Graco Children’s Products is recalling nearly 3.8 million car seats after an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two-year-old Leiana Ramirez was killed in a car fire on the Arroyo Seco (110) Parkway in Highland Park while seated in a Graco Nautilus car seat.
Leiana's mother tried to remove her from the burning wreckage, as did a bystander who was hospitalized after cutting his arms trying to extract the baby.
Graco's assertion that this defect has not been linked to any injuries is a LIE. When NHTSA pointed this out to them in a public letter, their reply was that the case was settled and covered by a confidentiality agreement. Which, apparently, means it never happened and the child did not die and nobody was injured in their efforts to free her from the car seat which entrapped her. (/dark, bitter sarcasm)
Graco has been aware of this defect for years, and it's also a lie that it is caused by food getting trapped in the buckle. Many seats have been out of compliance right out of the box (NHTSA regulates the amount of force required to release the buckle). This was a QA problem. Not all buckles were out of compliance, but a significant number of them were.
I stopped recommending Graco seats for a long time because I knew about this defect. It was discussed extensively in car seat forums such as on Car-seat.org. I started recommending them again after they switched to the IMMI buckle. But I am so disgusted with the way they have handled this recall that I would hesitate to recommend the brand for anything at this point.
Affected Graco owners (if they cannot follow NHTSA's recommendation to put their children in a different restraint until the buckle is replaced) should be sure to carry a belt cutter in easy reach in the vehicle at all times in case of emergency.