Two Britax car seats could pose safety risk

Two Britax car seats could pose safety risk

Consumer Reports finds potential problem with the Britax Boulevard ClickTight and the Britax Marathon ClickTight

Last updated: March 31, 2015 10:30 AM

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Britax Boulevard ClickTight

Consumer Reports has discovered a potential problem with certain Britax ClickTight child car seats that raises a safety concern. (See update below.)

We bought one sample of each of the Britax Boulevard ClickTight and Britax Marathon ClickTight convertible car seats, and found that—with both seats—one or both sides of the harness strap had not been fully secured to its lower anchor hook. That raised concerns that the harness, although attached securely to the car seat at three or even four other points, could still come loose in a crash, rendering the restraint potentially less effective.

Fortunately, this should be easy for customers to remedy. In fact, the five-point harness design allows for repositioning the straps on their anchors to adjust for different-sized children. Our car seat installation experts found that if they followed Britax's online instructions for adjusting the harness length, they were able to properly re-secure the harness strap themselves, paying particular attention to engage the straps inside the hook.

Watch Britax’s video that shows how to adjust the harness.

On the Britax seats, like many other models available, the harness straps end with a sewn loop, which slides over and then into a steel hook. With the seats we bought, the loop had been pulled over the anchor but not engaged fully around the hook. If the hook is not engaged, the harness loop could pull completely off the anchor during normal use. To a consumer, the lack of attachment may not be obvious without examining the lower anchor closely.

Even though these are brand-new models on the market, we discovered that we weren’t alone in noting the harness issue. We found four complaints on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s complaints database and another listed in an online owner forum.

Proper installation procedure

When Consumer Reports queried Britax, the company sent a written statement saying, "Prior to using the seat, ensure that the harness straps are securely connected to the anchors inside the hook."

We have not yet crash-tested these seats, and therefore have no judgment about their performance in a collision. It's also important to note that we are not aware of any injury reports related to this issue or these seats.

Britax convertible seats have performed well in Consumer Reports' car seat tests in the past. We were impressed with the performance of the ClickTight feature for securing a harness when we tested it on toddler/booster models.

If you or someone you know has bought a Britax Marathon ClickTight or Britax Boulevard ClickTight convertible seat, we urge you to check the lower harness anchor points to make sure the harness straps are fully engaged.

—Gordon Hard

If you're in the market for a car seat, check our child car seat buying guide and test-based Ratings.

3/31/15 update

Responding to a follow-up inquiry, Britax informed us that it they had shared test data and information with NHTSA and “confirmed the performance” of ClickTight seats. The company also shared that the problem we noted—that the restraint harness was not securely attached to the hooks on the lower harness anchors—was “an initial assembly issue” affecting all Marathon ClickTight, Boulevard ClickTight and Advocate ClickTight seats manufactured between August 15, 2014 and November 7, 2014.


On NHTSA’s recommendation Britax also sent email notifications to all owners of ClickTight seats that might have been affected. Unfortunately, there was no notification sent to owners who had registered their seats with only a postal mailing address (the way Consumer Reports registered the seats it purchased). Although Britax does provide instructions on its website (britaxusa.com) for correctly attaching the harness, no reference to the harness attachment is included in the “Safety Notices” area of Britax’s site. It should be.


Jen Stockburger


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