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Dorel Extends Useful Life (Expiration) on Most New Carseat & Booster Models

Dorel LogoDorel (parent company to Cosco, Safety 1st, Eddie Bauer & Maxi-Cosi) has increased the useful life, a.k.a. expiration, on many of their products. It is not retroactive, but it does apply to both Canadian and American seats. In line with many other manufacturers increasing the useful life of their products it deflates the theory that expiration dates are there as a ‘cash grab’ designed to make consumers spend more money. If that were true expiration dates would be shrinking!

Looking for expiration dates on seats not listed here?  Expiry dates on products new and old can be found here.

Model Current Expiration Previous Expiration Implementation Date
Alpha Omega Elite 10 years 8 years 15-Dec-13
Apex 10 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Apt 40 RF 8 years 6 years 16-Dec-14
Comfy Carry 8 years 6 years 13-Dec-13
Comfy Carry Base 8 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Designer 22 8 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Boost Air Enroute 10 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Go Hybrid Booster 10 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Highback Booster 10 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Highrise Booster 10 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Mico 8 years 6 years 12-Dec-13
Mico Base 8 years 6 years 15-Dec-13
onBoard 35 8 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Prezi 8 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Pria 10 years 6 years 13-Dec-13
Priori 8 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Pronto 10 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Prospect 10 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Right Way 10 years 6 years 20-Dec-13
Scenera 8 years 6 years 15-Dec-13
Summit 10 years 6 years 1-Jan-14
Summit 65 10 years 6 years 14-Dec-13
Vantage 8 years 6 years 1-Jan-14

Graco Recall Buckle Identification

The easiest way to know whether a 2009-2013 Graco convertible or combination seat is affected by this recent recall is by buckle identification.

If you own a Graco convertible or combination seat model with either of the recalled buckle styles shown below then your model is almost certainly recalled. If you registered your carseat by either mailing in the registration card or by filling out the online registration form then you should automatically receive your replacement buckles in the mail during the next few weeks. If you didn’t register your carseat or if you’re not sure – submit this form to order replacement buckles from Graco.

 

Graco Recall Buckle Identification

 

 

Recommended Child Restraints for CPS Programs

All across the country, CPS programs are trying to get the most bang for their limited bucks. And while cost is an important factor to consider when trying to serve as many families in the community as possible – it shouldn’t be the only consideration. Injury prevention programs need to consider if the child restraints they are purchasing are user-friendly, compatible with most vehicles and work in a variety of scenarios. We’ve complied a list of budget-friendly CRs that we feel comfortable recommending for this purpose.

The specific child restraints on this list were chosen based on multiple factors which include value, versatility, weight/height range, ease of use, ease of installation and in the case of boosters – proper belt fit. 

 

REAR-FACING ONLY SEATS

USA flag - tinySafety 1st Comfy Carry Elite & Safety 1st Comfy Carry Elite Plus (front-adjust models)
Available through Mercury Distributing, Amazon, Walmart.com, Kmart.com, Baby Depot
  • Specs & Features: 4-22 lbs.; up to 29″ tall; front harness adjuster; 4 sets of harness slots; 3 buckle positions; Elite Plus model has 2-position adjustable base; Made in USA
  • Pros: Front harness adjuster (“Elite” & “Elite Plus” models only); rated from 4 lbs. and fits preemies very well; narrow carrier and base; can be installed baseless; lightweight
  • Cons: Only rated to 22 lbs.; plastic compound buckle (aka “puzzle buckle”) is difficult to buckle and unbuckle. Compound buckle not practical for some grandparents or for parents/caregivers who struggle with hand strength issues. “Elite” model lacks recline adjustment feature on the base which may necessitate the use of pool noodle(s) for some installations.
USA flag - tinySafety 1st onBoard 35
Available through Mercury Distributing*, Amazon, Walmart.com, Target.com, Kmart.com, Baby Depot
*Mercury offers onBoard 35 models with adjustable base or with non-adjustable base (you can purchase a stripped-down version that is missing the recline block on the base)
  • Specs & Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; front harness adjuster; 4 sets of harness slots; 3 buckle positions; dual recline angle indicator; 2-position adjustable base; Made in USA
  • Pros: Front harness adjuster; rated from 4 lbs. and fits preemies very well; generous height and weight limits for extended usage (very important for parents who don’t own a vehicle and rely on public transportation/taxis/friends & relatives to get around); can be installed baseless
  • Cons: Tall seat so it takes up a considerable amount of room, especially when installed at the recommended recline for a newborn
Evenflo Embrace 35
Available through Evenflo Institutional Sales, Amazon, Walmart.com
  • Specs & Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 30″ tall; front harness adjuster; 3 sets of harness slots; 3 buckle positions, 3-position adjustable base; Made in China
  • Pros: Front harness adjuster; rated from 4 lbs. and fits preemies very well; can be installed baseless
  • Cons: Handle not allowed to be up in the vehicle but carrier has forward handle position that can be used if space is an issue with putting handle down; requires 1.5″ of clearance with front seat if installed outboard
USA flag - tinyEvenflo Serenade 
Available through Evenflo Institutional Sales
  • Evenflo Serenade-ParsonsSpecs & Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; front harness adjuster; infinite slide harness system; SureLATCH lower anchor connectors; 3-position adjustable base; Made in USA
  • Pros: Front harness adjuster; rated from 4 lbs.; SureLATCH connectors make LATCH installation very simple; Infinite Slide Harness System makes height adjustments quick and easy; can be installed baseless
  • Cons: Handle can’t be up in the vehicle but carrier has forward handle position that can be used if space is an issue with putting handle down; requires 1.5″ of clearance if installed outboard

 

CONVERTIBLE SEATS

USA flag - tinyCosco Scenera 
Available through Mercury Distributing and Walmart
  • Specs & Features: Rear-facing 5-35 lbs., 19-36″; Forward-facing 22-40 lbs., 34-43″; 4 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; Made in USA
  • Pros: Fits average-sized newborns well; sufficient rear-facing height and weight limits to get toddlers to at least 24 months RF; doesn’t take up a lot of room when installed rear-facing; easy to use and generally easy to install; lightweight; relatively narrow
  • Cons: Requires pool noodle(s) to achieve acceptable rear-facing recline angle; single-line rear-facing recline angle indicator

USA flag - tinyEvenflo Tribute 

Available through Evenflo Institutional Sales, Amazon, Walmart.com, Target.comKmart.comBaby Depot
  • Evenflo TributeSpecs & Features: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., 19-37″; Forward-facing 22-40 lbs., 28-40″; 4 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; Made in USA
  • Pros: Sufficient rear-facing height and weight limits to get toddlers to at least 24 months RF; doesn’t take up a lot of room when installed rear-facing; easy to use and generally easy to install; lightweight; narrow
  • Cons: Typically requires pool noodle(s) to achieve acceptable rear-facing recline angle; single-line rear-facing recline angle indicator; not an ideal fit for newborns – bottom harness slots 8″; crotch strap is long
USA flag - tinyEvenflo Titan 65 (aka SureRide)
Available through Evenflo Institutional Sales, AmazonWalmart.comTarget.comBaby Depot
  • Specs & Features: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., 19-40″; Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 28-54″; 6 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; Made in USA
  • Pros: Fits newborns (even small newborns) very well; optional shortened crotch strap position for babies under 10 lbs.; generous rear-facing height and weight limits for extended rear-facing; generous forward-facing height and weight limits for extended usage; easy to use and generally easy to install; lightweight; narrow
  • Cons: Rear-facing recline leg isn’t compatible with pool noodles – if angle is too upright for a young baby a rolled up towel/baby blanket will be necessary to place under the recline leg; single-line rear-facing recline angle indicator; this is a tall seat so it may take up more room when installed rear-facing; large gap between harness slots 3 and 4

 

COMBINATION SEATS

USA flag - tinyEvenflo Maestro
Available through Evenflo Institutional Sales, AmazonWalmart.comTarget.comBaby Depot
  • Specs & Features: Forward-facing with harness 22-50 lbs., 28-50″; Booster 40-110 lbs., 43-57″; 4 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; Made in USA
  • Pros: Generous height and weight limits for harness; most average-sized kids will fit in harness until age 5-6; good belt fit in booster mode; easy to use and generally easy to install; lightweight; institutional model from Evenflo lacks cup holders which helps when you need to fit this seat next to another CR or in a 3-across situation
  • Cons: Outgrown quickly in booster mode; headrest is not height adjustable
USA flag - tinyEvenflo SecureKid
Available through Evenflo Institutional Sales
  • Specs & Features: Forward-facing with harness 22-65 lbs., 28-50″; Booster 40-110 lbs., 43-57″; 4 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; Made in USA
  • Pros: Extra-generous 65 lbs. weight limit for harness; tall top harness slots; good belt fit in booster mode; height-adjustable headrest provides more growing room in booster mode; easy to use and generally easy to install; lightweight; institutional model from Evenflo lacks cup holders which helps when you need to fit this seat next to another CR or in a 3-across situation
  • Cons: Institutional models sold directly from Evenflo have basic hook-style LATCH connectors; retail models of the SecureKid are considerably more expensive and may not be the best choice for programs with limited funding

 

HIGHBACK BOOSTER SEATS

USA flag - tinyEvenflo Amp
Available through Evenflo Institutional Sales, Amazon, Walmart, TargetBaby Depot
  • Specs & Features: With back 30 -110 lbs., 40-57″; Without back 40-110 lbs., 40-57″; 6 height positions; minimum age 4; Made in USA
  • Pros: Dual mode; provides good belt fit on the vast majority of children; easy to assemble; does not require head support from the vehicle
  • Cons: Shallow head wings don’t provide good sleep support; base is wide and boxy
Graco TurboBooster
Available through LBI Distributors, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Baby Depot
  • Specs & Features: With back 30 -100 lbs., 38-57″; Without back 40-100 lbs., 40-57″; 6 height positions; minimum age 3; Made in China
  • Pros: Dual mode; provides good belt fit on the vast majority of children; does not require head support from the vehicle
  • Cons: Complicated assembly required (including a screwdriver); base is wide and boxy

 

BACKLESS BOOSTER SEATS

USA flag - tinyCosco HighRise/Ambassador
Available through Mercury Distributing, AmazonWalmart
  •  Specs & Features:  40-100 lbs., 43-57″; Made in USA

 

USA flag - tinyEvenflo Amp
Available through Evenflo Institutional Sales, Amazon, Target, Walmart, Baby Depot
  •  Specs & Features:  40-110 lbs., 40-57″; minimum age 4; Made in USA

 

Graco Connext with LATCH
Available at Walmart
  •  Specs & Features:  40-100 lbs., 40-57″; lower LATCH anchor attachments; minimum age 4; Made in China

 

LBB - BlackHarmony Youth
Available at Walmart
  •  Specs & Features:  30-100 lbs., 34-57″; Made in China

 

 

 

Contact information for Mercury, LBI & Evenflo to set up accounts & request freight shipping quotes. Minimum order requirements vary.

 

Mercury Distributing/Child Source

www.mercurydistributing.com

Phone: (800) 815-6330 / Fax: 800 815-6324

 

LBI Distributors (exclusive distributor for Graco products)

www.lbidistributors.com

Phone: (732) 565-9456  /  Fax: 732-565-9452

 

Evenflo Institutional Sales

Patsy Pilcher: Email: ppilcher@bellsouth.net

Top Tether Limits for Carseats

It’s crazy.  The “secret list” parents must consult to determine whether or not the top-tether component of the LATCH system can be used for an older child.  Apparently, some automakers are unsure of the strength of their hardware, so they adopted unpublished weight limits.  Other companies expect parents to know the exact weight of their child seat, and then subtract it from 65 to determine the weight limit for the child.  Simple, huh? Is that a child with 10 pounds of winter clothes or no clothes?

To work around the confusion, some advocacy organizations had suggested that unless both carseat and vehicle owners manuals clearly specified a higher limit, parents should be instructed to use a very low 40 pound limit.   Of course, there was nothing in most vehicle owner’s manuals to support this, causing some to wonder why we are trying to fear parents away from using top tethers!  What to tell a parent who bought a $300 carseat with a 5-point harness system rated to 80 pounds?  ”Sorry, ma’am, you can’t use that critical safety feature past 40 pounds for your taller child who needs the tether the most.  And I really can’t tell you why, but I’ve heard the company that made your car might have said so.

Fortunately, some auto makers have been willing to go farther!  Many now allow use of the top tether, an important safety feature, up to the maximum weight limit specified by the child restraint manufacturer.  For example, Volkswagen recently adopted this guidance, making it much simpler for parents.  The fact is that many parents don’t use the tether as it is, and those who do rarely realized that there were obscure limits for their use.  No wonder why!

NextFit tethered

Why are some auto makers causing parents to doubt the strength of these anchors and why are they making it so confusing?  We don’t know, but we do extend our appreciation to the following manufacturers who have adopted a more common sense approach and make it simpler for parents!  These car makers defer to the child restraint manufacturer instructions for top-tether weight limits when used with a seatbelt for installation:

Audi
BMW
Chrysler *
Coda
Dodge *
Ferrari
Fiat
Ford
Hyundai
Infinity
Jaguar
Jeep *
Kia
Lexus
Lincoln
Lnd Rover
Maserati
Mercedes Benz
Mercury
MINI
Nissan
Ram *
Rolls-Royce
Scion
Smart
Subaru
Toyota
Volkswagen
Volvo

 
Weight limits for use of the lower anchor component of LATCH vary considerably. Please consult your owners manual(s) for official guidance.

* Select models only. The National Child Passenger Safety Board now has a complete list on their website.

Source: National Child Passenger Safety Board and Safe Ride News LATCH Manual.

NHTSA’s Proposed Side-Impact Testing Standard – the good, the bad and the interesting

SI Test - NTHSA  ProposedThis week many of you may have heard through mainstream media outlets that NHTSA’s long-awaited “NPRM” on a Federal Side-Impact Standard for Child Restraints was about to be unveiled. Here at CarseatBlog that was practically an excuse to break out the bubbly since we’ve been waiting for this announcement since the end of summer 2013 when they promised us it was going to ready! To be honest, we’ve actually waited over a decade for this but I’d rather not remind myself how quickly the last decade has flown by. Anyhow, we didn’t want to just regurgitate a press release or some bare-bones news article with no nitty-gritty details because we know you expect more than that from us, so we sat on our fingers for a few days until the actual NPRM was released.

The proposed test is interesting in so many ways but it can be really confusing too if you don’t understand all the technicalities and nuances of what they’re proposing. My advice is not to get too fixated on anything in particular because you have to consider the whole picture. There are always going to be pros and cons and almost every upside comes at the expense of something else. It’s just the way it is.

In writing this update I was torn over whether to keep it simple or go all out and try to help you make sense of everything. The latter seemed like an overwhelming task but I’m also not a keep-it-simple-kind-of-person. In the end I compromised by doing a bit of both. I tried to outline the main points (the stuff that most people would care about) in the beginning, and then I tossed in some stuff that only the die-hards with a serious coffee or diet-soda-induced caffeine buzz could manage to get through. I hope that pleases everyone. :)

Quick Overview for Parents and Caregivers:

What most parents need to take away from this is that the government standards, set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), now have just a minimum pass/fail requirement for a typical frontal crash test only. This proposed rule will add a minimum pass/fail side-impact test that manufacturers must pass in order to sell a child safety seat in the USA. Side impacts are the most deadly types of crashes to properly restrained passengers, adults and children alike. So, this testing is potentially a big step forward in protecting our littlest passengers from head injury in particular.

This proposed test would simulate a small car moving through an intersection at a low speed and being “T-boned” by another car going about 30 miles per hour. A carseat with a child-sized dummy will be measured for injury in the rear seat, on the nearest side that is struck by the simulated oncoming vehicle. Please note that this will NOT be a 5-star comparative type of rating for either crash safety or fit to vehicle; those are separate mandates that have all but disappeared from public discussion. It’s also not yet in final form, so the public has 90 days to comment before the final rule is set. For example, the proposed test omits some key scenarios, including installation with a seatbelt, installation without a top tether and installation for children using a 5-point harness above 40 pounds. These are all very important issues, especially given the shift to seatbelt use because of the new 2014 labeling required on carseats that limits the use of LATCH system, due to concerns about the strength of the hardware.

Carseats required to pass the new testing are a long way from the market. Once the final rule is passed, we probably won’t see officially compliant models for up to 3 years. So, if you are in need of a new carseat now, this proposal does not affect you at all. Also, parents shopping for carseats in the mean time should know that most of them already adhere to voluntary side impact testing standards and many have incorporated side impact protection features for years. These vary from one manufacturer to another and will be different from the government testing, but it is important to know that manufacturers are already designing products with side-impact protection in mind.

More Details on the Proposed Rule for CPS Technicians and Advocates:

Notice of Proposed Rule Making: Amendment to FMVSS 213 – Side Impact Testing Standard

“SUMMARY: This NPRM proposes to amend Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213, “Child restraint systems,” to adopt side impact performance requirements for all child restraint systems designed to seat children in a weight range that includes weights up to 18 kilograms (kg) (40 pounds (lb)). NHTSA is issuing this NPRM to ensure that child restraints provide a minimum level of protection in side impacts by effectively restraining the child, preventing harmful head contact with an intruding vehicle door or child restraint structure, and by attenuating crash forces to the child’s head and chest.

 

 

In a Nut Shell:

The proposed test procedure would simulate the full-scale vehicle-to-vehicle side impact crash replicated by FMVSS 214.

  • Dynamic sled test would simulate the MDB (Movable Deformable Barrier) test of FMVSS 214 which has the striking vehicle traveling at 30 mph (48.3 km/h) impacting the struck vehicle traveling at 15 mph (24 km/h)
  • Tests CR in near side impact
  • First test of its kind in the world for testing CRs in a sled system that simulates vehicle acceleration and intruding door of a small passenger car
  • Door intrusion known to be a factor for moderate and severe injury in side impacts
  • Proposed test based on acceleration sled system developed by Takata

 

Specifics:

  • CRs for children rated up to 22 lbs would be tested with CRABI dummy
  • CRs for children 22-40 lbs., including boosters, would be tested with Q3s dummy
  • Forward-facing CR installed with LATCH (lower anchors and tether)
  • Rear-facing CRs installed using lower anchors only
  • Belt-positioning boosters (those rated for children under 40 lbs.) installed with lap/shoulder belt
  • Center of CR positioned 300mm from edge of the sliding seat next to the intruding door – simulating a near-side seating position
  • Armrest on door located 32mm from edge of seat towards CR

 

Rational for limiting testing to under 40 lbs.:

  • No appropriate test dummy for representing kids over 40 lbs. right now
  • NHTSA determined that seated height of children over 40 lbs. is typically sufficient to take advantage of the vehicle’s side impact protection system (including curtain airbags)

 

ATDs:

  • Q3s is the side-impact version of the 3-yr-old Q Series dummy developed in Europe (weighs 32 lbs.)
  • CRABI – 12 month old dummy used in current frontal crash testing (weighs 22 lbs)

 

Most parents will stop reading here unless they are looking for a cure to their insomnia!  Curious readers and advocates looking for in-depth commentary are warned that it’s about to get more technical!