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Recaro ProSport Recall: What to Do for Owners

Recaro ProSportToday NHTSA issued a recall of the Recaro Prosport, following a non-compliance notice issued in April. We have more details about the performance related non-compliance issue in our earlier blog.  The details of the recall notice from NHTSA can be found here.  Affected are all 39,181 Recaro ProSport model #385 child restraints, manufactured from June 16, 2010, through January 31, 2013.  Recaro will notify registered owners and will provide, at no cost, a label to affix over the existing information label and a complete set of new instructions informing owners to discontinue use of the LATCH system when the weight of the child reaches 40 pounds. The campaign is expected to begin during August 2014. Owners may contact Recaro at 1-888-973-2276.

ProSport II and Performance Sport models are NOT affected, as we are told these newer models were introduced after a design change effective from February 1, 2013. The updated Performance Sport model continues to be one of our Recommended Carseats.

If you are a current ProSPORT owner, we suggest taking the following steps to ensure that your child is well protected in a crash until you receive an official recall notification/remedy from Recaro:

  • DO NOT use the lower LATCH anchors for installation above 40 pounds
  • DO read the instruction manual and labels that came with your ProSport (or any updated replacements sent by Recaro) and make sure you are installing it correctly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • DO tether the seat at all times, Recaro now recommends that you ALWAYS use the top tether when using the ProSPORT with a 5-point harness*
  • DO install the seat with a lap/shoulder seatbelt if your child weighs more than 40 lbs.
  • DO register your seat with Recaro or update your registration information if you have moved since you first bought the seat.

* Previously Recaro USA limited top tether use to 52 pounds.  I have confirmed that, “There is an official change that allows tether use up to the maximum weight limits of the RECARO combination seat models. RECARO also recommends always using the top tether with a forward-facing seat using an internal harness, and this would be retroactive.”  Please contact Recaro USA for additional guidance on this issue.

Recaro USA makes the following statement:

Dear Valued RECARO ProSPORT Owner,

This notice is in accordance with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. RECARO Child Safety, LLC has determined that the RECARO ProSPORT child restraints manufactured from June 16th, 2010 to January 31st, 2013 fail to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 571.213 Child Restraint Systems. Our records indicate that you have either submitted registration for, or contacted our customer service team, regarding a ProSPORT manufactured in this period.

The ProSPORT failed to meet required head excursion limits set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when tested with a 52 pound, 6-year old dummy and installed with a LATCH belt only, no top tether. Not using the top tether could result in an increased risk of head impact in the event of a crash and also contradicts the ProSPORT instruction manual that came with your child restraint.

In this repair kit, you will find a label, instructions on how to affix the label, and a new instruction manual to repair your child restraint. The label and instruction manual advise you not only to ALWAYS use the top tether when using the ProSPORT with a 5-point harness, but also to discontinue using the loweranchors/LATCH strap when your child reaches 40 pounds. The combined weight of your child and the ProSPORT should not exceed 65 pounds, as newly required by NHTSA in the FMVSS 213 standard for seats manufactured after February 27th, 2014. Discontinuing the use of LATCH when your child reaches 40 pounds updates your older ProSPORT to the new 2014 FMVSS 213 standard, and eliminates the risk posed by installation with LATCH belt only, no tether.

If you have any questions regarding the recall or this repair kit, please email info-usa@recaro-cs.com or call our customer service team at 1-888-9RECARO.

If you would like to submit a complaint to the Administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you can reach them by mail at 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., Washington, DC 20590, by phone at1-888-327-4236, or via the web at http://www.safercar.gov.

Sincerely,
RECARO Child Safety, LLC

More on New Britax Advocate, Marathon and Boulevard ClickTight: Sneak Peek Review

PrintWith the announcement of the ClickTight Installation System in the 2015 models of the Marathon, Boulevard, and Advocate convertible carseats, Britax has indeed introduced a Game Changer into the convertible carseat market. Gone are the days of huffing and puffing and yanking on seat belts and LATCH straps to get carseats installed tightly. As technicians in the field, we know a loose install is one of the top 2 mistakes we’re going to see in a vehicle when it comes to a checkup event.  ClickTight was a big deal with the Frontier 90 and is just as big of a deal for any carseat rated above 40 pounds or so, due to new federal standards limiting the use of the LATCH system.

Britax ClickTight convertibles

Do these convertibles hold the cure for all possible misuse? Of course not. There may be some incompatibilities and the price may put it out of reach for many families but we can’t make advances in child passenger safety without advances in technology and those advances often come with a hefty price tag – at least initially.  For that price tag, you also get increased height limits and a 10-year expiration date, so there is some value added!

Kecia, our lucky reporter in the field, got to touch and feel and see these cool new seats.  We will have a full review coming in September.  For now, she took a ton of pictures for us and a video and reports that baby Jack fits beautifully in the new Marathon without the lower body insert (see pics). With the lower body insert, the bottom harness slot measures about 6.5″.

 

20" doll in Marathon CT - no lower insert needed  20" doll in Marathon CT - no lower insert needed  Marathon CT lowest harness ht measurement - with lower body insert

These pics below show the preemie doll using the lower body insert. The Britax convertibles are rated from 5 lbs. to 40 lbs. rear-facing, so our 4 lb. Huggable Images preemie doll is too small to fit in any of them, but Kecia wanted to get an idea of harness slot fit.

CTMApreemiefront  CTMApreemieside

 

Installation:

Comparisons

The Marathon CT is going to be a smaller seat for Britax while the Boulevard CT and Advocate CT have a growth spurt (see photos below).

Britax Marathon, Boulevard & Advocate ClickTight Preview: Game Changers for Installation, and Rear-Facing Too?

marathonct

Britax Marathon CT

Amazon.com spilled the beans earlier this week, so you may have already heard the news.  Britax is introducing a new line of convertible carseats with their patented, ultra-simple seatbelt installation system.  These models with ClickTight are new designs from the ground up and have some important other differences too.  The current “G4″ Convertible lineup will continue to be sold at present price points alongside the somewhat more expensive ClickTight models.  That is great news because the Britax G4 convertible models have a great LATCH installation system and fit into small spaces very well.  Check out our review of the Britax Advocate G4 and stay tuned for our full review of the Britax Boulevard ClickTight next month.

So, you know about ClickTight, but here’s what a lot of advocates and parents really want to know.  First, when can you get one?  Britax plans to begin shipping to stores in the first week of September, with product appearing on many virtual and brick&mortar shelves by mid-to-late September.  And second, what are the height limits?!  Are they a “gamechanger” or a dud?

The new Britax Marathon ClickTight is only modestly taller than the current Marathon G4.  The top harness slot height increases from 17.5″ to 17.7″ and the top seated shoulder height from 16.75″ to 16.95″.  The overall standing height limit increases from 49″ to 50″ tall.   The rear-facing height limit will also increase slightly, to over 25″ tall to a point 1″ from the top of the shell.  Basically, pretty similar (but slightly larger) than the Marathon G4 overall, with the main addition of the great ClickTight installation system.

Now the BIG news: The Britax Boulevard ClickTight and Advocate ClickTight get a significant height increase!  The top harness slot height increases from 17.5″ to 19.5″, among the highest for current convertibles.  The seated shoulder height increases from 16.75″ to 18.65″ tall in the top adjustment.  The standing height limit is raised from 49″ to 54″ tall.

Britax Advocate ClickTight

Click To Enlarge

Perhaps the biggest news of the day, these two models will no longer use the top of the outer shell as their reference level for rear-facing height limits!  That limit will now reference 1″ from the top of the inner head restraint “shell” instead.  That point is defined as roughly 1″ below the red adjustment lever for the harness height adjustment. Please keep in mind that these are approximate measurements from a final prototype, but the estimated usable rear-facing height limit should be almost 28″ tall for the Boulevard and Advocate with the head restraint in the highest position.  Bam!  (Editors note: this limit appears to be closer to 27″ tall with our measurements).

Other notable changes?  They all have an new 7-position recline system with an automatic level indicator.   The Marathon gets a 12-position harness height adjustment, while the Boulevard/Advocate have a 14-position adjustment.  All have two crotch strap positions, similar to current G4 models.  The Pavilion G4 model is being phased out, and the Click & Safe harness tension adjustment system will now be standard on all Boulevard models.  These new ClickTight convertibles are a lot heavier than the G4 models, due to the ClickTight system and steel reinforced shell.  They are a little bigger as well, so they won’t be as handy for travel than the non-ClickTight G4 models.  And, of course, there new fashions! Stay tuned for video and more photos later today.

Consumer Reports Updates Convertible Carseat Ratings – July 2014

CR rockThe updated ratings on convertible carseats are published and the results are going to make some people happy and others not so happy. There’s just no way around that. Parents who already own top-rated convertible seats are going to be happy while those that own seats at the bottom of the lists may be less-than-pleased. Some may even question whether they made a mistake buying “X” carseat instead of “Y” carseat.

Before we get to the CR top rated picks, let’s talk about what the “BEST” convertible carseat is. We say this all the time as Child Passenger Safety Technicians, but it’s the truth, hence why it’s repeated so often. The BEST carseat is the one that fits your vehicle (installs tightly), fits your child (is appropriate for their age/weight/height), and that you can use correctly on every single ride. And of course it needs to fit your wallet too. The best carseat is not necessarily the most expensive carseat you can (or can’t) afford. And it’s not necessarily the carseat that matches the rest of your nursery collection or the one that everyone raves about online.

While we think our Recommended Carseats list is a great place to start, the seats on our list aren’t going to work for everyone and every situation. Remember – what works best for *your* child in *your* vehicle might not be the best choice for your sister or your neighbor or your friend, and that’s important. For example, a loosely installed carseat or one where you can’t easily adjust the harness to be snug on your child is not safe. A convertible carseat that doesn’t fit rear-facing in your car is not going to be the best choice for your child either.

The Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison – Size Matters!

It’s important to point out that this round of ratings is based on crash test results using their previous testing methodology (30 mph, FMVSS 213 standard bench, testing with 3-point lap/shoulder seatbelt or LATCH and no blocker plate). Convertible seat testing with their new crash test methodology is underway, but those results will not be published until some time early next year. For more info on Consumer Reports’ new crash testing program please see our previous blog on the subject:

The Safest Infant Carseats? New Crash Protection Ratings and Methods from Consumer Reports

Currently CR evaluates carseats on several points, including fit-to-vehicle, ease-of-usage, price and crash test performance. We can’t comment on specific scores but after our meeting with CR last year, we do have a general idea of how their ratings are assigned within these categories.

They brake down the convertible carseat ratings into 3 categories:

  • Convertible seats rated to 40 lbs.
  • Convertible seats rated to weights higher than 40 lbs. (what we call “higher-weight harness” convertibles)
  • All-in-One seats that can be used rear-facing, forward-facing and also as a belt-positioning booster.

In the up to 40 lbs. category, the Cosco Scenera, Scenera 40RF, Cosco Apt 40RF and Safety 1st onSide Air were their top rated picks. I don’t think the Scenera 40 RF is still being made or sold anywhere but the “regular” Cosco Scenera, the Cosco Apt 40RF and the Safety 1st onSide Air are all widely available and they are all budget-friendly seats (under $100) too. Just don’t expect them to fit your child for as long as larger competitors. These are basic, budget-friendly seats for infants and toddlers that should last many kids until at least age 3 and some to age 4. They also make great travel seats.

Cosco SceneraCosco Apt 40 RFSafety 1st onSide Air - stock

In the over 40 lbs. category, the Chicco NextFit is the top rated convertible seat followed closely by the entire Britax convertible lineup – Britax Advocate G4, Britax Boulevard G4, Britax Pavilion G4, Britax Marathon G4 and Britax Roundabout G4. The Britax Roundabout G4 and the Evenflo SureRide were rated as “Best Buys” because they offer good value for their price but they also received good scores in all categories.

Chicco NextFit - blogBritax Advocate G4 - OnyxBritax roundabout G4 - onyx

In the “All-in-One” category – the Evenflo Symphony was the top rated seat among the 5 models tested.

Evenflo Sym65 - Ocala

You can find their newest ratings on convertible seats at their website, www.consumerreports.org. Unfortunately, you have to be a paid subscriber to see the full ratings report.