Regulators investigating whether Graco took too long to report problems with child car seats

WASHINGTON – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday that it is investigating whether Graco took too long to report a safety defect in its child car seats.

Graco Children’s Products, a division of Atlanta-based Newell Rubbermaid Inc., recalled 6.1 million car seats this year because the buckles could get stuck. That could put a child’s life at risk in an emergency. It is the largest child seat recall in U.S. history.

Federal rules require a manufacturer to report a safety defect within five days of becoming aware of it. If the investigation finds the company failed to report the defect in a timely manner, the company could face up to $35 million in fines.

Graco said Monday that it “thoroughly analyzed all data related to the buckles and took the required actions to keep our consumers safe.” It said it is co-operating with the NHTSA investigation.

No injuries have been reported because of the problem, the company said.

The agency and the car seat maker were involved in an extended dispute over the car seat recall.

When Graco recalled 4.2 million toddler seats in February, the NHTSA sent a sternly worded letter that questioned why infant car seats weren’t included. It accused the company of soft-pedaling the recall with “incomplete and misleading” documents for consumers. The company gave in to regulatory pressure and recalled 1.9 million infant car seats in July.