How to Unlatch a Car Seat

March 11, 2024

There's nothing more terrifying than the thought of a wailing infant (or whiny toddler) trapped in their car seat. That's why it's so important to have your child safety seats inspected and properly installed by a certified child passenger safety technician before you take your kids out on the road. But even when you've had your carseats checked and everything is in order, it's easy to make mistakes that can potentially put your kids at risk.

1. Loose installation

The most common error people make with their child car seats is that they're not tightening the harness straps correctly. A loose harness can allow your child to slip out of the harness during a crash, which could lead to serious injuries. To check if your child seat's harness straps are tight enough, give them the "Pinch Test": You should be able to pinch the webbing of the harness with your fingers, without any movement in the belt path of the car seat.

2. Incorrectly positioned lower anchors

Many parents incorrectly hook the car seat's lower anchors to the vehicle's anchor points. To ensure you have the correct location, check the owner's manual for your vehicle and the car seat. You should also look at the indicator on your vehicle to be sure you're parked in the right spot to use the lower anchors.

3. Not using the top tether anchor

If you have a forward-facing car seat, it's mandatory to attach the tether strap to one of the vehicle's anchor points. A study by the Nova Scotia roadside observational program found that 28 percent of forward-facing seats had the tether unhooked, which increases the chance of head and neck injuries for children in those seats.


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