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Car Seats on Test

The latest advice on infant car seats:

Recent tests on child car seats by the consumer association Which? sent a wave of fear through many safety-conscious parents. The car seats were tested to a much more rigorous standard than the legal requirements, and at this level of testing - simulating a crash at 40mph - no infant car seats were given the full thumbs up. However, a child is still far safer in the current car seats than no car seat at all, and parents should not be put off buying one.

The Which? survey results suggest that the following points should be most carefully considered when making your choice:

  • The car seat must be the correct size for your child. The seat must surround the child's head - once they grow beyond the seat back it will not offer protection.
  • The car seat must fit correctly in your car and any other car you are likely to use it in. Ask the retailer to demonstrate how the car seat fits and check it is suitable for your vehicle BEFORE you buy. Securing clamps must stay in place if the seat is to stay safe - this may mean it is slightly fiddly to fit, but that should not put you off.
  • The shoulder harness must fit correctly over the shoulders and good seats will offer adjustable positions so the harness can remain correctly sited as the child grows. Padded harnesses will help to prevent chest injuries.
  • Rearward facing car seats will generally offer better protection than forward facing car seats in front impact accidents.
  • High, well-padded sides around the head will generally offer better protection in side impact accidents.
Which is the safest car seat?

All car seats that are sold in the UK must pass the same European crash tests, which specify requirements for protecting a child in a front-on crash at 30mph. All child restraints (baby seats, child seats, booster seats and booster cushions) sold in the UK must conform to the United Nations ECE Regulation R44.03 or later standard (R44.04). The standard, ECE R44.04, was introduced at the end of June 2005, and all new child car seats had to meet this standard from the end of June 2006. Child restraints that conform to a British Standard or to an earlier version of R44 may continue to be used, although as these will now be several years old, parents should consider replacing them with a car seat that conforms to R44.04.

Some car seats may have extra features that make them easier to install correctly, such as ISOFIX, built-in seat belt tensioners, locking clips or non-twisting straps. As proper installation is the most important factor, these installation aids can improve the likelihood of correct fitting and therefore the safety of your child.

In summary, the best way to keep your baby safe in the car is:

  • Check that it is the right group/type of car seat for your baby/child's weight, size and development
  • Check it fits your car properly
  • Check that you can fit it properly and adjust it as your child grows
  • Then look at other features that might make the seat "easier" to fit or more comfy for your child

Back to car seats: the definitive guide homepage

Buying Your Car Seat

Fitting Your Car Seat

This section includes information on the different types of car seat, explaining which seat is the right size for your child, what to look for, useful accessories and important things to remember before you buy. The car seat safety guide, sections on child car seats and the law, and car seats on test, provide the vital safety information that you need when buying your car seat. This section also includes information on fitting your seat, with a step-by-step guide to installing your car seat, a list of common problems and information on where to get help.

With most car seats in the UK being fitted incorrectly, it is crucial that you have access to the right information when selecting and fitting your child's seat. Our trained staff are all experienced car seat fitters and we have used their collective knowledge to put together this information. The golden rule is that it is absolutely essential that you get the fit checked if you are in any doubt at all.. Some manufacturers have car compatibility fitting guides on their websites, however it should be remembered that these are just guides and are not definitive lists. Not all car seats will fit all cars, and no car or car seat manufacturer can guarantee a secure and safe fit. All cars are different, even two of the same make and model can have different length seat belts!

It is therefore essential to ensure your car seat is fitted correctly, in order to secure your child's safety whilst travelling in the car. The showroom is based just outside of Wallingford and we are always happy to check the fitting of your car seat.

Three important points to remember about car seats are:

  • Always buy a car seat to suit your child's weight rather than height.
  • Not all car seats fit all cars; check the model you have chosen will fit your car. Seek professional advice if you are unsure.
  • Always buy a car seat because it has safety features that improve fit and protection, not because it has attractive fabric choices or good value accessories.

Useful Links

Maxi Cosi CabrioFix Isofix Car Seat Maxi Cosi Pearl Isofix Car Seat Recaro Monza Seatfix Car Seat