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Motoring Top Stories

Things to watch out for when fitting a car seat

CarsGuide logo CarsGuide 8/10/2019 Tung Nguyen
a car parked in a parking lot: Car seats should constantly be maintained to ensure they fit properly and securely, according to Kidsafe Australia. © CarsGuide.com.au Car seats should constantly be maintained to ensure they fit properly and securely, according to Kidsafe Australia.

The installation of a car seat is probably quite low down on your list of concerns if you’ve just had a child, but the safety device is crucial when travelling with precious cargo.

Car seat installations can often be fraught with frustration and confusion as you try and make heads or tails of all those straps and buckles, but luckily, we’ve already got a guide on how to properly install a child seat.

We’ve also run through some tips to help the addition of a baby into your motoring life, but here are a few things to keep an eye on once your seat is already installed.

Keep an eye on the seat after installation

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Car seats are not a ‘set and forget’ item.

Even if they have been installed by a professional fitter, don’t expect the seat to be as secure after a year of regular use.

After first being installed, you should check the car seat regularly to ensure all the tie-down points are still firmly fastened.

Likewise, as your child grows, you should be regularly adjusting the straps so they are not either too tight or too loose.

Improper use of the top tether strap

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First of all, the top tether strap should always be used and never just discarded or wrapped around the headrest of the seat.

The top tether strap should also be anchored to a correct point in the car, which will vary from model to model, but can be found in the user manual of each vehicle.

It should never be connected to points such as luggage straps or shopping bag hooks that are not designed to withstand large amounts of force.

Like the seat straps, the top tether strap should not be too loose or twisted.

Checking and the inbuilt harness straps

a motorcycle parked on the seat of a car © CarsGuide.com.au

A twisted hardness strap could dig and cut, so make sure they are not tangled once you’ve loaded your child into the seat.

These straps should also be regularly checked and adjusted for looseness and fitment, especially as your child grows.

Large jackets should also be taken off before loading your child into the seat to make sure the harness fits tightly.

Incorrectly fitted ISOFIX compatible child car restraints

a close up of a man wearing a suit and tie © CarsGuide.com.au

ISOFIX points have made it much easier to install child seats, but it also pays to double check the clips have latched on properly.

Some child seat clips can take a bit of force to get into the anchoring point, so don’t just assume it has clicked in.

Giving them a firm tug every now and then to make sure they are securely fastened is key.

Incorrect seat for the child

a car parked on the side of a vehicle © CarsGuide.com.au

Naturally, car seats will change as your child grows, graduating from rear facing to forward facing and eventually to a booster.

However, parents should remember to use a child’s size as a gauge for when they are ready to move to another seat, not their age.

Car seats will often have an age recommendation, but these are just meant to be used as guidelines.

Instead, look for the height markets around the shoulder of the seat, and if your child is exceeding those indicators, its time to move on.

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