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Safety Notices



How do the new standards implemented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Feb. 27, 2014, affect LATCH and car seats?

The new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213 labeling requirement for car seats became effective Feb. 27, 2014. To help clarify these guidelines, NHTSA will require all car seats to include a statement and pictogram to indicate maximum child weight for the use of vehicle lower anchors during installation. The new labeling will provide a simple reference for caregivers to determine when to discontinue the use of lower anchors and instead use a vehicle seat belt system and tether (if anchor is available) to install a car seat.

Do the new labeling requirements also apply to the tether anchors?

No. The new label required by NHTSA that indicates maximum child weight for installing a car seat with lower anchors is specific to the vehicle’s particular lower anchors. The vehicle owner’s manual and car seat user guide should be reviewed for specific direction for tether anchor use. Weight capacity for tether anchor use could be different than for lower anchors, especially when a vehicle seat belt is used to install a car seat.

 

About LATCH

A safe child seat is one that:

  • Fits your child (based on weight, standing height, and seated shoulder height)

  • Fits your vehicle

  • Installs and can be used easily every time

LATCH was created to try to make installing your child seat easier.


What is LATCH?

LATCHLATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. LATCH is required on car seats and in most vehicles manufactured on or after Sept. 1, 2002, to make car seat installations easier. However, even in vehicles equipped with LATCH, parents can still secure the child seat using the vehicle seat belt and tether. Check the vehicle user guide and car seat user guide to determine what is best for your child.


How does LATCH work?

To use LATCH, both the child seat and the vehicle must have LATCH parts that work together.

Parts in your vehicle

lower anchor

Lower anchors
Lower anchors are the metal bars located in the vehicle seat bight. A car seat’s lower anchor connectors are attached to the car seat and allow installation without the use of the vehicle seat belt system. Lower anchors can be either very visible, such as in the vehicle pictured here, or they can be “buried” in the seat bight. Be sure to read your vehicle owner’s manual to understand where your lower anchors are located in your particular vehicle.

top tether anchor

Tether anchor
A tether anchor is the spot in the vehicle where the car seat’s tether is connected. The tether on forward-facing car seats and some rear-facing car seats can be attached to the tether anchor in a vehicle. Vehicles typically have three tether anchors. The tether anchor location will vary based on what type of vehicle you drive. The tether anchor could be located on the roof of the vehicle, like the one pictured here. Some are located on the floor, the rear of the seat itself, or on shelf behind the rear seat, such as in sedans. Be sure to read your vehicle owner’s manual to understand where your tether anchor locations are in your particular vehicle.

Parts on your child seat

lower connectors

Lower Anchor Connectors
The lower anchor connectors will be located on the lower part of your car seat. Be sure to read your car seat user guide to understand how your lower anchor LATCH connectors work on your particular seat.

top tether

Tether
The tether will be located on the upper part of the back of the car seat. Again, be sure to read your car seat user guide to understand how your tether works on your particular car seat.

 


How they work together

lower connectors

The lower anchor connectors on the car seat attach onto the lower anchors in your vehicle.

top tether anchor

And the tether hooks on the tether anchor in your vehicle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Together they create the LATCH system that can make installation of your car seat easier.
 

Weight Limits Using the LATCH System

Before installing a car seat using the LATCH system, it’s important to identify the lower anchor connectors and anchor weight limits of both your car seat and your vehicle, and then go by the lowest number. To find out the lower anchor weight limit for your vehicle, you should check your vehicle owner’s manual or contact the vehicle manufacturer. Most vehicle lower anchors are not designed to secure more than a combined weight of 65 pounds for both child and car seat. That means if the combined weight of your child and the car seat is more than 65 pounds, then the car seat should be secured using the vehicle’s seat belt and tether.
 

Using Lower Anchor Connectors with Booster Seats

Some booster seats have lower anchor connectors; the lower anchor connectors help to properly position the booster seat in your vehicle. The vehicle seat belt restrains your child in a booster seat. In these types of situations, both the lower anchor connectors and vehicle seat belt may be used at the same time and the vehicle lower anchor weight limits do not apply.
 

LATCH Installation Recommendations

BRITAX recommends that parents use the following best practices when installing a car seat using the LATCH system:

  • Do not use lower anchor connectors if the combined weight of child and car seat exceed 65 pounds.

  • Use the vehicle seat belt, not lower anchors (in most vehicles), and car seat tether when the combined weight of the child and car seat exceed 65 pounds.

  • If you cannot locate a weight limit for using LATCH in the car seat user guide or vehicle owner’s manual, you should install your seat with the vehicle seat belt and car seat tether.

  • Install the car seat with the car seat tether at all times, regardless of installation method (lower anchors or seat belt for forward-facing harnessed seats). Check the vehicle owner’s manual and/or car seat user guide to determine if there are weight limits for top tether usage.

  • Review the car seat user guide and vehicle owner’s manual, contact the car seat or vehicle manufacturer as necessary, or consult with a local Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) using a LATCH Manual, to determine the best method for installing the car seat. You can search for your local CPST on www.safekids.org.
     

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Guidelines for Car Seat Installation using LATCH

A new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213 labeling requirement for car seats became effective Feb. 27, 2014. To help clarify these guidelines, NHTSA will require all car seats to include a statement on the warning label and pictogram to indicate maximum child weight for the use of vehicle lower anchors during installation. The new labeling will provide a simple reference for caregivers to determine when to discontinue the use of lower anchors and instead use a vehicle seat belt system and tether (if anchor is available) to install a car seat.

The new label required by NHTSA that indicates maximum child weight for installing a car seat with lower anchors is specific to the vehicle’s particular lower anchors and does not apply to the tether anchors. The vehicle owner’s manual and car seat user guide should be reviewed for specific direction for tether anchor use. Weight capacity for tether anchor use could be different than for lower anchors, especially when a vehicle seat belt is used to install a car seat. For more information about NHTSA's guidelines for car seat installation using LATCH, visit our FAQs page.

 

Whether you decide to install your seat using LATCH or the vehicle seat belt system and tether, it is important to read both your car seat user guide and vehicle owner’s manual prior to installing your car seat. It’s also important to understand that you only have to choose ONE installation method; you should not use both the vehicle seat belt system and LATCH to install your harnessed child seat.

 

 

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