WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government recalled 55,000 Fisher-Price car seats Wednesday because of a possible malfunction in their shoulder harness locking mechanism. Parents were told they could continue using the seats until a modification kit arrives, as long as they check daily to ensure that the harness locks.

The recall affects model number 79700 ``Safe Embrace'' convertible car seats, which were manufactured from May 19, 1997, through March 29, 1998. They are used in a rear-facing position for infants up to 22 pounds and are faced forward for toddlers up to 40 pounds.

Through its own research, Fisher-Price learned that the harness adjuster, which is used to tighten and lock the harness belts around a child, may malfunction if a spring breaks or dislocates from the correct position.

When the harness adjuster fails, it may not properly lock the shoulder belts in place _ leaving a child without adequate protection in a crash. The company's modification kit will contain a newly designed harness adjuster for consumers to install.

Neither the company nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which announced the recall, has received any reports of injury as a result of the problem.

Consumers who own the Safe Embrace convertible seat should call Fisher-Price at 1-800-355-8882 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday to receive the replacement kit. They may also write to Fisher-Price Consumer Affairs, 636 Girard Ave., East Aurora, N.Y., 14052.

Consumers who registered their seats with the manufacturer when they bought them will automatically receive replacement kits in the mail.