Two-door vehicles: It can be difficult to install child safety seats correctly because you must get into the back seat yourself. It also can be difficult to get your child in and out of the safety seat.
Small back seats: The back seats of small cars and many pickup trucks are too small to properly accommodate some safety seats, especially those in the rear-facing reclined position. In addition, some rear center safety belts in small cars are too close together to fit safety seats with wide bases. Wide bases may block access to buckles for outboard lap and shoulder belts. In this case, try a safety seat with a narrow base.
Deep bucket seats: Many safety seats will not fit in vehicle seats with deep buckets. Try a safety seat with a narrow base or top tether strap.
Tether anchorage: This is a metal plate bolted into the vehicle to attach a top-tether strap that comes with some child safety seats. Tethers may improve protection by attaching the top of the safety seat more securely to the vehicle. Virtually all passenger cars made since January 1989 have pre-drilled holes that can be used for top-tether anchorage.
Slope of back seat: Rear-facing infant and convertible seats should be reclined at a 45-degree angle. The slope of the seat may cause the safety seat to tilt too far forward, putting the infant in an upright rather than reclined position. To remedy this situation, try placing a tightly rolled towel under the base of the safety seat. Always check the safety seat instructions and owner's manual for correct seat or base installation.
Getting the best angle: Placing a tightly rolled towel under the base of a child safety seat may help achieve the correct 45-degree angle.
Contour of back seat: While the rear center seat may seem the safest place to put a child, many back seats have a hump in the center, making it difficult to install a child safety seat correctly. The safest position is where the safety seat fits securely.
Split bench seats: Splits in wide bench seats can make it difficult to install a safety seat correctly.
Forward-anchored belts: If the safety belt extends from the seat forward of where the back and seat cushions meet, the safety seat may be too loose. Move it to a different seating position, or try a different style safety seat, perhaps one that can accommodate a top-tether strap.
Pickup truck jumpseats/extended cabs: Child safety seats will not fit properly in many pickup truck rear seats. There is not enough space between the rear of the front seat and the child to allow forward motion in the event of a crash or even a sudden stop. Side-facing jumpseats are not safe for a child safety seat under any circumstances.
Vehicles manufactured before Sept. 1, 1995: Some vehicles may have safety belt systems—such as automatic safety belts—that require additional hardware to install child safety seats correctly. Be sure to read both the vehicle and safety seat manuals and labels on safety belts.
Vehicles manufactured after Sept. 1, 1995: Vehicles now are equipped with safety belt locking features - such as locking or switchable retractors - that make installation of child safety seats easier. To be sure, read the vehicle owner's manual and safety belt labels.
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