The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration believes there is a safety defect in the latches used on 11 models from 2009 to 2013. Graco says dried food or liquid is sticking in the latches, making it tough and frustrating for adults trying to undo the buckle.
The seat models being recalled are: Cozy Cline, Comfort Sport, Classic Ride 50, My Ride 65, My Ride with Safety Surround, My Ride 70, Size 4 Me 70, Smartseat, Nautilus, Nautilus Elite, and Argos 70.
The government has received 135 complaints since October 2012. Graco has received more than 6,000. Of those, 74 people said they had to cut the harness to get their child out of the seat.
Graco stopped using the latches last May and is offering replacement buckles for recalled car seats. No injuries have been reported.
This is the fourth largest car seat recall ever. But the NHTSA thinks the recall should include another 1.8 million rear-facing car seats. The agency criticized Graco in a letter dated Tuesday, saying the recall excludes seven infant car seat models with the same buckles.
Rear-facing infant seats aren't being recalled because infants don't get food or drinks on their seats, Graco spokeswoman Ashley Mowrey said, according to the Associated Press.
For more information on the recall or to get a replacement buckle, call Graco's consumer hotline at (800) 345-4109.
The NHTSA is also opening an investigation into four models of Evenflo car seats manufactured between 2011-2013 because of a similar problem.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.