Infant carseats fail tests

evenflo infant seatConsumer Reports has tested the twelve most popular rear facing infant carseats. Shockingly, TEN failed their safety tests. One, the Evenflo Discovery (pictured above), performing so poorly that Consumer Reports advised the seat be recalled.

This quote by the CEO of Evenflo angered me as a parent:


Evenflo CEO Robert Matteucci questioned the laboratory tests used by Consumer Reports. “Over decades of doing testing, we know that unless every variable is strictly adhered to - from the way the seat is strapped in to the crash test dummy used - the variables can affect the result,” Matteucci said.

Shouldn’t car seats be made safe enough so that it doesn’t require an engineering degree to safely secure it into your vehicle and safely strap your child into it? What a cop out by Evenflo. So if you have their carseat and it doesn’t perform well in real life circumstances, the company is placing the blame on the consumer. Life has variables.

I am sorry, but an infant seat should NOT come flying off of it’s base in a 35mph car accident. Some of the carseats also performed better using the seatbelts in the vehicle and not the LATCH system. I don’t have the LATCH system in any of my cars, but I was always lead to believe that it was much safer.

If you are in the market for an infant carseat you might want to check out their list. And then buy one of the two carseats that passed all the tests.

(When I looked at the photo closely I was surprised to see that it is a three point harness. I thought that all carseats had 5 point harnesses now. It should not be sold any longer for that reason alone.)

28 Responses to “Infant carseats fail tests”

  1. Heather Says:

    I agree with the engineering degree comment. My husband and I both studied the carseat manual and spent at least six hours trying to install our infant seat (the kind with the base). Something didn’t seem right so I took it to the local state police barracks, where an officer is specially trained in installation is available to check the seats.

    Within five minutes, he had it installed correctly and showed me what we did wrong. He says at least 95% of all car seats that he personally checks are installed incorrectly.

    I consider Hubby and I both to be good at techinical projects and I was surprised that we could not install the seat properly.

  2. Polly Says:

    My friend is a certified seat installer. She warned me against these types of carseats. Yes, it is convenient to be able to take the carseat from the base, but isn’t safety more important? So she installed a rear facing, full size car seat with an insert for my daughter’s infant head. The back of the carseat is very hard and high to protect from flying debris in case of an accident.
    While I miss being able to take a carrier with me into stores and such, I know my daughter is very safe.
    BTW, this carseat is one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen. But it passes all the tests with flying colors. I can’t remember who it is made by because I didn’t buy it. My friend works at a family center and took care of it for me from start to finish. Check in your area for car seat inspection stations or safety fairs where carseats are checked. Uf your seat doesn’t pass their tests, they will install one for you that is safe.

  3. Brigitte Says:

    Besides needing the engineering degree to get it in ONCE, for every model I’ve seen you have to take the whole thing apart to get the cover off to wash it (which, with all the barfing our baby did, should have been done lots more than I did).
    Then you have to pray you get it all put back the right way every time.
    I’m hoping that one day, the entire back seat of the car will come in at least two interchangeable models available at your dealership: regular, and built-in baby/toddler seats. They can’t fly out if it’s part of the seat, right?

  4. Alice H Says:

    I’m going to guess that with my kids’ ginormous heads (95th percentile head size vs 35 percent height and weight for my daughter, 50th percentile height/weight for my son), they’re not going to match the perfect crash test dummies that idiot CEO envisions.

  5. Sarah Says:

    I’m so thankful that Consumer Reports and the Consumer’s Union exist (who else would tell us these things -obviously not the manufacturer)- I’ll be renewing my subscription today!

  6. Stephanie Says:

    Here is some additional info…there are some questions about Consumer Reports methodology and their results…some of the car seats they rated high last year were rated as failing this year with no change in design…

    Hard to know what to believe, but good to read opposing viewpoints so you can make an informed decision:

    http://faggotsonthethirdfloor.blogspot.com/2007/01/so-youve-got-little-baby.html

    Makes me glad that my kids are either out of car seats or in boosters with a regular seat belt.

  7. wookie Says:

    I absolutely agree with you. It’s infuriated me for years that these supposed safety measures seem like one more way to shame parents… because with those statistics, apparently 95% of everyone who tries their best is still failing to the point of endangering our children. I have an engineering degree and still can’t do it properly. And in both our cars, my husband can’t drive (he’s 5′9″) with a rear-facing carseat behind him… his seat pushes the carseat around to an unsafe angle.

    So who is the onus on, then? Car manufacturers? Car seat manufacturers? Government to enforce tighter standards?

  8. Alice H Says:

    Wookie, your husband’s not alone in not being able to have a rear-facing carseat behind his. Every car we’ve owned since I had my son (two Eclipses, a Ford Taurus station wagon, a Jeep Cherokee, and a Jeep Grand Cherokee) can’t fit a rear-facing car seat directly behind either of the seats. There’s just no room. They can only go in the middle, and the top of the carseat is still pressing against the front seats when the carseat is at the proper angle. I think one of the Cadillacs from the 70s might fit a carseat without it touching the front seats, but since cars are no longer designed for long makeout sessions in the back seat, there’s not as much room.

  9. Debbie Says:

    I am confused by the never ending gadgets you get for kids these days. In UK we still have 3 point harnesses. Is that illegal there? I get worried that the safest things are also the options completely out of my price bracket. I wish there were some universal and binding law which made childrens seats as affordable and as standardised as car seats are.

  10. Jaime Says:

    I’m in the same situation as Alice is with rear-facing car seats only fitting in the middle (unless me, the short one is driving). But just because I’m shorter than average should impact my child’s safety.

    I love the idea of built in car seats!

  11. peeKay Says:

    I actually HAVE an engineering degree and this whole car seat business is the pits! and as far as taking it out and putting it back in forget it! now when i get in the car, i want to tellatransport to my destination. is that a feature in any new car seat?

  12. Anon Says:

    I’m a lurker, but child passenger safety is an obsession of mine and I just wanted to share this article with some things to consider (I am not the author):
    http://www.carseatsite.com/cr.htm

  13. Christina Says:

    OMG, that is just too scary.

  14. Julie Says:

    I heard about this study - scary! Do you have a link to the study?

  15. Jenni Says:

    New mom here - I am a scientist, my husband an engineer and even we put the carseat in wrong. It is all together too easy to do, especially in the US. Car manufaturers and infant seat makers need to have a better dialogue and need to create easy and safe solutions. Europe is miles ahead of the US on carseat safety, what with footholds, tethers and the like. These are easy fixes, yet there is no mandate in the US for similar measures.

  16. Wendy Says:

    Here is the article: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/babies-kids/child-car-booster-seats/car-seats-2-07/overview/0207_seats_ov.htm

    I cant believe I actually have the one carseat that tested safe, Graco Snugride with EPS. I just remember it was the top rated when my dd was an infant. I was lucky this time, but I think I need to do my research. I am currently researching convertible carseats for the kids.

  17. Melissa Says:

    These are infant seats. Anyone have a recommendation for a toddler seat? We need to buy one pronto but I’m scared that we’ll end up getting one that fails the next round of tests. My daughter is tall for her age (90th percentile in height, 50th in weight). Any recommendations for us?

  18. laura Says:

    I think the thing with LATCH being “safer” is more about the ease/simplicity of clipping in the seat, not the actual security of the connection.

  19. Susan Says:

    Sickening. Here is an aritcle in today’s local paper. (Scroll down to get to the car seat part.)
    —————————-

    Trona girls die in Barstow crash

    Grieving mother appeals for awareness of child-seat safety

    By ADAM L.R. SUMMERS and MATTHEW NELSON
    News Review Staff Writers

    A local family is grieving a terrible loss after an accident in Barstow took the lives of two young girls from Trona.

    Pat Rosenberry was pulling out from a business on Main Street in Barstow with her daughter Teisha Duncan-Tackett and two of Teisha’s daughters, 4-year-old Leota and 7-week-old Rebeka, when the accident occurred.

    According to a press release from the Barstow Police Department, as Rosenberry attempted to make a left turn from a private driveway on the westbound side of Main Street, an eastbound tractor-trailer broadsided her 1994 Honda Accord on the driver’s-side rear door.

    The force of the impact sent the car spinning on its tires. Rebeka’s infant seat failed, allowing the seat to break away from the secured base and be ejected from the car. Leota was restrained in a booster seat but had put the shoulder strap behind her, and the combined force of the impact and being struck by the flying infant seat ejected her as well.

    Teisha, who suffered only a broken rib, worked with a Good Samaritan to help free Leota from her seatbelt, which had broken away from at least one of its anchors and wrapped around her. Rebeka was found in her car seat 50 feet down the street.

    Rosenberry was transported to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. Leota was transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center, and Rebeka was transported to Barstow Community Hospital before being sent to Loma Linda. Rebeka was declared brain dead at 2 a.m. on Jan. 10. Leota was declared dead on Thursday morning.
    The driver of the tractor-trailer, 47-year-old Barstow resident Linda Nava, sustained minor injuries that were treated at the scene.
    In the immediate aftermath of the accident, California Highway Patrol and Barstow Police Department officers closed all lanes of Main Street west of L Street in both directions, rerouting traffic to Interstate 15 and state Highway 58.

    Their grandmother has been moved to the critical care unit with serious physical injuries and mild brain damage as well as emotional disturbance, Teisha told the News Review.

    ‘They’re together now’

    On Monday, Teisha shared her memories of her daughters.
    “Leota went to preschool in Ridgecrest. She was very funny, loved to dance and play house ­ just a sweet and loving girl. She always wanted to help people.”

    Even in death, Leota is still helping, Teisha said. Her kidneys were saved and transplanted into two recipients.

    “Rebeka was just a good, sweet baby, had just started to get a little bit of a personality. The day before [the accident] she had started to smile,” Teisha said.

    “They’re together now. Leota loved her baby sister. I know they’re taking care of each other and they’re not alone.”

    Their father, Teisha’s husband Kevin Tackett, is devastated, she said. “Leota was our first born, and Rebeka ­ two in one day…” The couple’s middle daughter Audrey, 2, is also grieving ­ aware that her sisters aren’t coming home, but still asking for them and clinging to people she loves.

    Rosenberry is aware of what happened and suffering from terrible guilt, said Teisha, adding “I don’t blame my mother.”

    Teisha too is suffering. She spends as much time as possible away from home, where several days ago she packed away all of Leota’s and Rebeka’s things. Even with that done, she found herself standing at Rebeka’s door and absentmindedly wondering why the baby hadn’t woken from her nap and started to cry yet.

    “The very last thing on my mind was that I’d have to bury my children. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone back and thought I wish I’d given them one more hug, I wish I’d told them one more time that I love them. We get so caught up in our lives, it’s easy to forget about the little things,” Teisha said.

    A fund to help pay final expenses and medical bills for the girls has been set up in their names at Searles Lake Community Federal Credit Union. If any funds are left over, they will be used to put Audrey in a preschool in Ridgecrest, Teisha said.

    A memorial service for the girls is set for 2 p.m. on Jan. 19 at Holland and Lyons Mortuary.

    A call for safety

    Late last month, Consumers Union ­ the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports ­ released a report that showed all infant safety seats tested by the group had problems and that two of them were unacceptable.

    In the report, investigators found the Evenflo Discovery rear-facing infant seat unacceptable for failing not only the investigators’ more rigorous tests but also the 30-mile-per-hour front-crash standard set by the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency.

    That’s the model of infant seat Rebeka was in when her grandmother’s car was struck last week. Rebeka’s seat failed just as had seats of the same model tested by Consumers Union ­ the seat broke away from the base, allowing the baby to be launched within or out of the car. (For the report, go to http://www.consumerreports.org and click on the “Babies and Kids” link near the top right of the screen.)

    Teisha said she has been getting several unsolicited calls per day from attorneys offering to help her sue the maker of Rebeka’s seat, Evenflo Company, Inc. But awareness, not a settlement, is what Teisha says she wants.

    She encouraged parents, as well as professionals in healthcare and law enforcement settings who often influence parents’ early choices about use and selection of infant seats, to take notice of Consumer Union’s warning and be careful in their selection and installation of infant seats.

    Teisha also offered to personally help anyone who feels they cannot afford a high-quality infant seat. “If they can’t afford a car seat, I’ll buy them one.” The two top-rated seats in Consumer Union’s report each retail for about $90.

    For its part, Evenflo has disputed Consumer Union’s findings, saying that its own tests and those of NHTSA have proven that its seats meet federal standards.

    Manufacturers, NHTSA, Consumers Union and other safety experts all agree that proper installation of infant and child seats is essential to safety. NHTSA maintains a list of free safety-seat inspection stations, http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting, but the site was down for maintenance when News Review staff checked it yesterday.
    The California Highway Patrol in Mojave has an officer certified to perform safety inspections and give installation training for child seats. The one-hour inspection and training are available in Mojave by appointment only by calling (661) 824-2408.

  20. Alice H Says:

    Consumer Reports is recalling the carseat study.

  21. Anon Says:

    FYI, the Consumer Reports study has been recalled…

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/AUTOS/01/18/car_seat/index.html

    I would also encourage anyone with questions about this, or about child passenger safety in general, to check out this car seat message board:
    http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-ppcarseats
    There has been much discussion of the Consumer Reports study and many links to various groups responses to the study. There are also many knowledgeable Child Passenger Safety Technicians there who are very happy to answer any questions to the best of their ability.

  22. thethinker Says:

    If there is one thing that should past inspections, it’s car seats. They need to work harder on that, it’s just unacceptable.

  23. Laura Says:

    Consumer Reports has recanted and will retest the infant seats (see their website for the details or google it). I only know this because I’m in the market for an infant seat and have been doing the research…

  24. Brigitte Says:

    They recanted because the tests were done at more like 70 MPH, where the Federal Government is OK with your kid flying out the window at that speed. On Connecticut’s highways, 70 is about the minumum speed anyone drives. Your baby shouldn’t fly out the window in a crash qat ANY speed!

  25. Another CT mom Says:

    Yes, they recanted the report because the speed was wrong. But not because it’s “ok” to have your kid fly out the window at any speed. Realistically, any car hit at 70mph with any secured passenger, whether it be a belted passenger, an infant seat, a car seat, or a booster seat, will sustain major damage at that speed and can result in failure of restraining devices. And people need to remember that the best car seat in the world will not work properly if it is not installed correctly and your child is not fastened properly. I am fanatical about our car seats that way because I have friends who lost their 2yo daughter in an accident. She was in her seat, but either the seat wasn’t installed correctly or she wasn’t fastened correctly, because she sustained fatal injuries and was still buckled into her seat.

  26. meritt Says:

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Consumer Reports once mismeasured the ingredients in dog food. Just last year, it screwed up the depreciation rates of hybrid cars.

    But it’s rare for the trusted, independent magazine to go as wrong as it did in its report this month on infant car seats. Consumer Reports retracted the report Thursday when it turned out that side-impact crashes in tests of car seats were carried out at speeds near 70 mph, not the 38 mph the magazine claimed.

    The magazine told its 6.3 million print and online readers — and the millions more who had heard about the widely publicized report — to disregard the startling findings earlier this month that only two of the 12 seats it tested were worth buying. Parents of babies may or may not have been comforted by the magazine’s promise to retest the seats and issue a new report.

    On Friday, spokesman Ken Weine defended the magazine’s overall 70-year record.

    “As an organization whose only mission is to serve consumers’ interest, we test over 3,100 products a year with our teams of reporters, scientists, engineers and even mystery shoppers who apply the most rigorous standards,” he said.

    He also noted that Consumer Reports went public with the information as soon as it learned of the bad test at the Calspan lab in Buffalo.

    Weine would not say whether Consumer Reports expects lawsuits over its faulty testing. And at least two of the car-seat makers whose products were rated poorly in the faulty test seemed conciliatory.

    “The intent of Consumer Reports was probably in the best interests of families and child safety,” said Lisa Nussa of Peg Perego. “There are no plans for a lawsuit or anything along those lines.” Another car-seat maker, Chicco USA, said it “applauds Consumer Reports for its prompt action.”

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