Common LATCH Mistakes

Posted in: The LATCH System

We’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes we’ve seen parents make while trying to secure their child safety seats using LATCH.

Problem Explanation Solution
Your child safety seat is not installed tightly enough A loosely installed seat may move too much in a crash Tighten child safety seat into vehicle seat:

  • Make sure both the lower anchor strap(s) and the tether are pulled as tightly as possible.
  • The child safety seat should move less than one inch in any direction when properly installed.
Lower anchor strap is routed through the wrong area of your child safety seat Convertible child safety seats usually have different belt paths for the lower anchor strap. Which path to use depends on whether you are installing the seat rear-facing or forward-facing.

  • Rear-facing: lower anchor strap runs through belt path usually under child’s legs.
  • Forward-facing: lower anchor strap runs through belt path usually located behind child’s back.

You must manually change the path the lower anchor strap is taking if it is set up incorrectly for the way you want to install your car seat. If you use the wrong belt path, the seat may not remain secured to the vehicle in a crash.

Re-route lower anchor strap:

  • Examine your child safety seat and find the lower anchor strap. Read the owners manual and look for stickers or labels on the side of the child safety seat which indicate which belt path is correct for the way you want to install your seat.
  • If you need to switch the way the lower anchor strap is routed, make sure that you do not get it tangled with other straps.
Child safety seat is installed forward-facing but you are not using the tether strap. It is safer to use the tether strap for all forward-facing child safety seats. It does not matter whether you are using the lower anchors or the vehicle’s safety belt to install the seat–you can always use the tether also. Attach the tether strap to the tether anchor and tighten as much as possible.
You used the lower anchors to install a child safety seat in the center of your backseat, but your vehicle and/or your child safety seat do not permit this. Please read Vehicles With Center Anchors for a detailed explanation of this mistake. Attach the child safety seat in the center position using the vehicle’s safety belt or attach the child safety seat on the side positions using the lower anchors. Remember to use the top tether!

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