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Tips for Installing a Car Seat Properly

Your child’s safety could be in jeopardy if your car seat is not installed correctly. First, it’s important to understand your vehicle and car seat parts. Since every vehicle and car seat has different instructions, follow these tips to help you install your car seat and make sure your child fits in it correctly.

Installing the Car Seat

  1. Read the car seat’s instruction manual and the portion of your vehicle’s owner manual on car seat installation. Every car seat needs to be installed using either the lower anchors or the seat belt to secure it in place. If you choose to use a seat belt to install your car seat, pay close attention to how to lock your seat belt in the vehicle owner’s manual. Because every car seat and vehicle is different, it’s important to follow all instructions carefully.
  2. Place the car seat in the back seat of your vehicle and follow the manufacturer’s installation directions.
  3. The car seat must be secured tightly in the vehicle. It should not move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch when pulled at the belt path.
  4. If it is a forward-facing seat and has a tether strap, connect it to the tether anchor and tighten. This step is very important as it limits forward head movement in a crash.
  5. If it is a rear-facing seat, make sure the car seat is installed at the correct recline angle. Most car seats have built-in angle indicators or adjustors that help with this step.

If you have questions, trained Child Passenger Safety Technicians can help you. Many local fire and police stations offer free car seat inspections.

Fitting Your Child Correctly in the Car Seat

  1. Properly position the harness on your child.
    • Rear-facing – Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted, and be placed through the slot that is at or below your child’s shoulders.
    • Forward-facing – Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted, and be placed through the slot that is at or above your child’s shoulders.
  2. Buckle the harness and the chest clip and tighten.
    • The harness is snug enough when extra material cannot be pinched at the shoulder.
  3. Make sure the chest clip is at armpit level.