Cybex Solution Q-Fix Platinum High Back Booster Unboxing and Giveaway

Without further ado, here’s a quick peek of the Cybex Solution Q-Fix High Back Booster Seat.  Our full Cybex Q-Fix review will be coming soon, but for now you can read our preview.  Thanks to our generous sponsors Regal Lager and Cybex, we are giving away one Q-Fix to a lucky winner, in your choice of colors (may be subject to availability).  Unfortunately, this contest is for those with a USA shipping address only, as the Q-Fix is not approved for Canada.  You MUST leave a comment in reply to this blog to enter!  Please see our contest details and Rafflecopter entry form below for more information on how to enter.


Key features of the Solution Q-Fix Include:

  • For children 33 – 100 lbs, from 38″ – 60″
  • Patented 3-position reclining head rest
  • Linear Side Impact Protection PLUS
  • LATCH system for enhanced safety
  • 11 Position height-adjustable headrest, seat grows up to 4 inches in width and 8 inches in height
  • Air ventilation system for optimal seating climate
  • Very soft and comfortable seat cushion
  • Reclining backrest to adjust perfectly to the vehicle seat
  • LATCH guides included for easier seat installation
  • Fabric covers are machine washable

Cybex Solution Q-Fix Giveaway:

Contest open to all residents of the USA, including those residing in Alaska and Hawaii. :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for the fine print (these may be in addition to the rules listed in the Rafflecopter terms)

Winner must have a USA shipping address to claim the prize.

You are not eligible if you have previously won a carseat or any sponsored giveaway at CarseatBlog.com during 2013 or 2014 (our own giveaways of goody bags and such don’t count if no sponsor was mentioned). Blog writers and editors are also not eligible. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count.

We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason.

The contest will close on April 21, 2014, and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

Good luck!

Please note: If this is your first comment at CarseatBlog, or if you are using a different computer/device or a new email address, your comment may not appear immediately. It will not be lost; it may just take a few hours for it to be approved. Thank you for your understanding and patience as this is the only way we have to reduce comment spam.


Britax Pioneer 70 Update

Just a small update on the Britax Pioneer 70 Harness-2-Booster combination carseat.  As you may know, new 2014 federal standards are much more strict in regard to carseats with a 5-point harness that are rated for children who weigh above 65 lbs.  In fact, many competitive products that previously were rated above 65 pounds are now being sold with 65 lb. limits.  The Britax Frontier 90 and Britax Pinnacle 90 are the only current combination models rated well above 65 pounds, primarily due to their industry-leading maximum seated torso harness height of 20.5″ tall.

As we noted in our Britax Pioneer review, it had a shorter maximum harness height of about 18.5″.  In January, Britax made a running change to production that increased this harness height to 19.5″!  This allowed the Pioneer 70 to continue with a 70 lb. child weight limit.  That change also makes it an even better value for parents, as some kids will reach an 18″ or 18.5″ seated torso height limit before they are even 65 lbs, meaning they will outgrow some competitor’s 5-point harness systems by height before they reach the weight limit.  Below you can see the difference between an original and newer production Pioneer model.  An added benefit is that maximum booster mode height is also increased slightly.

Pioneer comparison pioneer195

In other news, we previously mentioned that Britax harness-2-booster models, the Pinnacle 90, Frontier 90 and Pioneer 70, were approved for airline use.  In addition, they have also been approved for use with inflatable seatbelt systems found in some Ford and Lincoln vehicles.  These changes are retroactive for these particular models, but the official labeling for production models was made on or around February 3rd, 2014.  For more information, please see the Britax FAQ for Harness-2-Booster seats.  Britax is also working on a running change to improve the lap belt fit of these combination carseats when used in booster mode.  We will update on this change as soon as possible, as we were told more information would be available in the second quarter of 2014, which could be soon.  In the mean time, owners of these products who have children already transitioning into booster mode can call Britax for a SecureGuard accessory clip if one is needed for marginal lap belt fit.  The patented SecureGuard accessory also improves lap belt fit and provides a 4th point of restraint as well.  Some kids, especially older, taller children, do not have an issue with lap belt fit and owners would not need to take any action for their child when using the booster mode.

Stay tuned to CarseatBlog for more product news and a great giveaway coming soon!

Evenflo Buckle Recall: Convertible and Combination Harnessed/Booster Seats

Recalled “QT” Buckle

After the recent Graco recall of the same AmSafe “QT” buckle, we figured it was only a matter of time until Evenflo recalled their convertible and combination seats with the same buckle. That recall will be officially announced by NHTSA sometime later today. The good news is that Evenflo already stopped using those QT buckles so most Evenflo products with a recent DOM (Date of Manufacture) shouldn’t be affected by this recall.

Evenflo carseats NOT affected by this recall include Tribute, Triumph and Titan 50. Evenflo infant seats are also not included in this recall.

NHTSA finally announced the recall and stated that Evenflo is voluntarily recalling more than 1.3 million carseats for buckles that could increase the risk of injury if the child could not be removed quickly in an emergency. ”The buckle may become stuck in a latched position, making it difficult to remove a child from the seat. This could prove critical to a child’s safety in the case of an emergency.”


Model Name Model # Starts With Affected Dates
Chase LX and Chase DLX  (Original Chase model) 329 8/23/2011 through 3/3/2014
Chase / Chase LX / Chase Select (New Chase model) 306 6/12/2012 through 10/3/2013
Maestro / Maestro Performance 310 8/22/2011 through 10/17/2013
Momentum 65 / Momentum 65 LX  and Momentum 65 DLX 385 3/4/2013 through 8/26/2013
Secure Kid LX / Secure Kid DLX / Secure Kid 100 / Secure Kid 300 / Secure Kid 400 and Snugli Booster 308 12/13/2011 through 3/3/2014
Symphony (all models) 345 or 346 10/2/2012 through 8/26/2013
SureRide and Titan 65 371 6/20/2012 through 10/17/2013
www.CarseatBlog.com    ©2014 All Rights Reserved

 Keller 65 DLX65Evenflo SureRide

What you need to know if you have a recalled model:

The “fix” for the recall is a different buckle. Registered owners will receive a letter notifying them that their seat is affected and directing them to call customer service (aka ParentLink) or visit www.buckle.evenflo.com to order the replacement buckle. If you already know you have a recalled model CLICK ON THIS LINK to order your replacement buckle(s). You will need the model number and Date of Manufacturer (DOM) of your seat.

The model number and DOM can be found on a white sticker. If your carseat is installed you will have to uninstall it to find the white sticker – it is usually on the back or the bottom of the shell. Your sticker probably looks something like this:

Evenflo DOM Sticker - recall info


Official Buckle Recall Information from Evenflo (including contact info, buckle cleaning tips, buckle replacement instructions and videos) can be found here:  www.buckle.evenflo.com

Statement from Evenflo:

Dear Safety Advocates:

Thank you for being a trusted partner and helping Evenflo keep children safe!  As you know, we have a 90 year history of putting safety and consumers above everything else and appreciate your partnership in doing this.

On Friday, April 4th, Evenflo will announce a voluntary recall of select convertible car seats and harnessed booster seats due to an issue in the harnessed crotch buckle.  The buckles meet all requirements for crashworthiness, but may become resistant to unlatching over time due to contaminants (like food and drink) that are present in everyday use by toddlers.  Evenflo is taking this proactive, preventive action to address an issue that was recently observed by NHTSA.

Our goal is to make this experience as easy for the consumer as possible and we will be sending replacement buckles to consumers and developing videos to show them how to install the new buckle.   While consumers wait for their buckles, we are recommending that they clean the buckles thoroughly, as instructed on the back of the buckle, if they are experiencing any issues.  All relevant information can be found at www.buckle.evenflo.com

Evenflo has worked to put the needs of our consumers first and hope that we can count on your support as we work through this issue and continue to strive for excellence as we build our products for the future.

FYI – Only the “QT” buckle (pictured above) is recalled. The buckles pictured below are NOT included in this recall so if your Evenflo convertible or combination harness/booster seat has a buckle that looks like either of these – don’t worry about it, it’s fine.

Evenflo Buckle – NOT Recalled


Evenflo Buckle – NOT Recalled


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

The Safest Infant Carseats:  Best, Better or Basic?  How does your infant seat compare?

Today, Consumer Reports released the first round of ratings using their new test methodology for evaluating infant child seats. With cautious optimism, we feel this is likely to be a big step forward and should help parents to compare the crash safety of carseats. In the long term, like the NHTSA 5-star ratings and IIHS Best Pick ratings for automobiles, more rigorous testing can often lead to better product designs in the future. Though many of us in the Child Passenger Safety industry have had our concerns about previous ratings, there are definitely improvements that were made over the last few years.

The new Consumer Reports carseat crash test was developed to be more rigorous than federal standards. CR realizes that all carseats meet basic safety standards and wanted to develop a test to determine which seats provide an extra level of protection. This new test was designed by an automotive safety engineer and peer-reviewed by an independent crash testing expert with 40 years of experience in the field. It is conducted on an actual contemporary vehicle seat (a 2010 Ford Flex 2nd row seat) with a floor below it, unlike the government test which has a 70’s era back seat test bench with no floor. There’s a front seat back, called the blocker plate, installed in front of the test seat to simulate a front seat, which is used to test potential injury, and the speed of the test is set at 35 mph. Testing is performed at an independent, outside testing facility. The new crash test ratings scale will no longer use the circular blobs, but will instead indicate “basic,” “better,” or “best” at providing crash protection above and beyond baseline standards.

test buck showing floor test buck K
CR’s New Test Bench in Their Offices

graco test bench
FMVSS 213 Test Bench

When we visited CR last November, our hosts were warm and welcoming and the feeling in the building was so relaxed. They don’t hide in public: we’ve met each other in passing at conferences, but it’s always been quick handshakes and “Hi, bye, we’ve got to get together,” kind of conversations. You know the kind. Visiting their testing facility gave us a chance to see the inner workings and for them to have the transparency they were eager to share with the CPS community. Let’s call it like it is: they’re intelligent, highly qualified people and know they receive a lot of criticism, but they’re proud of the work they do and feel they provide a valuable service to their readers.

Nobody wants the kind of publicity they had in 2007 when the methodology they used in running their side-impact crash test for carseats was flawed and most carseats failed catastrophically. It took CR a lot of time and effort to overcome that incident; they’ve since hired a dedicated automotive safety engineer whose sole responsibility is to develop the carseat testing protocol and work on their child passenger safety team.

The test bench (buck) was right there to see and photograph—there was no way to hide it, unless they wanted to throw a big tarp over it.  They were eager to answer all our questions, from their methodology regarding how they arrived at their ratings to how they ate lunch every day. They were also very interested in our feedback. And since one of us isn’t the quiet type, we shared. It was a great day of getting to know each other and our processes.

Will this new crash test bring to light issues we haven’t seen before? Is the test buck too stiff? How will this affect buyers in the market for an infant seat right now? How will this affect parents and caregivers currently using an infant seat that only rates a “basic” rating? In this instance, time will tell. In the meantime, we have the results to share with you.

The Ratings: What Parents Need to Know:

Below is a table of models listed alphabetically, grouped within their Crash Protection ratings that are based on the new frontal crash testing system developed by CR. Safer models that perform well in this more severe testing receive a “Better” or “Best” crash protection rating to indicate a potential extra margin of safety over the minimum government requirements. Models that are less likely to offer that added margin of safety over the minimum standards are still safe, but receive a “Basic” rating. CR also issued a separate overall score*, based on these crash protection ratings and other factors like fit to vehicle and ease of use.

Not surprisingly, their top overall performer (crash protection and other factors combined) was also one of our Recommended Carseats, the Chicco Keyfit 30 (and Keyfit 22). Other current models with high combined overall scores that appear on CarseatBlog’s recommended lists or that we have reviewed favorably for other factors like low birthweight newborn fit include the Britax B-Safe, the Safety 1st OnBoard Air 35 and the UPPAbaby MESA. We continue to highly recommend all of these infant seats.

 - stock - blue

For lower priced models, they offered a few “Best Bets,” including the Safety 1st Comfy Carry Elite Plus, the Graco Snugride 30 Classic Connect and the Safety 1st OnBoard 35. We also like these models as budget-friendly choices.

Other models with above average combined overall scores include the Maxi-Cosi Mico, Combi Shuttle, Cybex Aton 2, the First Years Via 35 I470 and the similar First Years Contigo.

- stock blue

We note that the Cybex Aton 2, “Performed better than any of the models in our new crash performance test,“  likely due to an innovative load leg – a feature shared only by the new Nuna Pipa (not tested) and the soon-to-be-released Cybex Aton Q.  This load leg cannot be used on the standard NHTSA crash test sled, as the sled does not have a floor like the one on the sled that Consumer Reports developed for this new crash test.

Infant Carseat Model CR Crash Protection Rating
Britax B-Safe BEST
Chicco KeyFit (22 lbs.) BEST
Chicco KeyFit 30 BEST
Cosco Comfy Carry BEST
Cybex Aton 2 (tested with load leg) BEST
Evenflo Secure Ride 35 BEST
Graco SnugRide 30 Classic Connect BEST
Maxi-Cosi Mico BEST
Safety 1st Comfy Carry Elite BEST
Safety 1st Comfy Carry Elite Plus BEST
Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air BEST
The First Years Contigo BEST
The First Years Via I-470 BEST
Baby Trend Flex-Loc Adjustable Back BETTER
Baby Trend Inertia BETTER
Britax Chaperone BETTER
Cybex Aton BETTER
Combi Shuttle BETTER
Evenflo Discovery 5 (discontinued) BETTER
Evenflo Nurture BETTER
Graco SnugRide 35 Classic Connect BETTER
Graco SnugRide 35 Click Connect BETTER
Graco SnugRide 40 Click Connect BETTER
Mia Moda Certo BETTER
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30/30 BETTER
Safety 1st onBoard 35 BETTER
Summer Infant Prodigy BETTER
Teutonia T-Tario 35 BETTER
Evenflo Embrace 35 (Select) BASIC
Graco SnugRide Classic Connect (original – 22 lbs.) BASIC
Maxi-Cosi Prezi BASIC
Orbit Baby Infant Carseat G2 BASIC
Snugli Infant Carseat BASIC  
www.CarseatBlog.com  ©2014 All Rights Reserved

As we said to start, we have cautious optimism that this new testing protocol will prove to be fair and reliable, but we reserve final judgment until the results have been more thoroughly vetted by industry experts.  Like many parents, advocates and experts, we have had our share of criticism for past Consumer Reports ratings.  With this new testing, we hope their results will eventually be accepted as a reliable source of comparative information on carseats for consumers.  So what do you think?  Fair or unfair?  Long overdue or unnecessary?  Trustworthy or not?  We appreciate all your comments!

Please stay tuned for some more in-depth commentary on their methods and results!

Consumer Reports also provides Five Tips for Parents to follow to make sure their infant is safe when they travel in the car. We agree these are important tips to follow.

CR’s Five Important Tips for Parents:

• Don’t wait until the last minute to install the car seat. When you’re expecting a baby,there are many things that have to be done, but don’t leave the car seat installation until the last minute. The best way to make sure the seat is installed correctly and that you know how to properly secure your baby in the seat is to take the time to get familiar with the seat and its instructions and to go to a car seat check up event hosted by safekids.org.  A Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician will help you make sure the seat is properly installed and teach you the dos and don’ts of car seat safety.

• Do not put bulky blankets or coats inside the harness. Swaddling is a common practice with infants, but when placing your baby in an infant seat, it is very important that the harness is snug enough against the baby’s lightly clothed body. No harness webbing should be able to be pinched between the thumb and forefinger. Tightening the harness straps over swaddling blankets or puffy clothing can leave undetected slack in the harness, which can lead to an increased chance of injury, or even ejection from the seat during a crash. For extra warmth, tighten the harness first and then place the jacket or blanket on top of the child and harness.

• Position the harness straps correctly. The proper positioning for the harness straps for a rear-facing child is at or below the shoulders. This will prevent the child from moving upward in the seat in the event of a crash. It is also important to check the straps often since kids grow quickly. Consequently, the harness may need to be frequently adjusted.

• Position the chest clip correctly. The purpose of the chest clip is to keep the harness in the correct position right before a crash. Technicians often see the chest clip positioned either too low, which can result in shoulder straps not fitting correctly, or too high, which can cause breathing issues. The proper place for the chest clip is at armpit level.

• Pay attention to your child’s height as well as weight. A child that is too tall for their car seat is at an increased risk of head injury during a crash. All car seats have a height AND weight limit. According to the CDC growth charts, a child is actually more likely to outgrow many infant car seats in height before they reach the maximum weight limit of the seat, so be sure to pay attention to your child’s height relative to the shell of the seat and compare it to the height limit of the car seat.

Stay tuned to CarseatBlog for continued coverage and commentary on this story! We’ll have more to say in the coming days.

*The full results and ratings, including the overall score earned by each infant seat tested, are available online to CR subscribers.


Pet Harness Review: Do They Really Protect Our Pets?

sleepypodclickitLast September, the Center for Pet Safety released a summary of their study on harnesses for “pets,” though most of us use these harnesses for dogs only. When I originally saw this summary, I scanned through it as I am a pet parent; “dog owner” seems so cold when my dogs rule the house, truth be told. I already had a harness I bought at PetSmart that I liked for my dog. It wasn’t crash tested, but I didn’t have time to buy one that was. I used an IMMI crash tested harness for a car trip where I drove alone with her and it hurt her sensitive underarm area and she managed to twist around in it. Talk about me being a distracted driver! Then last December we adopted a new dog, Macy, and I had the need for another harness, so I looked at the summary again and decided to try out a few models to see which I liked best.

The Center (in their summary, they refer to themselves as “CPS” but for our purposes I’ll refer to them as the Center, since CPS generally means child passenger safety around here) teamed up with Subaru of America to conduct the tests. They did dynamic testing using FMVSS 213 guidelines, the safety standards child restraints must follow, to collect data on the harnesses. The Center chose harnesses for testing where the manufacturer made claims that the harness had been crash tested or provided crash protection.

Obviously pet harnesses aren’t child restraints and don’t fall under the protocols of FMVSS 213, but there are no federal guidelines, or any other guidelines for that matter, for crash testing of these harnesses. Like I do when I teach my technician classes, the manufacturers can throw the harnesses up against a wall and call it crash tested. This should sound familiar since we’re constantly educating parents on the potential risks of using non-regulated products with their carseats. In some cases, manufacturers of these pet harnesses have done tensile testing on the harness webbing and claimed crash testing. In addition, pet harness manufacturers may test a harness in one size, yet claim that all sizes they produce have been tested. That seems a bit dirty, doesn’t it?