Reading your vehicle’s instruction manual will tell you IF you have tether anchors AND where to find the tether anchors. DO NOT ASSUME you have found the tether anchor without reading the manual, as the real anchors are VERY EASILY confused with other parts of the vehicle (like cargo hooks) that are not strong enough to hold the tether strap in a crash. Most cargo hooks are meant to hold about 20 pounds. A tether anchor is meant to hold several hundred pounds of force in a crash. Tether anchors are not always easy to find. They’re often hidden under plastic taps that you must flip up or remove or are at the very bottom of the back of the vehicle seat.
Does my vehicle have tether anchors?
Vehicles model year 2000 and newer must have tether anchors in at least three backseat positions. In the backseat of vehicles with only one row of seats in the back (sedans, small SUV’s, hatchbacks, etc), all three positions in the backseat must have tether anchors. Vehicles that have more than 3 seats in the back, like large SUV’s, minivans, etc, sometimes have tether anchors for more than 3 backseat positions. One exception is SUV’s model year 2000 to 2004 that have only 3 backseat positions; these were required to have only 2 tether anchors, one for each side seat. While many did have the tether in the center, a significant number did not. A retrofit kit is available for some of these SUV’s, so you can add a tether anchor to the center seat.
Finding your Tether Anchors
We have included a list, below, to indicate how many different places tether anchors can be found. This list is not all-inclusive–please check your vehicle owner’s manual to be sure you have found the correct tether anchors.
Convertibles: Not required to have tether anchors, although some provide them. When available, they are often for the front passenger seat, since the back seat (if present) is frequently too small for a child safety seat. If the back seat is large enough, the vehicle will usually have tether anchors fro the rear seats.
Hatchbacks: Often the tether anchors are on the back of the vehicle seat or on the back wall of the vehicle directly below the opening of the trunk door.
Minivans: Tether anchors are usually located on the floor directly behind the vehicle seats, on the back of the vehicle seats, or underneath the seats. In some minivans the tether anchors for the third row seats are located on the rear door frame, either above or below the opening. SInce minivans have more than 3 rear-seating positions, often some positions don’t have tether anchors, since only 3 positions are required to have them. Sometimes the dealership can install tether anchors in positions where the anchors were not factory installed. Read your vehicle owners manual carefully to see if this is possible.
Pick Up Trucks: If the truck has no back seat, has side facing jump seats, or is too small to safety fit a child safety seat, then the front passenger seat usually has a tether anchor. In larger pickups, tether anchors are on the back wall of the cab below the rear window or behind the vehicle seat back. Sometimes the tether may be a loop of safety belt webbing. It is very important to read the vehicle’s instruction manual as sometimes the tether strap takes a strange routing path (i.e. you have to pass the child safety seat’s tether strap through one of the webbing loops and hook the tether hook onto a loop that is not the one directly behind the child safety seat.)
Sedans: Usually tether anchors are on the shelf below the back windshield. Occasionally the anchors are in the trunk (some older Volvos).
SUV’s: Tether anchors are often located on the back of the backseat or on the floor in the cargo area directly behind the backseat. In some SUV’s, the tether anchor is located on the rear door frame, either above of below the door opening. SInce these vehicles often have more than 3 rear seating positions, but only 3 tether anchors are required, some seats may not come with tether anchors. Sometimes it’s possible to have the dealership install anchors in some of the seating positions where they did not come factory installed. Read your owners manual to find out if this is possible.
Wagons: Tether anchors usually located on the back of the backseat or on the floor in the cargo area directly behind the backseat. In some wagons, the tether anchor is located on the rear door frame, either above or below the opening.