One of the most difficult things for parents to understand is that not every child car seat will fit in every car.
As a car seat technician, I will do my best to get the child seat installed into the vehicle, but there are many factors that can make this difficult.
Some of these factors include:
- UAS anchor placement (called LATCH in the US)
- Angle of rear passenger seats
- Position of tether anchor in the vehicle
- width of the base/bottom of the child car seat
These can be an issue individually or combined.
The first thing you need to do before installing a car seat in the vehicle is read the owners manual and the car seat manual. These two documents will tell you where in the car the UAS and tether anchors are and how to install the seat.
Design of the vehicle’s seat
Sometimes seats are “bucket” shaped, allowing a more comfy fit for the passenger but not always for a car seat. If the base of the car seat is wide, it might not fit into the narrow bucket seat.
The angle of the bottom cushion of the seat can make access to the UAS anchors difficult.
A thick seat back and bottom cushions can also limit the access.
This image shows how deep the anchor is in cushions of the seat.
Tether anchor placement
Sometimes tether anchors are on the back passenger deck and sometimes they are over the back of the seat near the floor. If the tether anchors on the back passenger deck are close to the passenger seat, getting the tether tight enough is tricky.
Another issue that is commonly seen is that parents have used tie-down hooks for the tether instead of the proper tether anchor. Please read the manual to make sure you’re securing your seat properly.
UAS Anchor Placement
The UAS anchors are 11 inches apart but the widths of the car seat can vary. Some car seats can be wider that the UAS anchors.
Also the vehicle seat belts can crowd the UAS anchors -
Here is an example of how seat design and UAS anchor placement combined could be an issue. The UAS anchor sits very high above the bottom seat cushion.
I wish that I could give you all of the possible challenges that could happen, but there are so many combinations that it’s nearly impossible.
This is one of the reasons that visiting a car seat clinic is so important. Car Seat Technicians are trained to know what to do and have installed so many seats that they know the little tricks and adjustments that can be made to get the seat installed.
Be aware, however, that I have had a child seat and a vehicle be incompatible. We tried installing with the UAS and the seat belt, and neither way was able to get the seat tight enough.
Unlike some of the big box stores, Snuggle Bugz allows you to see if a seat is compatible with your vehicle before you purchase it.
Click here for information about Snuggle Bugz’ car seat checks or clinics that are happening this week, or call either store during the year.
For more car seat tips and safety information, you can see Wendy’s blog — http://www.mapsgirl.ca
Also, Wendy is giving away 2 Cool Shades to help keep the sun off your little ones! Go here to check it out!
Wendy is a mom to two daughters, Rachel (8) and Lauren (6). Child passenger safety is a passion of Wendy’s. Since 2008, Wendy has had the opportunity to work with several Ontario police services and EMS teams, as a car seat technician.