FAQs : Car Seats - General
- Is my older car seat still safe to use?
- Car seats are a safety device. To properly protect your child, the car seat must be in good shape with all labels and instructions present and readable. Dorel Juvenile Group car seats now have expiration dates molded into the shell and sometimes the base of the car seat. The expiration date will be from 6 to 8 years after the manufacture date.
This is important for several reasons. For example; the webbing, buckles, adjusters and other components will be subjected to various exposures such as food, cleaners, drinks and other potential contaminants which may hinder the proper operation or degrade the product. The labeling on the car seat may no longer be readable. The instructions may have become lost. The history of the car seat becomes more difficult to verify as the product ages; for example, the car seat may have been involved in an accident that may affect the product integrity. The plastic on a car seat could degrade over time depending upon how the car seat has been stored. If the owner of the car seat has changed, this makes getting in contact with the current owner, in the event of a recall, much more difficult. Car seats and the regulations governing them are constantly improving with potentially better alternatives available.
For all these reasons, car seats have an expiration date provided as a guideline as to how long it should be used to protect your child in the event of a crash. Unless you know the history of a car seat, do not use it. Do not buy a second hand car seat. For older car seats, the expiration date can be determined by adding 6 years (or 8 years for 3-in-1 seats) to the manufacture date stamped on a label on the seat.
- What if my car seat has two expiration dates - one on the shell and the other on the car seat base?
- In certain cases, some car seats may have two (2) expiration dates; one on the shell and one on the base. Although this is not a safety issue, we understand this may be confusing to the consumer. The date on the shell takes precedence.
For instance, an Alpha Elite car seat with a base could have an expiration date on the shell of 2018 while the base may have an expiration date of 2017. As the shell expiration date has precedence over the base, this car seat would expire in 2018.
Dorel Juvenile Group has taken steps to eliminate this confusion and is here to help. For any further questions on this subject please feel free to call our Consumer Relations Department at 1-800-544-1108: Monday through Thursday, 7AM to 6PM, Friday 7AM to 4:30PM Eastern Time.
- What position does the infant car seat handle need to be in during travel?
- Any locked position may be used during travel.
- What is the proper recline angle for my rear-facing child?
- When your car seat is installed in your vehicle and your child is secured in the car seat, the level lines on side of plastic shell must be level with the ground. Dorel testing has shown that the resulting angle leads to the best crash test performance, even for older and larger children, for car seats that have level line indicators.
If your car seat model has an angle indicator with a ball, rather than level lines, the ball should be between the two marks on the indicator that matches the weight of your child.
NOTE: Check the angle indicator while parked on level ground.
How can I achieve the proper recline angle for my rear-facing child?
Dorel works to ensure that our built in recline adjustments accommodate common vehicle models as much as possible. If your vehicle seat is deeply sloped, you may need to place a rolled towel or foam noodle on the vehicle seat, where the vehicle seat cushion meets the vehicle seat back, so that the level line on the side of shell is level to the ground. For deeply sloped vehicle seats, this solution is common to most car seats on the market, and is recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Check often to be sure padding is still in place and the vehicle belt is tight.
WARNING: Using padding that tilts the child restraint farther back than the level-to-ground line can result in serious injury or death.
- The head area of my rear-facing seat moves up and down when I push and pull on it. Is something wrong with the way it is installed?
- Some movement in the head area of rear-facing car seats is common, even when car seats are correctly installed. Follow the installation instructions for your car seat, and then test for tightness. With weakest hand at belt path, tilt and push the car seat forward and back and from side to side. Some “play” from front to back or about an inch from side to side is acceptable. The vehicle belt or LATCH belt used to secure the car seat should not loosen during this test.
- Can my car seat be in the reclined position when it's installed forward-facing?
- Check the instructions that came with your convertible, forward-facing, or booster car seat. To match the natural angle of different vehicle seats, some models do allow semi-reclined position(s) to be used in the forward-facing modes. When forward-facing, recline positions are only to be used to keep the car seat flush against the back of vehicle seat. Adjustable vehicle seats must be in the upright position during travel, according to your vehicle owner’s manual.
- How should I adjust the crotch strap?
- Check the instructions for your specific car seat to determine which adjustment positions are appropriate for rear-facing and forward-facing use. In general, thread the crotch strap through the slot closest to your child’s body, but not underneath your child. Check your instruction manual, as some models may use only the rear two slots for rear facing infant mode.
WARNING: Failure to place buckle’s metal retainer completely through pad and plastic shell can result in serious injury or death.
- How should I tighten the harnesses?
- Grasp the harnesses at the shoulders and pull upwards first. This ensures that the lower part of the harness is snug. Then, using the adjuster that comes with your car seat, remove all slack until the entire harness is snug.
A snug strap should not allow any slack. It lies in a relatively straight line without sagging. It does not press on the child’s flesh or push the child’s body into an unnatural position.
To test for tightness, try to pinch the flat part of the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. If the harness is snug, your fingers will slip off the harnesses without any remaining between your fingers. This is called the “pinch” test.
- What can I do to give baby’s head more support? Can I add a head insert?
- Dorel car seats come with head padding for small infants. This padding is designed for and tested with the specific car seat model and harness system. If your child needs additional support, you may place rolled receiving blankets/towels along the child’s sides, after she is correctly buckled in. Additional padding may not be placed under your child or under the car seat’s harnesses.
- Who certifies our car seats for aircraft travel?
- For certification to FMVSS213 , car seat manufacturers self-certify. We utilize the same labs which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses combined with our own internal testing. The certification testing for aircraft travel is within the child restraint standard FMVSS213. NHTSA also tests our child restraint systems , which includes the certification to allow the statement certified for use in aircraft. However , NHTSA will not “certify” our child restraint systems, nor any other manufacturer’s child restraint systems. Not all car seat platforms meet the certification testing for aircraft use, such as our belt positioning booster seats. All DJG belt positioning booster seats are not aircraft certified and cannot be used while traveling on an aircraft.
- Are there any warranties for my car seat?
- Dorel Juvenile Group warrants its products to be free from defects in workmanship and material under normal household use and service for one year following date of purchase for most products. This warranty shall not apply to damages arising from neglect, accidental damage, or commercial use of the product. This is a limited warranty. Liability for consequential property damage is expressly excluded. Proof of purchase is required. To make a claim under this warranty, you must contact Dorel Juvenile Group's Consumer Relations Department by emailing email@example.com, or faxing us at 1-800-207-8182, or writing to the following address: Dorel Juvenile Group Consumer Relations Department PO Box 2609 Columbus, IN 47202-2609. You may also contact the Consumer Relations Department at 1-800-544-1108 where you can speak to a Consumer Relations Representative. Hours of operation are Monday - Thursday 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST and 7:00 AM to 4:30 PM EST on Friday. Proof of purchase is required.
- At what level should the harness straps be for my child in the forward facing toddler position?
- For a child that is in the forward facing toddler position, the straps must be even with or above the child's shoulders.
- At what level should the harness straps be for my child in the rear facing position?
- For an infant that is rear facing, the harness straps should be even with or just below the baby's shoulders. If the harness is above the baby's shoulders with the straps in the lowest position, do not use the car seat until the baby grows into it.
- Can I still use the latch strap if it comes loose from my car seat?
- Yes. The lower anchorage strap is attached to new car seats so it will not get lost and will be available when needed. If it was removed from your car seat, the original lower anchorage strap or a replacement received from Dorel Consumer Services may still be used to correctly install your car seat.
- Do I have to use a base with my infant car seat?
- A base is an accessory item and does not have to be used to install your infant car seat. In fact, certain situations may require the removal of the base in order to get a secure fit. For example, if your vehicle seats are very narrow or if you are using the seat for airline travel, you may find that you get a more secure fit by installing the seat without the base.
- Does my child have to be 34 inches to go forward facing?
- We are evaluating this recommendation, however for now, this is how the product was tested and certified. Certain test parameters exist depending on the height and weight recommendations for the car seat.
- How do I clean my car seat?
- Wipe plastic, vinyl, and metal parts with a damp sponge or cloth. For fabrics, use warm sudsy water, rinse with clean water, and air dry. The harness system should be cleaned with mild soap and water. Wipe the outside of the buckle with a damp cloth. Do not lubricate the buckle or immerse in water. Do not use bleach or harsh chemicals on your car seat and do not dry clean. Use of cleaning agents such as these can damage your car seat and cause deterioration of the materials.
- How do I install my car seat on an airplane?
- Use the car seat only with FAA certified equipment. The car seat should be installed in the aircraft seat in the same way that it is installed in the vehicle with a lap belt. Use on forward facing aircraft seats only and in a position where the lap belt can be tightened securely. It is always advisable to contact the airline prior to taking a car seat on board.
- How do I install the base for my infant car seat?
- Thread the vehicle belt through the belt path at the foot of the base. If the vehicle lap and should belts are attached, thread both through the belt path. Buckle the vehicle belt and adjust as tightly as possible by pushing down firmly on the base while pulling up on the shoulder belt until the lap belt is tight. It is not necessary to make the base completely immobile, but the base should not move more than an inch or two from side to side.
- How do I know if the car seat is installed properly?
- Carefully read and follow your car seat's instruction manual and the vehicle's owner manual for proper installation, and then test for tightness. With your weakest hand at the belt path, tilt and push the car seat forward and back and from side to side. Some “play” from front to back or about an inch from side to side is acceptable. The vehicle belt or LATCH belt used to secure the car seat should not loosen during this test.
Dorel also recommends consulting with a certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician to determine if your car seat is properly installed. In most cases, this service is free. Visit http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm to access the Inspection Station Locator. Type in your zip code and you will receive contact information for a Child Safety Seat Inspection Station in your area.
- Are parts and accessories available for my car seat?
- All parts used with Dorel car seats must be produced and approved for your seat by the car seat manufacturer. You must have your model number and manufacturing date of the product to order parts, accessories, or instructions. This information is identified on the car seat’s labels.
To order, e-mail the Consumer Relations Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, fax us at 1-800-207-8182, or write to:
Dorel Juvenile Group
Consumer Relations Department
P.O. Box 2609 Columbus,
You may also contact the Consumer Relations Department at 1-800-544-1108 and speak to a Consumer Relations Representative. Hours of operation are Monday - Thursday 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST and 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM EST on Friday.
- How do I use the LATCH system?
- The LATCH system can only be used in vehicles that already have the anchor bars installed in the vehicle seat bight. These anchor bars cannot be retrofitted into the vehicle. Refer to your vehicle owner's manual to see which seating positions may be equipped with the LATCH system. The car seat is used with the LATCH system the same way as it is with the vehicle seat belt. The LATCH system does not, for example, allow an infant to be placed rear facing in the front passenger seat with an active air bag. Please refer to your instruction manual for specific installation instructions.
- How is the tether installed in my vehicle?
- Vehicles manufactured after 1989 have pre-drilled holes but need to have the anchor hardware installed. Most vehicles after 9/1/99 have the anchor hardware already installed. Please refer to your vehicle owner's manual or call your vehicle dealership for more information regarding the installation of the tether in your vehicle.
- How long should my child remain rear facing?
- Research has shown that rear-facing children between the ages of 1 and 2 years old are 5 times safer than forward-facing children (Facing Car Safety Seats: Getting the Message Right, Pediatrics 2008). A rear-facing car seat supports the entire head, neck, and back in most crashes. The restraint cradles and moves with the child, reducing stress to the neck and spinal cord.
Children should remain rear-facing until they reach the height or weight limits stated in the instructions of a convertible car seat. You must stop using your infant car seat when your child reaches the specified weight limits or when the top of your child's head comes within one inch of the top of the car seat. At that point, you should move your child to a convertible seat with higher rear-facing weight and height limits.
At a minimum, children must be over 1 year old, weigh over 22 pounds, and be at least 34 inches tall, before riding forward-facing in Dorel car seats.
If my child’s feet touch the seatback, will her legs be injured in a crash?
Research shows that lower-extremity injuries (feet, ankles, legs, etc.) are rare for children facing the rear, on the order of 1 per 1000 children. The same research shows that facing forward does not eliminate a child’s risk of lower-extremity injuries, but that head and spine injuries are more common when facing forward. Practical experience has shown that children can be comfortable riding with their legs folded. (Rear-Facing Car Safety Seats: Getting the Message Right, Pediatrics 2008).
- What is a tether strap and how should it be used?
- The tether can greatly improve the performance of a forward-facing car seat, and is only used for the forward-facing toddler position. Dorel strongly recommends that you use the tether in the forward-facing position, whether you have installed your car seat with LATCH or with the vehicle seat belts.
The tether is a long strap that connects the back of your child's car seat to a special tether anchor in your vehicle. Vehicles manufactured after 1989 have pre-drilled holes but need to have the anchor hardware installed. Most vehicles made after 9/1/99 have the anchor hardware already installed. If your vehicle does not have an anchor bracket in the vehicle owner’s manual, see your dealer or a qualified mechanic to have an anchor installed.
When not in use for modes other than forward-facing, the tether strap must be stored or removed according to the instructions that came with your car seat.
How do I install my tether?
Loosely attach the tether to the designated vehicle anchor (Consult vehicle’s owner manual for specific location) before threading the vehicle belt through the belt path on the child restraint. After installing your car seat securely, pull tether strap tight so there is no slack.
- What is the LATCH system?
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) is a universal system for installing car seats without using vehicle seat belts or extra parts (such as a locking clip). The LATCH system can only be used in vehicles that have the LATCH anchor bars installed and designated LATCH seating positions. Most vehicles manufactured after September 2002 are equipped with LATCH. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to see which seating positions are with the LATCH system.
Is it safer to use both the vehicle seat belt and the lower anchors to install my car seat?
Do not use both the LATCH belt and vehicle belt at the same time, with any Dorel car seat. This changes the performance of a car seat and may be dangerous.
Can I use LATCH in the rear center seat?
For many vehicle models, LATCH anchors are not available for the center seat. You may only use LATCH in the center seat if it is a designated LATCH seating position in your vehicle owner’s manual. If you wish to use the center seat, and it is not a designated LATCH position, you must install your car seat using the vehicle seat belt. For forward-facing car seats, you should still use a tether.
- When should I use a locking clip?
- Before you put your car seat in the vehicle, buckle the lap/shoulder belt. Pull on the lap belt portion. If it loosens or slips, you must either use a locking clip to hold the seat belt tight or move the car seat to another seating location. Note: A locking clip will not fix all types of seat belt problems. Please refer to your instruction manual for details.
- When should my child be moved to a booster car seat?
- If you child is between 30 and 40 pounds and his shoulders are above the upper slots, you should remove the harness and use the seat as a belt-positioning booster. If your child is over 40 pounds, you must remove the harness and use the seat as a belt-positioning booster regardless of the child's height.
- Where can I find my model number and manufacturing date and why do I need it to order parts?
- The model number and manufacturing date can be found on a sticker on the side of your car seat. It is important to have this information ready when contacting Consumer Relations to ensure that the representatives are able to provide you with accurate information and/or correct parts that have been approved for use with your product. Dorel Juvenile Group manufactures a wide variety of car seats and other juvenile and home products; therefore, providing the model number and manufacturing date is crucial and the representatives will not be able to order parts or give specific information regarding a product unless this information is provided.
- Where is the safest place for my car seat?
- Children in car seats should sit in a rear seating position of your vehicle. Research shows that children in the front seat are at 40% greater risk of injury, compared with children in the rear (Effects of Seating Position and Appropriate Restraint Use on the Risk of Injury to Children in Motor Vehicle Crashes, Pediatrics 2005). Children are shown to be safer in an appropriate rear seat, whether a vehicle has conventional air bags, advanced air bags, or no air bags at all.
If your vehicle has a center rear position available, and it has appropriate seat belts or LATCH anchors for using your car seat, Dorel recommends using that seating position.
Warning: Never place a child rear-facing in a seating position with an active frontal airbag.
- Why won't my child's car seat buckle stay buckled?
- If the latch plate does not remain locked, check for dropped food, sticky spilled drinks, dirt, leaves, etc. Clean with cotton swab and/or remove object with tweezers. Lock the latch plate into buckle until you hear a "click." Pull up on the crotch strap to make sure the buckle is locked. If you cannot get the harness to adjust and remain tight with the buckle securely locked, do not use the car seat. Contact Consumer Relations at 1-800-544-1108.
- Can I install my car seat with my vehicle seat belts?
- Your child restraint must be tightly locked in place at all times, during travel. For information about vehicle seat belts that will not work with your child's car seat, refer to your car seat instruction manual. To determine if your vehicles belts are compatible with your car seat, check your vehicle owner’s manual section on vehicle seat belt use with child restraints. This is your best source for information concerning your vehicle. Not all vehicle belts will work with all car seats.
What if my seat belts don’t stay tightly locked when the car is parked?
Many vehicle seat belts have a child restraint locking mode, which must be engaged when installing most child restraints. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for specific information on installing a child restraint in the selected seating position. If a locking mode is not available for that seating position, move the car seat to a different position or consult your car seat instructions for information on locking clips or available “belt lock off plates”
Note: A locking clip will not fix all types of seat belt problems. Please refer to your instruction manual for details.