installing car seat image

How to Install car seat?

How to Install car seat?
7 Steps to Proper Car Seat Installation

1. Start with the Right Seat

How to Install car seat? the first step is

Proper car seat installation begins with using the right car seat for your child and your vehicle. Check out this page to help you determine which car seat is best for you.

2. Choose the Best Location

The safest location for car seat installation is the center-most position of the vehicle. This allows the child to be furthest from the incoming metal and glass if you were to get in a crash.
Double check your vehicle’s owner manual to see if the center seating position is an allowable car seat position, especially if your back seat folds down in two sections where one section is larger than the other. (We call these split back seats.)
You’ll also need to consider these points when choosing the best location for your car seat.

3. Select the Right Direction

Here are the basic guidelines for which direction a child should face:
From birth until 2 years of age (yes, I said 2 years old) a child should ride rear facing UNLESS the child has outgrown the rear facing limits of their convertible car seat.
A recent report shows that one year olds are 5 times safer riding rear facing than forward facing.
Note: The EXTREME minimum age a child could ride forward facing is both one year AND 20 pounds. If the child has not met BOTH of these numbers, then he is at high risk of severe injury and/or not surviving a crash. For preemies this age should be the adjusted age or longer. Please consult your physician.
Once a child has outgrown the rear facing limitations of the convertible car seat, the child may face forward. At this point, there are some adjustments that must be made to your car seat! Check your owner’s manual.

4. Preset the Harness Positions

Rear Facing Harness Height
Place the child in the car seat with his bottom all the way back. Choose the harness slot that is AT OR BELOW the child’s shoulders.
Adjust the straps according to your car seat’s instruction manual.
Forward Facing Harness Height
Place the child in the car seat with her bottom all the way back. Choose the harness slot that is AT OR ABOVE the child’s shoulders.
Adjust the straps according to your car seat’s instruction manual.
Crotch Strap Position
If your car seat has an adjustable crotch strap, choose the slot that is closest to your child’s crotch.
Rear Facing Note: If there is space between the crotch strap and the child, use a rolled up wash cloth to fill in the gap. This prevents the child from slouching down into the seat.
Forward Facing Note: Many car seat’s require that the child does not sit on the crotch strap. Read your owner’s manual for more information.

5. Buckle the Car Seat to the Vehicle

Using the Seat Belt
Pre-installation note: make sure the LATCH straps are stored away according to the instruction manual. Children have been hurt by unsecured LATCH straps. Check your car seat owner’s manual for more information.
1. Find the correct seat belt path on the car seat or car seat base. It will be the path that is closest  to the vehicle seat back.
2. Route the seat belt through the seat belt path.
3. Buckle the seat belt, making sure there are no twists in the belt.
4. If necessary, adjust the seat belt so that it is in “locked” mode.
5. Adjust the car seat to the proper angle and apply pressure to the car seat. (Maintain the angle while pushing on the car seat.)
6. Pull all the slack out of the seat belt. Here’s a trick of the trade.
7. Attach the top tether. See #6 Attach the Top Tether below.
8. Use the “one inch test” to determine if the installation is tight enough. Need help getting it tighter?
9. Check for proper angle. Need help adjusting or keeping the angle?
Problem Solving Additional Issues

1. Starts tight, but then slips
2. Tips to one side
3. Still moves more than one inch
4. Seat belt will not go into “locked” mode
5. Which is safer, LATCH or the seat belt?
When and How to use a Locking Clip ?
One locking clip comes with each new car seat. However, most of us do not need them and should not use them.
As of model year 1996, all passenger vehicles are required to have seat belts that “lock” to hold a car seat in place while you’re driving down the road.
In most cases we can simply use the vehicle’s “locking” mode for car seat installation. If you have a vehicle that is older than 1997, you may need to use a locking clip.
If the car seat is not “locked” into place it may shift or tilt over while you drive and turn. This puts the car seat into a position where it cannot do it’s job the right way, putting your child in danger.

Pre-installation note: if your child can reach the unused seat belt, it is important that you buckle it behind the car seat before installing your car seat with LATCH. Children have gotten the seat belt wrapped around their necks. Check your car seat owner’s manual for more information.

1. Find the correct path for the LATCH strap on the car seat or car seat base. It will be the path that is closest to the vehicle seat back.
2. You may need to re-route the LATCH strap through the car seat. Make sure that the strap doesn’t interfere with the crotch strap or harness straps under the car seat padding.
3. Verify in the vehicle’s owner’s manual that you can use LATCH in the seating position that you chose.
4. Find the Lower Anchors in the vehicle seat crack. If you cannot visibly see them, there should be a picture or tag of some sort identifying their location.
5. Make sure the “hooks” are facing the correct direction (usually facing downward, but you need to check your owner’s manual).
6. Adjust the car seat to the proper angle and apply pressure to the car seat. (Maintain the angle while pushing on the car seat.)
7. Pull all the slack out of the LATCH strap. Here’s a trick of the trade.
8. Attach the top tether. See #6 below.
9. Use the “one inch test” to determine if the installation is tight enough. Need help getting it tighter?
10. Check for proper angle. Need help adjusting or keeping the angle?

Problem Solving Additional Issues

1. Still not tight enough
2. I don’t have LATCH in the center
3. Which is safer, LATCH or the seat belt?
4. I can’t get the hook unlatched.

6. Attach the Top Tether

Rear Facing

Most car seats sold in the United States DO NOT allow for use of the top tether when used as a rear facing car seat.
Britax is one manufacturer who does allow for rear facing tether use with their car seats. Rear facing top tethers can help stabilize the car seat, preventing extra movement of the car seat during a crash. Installation of this tether is not as tricky as it may seem.

Forward Facing

The use of the top tether strap is much more important than most people realize. Without the use of it, the child’s head will most likely hit the vehicle seat in front of him, even when the car seat installation is perfect.

Attaching the top tether
So where do I hook this all important strap?
Well, it’s different in every vehicle. It can be on the ceiling, on the back dash, on the floorboard, under the vehicle seat that the car seat is sitting on or another location.
In some pick up trucks it can even be a two part system that requires you to feed the hook through a fabric loop and then to a metal bar one seating position over.

WARNING: The “anchor” that you connect this hook to is specially reinforced for a car seat. DO NOT hook the top tether to just any ol’ spot. It MUST be a top tether anchor and will be identified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual as such.
BEWARE: Some cargo tie-downs look exactly like the top tether anchors, but are NOT specially reinforced for car seats. ONLY USE SPECIFIED TOP TETHER ANCHORS.

7. Adjust the Straps Goal:

For the child to be positioned snugly right under the middle of the harness so that the straps can do their job in the event of a crash.
Harness Straps
Place the child in the car seat with his bottom all the way back. No slouching…this is important for the harness to fit right.
Place the straps over the shoulders and over the thighs. Buckle the harness and chest clip, making sure the straps are completely flat.
Tighten the harness straps so that you cannot pinch any webbing at the collar bone when the rest of the harness straps are flat & snug.
Slide the chest clip to the armpit height of the child.
One good way to think about how snug you want the straps is that you want the harness straps to be like the belt of your pants. Not so tight that it dents the skin in, but tight enough that it does the job.
Padding…to Add or Not to Add
Extra padding, like winter coats, will change the way the harness works during a crash…for the worse. This padding will flatten out like a pancake during a crash and give the child more room to fling forward, resulting in a greater chance of injury.

SOLUTION #1: Take your child’s coat off before buckling him into the harness. Buckle the harness and place the coat on the child BACKWARDS.

SOLUTION #2: Leave a blanket in the car & only use the coat for getting to & leaving from the vehicle…not in the car seat.

Rear Facing Padding Notes:
To keep the child properly positioned under the harness it may be necessary to use additional padding in these places ONLY:
1. Two tightly rolled receiving blanket, one between each side of the child and the inside of the car seat, but never under the harness.
2. One tightly rolled wash cloth between the crotch strap and the child IF there is a gap in this spot.
3. One tightly rolled receiving blanket around the child’s head.

What about those head-roll inserts you ask? You may use it only if:

1. It came with the car seat or has been approved by the car seat manufacturer for your specific car seat
AND
2. It does not interfere with the proper placement of the harness straps through the harness slots. (The straps need to go straight through the slots & not be lifted by the head-roll.)