December 31, 2002
NHTSA Warns Of Potential Buckle
Problems On Child Seats Equipped With Recessed Buckles
U.S. Department of Transportation?s National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) today warned consumers to watch out for problems with
child seats equipped with recessed buckles built into the seat between the
NHTSA said the buckles in these seats can easily collect particles of food,
drink, dirt, sand or other material that may interfere with the buckle. The
consumer may have difficulty latching and unlatching dirty buckles. In some
cases the material may cause a ?false latch? if the user mistakenly believes
that the buckle is securely latched when it is not.
To ensure that the child is securely fastened in the child seat, the user
should always check that the buckle is fully latched every time the seat is
used. The user does this by (1) inserting the latch plate fully into the
buckle; (2) listening for a click; and (3) tugging firmly on the harness
webbing to make sure the buckle is latched.
Consumers should be sure to inspect the car seat regularly for food or
debris down in the buckle area. If the buckle becomes difficult to operate,
or fails to latch even after it is cleaned, NHTSA recommends that the
consumer contact the child seat manufacturer and the safety agency?s
toll-free Auto Safety Hotline, 1-888-327-4236, to report the problems
associated with child seat buckle operation. If the buckle does not latch
properly even after it is cleaned, the seat should not be used.