Beware of Illegal Chinese “Car Seats” for Sale Online

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Sale of Illegal “Portable Car Seats” are a Growing Cause for Concern

Illegal Chinese Car Seat - death by bunniesIf you see something for sale online that claims to be a “child safety seat” or “booster” or “car seat” but it comes from a manufacturer that you have never heard of and it doesn’t say that it meets federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) please be suspicious and do some research. It may be a legitimate product but it may also be an illegal death trap.

Amazon is FLOODED with products from China claiming to be car seats that are being sold by 3rd party sellers. Please don’t be mislead into thinking these are a safe alternative to a car seat or booster seat that meets FMVSS 213 standards. As much as the seller wants you to believe that this product is “Compact and reasonable design make it enjoy the safety of traditional child seat”, it is neither safe nor reasonable.

A few examples of the type of products available through 3rd party sellers on Amazon:

Seat Cover Car Portable Child Safety Seat Baby Car Seat to Baby Seat 1-6 Years Old

illegal 4 - seat cover car portable

CdyBox Portable Car Safety Seat Cover Travel Vest Harness Cushion for Baby Kids Infant Children (Blue)

illegal - cdybox illegal - cdybox

Adjustable Portable Babies Child Infant Car seat safety Belt Harness Blue

Illegal Chinese Car Seat - docooler

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Safest Family SUVs for 2016

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Safest 2016 5-passenger SUVs for Families

In Part I, we awarded the safest 3-row vehicles for 6 or more passengers.  In this part, we will look at 5-passenger SUVs for families who don’t need a 3rd row of seating for one reason or another.

As with the larger vehicles, we have the same basic requirements to trim the long list of very safe vehicles to those qualifiers that stand out from the pack:

  • Must be an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2015 or 2016
  • Must have an NHTSA 5-star overall rating
  • Must not have any individual NHTSA crash test result or rollover rating of 3-stars or less

There are some new entrants this year, with improved designs qualifying for top crash test results.  One new model, the 2016 Nissan Murano, has not yet qualified due to incomplete NHTSA testing.   It may be added in a future update, once these tests are completed.   The 2015 Mercedes ML-Class is discontinued, replaced by the 2016 GLE-Class that also has incomplete crash test results.  The 2016 Mazda CX-5 received a 4-star overall rating from the NHTSA and did not qualify this year.

  1. XC602014-2016 Volvo XC60
  2. 2015-2016 Subaru Outback
  3. 2014-2016 Subaru Forester
  4. 2016 Honda CR-V
  5. 2016 Hyundai Tucson
  6. 2016 Toyota Rav-4
  7. 2015-2016 Lexus NX
  8. 2016 Acura RDX

Safest SUV for 2016:

Safest Family Minivans and SUVs for 2016 with 3rd Row Seats

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Safest 2016 Family Vehicles with Three Rows of Seating

Are safety and seating more than a couple kids your top considerations in selecting a new vehicle?  You aren’t alone!  Last year’s winner, the 2014-2015 Acura MDX, is still a contender to retain its title for 2016.

For 2016, the IIHS now requires a “Good” result in the newer small overlap crash test to qualify for a Top Safety Pick rating.  An “Acceptable” rating no longer qualifies.  The IIHS also requires a front crash prevention system.  These systems are not all created equal, some are only basic warnings that qualify for the basic TSP award, while advanced ones can actually brake in emergency situations and possibly avoid a crash better than lesser systems.  To earn the “TSP+” award, an auto-brake system with an “Advanced” or “Superior” rating is now required.

There are plenty of very safe vehicles.  Most midsize crossover SUVs and minivans provide excellent protection for occupants, likely better than anything on the road 15 years ago.  Side curtain airbags and stability control are now standard features.  In addition to frontal crash protection systems, advanced safety features like emergency crash notification, lane departure warning, cross traffic warning and blind spot warning systems are becoming more common on non-luxury models.

tspplus-bar-2016

So how do we filter the list of so many family vehicles that have earned safety awards?  It’s pretty easy:

  • Must be an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2015 or 2016
  • Must have an NHTSA 5-star overall rating
  • No individual NHTSA crash test results of 3-stars or less
  • Must have at least 6 passenger seats

What vehicles make the cut?  At the time of this writing, it’s a pretty exclusive list.   Two minivans from last year, the Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona, no longer qualify as they did not achieve a Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2015 or 2016.  Shame on these manufacturers for choosing not to provide even an optional advanced front crash prevention system on these popular family vehicles.  A promising new contender, the 2016 Volvo XC90, remains untested by the NHTSA and does not yet make the cut.  The 2016 qualifiers:

  1. 2014-2016 Acura MDX
  2. 2014-2016 Mitsubishi Outlander
  3. 2016 Honda Pilot
  4. 2014-2015 Toyota Highlander*
  5. 2015 Toyota Sienna*

*Not a Top Safety Pick+ for 2016 model

And the Safest 2016 3-row Family Vehicle is:

Brrr! Are Your Car Supplies Ready for Winter?

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snowconeSome of you are fortunate to live in climates where it doesn’t get cold and snowy. Others of you are huddled under a Snuggie right now, with a blanket of snow outside your window. If you’re in that latter group, is your car’s emergency kit prepared for winter weather?

There are certain emergency provisions you should always have in your vehicle, like a flashlight and a tool kit. But winter comes with some unique situations you should be prepared for. Pack these into your car if you don’t already have them:

  • Blankets. If you run out of fuel or your car won’t stspace blanketsart, it could be/get really cold in there. Fleece throws are warm and take up relatively room. If those are too bulky, you could get some space blankets. They’re not as cozy, but they’re inexpensive and they’ll get the job done.
  • Warm clothes. We don’t want kids wearing bulky winter coats in the car, but you always want to make sure you have coats, hats, and gloves available for everyone when it’s cold. That might seem like a no-brainer, but there have been several times I’ve run a quick errand and haven’t bothered taking my coat since I’m “just running in.” Then I wonder what would happen if I got stranded and had to walk home. I’d be really cold.
  • Sand or kitty litter. If you get stuck in snow or ice, laying down a layer of grit can give you the traction you need to get out. Stick a small container of kitty litter in your car, and you’ll be prepared.
  • A shovel. This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t have room for a full-sized shovel, there are compact, foldable models available.
  • Extra wiper fluid. Have you ever been traveling down I-90 into Chicago in the dead of winter, only to find your windshield covered in gray grime to the point you could barely see and needed to pull off the road, all because you ran out of windshield washer fluid? Uh, me neither? (In our defense, we had just moved from Southern California and didn’t really understand these things yet. Also worth noting: there are different fluids for warm and cold weather. The type for warm weather might freeze in your lines, rendering it useless.)
  • Portable Battery/Charger/Compressor. This is actually a gemergency car chargerreat thing to have year-round, but especially in the winter. It’s an appliance about the size of a tool box that can jump your car, refill your tires, illuminate the dark, and charge or power your cell phones or other electronics. It’s like having an emergency roadside vehicle in your trunk, minus the towing capability.

Stay safe out there, and stay warm!