Archive for Saturday, March 3, 2001

Car seats, Fords inspected

March 3, 2001

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— The government has upgraded its investigation into 3.4 million Evenflo infant car seat/carriers because of complaints that the handle can break while someone is carrying a baby.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also is stepping up its investigation into nearly a million Ford Motor Co. cars after thousands of owners complained that the vehicles can overheat and catch fire.

Evenflo Co. recalled 800,000 of its On My Way combination infant carrier-car seats in 1998 because of a faulty handle. The current investigation involves the Joyride rear facing infant car seat/carrier, which has not been manufactured since 1998.

NHTSA and Evenflo have collected 240 complaints that the handle can break. Ninety-six babies are reported to have been injured.

Evenflo spokesman Brian Bloom said all carriers manufactured today can support at least 90 pounds, but many older models only met a 40-pound standard. He said the company was looking for a solution to the problem.

"As a car seat, it's perfect, it's OK," he said. "It's the handle we are investigating."

NHTSA opens any investigation with a preliminary inquiry when the agency and manufacturer exchange paperwork. The agency can then upgrade the recall to an engineering analysis to study the parts and see if they are defective, as is the case with the infant seats. An investigation can eventually lead to a recall.

More than 2,000 people have complained to NHTSA and Ford about an electrical problem in the dash of the 1995 through 1998 models of the Contour and Mercury Mystique and 1995 through 1999 Cougar. Fires were reported in 93 cases.

The complaints involve overheating of the blower switch, resistor or wiring harness, sometimes including failure of the defrost system, and several owners said they returned to the dealer repeatedly because of the problem.

Ford also has received 12,899 warranty claims about the problem and offered extended warranty coverage for the Contour and Mystique, but not the Cougar.

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