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How tight is tight enough?

Safe, satisfactory restraint installation explained

For many parents, the idea that the seat be installed the tighter it can go the better. For many reasons including the engineering that goes into the restraints and crash dynamics this is somewhat untrue and can cause unnecessary anxiety.

Question: Should the baby capsule or carseat move about?
Ideally No. For a more satisfactory fitment and one, which is less likely to cause unnecessary injury to all passengers, we recommend and always work until we get a firm fitment.
If you’ve followed the manufacturers’ instructions accurately, some movement may be present – and that’s ok. Despite a common opinion, pushing on a restraint particularly at the end that it is not attached to the car, and pushing it with your hand from side to side is not a valid test and may only loosen the seatbelt’s relationship with the restraint leaving it requiring reinstallation. If you want a firmer fitment, then there are many ways that can be achieved. Your particular restraint may have device that can contribute to that, otherwise a ‘Gated buckle’ or deploying the ALR seatbelt (if available) may be useful for this purpose.

Going by the Australian Standards, engineering and testing processes a restraint does not have to be ‘rock solid’ to be safe. Be mindful that even mild tension on the vehicle seat cushion may damage the vehicles trim, especially leather trim. Restraints can also be damaged by over-tensioning. A good rule of thumb is that if you pull on the car seat, if it moves more than 1 inch from front to back, or side to side – and this is the important bit – at the the belt path end of the restraint, it is not tight enough.

Often parents will grab the opposite end of their capsule base (where it not tethered) and start pushing it side to side and become anxious that the base isn’t installed correctly and is dangerous. As long as the restraint is fitted to the manufacturer’s specifications and the restraint is not moving more than an 1 inch at the belt path area it is in fact fine.
Safe and secure

Be mindful that even mild tension on the vehicle seat cushion may damage the vehicles trim, especially leather trim. Restraints can also be damaged by over-tensioning which is a common issue with people not qualified to install your seat.

If you have followed the manufacturer’s instructions and are still concerned please seek professional advice from an RTA or ACRI accredited restraint fitter.

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