Car seat recalled after failing crash test

LOS ANGELES The seat is the $80 Evenflo Maestro. The recall covers more than 18,000 seats made through April 2010. Fortunately there have not been any injuries reported so far.

The Evenflo Maestro, a combination toddler-booster seat, is designed for children weighing between 20 and 100 pounds. Children use it with the harness until they're big enough to use it with a vehicle's seatbelt.

"Here's how this seat is supposed to work: Once you clip your child in, you pull this front strap to tighten the harness," said Jennifer Stockburger, senior automotive engineer, Consumer Reports.

But in a simulated 30-mile-per-hour crash test that Consumer Reports had performed at an outside laboratory, two of the seats failed when used with their harnesses.

"In our test, this detached from the seat and the shell cracked," said Stockburger. "This adjuster pulled back through the shell and allowed the harness to loosen."

When you look at the crash test again, you can see the strap getting pulled back through the seat, which allows the harness to loosen.

"Should the harness loosen in a real crash, it allows the child to move much further forward, exposing their head and neck to injury, as well as increasing their potential for ejection," said Stockburger. "The harness came loose in both of our tests with the 3-year-old dummy using the harness, one where the seat was installed with the latch system, and the other when it was installed with the three-point seatbelt."

Consumer Reports notified Evenflo. Evenflo issued "a voluntary safety recall of certain Maestro child-restraint systems built between November 24, 2009, and April 9, 2010."

You can determine when a seat was made by checking the label on the top of the shell. The manufacturing date is at the top.

Evenflo says that no injuries have been reported, but it has developed a free fix that parents should install before using the seat in harness mode. The company also says parents of bigger children may safely use the Maestro seat in its booster mode until the fix comes.

To get a repair kit, call Evenflo at (800) 233-5921. For more information: Evenflo Maestro Car Seat voluntary safety recall

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