responded to the increased media attention surrounding seat failures? Essentially by saying it’s not a problem. They say there’s not enough data to demonstrate a real-world benefit to changing the standard for seat strength.

As for vehicle manufacturers, strengthening the seat backs would cost money. How much? Well, in a 1996 deposition, a General Motors engineer said the cost to strengthen the seat backs would be about a dollar.

The Warner family, interviewed by CBS, lost their toddler in a crash when the father’s seat back collapsed on her. That father said he imagines almost anyone would be willing to pay another $50 for their vehicle if it meant their seats wouldn’t collapse on their children.

The study I referenced above from SAFE Laboratories showed that adding a second recliner to seats limited how much the seats would pivot in a crash, thereby making them more stable. I’m not sure if that’s the fix the GM engineer referred to, but there are likely many possible solutions.

What You Can Do

There’s no surefire solution to this one, but here are some things that might help.

Keep children rear-facing as long as possible

Rear-facing is safer overall, and the vast majority of crashes are frontal collisions (vs. the rear collisions where the seat backs are collapsing). It’s hard to say how much of a difference it would make for a child to be rear-facing vs. forward-facing if a seat back collapses on them, but it’s possible that a rear-facing child restraint might offer some additional protection if it’s able to stop the front seat back or keep tClek Fllo Addie RFhe child’s body contained within the shell. It’s also possible that the child restraint wouldn’t be strong enough to make a difference, but at least there’s that possibility.

(On that note, I have seen at least one instance where a forward-facing child was killed due to a known/suspected seat back collapse, and the immediate response of some safety advocates was that it wouldn’t have happened if the child had been rear-facing. First of all, we have no way of knowing whether that’s true. Second, that places blame where it doesn’t belong. The child might have been saved by a rear-facing seat, but the child almost definitely would have been saved if the front seat hadn’t collapsed in the first place.)

Keep children in the back seat

Some people are going to panic and think “The back seat is too dangerous now! Better move the kids to the front!” I understand the sentiment, but please don’t do that. The back seat is still the safest place for children. The front seat comes with its own dangers, for example airbags designed for adults (or ones that could malfunction) potentially hurting children. The vast majority of car crashes are frontal collisions, putting those front seat passengers closer to the point of impact. Also, if a child were to be sitting in the front seat and that seat collapses, the child is still likely to be injured.

Put children behind unoccupied seats

I sort of hesitate to recommend something that’s not an “official” recommendation from the CPST curriculum, but in this case I think it makes sense, when practical. In March, the Center for Auto Safety petitioned NHTSA to warn parents not to seat their children behind occupied front seats. (As far as I know, NHTSA has not yet responded and probably won’t. After all, if the agency implements that recommendation, it would essentially be admitting that collapsing seats are enough of a problem to warrant a warning. If it’s serious enough to need a warning, it’s serious enough to need fixing, which NHTSA has said isn’t the case.)

If you’re concerned, though, and if you have the room, it’s a logical solution to place children in seating positions where there isn’t an occupant in front of them. Of course, unless you have only one child (and sometimes not even then), that’s not always possible or practical.

I don’t want to see this become an official recommendation because it’s one that’s just too hard for most people to follow. But when the question of “Which side is safer: the driver’s side or passenger side?” comes up, maybe it can help to take the presence of front passengers into consideration.

Select certain brands when buying a new car

According to this CBS report, their experts state that BMW, Mercedes, and Volvo have stronger seats than their competitors. They don’t provide information to back up or explain those claims, so possibly take that with a grain of salt.

Keep calm

I know it’s a scary thought. No one wants to think about their child being killed by a collapsing seat, especially when there are already so many other dangers out there, and especially when there’s often no way to avoid a child sitting behind an occupied seat. Remember that these seat failures are occurring in rear-impact crashes. Rear-impacts are usually very low speed and account for far fewer fatalities than front- and side-impact crashes. The FMVSS 301 testing occurs at 50 mph, far faster than the typical fender-bender in heavy traffic. Although this does seem to be a serious issue that needs action, the odds of a child dying from a seat collapsing are very, very low.

Take action

If you’re concerned about this, take action. Write to your elected representatives and to NHTSA and push for a change in the standard. Write to your vehicle manufacturer to express your concern and demand that they increase the strength of their seat backs. Manufacturers know that money talks—make them listen.

Mifold Grab and Go Booster Review – Honey, they shrunk the booster!

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2016 mifold Grab and Go Booster Review

mifold stockFor months, the internet has been buzzing about the mifold Grab and Go booster seat, an innovative and extremely portable booster seat. CarseatBlog previewed a prototype at the ABC Kids Expo back in October, which you can read about here.

We have an actual sample now, and we’re ready to give a full review.

Specifications:

  • Weight range: 40-100 lbs.
  • Height range: 40-57 inches
  • Age: At least 4 years old
  • Vehicle head support required to the top of child’s ears

Measurements:

  • Depth: 8.25 inches
  • Internal width: 10-14 inches
  • External width: 11-14.75 inches
  • Shoulder belt guide: About 20″ of usable height

 

mifold guides 1 mifold guides 2 mifold guides 3

Folded (for storage) the mifold measures 9.5″ x 4.5″ x 2″, about the size of a clutch purse. Here’s what it looks like compared to my wallet.

mifold wallet

Fit to Child

In our preview from October we showed an adult “using” the mifold in a chair with seatbelt webbing, but obviously we were excited to try it with real kids in real vehicles!

The lower belt guides have four positions: one all the way in for storage, and three of varying widths for different sized kids. You should use the setting that is closest to, but not touching, the child’s thighs. My tiny, very skinny 7-year-old needed the middle setting.

Here’s how the mifold worked with some of our models.

Here is my 7-year-old in our 2014 Honda Civic:

mifold civic 1 mifold civic 2

Here she is in the captain’s chair of our 2010 Honda Odyssey: