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Safety Notices

FAQ

Q. Can I install BRITAX seats using both LATCH AND the vehicle seat belt?

A. No. Child seats should be installed using only one installation method – either the vehicle’s seat belt and car seat tether (if anchor is available) or LATCH. Parents should always refer to the car seat user guide with any questions.

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

A. 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.

Q. Do the new NHTSA labeling requirements apply to seats manufactured before Feb. 27, 2014?

A. Car seats manufactured before Feb. 27, 2014, should be installed as prescribed by the vehicle owner’s manual and car seat user guide. These seats may not include the new labeling requirement. The caregiver should consult the car seat manufacturer to determine the weight of car seat or install the car seat using vehicle seat belt and car seat tether (if anchor is available).

Q. Does this new change affect Canadian seats?

A. Canada has a different standard for car seats called the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS). Ultimately, these new changes affecting installation using vehicle lower anchors may be included in Canadian vehicle owner’s manuals; however it is not currently a requirement. Vehicle owner’s manuals and car seat user guides should be reviewed before installing a car seat.

Q. How do I find the LATCH weight limits for my vehicle?

A. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual or contact the vehicle manufacturer for weight capacities for LATCH (lower anchors and/or tether anchors).

Q. How do I find the weight limits for my car seat?

A. Refer to the labels affixed to the car seat, user guide or contact the car seat manufacturer. When calling the car seat manufacturer, parents should be prepared with their seat’s serial number, model number and manufacture date.

Q. How do I know if my vehicle contains LATCH?

A. Most U.S. vehicles manufactured on or after Sept. 1, 2002, are equipped with LATCH. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual under the Child Restraints section to confirm.

Q. How do I know when to switch from lower anchor installation to a vehicle seat belt and car seat tether installation?

A. The installation of a car seat should be switched from lower anchors to a vehicle seat belt and car seat tether when the child’s weight meets or exceeds the maximum child weight indicated on the car seat label, in the car seat user guide and in the vehicle owner’s manual. If the vehicle and car seat prescribe two different maximum child-weight capacities, use of lower anchors should be discontinued at the lower of the two weight capacities.

When maximum child-weight capacity cannot be determined for lower anchors, installation with the vehicle seat belt and car seat tether is recommended.

Q. How do the new labeling requirements affect combination seats and belt-positioning booster seats?

A. The combined weight of the child plus car seat is not to exceed 65 pounds. This requirement affects all harness car seats but it does not affect belt-positioning booster seats.

When a harness-2-booster/combination seat is used in harness mode, the new requirement is applicable.

When a harness-2-booster/combination seat is used in belt-positioning booster mode, the new labeling requirement is not applicable. When a belt-positioning booster is positioned in a vehicle using lower anchors, only the weight of the seat is applied to the lower anchors in the event of a crash. The vehicle lap-shoulder belt supports the weight of the child.

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

A. The new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213 labeling requirement for car seats became effective for 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.

Q. If my vehicle does not have tether anchors, where can I get them installed?

A. Parents should contact their vehicle manufacturer for more information, as they may be able to install a tether anchor for a nominal fee.

Q. Is it safer to use LATCH or the vehicle seat belt and car seat tether (if anchor is available) to install a car seat?

A. Installed correctly, both methods of installation are equally safe. Parents should use their child seat user guide and vehicle owner’s manual to determine the best way to install their child seat for their vehicle and for their child.

Q. What are lower anchors?

A. Lower anchors are the metal bars located in the vehicle seat bight. A car seat’s lower anchors are affixed to the car seat and allow installation of the child seat without the use of the vehicle seat belt system.

Q. What does it mean when a vehicle has LATCH?

A. A vehicle equipped with LATCH will have lower anchors (metal bars in the seat bight, where the upper and lower cushions meet) and a tether anchor for securing the car seat to the vehicle.

Q. What does the new NHTSA rule require of car seat manufacturers?

A. Car seat manufacturers will be required (effective Feb. 27, 2014) to put the following statement on the warning label:

‘‘Do not use the lower anchors of the child restraint anchorage system (LATCH system) to attach this child restraint when restraining a child weighing more than l*l with the internal harnesses of the child restraint.’’

(*This placeholder is for the recommended weight value in English and metric units such that the sum of the recommended weight value and the weight of the child restraint system does not exceed 65 pounds/29.5 kilograms.)

Q. What is a tether anchor?

A. A tether anchor is the spot in the vehicle where the car seat’s tether strap is connected. Vehicles typically have three tether anchors. The tether on forward-facing car seats and some rear-facing car seats can be attached to the tether anchor in a vehicle.

Q. What is a tether strap?

A. The -tether strap is typically located on the upper part of the back of the child seat. Parents should read the child seat user guide to understand how their particular tether works.

BRITAX offers an Energy-Absorbing Versa-Tether that features a staged-release tether webbing to slow forward movement, reducing the crash forces reaching the child, and a two-point attachment to minimize forward rotation while anchoring the top of the child seat.

The use of the tether when installing a forward-facing car seat can reduce forward movement of the child’s head by 4 to 6 inches in the event of a crash.

Q. What is the difference between rigid LATCH and flexible LATCH?

A. The difference between flexible and rigid LATCH is the manner in which the components are attached to the car seat.

Most BRITAX U.S. child seats feature flexible LATCH (Premium lower LATCH Connectors or ISOFLEX Flexible Lower LATCH Connection System). BRITAX flexible LATCH components are connected to the seat via webbing (similar to seat belt webbing) and then connected to the seat. Flexible LATCH allows the installation of a car seat in the center of a car (if allowed by the car seat manufacturer and vehicle manufacturer).

In rigid LATCH (aka ISOFIX) the metal connectors are attached directly to the seat. Rigid LATCH can increase the weight of the child seat and not all U.S. made vehicles are compatible with this system. In countries outside of the U.S., however, ISOFIX has become the international standard for all automobile and child safety seat manufacturers. See more information here: http://www.britax.co.uk/car-seats/isofix.

Q. What is the LATCH system?

A. LATCH 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 car seat tether. Check the vehicle user guide and car seat user guide to determine what is best for your child.

Q. Where can I have my child seat installation inspected?

A. Parents can search for local child seat inspection stations on the NHTSA website.

Local Child passenger safety technicians can be located on the SafeKids website.

Q. Why did BRITAX choose to limit child weight to 40 pounds for all convertible car seats LATCH installations if the car seats have different weights?

A. BRITAX’s full line of convertible car seats varies in weight. For consumer ease when using LATCH installation, BRITAX chose one weight limit (40 pounds) so parents could easily remember this weight for all BRITAX convertible seats. For vehicle seat belt installations, refer to the manufacturer’s stated car seat weight limit.

Q. Why does BRITAX USA not offer convertible car seats with rigid LATCH?

A. Rigid LATCH increases the weight of the child seat and not all U.S.-made vehicles are compatible with this system.

Q. Why is it important to understand NHTSA’s new lower anchor weight limit standards?

A. The previous weight limits were based on old child seats and outdated recommendations on how long children should be in child seats. Lower anchor weight limits weren't factoring in the weight of current car seats or increasing harness weight limits. Since best practice promotes children use car seats with harnesses until they outgrow the seat, more children are remaining in some harnessed seats up to 90 pounds. However, with these increasing weights and weight limits for seats, the public needs to be made aware that LATCH has weight limits as well.

Q. Why is it important to use the tether when installing car seats?

A. The use of a tether can reduce the distance that your child’s head moves forward in the event of a crash (also called head excursion) by 4 to 6 inches, thereby minimizing the risk of injury.