(USA TODAY) -- Graco is recalling nearly 3.8 million car safety seats becausechildren can be trapped, but is refusing to recall seven other infantseat models, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recallnotice shows.
The buckles may not unlatch, making it difficult toremove the child from the seat. That increases the risk of injury in acrash, fire, or other emergency when a speedy exit from the vehicle isrequired.
"NHTSA's investigation will remain open pending itsevaluation of the Graco recall and until the Agency's consideration ofthe review of the 7 remaining seat models is completed," the agency saidin a statement.
That means the agency and company will continueto negotiate whether a recall is warranted for the Snugride infantseats, a disagreement that could wind up in court if it provescontentious.
In an emailed statement, Graco said it "identifiedthat food and dried liquids can make some harness buckles progressivelymore difficult to open over time or become stuck in the latchedposition." It emphasized that the infant seats were not included in therecall, saying they are "uniquely designed to detach from their base forquick release if needed." Those who have difficulty with an infant seatbuckle can also get a replacement buckle, Graco said.
Graco said is is offering an improved replacement harness buckle to affected consumers at no cost.
"Gracowould like to stress this does not in any way affect the performance ofthe car seat or the effectiveness of the buckle to restrain the child,"the company said in the statement.
The child seat recall covers 11 models sold from 2009 through 2013. .
NHTSAsays it has at least 80 complaints about the seats. Parents said theyhad to use excessive force to unlatch the harness buckle. In some cases,the straps even had to be cut to free children.
Graco said in aletter to NHTSA that it had been monitoring the performance of thebuckles since 2009 and had given owners advice on how to use and cleanthem and offered replacement buckles.
The recalled models includeCozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride withSafety Surround, My Ride 70, Size 4 Me 70, Smartseat, Nautilus, NautilusElite and Argos 70.
Consumers can contact Graco at 1-800-345-4109 (toll-free) or 1-330-869-7225.
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