Monday, June 8, 2015

Car Seats- So Confusing!

When I moved to Canada I learned that if you reside in Canada you need to use Canadian approved car seats.

I didn't understand this because many of the car seats are exactly the same darn thing including the name.  There are seats that meet both but they are few and far between.  I own an Evenflo Maestro and only certain models meet Canadian requirements.  The rest are only regulated for US use.  I waited to buy the car seat until we were back in the states.

We recently acquired a Buick Rendevous.  I read the manual.  I installed the Britax seats.  But then I bought a Maestro for HB because he's getting rather tall, but he weighs so little I wasn't comfortable with him using just a booster yet.  The Maestro manual says of installing in harness mode using the seat belt, "If your vehicle was built prior to model year 1996, and has either a lap belt or lap/shoulder belt that is equipped with an emergency locking retractor (ELR) you MUST use a Locking Clip."  emphasis is theirs.  That should say "or" not "and" because cars prior to 1996 weren't required to have any locking mechanism.  Cars built after 1996 have three locking mechanisms: ALS (automatic locking system), ELR, and switcher.  To try to self-diagnose which your car has, see this site.

My other car has ALS.  I flipped through the Buick's manual and got the implicit feeling that it was not ALS, but I could not determine the mechanism myself.  After being on hold for half an hour, I learned from the car manufacturer that the Buick is an ELR.  These things should be put in car manuals. 

This doesn't affect the Britax seats because they have built in lock offs.  Some car seats do.  But not the Maestro.  So I have two options: to use the latch, which I'm not sure what the weight rating for the Buick is or get a locking clip.  Not all latch is rated for the heavy weight of a child and a seat.  Seat belts are actually safer because they are designed to withstand more force.  I would use the latch along with the seat belt when we use booster mode, but I want to use harness mode and you can only choose one.  Therefore I called Evenflo.  They are sending me a locking clip for free.

The moral of the story: know your car and your car seats.  Know how your car seats lock (or don't).  And if you plan on riding in someone else's car, ask them to find about their car seat belts or the latch weight limits prior to installation. You may find that you can't use your car seat in their/your car or that you need some sort of modification.

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