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GM Recalls Certain Chevy, GMC & Cadillac Models Due to Faulty Seatbelt Retractors

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General Motors is recalling several 2018 and 2019 GMC, Chevrolet, and Cadillac vehicles due to seatbelt assemblies that might not switch to locking mode when used to install child restraints.

Normally with these vehicles, caregivers would lock the seatbelt by pulling the webbing all the way out when installing child restraints. In the affected vehicles, seatbelt assemblies for the second and third row may fail to lock when the webbing is pulled all the way out. This can leave the seatbelt and child restraint loose, and could prevent the child restraint from working properly in a crash, increasing the possibility of injury.

What vehicles are affected?

This recall includes 15,800 vehicles from the following models:

  • 2018 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2019 Chevrolet Suburban
  • 2018 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2019 Chevrolet Volt
  • 2018 GMC Yukon XL
  • 2019 GMC Yukon XL
  • 2018 Cadillac CT6
  • 2019 Cadillac CT6
  • 2018 Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV
What’s the fix?

GM will notify owners. Dealers will inspect the rear-seat retractors and will replace the assemblies if necessary.

What do I do in the meantime?

GM’s official position is “await notification,” but people can take steps in the meantime. If you own one of these vehicles and have a child restraint installed with the seatbelt, check to make sure the seatbelt is locked. (Once you have installed the child restraint, pull the seatbelt webbing all the way out, then feed the excess back into the retractor. If the belt is locked, you shouldn’t be able to pull the webbing out again.) If the belt locks, there is nothing to worry about at this time. If the belt does not lock, you have some options:

  • Try a different seating position in the vehicle
  • Install the seat with lower anchors (LATCH) if your child is within the LATCH weight limit and the seating position is equipped with lower anchors
  • Use a child restraint with a built-in lock-off
  • Use a locking clip

It is important to note that this problem does not affect the emergency locking function of the seatbelt. That means the belt will still lock as usual in a crash or hard stop when it is restraining an adult, an older child not using a child restraint, or a child using a booster seat where the seatbelt goes over the child’s body.

More information:

You can click here for the official GM statement, and you can contact the following numbers for more support:

  • Chevrolet Customer Service: 1-800-222-1020
  • GMC Customer Service: 1-800-462-8782
  • Cadillac Customer Service: 1-800-458-8006
  • GM Recall Number: 18315
  • NHTSA Toll Free: 1-888-327-4236
  • NHTSA (TTY): 1-800-424-9153
Official NHTSA statement:

NHTSA Campaign Number: 18V673000

Manufacturer General Motors LLC

Components SEAT BELTS

Potential Number of Units Affected 15,800

Summary

General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Cadillac CT6, Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Suburban, Volt, and GMC Yukon XL vehicles. Certain second-row or third-row rear seatbelts retractor assemblies may not automatically lock when the seatbelt is fully pulled out of the retractor, possibly preventing a child seat from being properly secured. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.”

Remedy

GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the rear seatbelt retractors and replace them if necessary, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification schedule. Owners may contact Cadillac customer service at 1-800-458-8006, Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020 or GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782. GM’s number for this recall is 18315.

Notes

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

 

UPPAbaby Knox Convertible and Alta Booster Preview

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We knew UPPAbaby was unveiling new seats at this year’s ABC Kids Expo, so we made sure to get to their booth bright and early on the first day so we could bring you all the details. The company is expanding their lineup with a convertible (called Knox) and a booster seat (Alta).

Knox

The Knox (named that because it keeps your child secure, like Fort Knox) has a lot of great features, including an innovative solution for reducing the downward rotation that happens when a rear-facing seat moves down and toward the front of the vehicle in a crash. Being able to reduce downward rotation helps immensely to reduce potential injuries to a rear-facing child. Until now, the only ways to significantly reduce downward rotation have been with load legs or Australian tethering, in which the top tether goes around the shell of a rear-facing seat and connects to the car’s top tether anchor.

Because of various regulatory issues, it’s unlikely we’ll see a convertible seat with a load leg in the U.S. anytime soon (though I’d be happy if someone proves me wrong). Australian tethering is a lightweight solution, but it also means there are straps running between the back of the child restraint and the car’s tether anchor, making it harder to load children in and out of their seats.

UPPAbaby’s solution is to use what they call a “Universal Tether.” This looks like the normal, single-strap tether parents are used to (typically for forward-facing), but when the seat is rear-facing, the tether can be routed around the back of the seat and attached to the car’s regular top tether anchor. Because it only routes around one side of the seat, it leaves the other side clear for easy loading of the child.

 

The Knox also features the company’s SMARTSecure system for installing both rear- and forward-facing. That consists of a channel for the lap belt, with an indicator that changes from green to red when it senses the seat is tight enough. Once the belt is tight, the shoulder portion slides under lock-offs that keep it secure. (When installing with lower anchors, the LATCH belt goes through the same channel as the lap belt, so the tension indicator will work for that mode as well.)

 

The Knox is rated from 14-40 pounds rear-facing and 25-65 forward-facing. You’ll notice that 14-lb minimum is much higher than most convertibles on the market. Because most parents start off with infant seats and don’t tend to put their children in convertibles until later anyway, the company feels it was able to create a better seat by focusing on a narrower range of child sizes. The higher weight minimum also means the seat installs more upright than it would have to for a newborn, which means it will take up less room in the car.

Parents who want to use the Knox from birth will have the option of purchasing a separate newborn insert. The insert is very substantial, raising the baby up so the lowest harness position will be at or below their shoulders. The insert is angled to add the additional recline a newborn would need (without requiring the seat itself to be reclined more). The design also allows an infant’s head to tilt back farther, helping to keep the airway open. If parents choose to purchase the newborn insert, that can be used from 5 pounds until the child has good head control and their shoulders reach the lowest harness position. (More exact requirements might come as the company finalizes the product.)

  

The Knox features side-impact pods on both sides and EPP foam throughout the seat. Plus there’s a removable cup holder!

The Knox should be available in the summer of 2019. Regular fashions will retail for around $399, and the Bryce fashion (gray wool with no flame retardants) will retail for around $449.

You can see the Facebook Live video we did from the show, highlighting Knox’s features:

 

  

Alta

UPPAbaby’s new highback booster is the Alta, which will be rated for 40-100 pounds and up to 57″. (It sounds like the company will recommend that children be at least 5 years old to use the seat, but we don’t know yet whether that will be a requirement or just a recommendation.) We measured the top belt guide position at about 20″.

   

Safety features include a lap-belt positioner that is required to be used at all times to help ensure proper belt fit and to reduce the possibility of a child submarining under the belt. The Alta also has rigid LATCH to help keep the seat secure when unoccupied and positioned properly when in use. The LATCH mechanism is very easy to access and store, as you can see in this quick video:

Like the Knox, the Alta has side-impact pods, EPP foam, and a removable cup holder.

The Alta should also be available in the summer of 2019, and will likely retail for somewhere around $179. (Pricing is not finalized yet.)

We’ll bring you reviews of both seats as soon as they’re available!

Turbo, Take Me Away: Review of the Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong Booster Seat

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Once upon a time, traveling with child restraints was a bulky, heavy, complicated endeavor. In recent years, more lightweight travel options have appeared, especially in the realm of booster seats. The downside to some of these options is that while they’re highly portable, they tend to lack the structure and support kids are used to. Enter the new Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong, which might be the perfect marriage of portability and convention.

TurboBooster TakeAlong Specifications

  • Weight range: 40-100 lbs. (highback and backless)
  • Height range: 43-57 inches (highback and backless)
  • Age range: 4 years and older (highback and backless)
  • Lowest belt guide: 14″
  • Tallest belt guide: 19.25″
  • Measurements
    • Base, widest point without cup holders: 15.5″
    • Base, widest point with cup holders: 18.5″
    • Width of base at back of seat: 15.5″
    • Width at torso wings: 17.5″
    • Seat depth: 14″
    • Internal width at armrests: 11.5″

TurboBooster TakeAlong Features

  • Available in highback (converts to backless) or backless-only models
  • FastAction fold strap for easy disassembly
  • Six headrest/belt guide positions (highback use)
  • Two retractable cup holders
  • EPS foam in head portion
  • Detachable belt guide (backless use)
  • Carry bag for backless portion

  

Portability

Before we look at how the TurboBooster TakeAlong fits with cars and kids, let’s take a look at what makes this seat unique: It’s folding and portability.

Illinois to require rear-facing until age 2

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Illinois has become the latest state to pass a law requiring children to ride rear-facing until they’re 2 years old.

On Friday, Governor Bruce Rauner signed HB4377, which amends Illinois’ existing child restraint law. Currently, state law requires children to ride in an appropriate child restraint until they are 8 years old. The new law will also require children to remain rear-facing until they are 2 years old unless the child weighs more than 40 pounds or is more than 40 inches tall.

The original version of the bill would have imposed a $75 fine for a first-time offense, but that language was later omitted, leaving penalties to the discretion of local authorities.

The governor’s office has confirmed that the law will go into effect January 1, 2019.

Full text of the amended child restraint law can be found here.

Section 5. The Child Passenger Protection Act is amended by changing Section 4 as follows:

(625 ILCS 25/4) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 1104)

Sec. 4. When any person is transporting a child in this State under the age of 8 years in a non-commercial motor vehicle of the first division, any truck or truck tractor that is equipped with seat safety belts, any other motor vehicle of the second division with a gross vehicle weight rating of 9,000 pounds or less, or a recreational vehicle on the roadways, streets or highways of this State, such person shall be responsible for providing for the protection of such child by properly securing him or her in an appropriate child restraint system. The parent or legal guardian of a child under the age of 8 years shall provide a child restraint system to any person who transports his or her child.

When any person is transporting a child in this State who is under the age of 2 years in a motor vehicle of the first division or motor vehicle of the second division weighing 9,000 pounds or less, he or she shall be responsible for properly securing the child in a rear-facing child restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches tall.

For purposes of this Section and Section 4b, “child restraint system” means any device which meets the standards of the United States Department of Transportation designed to restrain, seat or position children, which also includes a booster seat.

A child weighing more than 40 pounds may be transported in the back seat of a motor vehicle while wearing only a lap belt if the back seat of the motor vehicle is not equipped with a combination lap and shoulder belt.