Informational

How to Fix a Stuck Car Seat [4 Easy Ways]

If a search for how to fix a stuck car seat brought you here, you’re most likely in a frustrating situation right now. You’re probably searching on your phone while telling yourself not to kick the car seat into the street. For as safe as these car seats are, they sure can be testy!

If it’s any consolation, stuck car seats are a very common issue. Yours won’t be the first, nor the last. Because it is so common, we do know ways to remedy the problem and together, we’ll get that car stuck out! 

Fixing a Car Seat Stuck in Base

You may have already noticed that infant car seats are finicky when it comes to the base. If you don’t aim that heavy seat just perfectly onto the base attachments, you won’t hear that “click.” This is probably why your car seat is currently jammed.

By the way, these tips can also help if you find your car seat stuck in the base of your stroller.

1. Remove the seat and base if you can

This step isn’t completely necessary. If the seat and base being connected prevent you from removing the base from the car, then that’s okay. Proceed to step 2.

If you can remove the seat, do so and relocate it to an area where you have room to work with it.

2. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle

Nine times out of ten, a stuck car seat means that seat never fully connected with the base the last time it was placed inside. This probably means one side of the locking mechanism clicked but not the other.

To put it simply, your job is to get the seat and base to connect. To accomplish this, you’re going to have to do some wiggling. You’ll need to shake and jostle the seat around and maybe even push down on the sides until you hear that familiar “click.”

3. Call the manufacturer

If all else fails, contact the customer service line for your car seat’s manufacturer. You surely aren’t the first customer to experience this issue and the representative may be able to assist you with the problem over the phone.

Fixing a Car Seat Stuck in Recline

For the first few months, it’s vital that your infant is reclined in the car seat. However, when it comes time to put it upright, you’re finding the seat won’t budge. Now what?

1. Review your instruction manual

Different car seats have different recline mechanisms. For example, most new car seats, like Britax and Graco, have an adjustment handle on the bottom front of the car seat. Meanwhile, some adjust via the base. Check to see which you are working with.

2. Use Some Force

For a situation like this, you’re going to have to put a little muscle into it. For most seats, you’ll hear an audible click when the moving mechanisms have operated successfully. 

To get that click, you may have to adjust something that came out of place. To do that, try laying the seat (or base, depending on where the recline controls are) on its side on the ground. 

If you can, get a second set of hands to push down on the recline adjustment button, while you press the seatback forward. Other parents have fixed the problem by stepping on recline buttons and using their hands to pull the seatback.

3. Use lubricant or its substitute

If a significant amount of maneuvering and pushing and doesn’t count it, try a dab of WD-40 or even something like olive oil. If the seat has been sitting in a car for a long period of time, it might need some grease to get the wheels turning, so to speak.

4. Contact The Manufacturer

Some customers have found this issue to be permanent. If you believe your car seat is malfunctioning, contact the seat’s manufacturer. Explain the issue to customer service and request a replacement or other solution.

Fixing a Car Seat Stuck All the Way Back

You may find yourself dealing with more than just a slight recline.

If you find your child’s car seat stuck all the way back, it might be tricky. For this issue, you’ll be doing much of the same steps from the above section.

1. Use Some Force

While a car seat stuck in recline may need a bit of force, a car stuck all the way back is going to need more than that. Try laying the car seat on the ground and using your hands and even a foot or two to push the car seat back.

2. Use lubricant

The reclining mechanism could be jammed, so give it a little lubrication with WD-40 or olive oil, and then repeat step one.

3. Call the manufacturer

If nothing works, check the manufacturer’s website to make sure the issue hasn’t been recalled. If you don’t find any information, make a phone call and see what the company can do to fix the issue. You may need a replacement part.

Fixing a Car Seat with a Jammed Buckle

1. Use Lubricant or its Substitute

It’s time to hit your garage and find that old bottle of WD-40 behind all the bicycles and scooters. A small spray of WD-40 onto the buckle should loosen it up. WD-40 can be dangerous if inhaled through, so see if someone can block the baby’s face from the spray with a blanket or similar.

If that idea sounds too risky, I understand. Good news – olive oil can work just as well! In fact, most oils in your kitchen an do the job, including canola oil and coconut oil, and are completely safe. You can smear the oil over the buckle or use a q-tip to get into the crevices. 

With some strong wiggling, that buckle should pop out! If not, try more oil and more maneuvering. 

2. Clean the buckle

We are all guilty of letting our little ones sip juice and munch on snacks during car rides. Unfortunately, a wayward crumb or spill on the buckle can make harness buckles difficult to operate.

If the lubrication step didn’t work, trying warm soapy water and a q-tip. Make sure to get in deep in the buckle to clean up any residue.

Once the buckle is unstuck, it will need a deep clean. Manufacturers typically recommend removing the buckle entirely and placing it under running warm water. As the water soaks, engage the button and tongues to get into the nooks and crannies. Rubbing alcohol and q-tips should be able to remove any remaining residue.

3. Contact your car seat’s manufacturer

As a stuck harness buckle can lead to real danger in an emergency, you should contact the seats’ manufacturer and notify them. They will often send you a new replacement buckle.

Fixing Stuck Car Seat Just Got Easier!

Stuck or jammed car seats are a common occurrence but can be incredibly frustrating when it happens to you. Oftentimes in parenthood, we feel like we have no time at all, but dealing with a car seat issue certainly doesn’t help. 

If ideas like wiggling and cleaning wield no results, always call the manufacturer and see what can be done to keep your baby’s car seat working as it should. Sometimes, a product can be defective and your best tactic is simply replacing it.

Have you ever dealt with a stuck car seat? How did you manage to fix the issue? Let us know in the comments!

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren

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