Car Seat Fitting & Installing Instructions
- Manufacturer's instructions must be followed. Instructions will come with your child car seat.
- Keep the instruction booklet with the seat in the car.
- If you have lost the instructions, check the manufacturer's website.
- Don’t risk trial and error.
- If you are unsure about anything, seek advice from a professional.
- Never modify the child seat or the car seat belt to make it fit.
- If you take the child seat out of the car, make sure you fit it properly every time you put it back in.
- It is safer to have child car seats installed in the back of the car as opposed to the front so we would strongly recommend doing this where possible.
- Never fit a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat while the airbags are still active.
- If installing a forward-facing car seat in the front passenger seat, airbags must be active and the passenger seat must be moved back – in some models this may be as far back as the B pillar and in other models it may be as far back as possible, so ensure to check the specific manual for this information.
Before You Buy
We will always advise to physically get car seats fitted in your car(s) before purchasing as this will ensure that it is compatible and fits correctly. Car seat manufacturers have car seat Fit Finders or Suitability Lists, but these are simply a guide and a compatible fit cannot be guaranteed. If a child car seat is installed incorrectly or it is not compatible in the car it has been installed in, then the seat will not perform the way it should and may even become dangerous.
Some things you need to consider before buying is whether or not your car has ISOFIX or Top Tether as not having these will automatically eliminate some car seat choices. If you are going for an option which is installed with your seat belt, do you have short seat belts that could affect this? Is your car small or do you have tall passengers which cause you to lose out on space for a car seat? This will determine the size of seat you go for and where it is positioned in the car. For example, if you always have a tall passenger, it may suit better for your child to be positioned behind the driver as there will be more room.
Do you have sloping seats in your car? If so, this can effect rear-facing seats as it will counteract the recline and cause these seats to sit upright in your car which can cause your child to sit too far forward or their head may fall forward. It also may disqualify some seat choices as your car seat’s base needs to be sitting on as much of the seat as possible and sloping or ‘bucketed’ seats may not allow for the seat’s base to sit correctly.
Child Car Seats fitted with the Car's Seat Belts
When installing a car seat with the lap and diagonal seat belt, the first thing you must know is that there are two types of guides on the seats – one is blue, which indicates rear-facing installation, whilst the other is red, which indicates a forward-facing installation. This will make it easier for you, especially when installing a combination seat which may have a number of different seat belt guides.
If you purchased in store, we will have given you a demo of how to fit your car seat but if you purchased online or if you have simply forgotten, your car seat comes with a manual which will tell you how to install your seat. When following your manual, remember to make sure that no seat belts are twisted. A twisted seat belt will not allow for the tightest possible fit. When you have everything in position, we always recommend pushing your weight onto the seat while pulling the shoulder belt as tight as you physically can. This will mean all slack has been removed.
Another challenge we face is ‘Buckle Crunch’ where the plastic component of the seat belt buckle is holding the child seat in place, and this can cause the plastic to shatter in a collision. This is common in cars with long buckle stalks. A further example that we commonly see when fitting a car seat that is installed using the seat belt, is short seatbelts. This is not something that people often consider but many people have this problem. Sometimes we are able to solve this by using an alternative routing, but if not we will suggest the best alternative car seat for your needs.
Fitting ISOFIX child seats
ISOFIX seats are some of the most straight forward to install as they will simply have two ISOFIX points and a support leg or a top tether. Some seats will even have indicators that switch from red to green when installed correctly. Some indicators will turn green when it has attached onto the ISOFIX points but we always recommend pushing the base or seat as far back into your seat as physically possible as this allows for less movement.
A problem we sometimes come across with ISOFIX seats is that the base does not fully meet the seat it is positioned on. This can be caused by sloping seats or a highly positioned ISOFIX bracket and it means that the seat is not fully supported. We would always recommend having at least half of the base or base of the seat in contact with the seat it is on in order to be fully supported.
Installing a Support Leg
When using a car seat with a support leg, you must check if you have underfloor storage boxes. If you have underfloor storage this can cause a problem because if you were to be in a collision and the support leg is resting on the lid of the storage box, it could break through the lid and the car seat may not work appropriately. Some cars only have storage boxes on one side of the car so this is another thing to consider as you could possibly just change the position of the car seat in the car. Sometimes you will find that the support leg is long enough to fit to the bottom of the storage box which may be safe depending on the type of child seat and the type of car. This is something we can advise on. The other option is getting your storage box filled with an official filler from your car manufacturer. We have come across some homemade fillers in the past but these are not crash-tested and therefore cannot be deemed as safe. Your best option may be opting for a car seat without a support leg but this is something that we can discuss when we are physically testing car seats in your car.
Installing a Top Tether
One of the most important things you can do when using a car seat with top tether, is confirming that the anchorage point you are using is in fact a top tether point and not a luggage hook. We have come across this so many times when people have assumed that the hook is a top tether point but this can be dangerous as a luggage hook is not designed to take the same weight as a top tether point.
Something we have noticed with Car Seat Fit Finders is that your car will sometimes show as compatible for a car seat with top tether even if your car model does not have top tether. This is why physically getting your car seat checked before buying is so important.
Fitting i-Size Seats
This is something that will develop over the coming years but currently, all i-Size car seats will fit in all i-Size approved cars. However, we still do recommend a physical fit to account for things such as how much room the car seat will take up in your car.
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
Here at In Car Safety Centre we will always advise physically trying car seats in your car before you purchase them as this is the only way to confirm a safe and compatible fit. You will be pleased to know that when you do become an In Car Safety Centre customer, you will have access to free and unlimited aftercare support at any of our centres. This means that if you are re-installing your seat and have forgotten how to do so, we can do it for you, or if you have come across a problem with your seat, we will rectify this for you. We are available 7 days a week via phone call or email, or you can book an appointment at any of our centres if you wish to come in. Knowing your car seat has been correctly installed gives you that piece of mind when travelling so you know your little one is safe.
Contact your nearest showroom and book a free consultation today.