When it comes to installing a child safety seat correctly, manuals are excellent sources of information. Always keep both the car and car seat manuals in an easily accessible place, such as your vehicle’s glove box or another storage bin or seat pocket.
Can’t find your manuals? The good news is that you can find replacements of manuals freely available online.
Your car seat manual will contain information about the height and weight requirements of the seat.
The manual will also provide important safety information such as never leaving the child in the car seat unattended, not using the seat if it has been damaged or missing parts, and ensuring you keep all your labels on the seat.
Next, you might find the table of contents, which tells you where to locate specific information related to your car seat such as harness adjustments, securing the child in the child restraint, installation guidance, cleaning instructions, airplane usage, where to place the seat in the vehicle, Lower LATCH system, Tether instructions, and much more.
Typically, the manual will provide instructions on how to move the harness to appropriately fit your child and how to ensure the child is safely secure with the harness and chest clip. There may be pictures or words to help provide you with guidance.
Common uses for your vehicle manual
Correct installation in your vehicle. What installation methods does your seat’s manufacturer allow? What positioning options are available? Pictures and diagrams are often included to make installation easier.
Where a seat should be installed. Can you install a seat in the center of the rear seating area? The back seat is the safest location for installing a child safety seat. But each vehicle may vary regarding which seating position is best. For example, some vehicles’ rear center seat would not be a safe location as they lack anchor points.
Location of anchor points. Where is the tether anchor in my vehicle? Check your manual for the location of anchor points for each seating position. It will provide instructions about how to use the LATCH system as well as weight and height restrictions for using the LATCH system. It is important to either use the LATCH system or a seat belt but never use both together. Each vehicle will have specific instructions on what installation methods are allowed.
Height, weight and age limits. When can my child start using this seat? When will they outgrow it? Different seats have different limits and restrictions.
Expiration. How long will this safety seat remain safe? Most seats expire between six and 10 years. Check your manual your specific seat’s useable life. You should also be able to find this information on a label adhered to the seat itself.
Care instructions. How do I clean the seat’s cover or cushion? Care instructions are helpful to determine correct cleaning methods and avoid damage.
Use on an airplane. Do you travel frequently? Consult your manual to learn if your safety seat is approved for aircraft use. Look for a notice that states: “This safety seat is approved for use in aircraft,” or something similar.
Tether system. It will also provide guidance on how to use the tether system, which should always be used when installing a forward facing seat.