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Car seats - common problems

When fitting a car seat, the most common of problems can turn a relatively simple procedure into a frustrating nightmare. Here we list some familiar problems, and attempt to provide you with a suitable solution.

Seat belt too short?

One of the most common problems with rear facing car seats is that the car's seat belts are not long enough to fit around the seat. There is no minimum standard length for adult seat belts, and it would take a large adult to use as much of the seat belt as one of these seats when fitted properly.

Non-reclining and two-way seats may require more length of seat belt than equivalent reclining seats, which can be installed in the upright position and then reclined against seat belt tension once the belt has been fitted. Two-way seats are generally larger.


  • Check with the car seat and vehicle manufacturers that the car seat is suitable for your car
  • Try the car seat in every seating position in which you are likely to use it and ensure that a sufficient length of the seat belt is available
  • In some cars, it is possible to adjust the height of the seat belt (on the door pillar) - try lowering the height adjuster if one is fitted
  • Some seats have an alternative belt route that can be used when the belts are too short for normal installation - the manufacturer's instructions will show this
  • If not, use a different child car seat (or car) that is compatible
Sloping Seats?

If the seats in your car slope, and you purchase a non-reclining baby car seat, the combination of the angles can result in your baby lying in a near vertical position. It is important that you take this into consideration before investing in a car seat.


  • Buying a reclining car seat should help you to overcome this problem.
Buckle crunch?

If the car's seat belt buckle lies across the frame of the car seat, then it will be prevented from being tightened and could break or open in a crash. Only seat belt webbing should be in contact with the frame of the child car seat.


  • An 'alternative belt route' for the seat belt can help you to avoid the buckle touching the car seat, as can moving the seat to a different location in the car
  • Make sure you have fitted the child car seat according to the manufacturer's instructions and that the seat belt has been fitted through the correct route guides on the seat
  • Check with the child car seat and car manufacturers that the car seat is suitable for your car. If not, use a different child car seat (or car) that is compatible
Harness does not fit?

Car seats usually have an integral harness to hold the child securely in the seat. This should fit snugly, so that only one or two fingers can fit between the harness and the child's chest.

If the harness is loose, the child could be thrown from the car seat in a crash, or work their way out of the harness while you are driving. The harness buckle should not rest over the child's tummy.


  • Make sure the child car seat has been fitted according to the manufacturer's instructions and that the harness is not twisted or tangled
  • On many car seats, it is possible to raise the position of the top of the harness as a child grows
  • Clothing can also affect how snugly the harness fits
Child Seat is too loose?

One of the most common mistakes when fitting a car seat is to leave the car seat held loosely by the seat belt. By doing so, you are putting your child's life at risk, and in a crash the car seat will be thrown forwards, causing serious injury and even death.

Adult seat belts are designed to be comfortable and provide protection for adults, rather than for installing child car seats. In some cars the belts mounting point (the opposite end of the lap-belt to the buckle) in the car is located so far forward that the seat belt does not pull the child seat frame backwards and downwards sufficiently into the car seat.


  • Ensure that the car seat has been fitted according to the manufacturer's instructions
  • Check that the seat belt has been fitted through the correct route guides on the car seat, and that it has been pulled tight enough
  • Many car seats have a lock-off device to prevent the seat belt slipping once it has been tightened - make sure this is in the lock position
  • Check that the child car seat rests on the car seat properly
  • Check with the child seat and car manufacturers that the child car seat is suitable for your car
  • If not, use a different child car seat (or car) that is compatible.


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