When you become a parent, you want to feel like the products you're introducing to your children are above all, safe - especially the car seat they ride around in on a daily basis. There are so many different names on the market that it can be overwhelming choosing the right one for your family and your vehicle. In a recent Consumer Reports' evaluation of toddler booster child car seats (often referred to as harness-to-booster seats), the performance of four well-known models raised safety concerns when parts of each broke during testing. It's definitely a report worth paying attention to.
The four seats in question are the Britax Frontier ClickTight, Britax Pioneer, Cosco Finale, and Harmony Defender 360.
Back in 2014, Consumer Reports launched their own car seat testing protocol with the goal was to differentiate car seats that provide an additional margin of safety above the basic level already provided, because child restraints must meet a federal standard to be sold in the U.S. During this testing, seats are evaluated for their crash protection on a scale of Basic, Better, and Best. All four of these seats score a “Basic” for crash protection.
Their findings reveal that the load-bearing components at the rear of the seats broke when tested with dummies whose weight was near the seat’s limits for the harness system. Meaning if these seats were used in a real-world situation, there would be a risk that a child’s head could come into contact with some part of the vehicle’s interior, or that the child might even be ejected from the car seat. However, Consumer Reports knows of no injuries related to the structural failures revealed in our crash tests.
You can read the full report from Consumer Reports here that breaks down what the manufacturers have to say about each individual model they are labeling with a "basic" score for crash protection.
Overall, they want parents to know that using a car seat is better than no car seat at all, so if you have one of these models, continue to use it until you can find a replacement. The four seats involved in this research do provide a basic margin of safety.