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How to choose the right car seat or booster seat ?
Before buying a car seat, it is essential to understand some key-points, such as knowing the regulations, knowing how to differentiate the many kinds of car seats or installation methods, or adopting good use practices.
A child under 10 years of age must travel in a child restraint system, commonly known as a “car seat”, approved according to the European standards in force.
Two standards regulating the approval of these devices that can be marketed on the European market currently coexist : these are R44/04 and R129 standards.
The R44/04 standard (in force since 2006) defines the categories of car seats according to the weight of the child (segmented into 5 “Groups”).
Installing the car seat in the vehicle can be done by using the seat belt or the Isofix system. The type-approved car seats were mainly subjected to frontal crash tests, as well as static testing of all safety components. Finally, the standard allows children to be transported in a forward-facing position only if they weigh at least 9 kg.
Seat categories are defined by the weight of the child being transported :
• Group 0 = under 10 kg
• Group 0+ = under 13 kg
• Group 1 = between 9 kg and 18 kg
• Group 2 = between 15 kg and 25 kg
• Group 3 = between 22 kg and 36 kg
Some car seats can combine several Groups :
The R129 standard has been spreading since 2013 (each of its 3 phases are now in force). It classifies the seats according to the size of the child. The approval of the seats requires extensive tests, both in frontal and also side crash impacts. Smarter “Q” dummies are used to obtain more and more precise measurements. This standard extends the ban on transporting children in a forward-facing position until they are at least 15 months old (and 76 cm tall). It endeavours to avoid as much as possible the risks of incorrect installation and misuse of the seats (it is therefore rather favourable to car seats fixed by means of the Isofix system, it prohibits the harness from being completely removed from the car seat in order to avoid incorrect reassembly, and binds the belt routings for belt-fastened seats to be unique, i.e. to be the same for the rear-facing and forward-facing position). Finally, it also requires compliance with some interior dimensions to ensure that the car seat corresponds to all the body types of children for whom it is intended.
Within the R129 standard, there is the so-called “i-size” specificity.
An R129-approved car seat can therefore :
• be additionally i-size approved over its entire range of use,
• or it may also be i-size approved only in part, over a particular size range of use,
• or it may not be i-size.
To be qualified as “i-size”, a car seat (in its entirety, or for the particular range of use) must meet dimensional universality criteria relating to its external dimensions (e.g. a maximum width of 44 cm), thus ensuring that it can fit in all the passenger seats of vehicles declared as “i-size” by car manufacturers.
Car seats approved according to the R129 i-size standard also get the specific logo shown here.
An orange label affixed to the car seat certifies that the manufacturer has obtained the R44/04 or R129 approval and includes several indications, the details of which are given below :
It is essential to correctly install the car seat in your vehicle, following the manufacturer’s user guide.
Groups 0 and Groups 0+ can be installed in the front passenger seat, but it is then IMPERATIVE to switch off the airbag protection system.
Nevertheless, we remind you that the rear seats are the safest and must be used as a priority when installing the car seat, regardless of the Group.
There are 3 types of installation in the vehicle :
This may concern a rear-facing, or a forward-facing position.
Always push the car seat as close as possible against the backrest of the car, check that the belt is not twisted and then tighten it as much as possible. Several Renolux car seats are equipped with a belt tightener which allows the car seat to be even more securely fixed to the vehicle’s seat.
The vehicle’s belt routings through the car seat are signified by coloured parts and labels :
• for R44/04-approved car seats (and this also concerned some seats at the beginning of the R129 approval) :
BLUE for rear-facing position or RED for forward-facing position.
• for R129/03-approved car seats : GREEN for all belt routings.
All new vehicles sold in France since 2011 (and also many older vehicles) are equipped with Isofix anchor points. These are 2 metal rings located at the junction between the seat and the backrest of the car. They are more or less clearly marked, so it is sometimes necessary to slide your hand between the cushions to find them. Check in your vehicle.
An Isofix car seat is equipped with 2 connectors (“clamps”, sometimes telescopic) with hooks that are going to anchor on these 2 metal rings :
In addition to these 2 anchorage points, it is necessary to add a 3rd one which is an “anti-rotation device”, which will limit the forward tilting of the seat during frontal impacts. This 3rd point may be, depending on the car seat model, a “Top tether” or a “Support leg“.
It is a strap starting from the back of the car seat to be attached to a ring in the trunk of the vehicle (on the ceiling, or on the rear parcel shelf, or against the back of the backrest, or on the floor… Consult your vehicle owner’s manual).
It is a height adjustable extending bar that rests on the floor of the car.
(Warning : it should not rest on most floor boxes if there is one : consult the car manufacturer’s recommendations in your vehicle owner’s manual).
Some car seats offer installation with both vehicle’s Isofix anchor points AND seat belt. Always follow the car seat manufacturer’s user guide. In Isofix or combined installation, it is necessary to regularly check that the indicator screens on the Isofix anchors are green (on the 2 connectors, and on the top tether or support leg) and check that the straps are not twisted or too loose.
Please note that when using a R129-approved car seat with a harness, the total weight of the seat + the one of the child must not exceed 33 kg.
Once the seat is properly fixed in the vehicle, your child must be correctly installed in a car seat suitable for his/her age, weight and body type in order to guarantee optimum protection.
In order for this, some important rules should be kept in mind :
• Use rear-facing position for as long as possible, at least until child is 15 months old or even more.
• The harness is used according to the size and/or weight of the child (see car seat’s user guide). The child’s coat or jacket should not be left on when installing him in its car seat to allow optimal adjustment of the harness. Make sure that the safety harness straps are not wrapped or twisted and that they are taut along the child’s body and at the correct height.
• The straps should go over AND near the child’s shoulders, and the harness should be tight enough so that only one hand can slide flat (1.5 to 2 cm) between the harness and the child’s chest. There is a risk of ejection if the harness is not tight enough. Regularly adjust the harness settings to your child’s stature.
• The headrest should be positioned so that the bottom is from 0 to 2 cm above the child’s shoulder.
• As soon as use allows (see user guide), switch to installation method without harness and use the vehicle’s seat belt to fasten your child. The belt should go over AND near the child’s shoulder, but not on his neck. If it’s the case, either the headrest is not low enough or the child is not tall enough for a without harness use. Also make sure to place the under-lap strap (“horizontal belt”) as low as possible : on the upper thighs rather than on your child’s belly, in order to properly contain his pelvis and avoid internal abdominal injuries in the event of a violent crash. Check that the seat belt is not twisted or too loose.
• Check your child’s growth ! When his size and/or his weight and/or his body type no longer correspond to his current seat, then choose a larger model, suitable to his new morphology, and this until he is 10 years old (or even more if his morphology requires it : for example if he is less than 150 cm tall or if the belt falls on his neck rather than on his shoulder).
• It is strongly advised not to buy a second-hand car seat as it may no longer meet the standards or may have lost its restraint capacities (worn straps, faulty buckle, etc.). It may also have been involved in an accident without being visible, and may have potentially lost all or some of its safety and protection capabilities.
• Always check that the car seat is approved according to the European standards in force. All Renolux car seats are R44/04 or R129 approved.
• Test the comfort of car seats, observe the quality of materials, fabrics, finishes. Your child’s wellness is paramount : he must feel comfortable in his car seat. Renolux offers car seats with maximum and matchless comfort, smooth and welcoming, in particular thanks to its patented technology Softness®.
• Compare the features and settings offered by different car seats. A car seat which is easy to install, adjust and use will be a real ally in everyday life. Renolux has thought of both children and parents by providing ingenious and ergonomic systems, such as the swivelling car seat of which it is the inventor, or even highly scalable car seats for a long period of use.
• Learn about the manufacturing conditions and origin of the car seats, the trustworthy and reliability of the manufacturer. Renolux has been manufacturing high quality car seats in France for over 40 years, and has them regularly tested in independent laboratories approved by the relevant European authorities.