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Monthly Archive:: February 2011

Have You Read Your Vehicle Manual Today? You Might Be Pleasantly Surprised :)

When was the last time you got truly excited reading an owner’s manual?  It should be par for the course when we get a new item, but dang, some of those manuals are so dry.  Some are just plain hilarious depending on how the translation went (our stereo manual had a one word sentence of “However.” just nonsensically stuck in the middle of two other sentences).  And some pull you in so you read them cover to cover like they are the best non-fiction book you’ve ever read.  That’s how I felt when I got my new Acura MDX and started reading the manual.  I still haven’t finished reading the manual.  Heck, I still don’t know how to operate my iPhone when it’s plugged in because I haven’t gotten past the passenger safety section of the book.  What I found was so exciting to me that if it hadn’t been nearly midnight when I first read it, I would have gotten past my phone phobia and called my fellow bloggers to share the news. o_O

Graco Snugride 30 Unboxing

Yes, another lame unboxing video, but as a blog guy, I have to uphold the finer principles of blogdom and do the silly unboxing anyway.  Besides, it’s been a slow year so far.  This unboxing vid is much brigher than the last one, but I still need to remember to speak LOUDLY when my back is to the camera…  Enjoy!

Guest Blog: Burning Down the Car

Now and then when I’m driving along, I think of horrible scenarios that could happen: getting t-boned in an intersection, driving off a bridge, having my car catch on fire. In my mind we always escape without injury, plus we get new car seats out of the ordeal! I realize, though, that reality isn’t always so kind.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how I left carrots cooking unattended while I went out to dinner. As I researched safety tips for that post, I stumbled upon information about vehicle fires. That’s when it occurred to me that in my bizarre daydreams, I always picture myself heroically getting my kids out of the car, and then it’s over. I never fantasize about how to prevent the fire in the first place or what to do once we escape the inferno.

So I researched some more and learned some interesting things, which I will share with you now.

Dorel Recalls Hundreds of Thousands of Carseats

The Dorel Juvenile Group is recalling 794,247 carseats in the U.S. and Canada because the harness can remain loose after adjustment. These seats have a center front adjuster, which we call a front adjuster strap around here. The problem occurs when the front strap is pulled and the adjuster button/lever doesn’t return to the locked position.

Carseats affected were manufactured from May 1, 2008 through April 30, 2009, and include infant, convertible, and combination seats (harnessed seats that convert to booster seats). Infant seats were sold as individual units or in combination with strollers as a travel system.

The model names potentially affected by this recall include, but are not limited to: Bertini B5, SureFit, onBoard, Designer 22, Alpha Omega, Alpha Omega Elite, Alpha Luxe Echelon 3-in-1, Eddie Bauer 3-in-1, Eddie Bauer infant, Eddie Bauer combination, Avenue, Uptown, Vantage, Vantage Point, Prospect, Maxi-Cosi Mico, Maxi-Cosi Priori.     

As a remedy, Dorel will be providing registered consumers a small tube of non-toxic, food-grade lubricant and instructions on where to apply the lube. If you own one of the affected seats, you may continue using it; just make sure that the harness remains tight after adjustment and the adjuster lever is in the locked position by pressing on it. If the harness loosens, your child could be seriously injured or killed in a crash.

For more information, contact Dorel at 1-866-623-3139 or via email at harnessadjustment@djgusa.com. You may read more about the recall at the NHTSA website or at safercar.gov. Canadians can read about the recall on the Transport Canada website.

Complete list of models affected (thanks to crunchierthanthou for researching model names!):

22-077 = SureFit infant seat
22-078 = onBoard infant seat
22-148 = AOE convertible
22-149 = AOE convertible
22-150 = AO/3 in 1 convertible
22-152 = AO/3 in 1 convertible
22-154 = EB 3 in 1 convertible
22-155 = AOE convertible
22-158 = AOE convertible
22-159 = Safety 1st 3 in 1 convertible
22-172 = Safety 1st 3 in 1 convertible
22-177 = Safety 1st 3 in 1 50 lb convertible
22-178 = Safety 1st 3 in 1 50 lb convertible
22-185 = Alpha Omega 3-in-1 convertible
22-188 = AOE convertible
22-195 = Safety 1st 3 in 1 convertible
22-346 = Bertini B5 infant seat
22-356 = OnBoard infant seat
22-371 = Maxi Cosi Mico infant seat
22-372 = Maxi Cosi Mico infant seat
22-412 = Designer 22 infant seat
22-439 = Safety 1st Avenue convertible
22-449 = Safety 1st Avenue convertible
22-452 = 3 in 1 convertible
22-453 = 3 in 1 convertible
22-456= Safety 1st 3 in 1 convertible
22-458 = Safety 1st 3 in 1 convertible
22-459 = Safety 1st 3 in 1 convertible
22-462 = Safety 1st Alpha Luxe Echelon 3 in 1 convertible
22-465 = Safety 1st 3 in 1 convertible
22-469 = Safety 1st 3 in 1 convertible
22-475 = Uptown convertible
22-476 = Maxi Cosi Priori convertible
22-486 = Maxi Cosi Priori convertible
22-546 = Vantage combination
22-547 = Vantage combination
22-553 = Vantage combination
22-554 = Vantage combination
22-561 = Designer 22 infant seat
22-564 = Vantage combination
22-567 = Vantage combination
22-574 = Vantage combination
22-580 = Prospect combination
22-657 = EB infant seat
22-740 = EB 3 in 1 convertible
22-741 = some 3 in 1 convertible
22-755 = EB 3 in 1 convertible
22-758 = EB 3 in 1 convertible
22-759 = EB 3 in 1 convertible
22-790 = EB 3 in 1 convertible
22-799 = AOE convertible
22-880 = EB Combination
22-560 = Safety 1st combination
93-560 = Vantage combination
17-439
IC-072 = infant seat

Tether Anchor Weight Limits – Honda, Acura, Mercedes & Ferrari aren’t competitive in one important area of child occupant safety

First and foremost, I’d like to say that we’ve been heaping a lot of well-deserved praise on Honda lately. Darren and I have both had the pleasure of reviewing and reporting on the new 2011 Odyssey.  Additionally, there was the recent release of stellar crash test results for this newest generation Ody from NHTSA & the IIHS which prompted yet another blog to sing the praises of a job well done by Honda.  Even here on the homefront, we have a new-to-us 2006 Honda Pilot sitting in the driveway and overall I’m very impressed and happy with our new vehicle. 

However, with that said, there is one area of child occupant protection where Honda and their luxury brand, Acura, really fall short.  I’m talking about tether anchor weight limits.  To be fair, it’s not just Honda & Acura that have failed to compete in this category – Mercedes Benz & Ferrari also state the same low, uber-conservative 40 lb limit for their lower anchors and top tether anchors.  But it’s not a stretch to assume that there are far more children in the US riding around in the backseat of Honda vehicles than in all the others (Acura, MB & Ferrari) combined.  That’s why it’s so important for us, as advocates for child passenger safety, to attempt to bring some much-needed attention to this issue.  We are continually frustrated in our efforts to practice and promote best-practice recommendations for child occupant protection because our efforts are hampered by ridiculously low tether anchor weight limits. 

For the record, I’m specifically referring to the numbers provided by the vehicle manufacturers themselves to the editors and researchers of The LATCH Manual, published by Safe Ride News.  For those who are not familiar with The LATCH Manual – it’s considered the premier reference resource used by CPS practioners for obtaining accurate and comprehensive information on all things relating to the LATCH system.  Unfortunately, in the current 2011 Edition of LATCH Manual, Honda continues to list 40 lbs as the maximum child weight for using lower anchors and top tether anchor in their vehicles.  

In reality, the stated 40 lbs weight limit on the lower anchors isn’t a huge problem because there’s a simple and more-than-adequate alternative to using the lower anchors to secure a CR – it’s the old standby, the vehicle’s seatbelt!  However, in the vast majority of situations there is no simple alternative to reducing head excursion in a crash without using the vehicle’s top tether anchor.  Of course, this is only a dilemma if your child weighs more than 40 lbs and rides in a Honda/Acura/Mercedes or Ferrari (we should all be lucky enough to have this problem!) in a CR with a harness rated beyond 40 lbs.  But considering how many kids over 40 lbs are currently riding in higher-weight harnessed seats, this is an enormous problem that deserves immediate attention. 

    

In comparison to the 40 lb limits stated by Honda, Acura, Mercedes & Ferrari - most other vehicle manufacturers either state higher weight limits or simply defer to the Child Restraint instructions for guidance on the issue of when to use (and when to discontinue usage) of lower anchors and/or top tether anchors.  Forward-facing CRs should be used in the manner that they were designed and tested to be used – which in most cases includes the usage of the top tether strap if a tether anchor is available.   

To summarize, it’s not like Honda uses subpar tether anchor hardware compared to Ford, Nissan, Toyota or Volvo (who all defer to the CR instructions for TA usage).  All lower and top tether anchors have to meet the same federal standards mandated in FMVSS 225.  Why the engineers at Honda/Acura, Mercedes & Ferrari have greater liability concerns and/or less faith in the anchor hardware is a mystery to those of us who are not privy to their water cooler discussions.   And I’m not trying to over-simplify the issues – I just don’t understand what they’re thinking.  These low, arbitrary tether anchor weight limits are potentially putting children at risk for head injuries due to increased head excursion in a crash if the tether strap on the CR isn’t used.  These limits also tie the hands of CPS Technicians and Instructors as they attempt to promote and educate parents & caregivers on best practice recommendations for child passenger safety.  

Hopefully, Honda (and all vehicle manufacturers) will quickly adopt weight limits consistent with today’s child restraint systems rated to 65 or even 80 pounds.  At the very least, they could defer to the child safety seat manufacturer for guidance on limits.  Providing no such guidance, as is the case with many Honda owners manuals, places both parents and technicians in a very confusing situation regarding an important safety issue.