Would You Know if Your Child's Car Seat Was Recalled?
It may need critical safety repairs, so make sure you’re in the loop
Buckling your brood into car seats and booster seats is job one of keeping them safe in the car. But if your child’s seat has been recalled for safety defects, would you know about it — or even know how to find out?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 6 million car seats were recalled for safety defects in 2014, the largest recall in U.S. history. However, fewer than half of those car seats were repaired. That means parents either didn’t know about the recall or didn’t follow through on fixing their children’s seats.
Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children, conducted a study to find out why so few car seats were repaired and how to increase awareness about recalls. The survey found 80 percent of parents agreed that registering their child’s car seat is important, and 68 percent knew manufacturers use the registration card to notify buyers of a recall. However, only 42 percent returned the card after buying a new car seat, so approximately 6 out of 10 parents may not learn about a recall.
How to register a car seat
Whichever way you choose to register your child's car seat, doing so will guarantee you'll be notified if it's recalled. There are two ways to do it.
1. Send in your car seat registration card (no postage necessary). According to Safe Kids Worldwide’s president and CEO Kate Carr, sending in the card is the best way to keep up with car seat recalls. Manufacturers never use the information on registration cards for anything other than recall alerts. Your email address won’t be used for product marketing or submitted to mailing lists.
2. Register online at safercar.gov or your car seat manufacturer’s website. You also can print out a registration form from safercar.gov to fill out and mail in. You’ll need the car seat manufacturer name, model name and number and date of manufacture from the label on the car seat.
Either way, if a company recalls a car seat, it will contact you directly via the contact information you provided.
Related: What to Do With Your Old Car Seat
How to check for car seat recalls
After you register, find out about product recalls at NHTSA, where you also can search for your car seat’s specific model. Make sure you have the manufacturer name, model name and number and date of manufacture. If you discover a recall, contact your car seat manufacturer to verify it, or call NHTSA’s toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236. You also can sign up to receive car seat recall email alerts at NHTSA.
If your car seat or booster has been recalled, ask if it’s okay to use while you’re waiting for the repair kit. Not all recalls are for safety reasons. Sometimes it’s as simple as incorrect information on a label, in which case the manufacturer will simply send a new label. Sometimes the NHTSA will recommend continuing to use the recalled car seat while you wait for a repair kit because it’s almost always safer than letting a child travel with just a seat belt.
Once you receive the free kit from the manufacturer, it’s critical to follow through on fixing the car seat — and many repairs are simple. If the car seat is registered, you will receive the repair kit automatically.