9 Tips for Car Seat Installation


It doesn’t matter if you are driving to the local store or heading out on a road trip, a car accident can happen anywhere at any time. Car seat safety is important and can save your child’s life.

There are an alarming number of cars seats that are not correctly installed in vehicles. One mom we spoke to thought she was doing what was best her for son by purchasing the top of the line car seat with all the bells and whistles. The seat was installed in her vehicle for over a year before she realized the seat was not ideal for her vehicle and she was making numerous mistakes with installation, putting her baby at risk. This mom is not alone. Certified Car Seat Technicians are finding that most parents are making at least one mistake with car seat installations. We encourage you to read both your car seat manual and your vehicle manual (seat belt, car seat and airbag sections) to ensure your child’s car seat is installed correctly. Every car seat and every vehicle has different recommendations and requirements for installation.

Here are some useful tips on how to install your child’s car seat:

  1. For forward facing car seats, the top tether is not optional. A top tether must always be used with an approved anchor point.
  2. Install the seat with either UAS (Universal Anchorage System) or a locked seat belt but not both, unless your manual states otherwise.
  3. Follow the weight limit for UAS outlined in your manuals. Once the weight of your child and seat reach that limit, install the car seat with a seat belt.
  4. A rear facing car seat should not be installed in front of an active airbag.
  5. Use a car seat that best fits your vehicle. Many stores let you test installation before you purchase a car seat.
  6. The car seat should not move more than 1 inch in any direction at the belt path.
  7. The chest clip should be at armpit level.
  8. The harness should be tightened enough so you can’t pinch a fold in the strap.
  9. Remove thick jackets and bulky clothing from your child before your belt him or her into the car seat.

For more information on car seat safety, we encourage you to visit Transport Canada.