Yonkers, New York – Evenflo will recall more than 18,000 child car seats in Canada and the U.S. after Consumer Reports crash-tested the seat and found that it can crack and fail in a simulated 48 km/h frontal collision.

The recall affects early production units of the Evenflo Maestro Combination Booster Seat. The seat, introduced last January, is designed to be used either with its own five-point harness as a conventional child seat for smaller children, or as a booster seat using the vehicle’s seatbelt for larger and older children.

In tests conducted at an outside laboratory, Consumer Reports found that two of the units failed when the seat’s plastic shell cracked and the harness loosened in simulated 48 km/hr frontal-impact crashes. Both failures came when the seat was used with its five-point harness; there were no problems in booster seat mode.

Consumer Reports said that the two seats that failed were manufactured in December and February, well before the April 2010 cutoff date for the recall. Later production units made after April, and not subject to the recall, included certain design modifications, and the magazine said that it believes they are safe to use.

The recall affects 4,479 units sold or available for sale in Canada manufactured up to April 26, 2010, and 13,792 units in the U.S. manufactured up to April 9, 2010.

Evenflo said its recent tests replicated the Consumer Reports finding, although it has no reports of cracks developing in consumer use or any actual injuries resulting from the problem. The company is asking retailers to pull the recalled units from shelves.

The company has developed a kit that includes an easily-installed bracket to reinforce the seat that will be distributed free to owners of the recalled units. Evenflo is advising people not to use the seat with the harness until it has been upgraded, but those using the seat in booster mode for children over 40 lbs (18 kg) may continue to use it. Consumer Reports will perform followup tests on seats incorporating the remedy kit as soon as possible.

To check if a seat is recalled, look at the manufacture date and model number, both of which appear on a white label behind the seat, as well as on the box. The affected model number in Canada is 31011057C. In the U.S., affected numbers are 3101198, 3101980, 31011048, 31011049 and 31011059.

Canadians who own affected seats should call 1-800-265-0749 to receive the free remedy kit, which installs without tools.

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