One day last week our family car, my beloved Subaru, had a worse-than-usual mystery scent. This is the car that I primarily drive with the two boys. There’s all sorts of toys, books, workbooks, snacks, discarded wrappers, empty water bottles, half empty water bottles, soccer cleats, my spin shoes, hoodies and sweatshirts, frisbees, you NAME it in this car. I’m not proud of it – my husband is constantly grossed out by the state of affairs and it’s downright embarrassing at the carpool line when a piece of trash falls out with the kid. Oh, sorry about that! Just toss it back in! OMG OMG OMG OMG.
Anyhow, this mystery scent was on TOP of all of that, and further investigation revealed the culprit: a combination of a spilled yogurt smoothie and the Houston heat. Lovely.
We take out both carseats (both Britax Boulevards) so my husband could take the car in for a thorough cleaning, inside and out. This spill needed professional help. At home, as I strip the carseats of their covers, one of the hard foam inserts cracks off with the cover. Not the soft, cushy foam, but the the super-hard-molded-to the-plastic-of-the-seat foam. I look at the foam insert and sure enough – it’s cracked the entire length of the seat. The only thing holding it together was the cover. I immediately stop and think about when this could have happened. Did we travel with our seats recently? No. Hmmmm.
I switched my attention to the other carseat and the foam was intact under the cover. I gave it a little wiggle, and SNAP! Dry as a bone, it cracked right off in my hand. The molded plastic of the base was still fully intact of course, but the entire layer of the hard, black foam completely cracked in both seats. I stopped for a second and realized it was over 5 years since I purchased both seats, right when G was a baby, I bought both seats so they’d match. (Aw).
I looked it up on the Britax website and there’s an entire section on the Energy Absorbing Foam cracking, and what to do if it’s cracked. As I read through the Frequently Asked Questions, it doesn’t seem have any effect on the safety of the seat, and they recommend calling customer service for next steps. I’m a HUGE Britax fan and don’t think there was anything faulty at all with our seats, nor am I making any claims whatsoever against the seat or Britax – I truly think it’s the effect of age and the conditions our seats have been under, mostly the hot Houston sun and the occasional travel.
Since I’ve had these seats for over 5 years already, and they’ve certainly seen their share of wear and tear, not to mention being the victim of a ripe smoothie, I’ve decided it is time for some new seats. I’ve been a loyal Britax car seat customer since my first son was born, and now that they are both bigger, I’m looking at high back boosters, so I’m starting my research now! If you have a favorite, please leave it in the comments below.
The whole point though is — check your seats, and if anything seems off, give the manufacturer a call and/or get a new seat if in doubt! Here are some great Car Seat Tips from SafeKids.org.
If it wasn’t for that spilled smoothie, we may have not known about the cracked foam in the seats, and what the effect could have been if we were in a situation where we needed them. I almost feel grateful to the spilled smoothie. Sometimes life gives us warning in strange ways, and in this case it came to me in the putrid scent of hot yogurt. Yep, I’ll leave you on that note.