Question Consumer Reports Frontier Anxiety

U

Unregistered

Guest
My almost 6 year old (51 lbs and around 48 inches) rides harnessed in a Britax Frontier CT. Like many, I chose the seat intending to keep him harnessed (he is a wiggle worm) for years to come. Enter Consumer Reports with the news that the harness may fail at his weight. Should I transition to belt positioning booster mode? It just seems really scary to me not to have him in a harnessed seat! Is it worth buying a Chicco MyFit or Evenflo Evolve to stay harnessed to 65 lbs? We do have a younger child who will use the seats again in the future. Thanks!
 
ADS

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Hi!

Have you read this blog post? https://carseatblog.com/46164/consu...finale-harmony-defender-receive-basic-rating/

It is worth noting that the Frontier has usage issues in many vehicles in booster mode, too. If you choose to transition to a booster (I have generally found that my kids are ready more toward 6 1/2 but that varies) you may end up wanting a dedicated booster instead.

If you're more comfortable harnessing, your own comfort level will tell you what is worth it or not. Some questions worth asking yourself are how close is your child to the point where failure occurred; is that failure likely to cause real world injury; what was Britax's response; have there been real-world failures reported to NHTSA; is another seat within your means; is your child going to be truly booster-ready soon... There are more, those are some factors to consider when weighting the choices.
 

squishles10

New member
I agonized over this for a while before I decided that Britax was no longer allowed for my kids. My real issue is that if this happens at 35 mph, what about 45? 55? We live in a big city, and I'm going over 40 mph almost every trip, and frequently over 70mph, in the city. I switched the Frontier to a booster as a trial and it was terrible- a very bad fit. It's probably better for a much older kid, but mine isn't huge yet, at 45 lbs and 5 years old. We removed that and put the diono radian in, but it wasn't compatible FF in the available seat. We ended up with a HBB that fits him well, but it still makes me nervous. I had to weigh how nervous I was with that versus how nervous I was flying down a highway, and the booster won out. I'm an engineer and have watched my company run crash tests for what I consider a very same car company, so I've seen how big of a deal a few miles per hour is. My opinion was he is safer in a properly fitting HBB than a harness that has questionable results. Also, seat belts have been crash tested at more speeds than car seats have, so I trust them more. I used to not but I assumed car seats were tested at much higher speeds. It's pretty upsetting that they aren't, and I'm glad we never had an accident while using them.

Depending on where you live and how you drive, you might come to the opposite conclusion and be right for your circumstances. There's no right answer unfortunately.
 

lillie3

New member
My 4.5 year old weighs 52 lbs and he has this carseat. Thank you so much for posting this article, I had no idea. He is harnessed because in our state he needs to be until age 5 (which is at the end of August for him). I don't feel comfortable putting him in this carseat anymore after reading this. We will switch to our backup carseat (Diono Radian 3R) today.
 

jjordan

Moderator
I agonized over this for a while before I decided that Britax was no longer allowed for my kids. My real issue is that if this happens at 35 mph, what about 45? 55? We live in a big city, and I'm going over 40 mph almost every trip, and frequently over 70mph, in the city. I switched the Frontier to a booster as a trial and it was terrible- a very bad fit. It's probably better for a much older kid, but mine isn't huge yet, at 45 lbs and 5 years old. We removed that and put the diono radian in, but it wasn't compatible FF in the available seat. We ended up with a HBB that fits him well, but it still makes me nervous. I had to weigh how nervous I was with that versus how nervous I was flying down a highway, and the booster won out. I'm an engineer and have watched my company run crash tests for what I consider a very same car company, so I've seen how big of a deal a few miles per hour is. My opinion was he is safer in a properly fitting HBB than a harness that has questionable results. Also, seat belts have been crash tested at more speeds than car seats have, so I trust them more. I used to not but I assumed car seats were tested at much higher speeds. It's pretty upsetting that they aren't, and I'm glad we never had an accident while using them.

Depending on where you live and how you drive, you might come to the opposite conclusion and be right for your circumstances. There's no right answer unfortunately.
I just want to point out that this test at 35 mph does not actually simulate a crash at 35 mph. I don't fully understand the physics but my (incomplete) understanding is that the details of this 35 mph crash are such that the forces experienced are greater than the vast majority of crashes - which includes those on highways traveling faster than 35 mph.
 

jjordan

Moderator
My 4.5 year old weighs 52 lbs and he has this carseat. Thank you so much for posting this article, I had no idea. He is harnessed because in our state he needs to be until age 5 (which is at the end of August for him). I don't feel comfortable putting him in this carseat anymore after reading this. We will switch to our backup carseat (Diono Radian 3R) today.
I was unaware of any states that require a harness to age 5. Do you mind if you share what state you are in?

That being said - few 4 children are ready for a harness before age 5 so I'm not saying that your decision to keep your child harnessed is a bad one!
 

murphydog77

Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
I agonized over this for a while before I decided that Britax was no longer allowed for my kids. My real issue is that if this happens at 35 mph, what about 45? 55? We live in a big city, and I'm going over 40 mph almost every trip, and frequently over 70mph, in the city. I switched the Frontier to a booster as a trial and it was terrible- a very bad fit. It's probably better for a much older kid, but mine isn't huge yet, at 45 lbs and 5 years old. We removed that and put the diono radian in, but it wasn't compatible FF in the available seat. We ended up with a HBB that fits him well, but it still makes me nervous. I had to weigh how nervous I was with that versus how nervous I was flying down a highway, and the booster won out. I'm an engineer and have watched my company run crash tests for what I consider a very same car company, so I've seen how big of a deal a few miles per hour is. My opinion was he is safer in a properly fitting HBB than a harness that has questionable results. Also, seat belts have been crash tested at more speeds than car seats have, so I trust them more. I used to not but I assumed car seats were tested at much higher speeds. It's pretty upsetting that they aren't, and I'm glad we never had an accident while using them.

Depending on where you live and how you drive, you might come to the opposite conclusion and be right for your circumstances. There's no right answer unfortunately.
I'd also like to point out that it's a fairly common misconception that crashes "big city" crashes occur at high speeds. Oftentimes there will be braking on both sides of the crash, which reduces crash force considerably. I don't have the stats handy right now, but it's the rural crashes that are at higher speeds and have worse outcomes.
 

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