Consumer Reports crash tests show child seat parts break

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SAN ANTONIO – Consumer Report Reports issued a warning for parents, saying parts broke on four popular toddler-booster seats during their recent crash tests.

Toddler-booster seats are forward-facing car seats that can be initially used with a five-point harness, and then they transition to be used as a booster with the car’s own seat belts.

Consumer Reports’ crash evaluations are more rigorous than the federal safety crash test requirements, which all seats must meet in order to be sold. 

The four toddler-booster seats at issue are: Britax Frontier ClickTight, Britax Pioneer, Cosco Finale 2-in-1 and Harmony Defender 360.

During testing, Consumer Reports found that the load-bearing components at the rear of all four seats break when tested with dummies weighing near the seat’s limit for its harness system. 

“When the structure surrounding either the harness or top tether breaks, it can compromise the seats’ ability to protect the child in a subsequent crash event. It may also allow the child to move further forward, with means they can contact portions of the vehicle interior and if the harness disengages completely, the seat in no longer restraining the child,” said Jennifer Stockburger, with Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports said it  knows of no injuries related to the structural failures revealed in its crash tests.

If you have one of the seats, CR advises you to continue using it unless you have a replacement because any car seat is better than none. The seats also provide a basic margin of safety.


* If your child weighs less than 40 pounds, you are good to keep using this seat with the five-point harness.

* If your child weighs more than 40 pounds -- the minimum weight for booster use in these seats -- and can safely fit the vehicle seat belt, use the seats in booster mode.

* If the child weighs more than 40 pounds but is still too small to fit the booster and vehicle seat belts correctly, Consumer Reports says you should replace your car seat with a different, forward-facing, harnessed car seat.

In statements to Consumer Reports, Britax, Cosco and Harmony all reiterated the safety of their seats and noted that they meet federal standards and that Consumer Reports' testing differed from the government’s testing.

If you need to replace your car seat, CR recommends the Graco Milestone, Graco  4Ever and Chicco NextFit.

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