How to Install a Car Seat | Consumer Reports

How to Install a Car Seat | Consumer Reports


I’m here with Jen Stockburger
at the child seat test center to discuss a very serious topic. Yeah, Jack. Today we’re going to
talk about child seats. And they’ve come
a really long way from a time, when I was a child
when I didn’t use anything, to a period when they were more
about just keeping the child staying put than
really protecting them to the advanced safety
features that they are today, with all this energy absorbing
ability to really protect kids in a motor vehicle crash. Engineers here have been
testing car seats for decades to ensure babies and children
are better protected. In fact, Consumer Reports
was a critical advocate of the dynamic safety
tests that all child seats have to meet to be able to
be sold in the United States. How do parents choose
the right child seat for their individual child? Yeah, so each child
has a progression of seats from the time they’re
born in an infant carrier probably to as big
as a booster seat. So they’ll go through a series
of seats, rear facing, forward facing. But you also as a
parent need to be aware of how big your child
is, height, weight, because all of those seats have height
and weight limits that go along with them as well. What are you looking for when
it comes to testing child seats? So we’re really looking
at three key aspects. How easy they are to use,
how easy they are to install, and ultimately how much crash
protection they provide. So Jack, I’m going
to show you some of our actual simulated
crash footage from our test. Take a look. That’s hard to watch, Jen. Yeah, and keep in mind, these
are simulated crash tests where everything is
put in correctly, and they only simulate
a 35 mile an hour crash. And they still look
rather violent. But those stills from some of
those images from those videos can help us demonstrate
five key important things. Here are Jen’s tips to
install a car seat correctly, whether they face
forward or backward. Getting that seat
tight to the car is critical to
allow the child seat to take advantage of all
the energy absorbing aspects of the car, all
those crumple zones that you hear people talk about. So the rule is you
don’t want the seat to move more than one inch side
to side or forward and back. Once that seat’s tight,
next get that harness tight. Now we’re talking
about the child to the child seat as
tight as possible. You don’t want to be able
to pinch any of that harness when you’re checking
at the shoulder. You need that harness
tight, but you also need it to be at
the ride height. You want the harness
height correct. For forward facing kids,
at or above the shoulders. You could see this
was a tight harness. Look how much forward
movement even this child has. And you want to keep
it tight, but you don’t want to put downward
pressure on their shoulders and neck. For a rear facing
child, you want that harness to be at or
below their shoulders. Even in our simulated crash
where everything’s tight, the tendency is for
the child to want to ride up out of the shell. You want to keep them
down in the seat, limiting the exposure
of their head. And Jen’s fourth tip applies
to forward facing car seats. The other thing to note
on forward facing seats is the top tether. This is the piece that kind of
goes from the back of the child restraint over the seat back. It can go to the ceiling. It can go down in
the cargo area. That top tether limits the
forward motion of the seat itself, and
consequently the child. Make sure, whether
you install it with a latch or the
vehicle seat belt, make sure that top
tether is connected. Finally, Jen’s last tip
applies to car seats that face backward. And for rear facing
seats, recline angle is also important. Little babies have
disproportionately heavy heads. If they’re too far
upright in their seats, their head can
actually fall forward, obstructing their airway. So they need to be
reclined sufficiently so they have clear
breathing, but not so much that you make this
situation worse where they’re riding out of the seat. And these are tips that,
not just for parents, but for anybody who’s
riding in the back seat. A sibling, a babysitter,
you can be the eyes and ears of your parents in rear seat. All right, Jack. I know I threw a lot
of information at you. Were you paying attention? I was. All right. Good. Because you and I, we’re
going to install a child seat. OK, Jack. So before you start, two things
you absolutely want to read. That’s the owner’s
manual to the vehicle and the owner’s manual
to the child’s seat. This is what they call a rear
facing only or infant seat. Separate base with a
carrier fits newborns well, offers the convenience
of the carrier for carrying tiny babies. So what you’re actually
installing is the base. Give it a shot. OK. So I, from everything
I’ve learned from you, try and lock these in tightly. Right. And what you’re using,
those little bars that you’re clicking to is
called the LATCH system. The LATCH system. You can use LATCH or
the vehicle seat belt. You’re using the LATCH system. Put some weight into this. Right. There you go. That’s your seat tight. All right. And the recliner level is good. You have bubbles in between. What do you think? Nice job. Not only do I have
less than an inch, I can barely move that base. You’ve really integrated
it to the vehicle. So you would put
that carrier on. You would have your baby in. Seat tight. Recline right. Nice job. Looks good. Jen, I’ve never installed a
car seat before, so thank you. Really? You did a really good job. The truth is, according to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
46% of child seats have some critical error
in how they’re installed or how they’re used that could
make that child less safe. Very sobering and
very informative. Thank you, Jen. You’re welcome.

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