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Product Review: Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster Car Seat & Its Safety Ratings

Updated on 20 July 2021 • 8 minute read
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Overview 

Did you know that car crashes are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S.?

Data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) show that 33% of these children weren’t buckled up. (1)

Children of different ages (or sizes) need different types of car seats.

In this article, we’ll review the Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster Car Seat to help you determine whether this is the right 2-in-1 booster car seat for your growing child.

 

Key Features 

Price: $49.99

Product Weight: 8.22 lbs

Dimensions: 26.5 inches (height) x 16.5 inches (width) x 15 inches (depth)

Booster Type: Forward-facing, 2-in-1 convertible car seat

Modes Of Use:

  • Highback mode
  • Backless booster seat

 

Highback Mode Recommendations/Limits:

  • Weight: 30 to 100 lbs
  • Height: 38 to 57 inches
  • Age: At least three years old

 

Backless Mode Recommendations/Limits:

  • Weight: 40 to 100 lb
  • Height: 43 to 57 inches
  • Age: Eight years old and above

 

Material:

  • Soft head and body support 
  • Metal frame
  • Some plastic parts

 

Safety Features:

  • It has a soft, multi-layer headrest for comfort and protection.
  • It has open-loop belt guides for independent self-buckling.
  • The backrest has hooks at the bottom that attach to the booster seat.
  • This car seat is Graco ProtectPlus Engineered
  • It can help protect your child from frontal impact, rear impact, side impact, and rollover crashes.
  • Side-impact tested for occupant retention in highback booster mode using the standard vehicle harness system.
  • It uses EPS (Expanded PolyStyrene) energy-absorbing foam for impact management.

 

Note that though the EPS foam helps this car seat protect your child from impacts, it’s a toxic material made with bromine. 

It may cause eye and throat irritation, cancer, or possible damage to major organs such as the lungs, stomach, liver, and kidneys. (2)

 

IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ) Rating:

  • Backless mode: Best Bet.
  • High back mode: Best Bet

 

NHTSA Ease Of Use Rating:

  • High back (regular) mode: three out of five stars
  • Backless mode: three out of five stars
  • Safety Surround: three out of five stars.

 

FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Approval:

  • The highback mode isn’t FAA-approved because it requires a lap/shoulder belt.
  • The backless seat is FAA-approved and can be carried on airplanes.

 

Extra Features:

  • Six-position height-adjustable headrest 
  • Padded and height-adjustable armrests
  • Two space-saving hide-away cup holders
  • It’s a 2-in-1 convertible car seat that grows with your child for several years of use.
  • It converts to belt-positioning backless mode from a high-back booster seat to meet the needs of your growing child.
  • Different styles and prints are available.
  • There’s a spot at the bottom to store the instruction manual for your future reference.

 

Ease Of Cleaning: 

  • You can remove the seat pads for cleaning.
  • Cloth parts are machine washable.
  • You can clean the metal and plastic parts with water and mild detergent.

 

Expiration Date: 

  • Ten years from the manufacturing date
  • You can find this product information on a small sticker at the bottom of the car seat.

 

Warranty: One-year limited warranty

 

Assembly:

  • The car seat doesn’t come assembled in the box.
  • Assembly requires various screws.
  • Two screws need to be secured tightly into the armrests

 

Note that the seats are considered unsafe without these screws. So, if you misplaced them, get replacements for the screws before letting your child use the car seat.

 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • It’s an inexpensive car seat from a well-known brand.
  • It doesn’t require vehicle head support.
  • It’s designed to fit most vehicles.
  • It offers an affordable belt-positioning booster seat that grows with your child.
  • The soft cushions can keep your child comfortable in the car.
  • It’s a convertible harness booster car seat with a removable back.
  • It’s narrow and lightweight so that it won’t take up a lot of space in your car.
  • It has many safety features that meet U.S. safety requirements.
  • The hide-away cup holders and storage compartments can be useful for your child.

 

Cons

  • It uses toxic materials and flame retardants.
  • No five-point harness
  • No lower anchors
  • Connectivity in models before 2015 was bad, causing the removable back to fall off during transport. Graco updated the models to improve the base-to-back connections. (3)
  • Not all TurboBoosters come with LATCH or TruShield
  • The cup holders and storage compartments aren’t removable.
  • It has a possibly flimsy head or torso support.
  • It doesn’t allow the booster to overhang from the vehicle seat.
  • It requires assembly with different screws in the armrests.
  • The highback mode can rattle when the seat is empty.
  • It doesn’t fit well in some vehicle seats.

 

What Customers Say 

Positive Reviews 

This is easy to use and can be used both with the back or just alone with the bottom seat part. Since it relies on the child using the regular seat belt, it doesn’t have a bunch of straps to attach to the seat, so it’s easier to grab and go if you’re using a different car, which is nice. Also, my kid thought the cup holders were great.” – Reviewer on Target.

 

Great affordable car seat. I love the fact you can remove the back and use it as a backless car seat too! The car seat also comes with a seat belt strap to use if the seat belt strap doesn’t lay properly on your child when buckled up, which I thought was brilliant!” – Reviewer on Walmart.

 

This is a great booster — I’ve had it for 2.5 years, and it’s still going strong! A response to the negative comments regarding belt-positioning boosters: guys, when using five-point harness boosters, PLEASE pay attention to the weight limit on your car’s LATCH anchors (there is one) AND the weight limit on the booster seat’s connections to the LATCH (again, there is one, and in both cases, it may be only 48 pounds). A five-point harness is only as safe as the connections attaching the seat to the car are strong.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

Negative Reviews 

This seat doesn’t have anchors. I returned it for the LX version. I refuse to buckle the seat every time my kid gets out just so it doesn’t become projectile.” – Reviewer on Target.

 

It lasted us about two years before the back support broke. With some pressure, my son can accidentally lower the back without touching the lever. Also, the part that is supposed to hold the seat belt in place gets loose all the time. The entire seat has to be readjusted before every use. How would it hold up in a rollover? God forbid that ever happens.” – Reviewer on Amazon.

 

This isn’t the best booster seat! It’s light, doesn’t have straps to attach to the car. It slides around in the back seat. It’s not sturdy. The only good thing about it is that it’s cute in appearance.” – Reviewer on Walmart.

 

Are Car Seats Required For All Kids Riding In Cars?

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommend the use of car seats based on your child’s age and size: (4)

  • Rear-facing car seats: from birth to one year old or up to three years old
  • Forward-facing car seats: from one to seven years old
  • Booster seats: from four to twelve years old or until they reach a height of 4 feet and 9 inches 
  • Seat belts: for big kids from eight years old and above 

 

The NHTSA and APP also recommend that children should use the car seat’s built-in harness system for as long as possible until they’re tall or heavy enough to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. 

While child car seats and seat belts don’t prevent car crashes from happening, they are important in helping reduce the severity of your child’s injuries during an accident.

 

Types of Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster Car Seats

  • Graco TurboBooster Highback ($49.99)
  • Graco TurboBooster LX with TrueShield Technology ($95.99)
  • Graco TurboBooster LX with LATCH ($79.98)
  • Graco TurboBooster LX with Safety Surround ($95.99)
  • Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong (foldable for carpoolers; $49 to $99)
  • Graco TurboBooster Backless ($24.99)

 

How To Install Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster Car Seat

Installing The TurboBooster With The LATCH System

  1. Put the assembled TurboBooster on the backseat.
  2. Extend the anchor straps by pressing the red button.
  3. Locate the lower anchor bars at your vehicle’s backseat.
  4. Tighten the straps.
  5. Let your child sit on the car seat so you can adjust the headrest and armrest accordingly.
  6. Use the guides in the belt-positioning booster car seat to secure your child.
  7. Double-check the straps to ensure they’re placed correctly. 
  8. Double-check the belt placement.

 

Installing The TurboBooster With A Seat Belt

  1. Put the assembled booster on the backseat.
  2. Let your child sit on the booster seat.
  3. Follow the guide on the headrest. Carefully thread the vehicle’s seat belt through the guide.
  4. Double-check if the straps are placed correctly.
  5. Double-check the seat belt’s position.

 

TurboBooster Recall and Solution 

  • Graco recalled TurboBooster manuals for seats manufactured from December 22, 2015, to April 5, 2016. (5)
  • Recalled manuals were from these models: 1963973 to 1963976, 1967886, and 1975173
  • The car seats didn’t have any safety issues. They still meet U.S. safety standards.
  • The manuals had a printing omission for instructions to keep the seats secured with the vehicle’s seat belt when not in use. 
  • Unsecured car seats can be a safety hazard and become potential projectiles during an accident.
  • Registered owners received new manuals from Graco.
  • Unregistered owners were able to receive the manuals after reaching Graco customer service.

 

TurboBooster FAQs

Is Side Overhang Alright With The TurboBooster?

No. It’s important to secure the seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the product information manual provided with your TurboBooster for it to work properly.

Should I Replace The TurboBooster After An Accident?

Even if the seat wasn’t occupied during the crash, it should be replaced after an accident.

Is Graco Reliable?

Graco is an American company founded in 1942. It’s one of the world’s most trusted and recognized baby products and gear companies.

Other Graco car seat products include:

  • Graco SnugRide infant car seat
  • Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 car seat
  • Graco Grows4Me 4-in-1 car seat
  • Graco Milestone All-in-1 car seat
  • Graco TriRide 3-in-1 car seat
  • Graco Recline N’Ride 3-in-1 car seat
  • Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster
  • Graco Affix highback booster seat with the LATCH system

 

Graco assures parents that all TurboBoosters meet U.S. safety standards and are side-impact tested. (6)

This reliable brand doesn’t just sell car seats but also offers the following:

  • Strollers
  • Highchairs
  • Swings
  • Carriers
  • Wooden Cribs
  • Soft cribs
  • Bedside bassinets
  • Diaper changing tables
  • Nursery furniture

 

Are Graco Car Seats Toxic?

  • Car seats have to pass the federal flammability requirement (FMVSS 302).
  • Graco and other car brands use BFRs (brominated flame retardants) and/or EPS Expanded Polystyrene. 
  • IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) warns that these toxic materials are probably carcinogenic for humans. (7)

 

What Other Car Seat Brands Are Made With Toxic Materials? (2)

  • Baby Trend
  • Chicco
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Evenflo
  • Nuna

 

Are There Car Seats Built With Non-Toxic Materials?

  • Uppa Baby in Bryce, Jake, Denny, or Taylor Fabrics ($349.99)
  • Britax Car Seats (all models; from $99 to $379.99)
  • Clek Fllo and Clek Foonf in Mammoth Merino Wool Fabric ($449 and $529.99)
  • Symphony 65 Car Seat in Liberty ($224.99)
  • Chicco KeyFit 30 Car Seat in Limonata ($199.99)
  • Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1 Car Seat in Gabe ($249.99)
  • Nuna Pipa LITE Infant Car Seat ($349.95)
  • Maxi-Cosi Mico 30 Infant Car Seat ($219.89)
  • Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat ($49.98)

 

What Should I Do If My Car Seat Is On The Toxic List?

  • Consider replacing your car seat with a non-toxic option.
  • If that’s not possible, wash the seat fabric and vacuum your car regularly with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filter. 
  • HEPA is a special filter that removes at least 99.97% of airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm), including dust, bacteria, pollen, and mold.

 

Summary & Recommendation

The Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster Car Seat has many great seat features and passes all U.S. Safety Standards. But it’s made of toxic materials that can be harmful to your baby.

So, here’s our recommendation:

Don’t choose the Graco TurboBooster if:

  • You don’t want your child exposed to toxic chemicals.
  • You want a car seat with lower anchors.
  • You don’t want a car seat that converts into a booster seat.

 

Choose the Graco TurboBooster if:

  • You want a sturdy and durable car seat that meets safety standards.
  • You want an affordable car seat with stylish prints and designs.
  • You want a car booster seat that can grow with your baby.
  • You want a lightweight, narrow high back car seat that converts into a backless booster seat.
  • You want a car seat with useful cup holders and storage compartments.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/child_passenger_safety/cps-factsheet.html

(2) https://www.ecocenter.org/sites/default/files/Copy%20of%20FINAL%20ec-rpt-carseat-2016_V8.pdf

(3) https://csftl.org/graco-turbobooster-review/

(4) https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats

(5) https://recalls.gracobaby.com/products/CS16TRBBST.html

(6)

https://www.gracobaby.com/car-seats/belt-positioning-booster-car-seats/turbobooster-highback-booster/SAP_1963975.html

(7) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180530113105.htm

 

 

 

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