How to Properly Install a Car Seat

At Lewisville VW, we’ll do everything in our power to keep you and your children safe. We’ve provided you with the most up-to-date car seat securing system, and we want to help you learn how to properly install a car seat.

Types of Car Seats

Infants must ride in rear-facing car seats in the rear seat of your vehicle. Babies/young children should stay rear-facing for as long as possible, as it is the absolute safest position. In the event of a head-on crash, the infant’s whole body is pushed against the back of the car seat rather than forward against the straps. Keep your child rear-facing until they reach the upper limit of your car seat’s weight restriction—the longer, the better. A young child’s neck is particularly susceptible to major injury if thrown forward during an accident, so protect children with a rear-facing seat for as long as you can.

A child can graduate to a forward-facing car seat with a harness once he or she has fully outgrown rear-facing seats. Once your child outgrows his or her forward-facing seat, they can graduate to a booster seat in the back seat of your car. Booster seats are designed for children weighing 40 to 100 pounds, ages 4 to 12, and up to 4 feet, 9 inches tall.

A child should only graduate to a seatbelt once they’re big enough that the seat belt rests across the top of the thighs, rather than on the stomach. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, even children large enough to ride secured with a seatbelt alone should ride in the rear seats until at least the age of 12.

LATCH

LATCH, or “Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children,” is the standardized car seat attachment system now required by law in all new vehicles. The system consists of two “lower anchors,” similar to steel U-bolts, that are built into the bight (crack) between the back rest and lower seat. These are usually accompanied by a top tether that secures the top of the child safety seat to another anchor behind the car’s seat. This system is designed to make proper car seat installation intuitive and standardized between cars and safety seats. Still, it is important to always read the manuals for both your safety seat and your car in order to ensure that your child is safely secured in the event of an accident.

Seat Belt Installation

In older cars that don’t have the LATCH system, the seat can be installed using the seat belt to owner’s manual specifications. Once the car seat is installed, try with serious force to rock the seat from side to side. If you can move it more than an inch in either direction, use the locking clip that came with the seat to secure the seatbelt more tightly. If you’ve misplaced the locking clip, contact the manufacturer to order a new one before you use the car seat.

Know the Law

Car seat laws vary by state, but all states require safety seats for very young children. In Texas, children younger than 7 years old (and 57 inches tall) MUST be restrained in an appropriate child safety seat. Check the Governors’ Highway Safety Association page on Child Passenger Safety Laws to make sure you’re following the rules when you cross state lines. Don’t risk fines, fees, or your child’s safety.

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