Child Car Seats - don't panic we're here to help! | Oxfordshire, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire, Herefordshire & Bedfordshire | Hartwell

Child Car Seats - don’t panic we’re here to help!


As parents the choosing and purchasing of a decent car seat can be a stressful ordeal. From the hours of intensive research to the daunting task of then actually fitting the seat into the vehicle itself. We have spoken to parents of young children who also seem to shudder at the mention of a car seat, yet did you know that it is one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your child.

For those of you currently in any stage of the cycle whether it be researching, purchasing or sat staring at the seat in the packaging and putting off the ‘how do we fit it in the car stage’, well don’t panic just yet. Hartwell have put together some useful guidance to help.

You can spend so much time trawling the internet for the perfect car seat. Is it the right colour? Is the seat ISOFIX? Is it safe? Does it have a fancy cup holder? By all means do your research first however our first piece of advice to you is – avoid buying second hand! You can’t be sure of the products history and therefore you are putting the safety of your child at risk. Car seats produced or sold in the UK are tested, approved and must pass a minimum standards of safety before they can go into production however with second hand you are running a risk.

car seat

There are also plenty of approved and quality retailers out there with bags of choice on the market available to you. When looking into the right car seat for your child, we advise you take the following into consideration;

  • Choose a tested and approved seat
  • What’s ISOFIX and is my vehicle ISOFIX compatible? ISOFIX is a car safety system which creates a rigid connection between the car seat and the vehicle itself for improved protection. The system is built around rigid connection points rather than a seatbelt. It helps to create a much easier installation which is secure. If you are unsure if your vehicle is ISOFIX compatible you can check with your local Hartwell dealership, revert to your owner handbook or check the car seats manufacturers approved vehicle list. One other thing we should mention is i-size seats. i-size is an EU safety regulation for child seats (ECE R129). R129 and R144 run alongside one another so parents can choose whether to buy R144 or R129. Please note that i-size only applies to ISOFIX seats. i-size seats will also fit any i-size approved vehicle.
  • Is the seat right for your child’s height and age? The image below by ROSPA 2020, Which type of R44 car seat does my child need can help give visual guidance when selecting a seat to match your child’s height and weight.
  • Does the seat have side impact protection? According to BeSafe, 25-30% of impacts are side on collisions therefore maximising protection in this area of the car seat is critical and part of the UN R129 Regulations.
  • Does the seat offer plenty of legroom?

The Law in the UK requires that all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any vehicle must use the correct child car seat until they reach either 135 cm in height or 12 years old. It is no one but the driver’s responsibility to ensure the safety and that the rules are adhered to.

Source: ROSPA, 2020

Many of you will webroom beforehand, meaning you will do your research online but purchase the product in store. Before purchasing you may want to check that the retailer has on site staff trained who can help fit the child car seat and who will let you try the seat in your car first. Also check the returns policy to see if you can return the seat if it’s not suitable in the long run.

When it comes to fitting the child car seat (if you will be using it regularly in more than one vehicle), read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and if you don’t have these to hand then clear instructions can be found on the manufacturers website as many publish their instructions online. Some manufacturers also publish short videos on their website. It is safer to fit child car seats in the rear of the vehicle however they can also be fitted in the front. Be mindful of front passenger airbags and NEVER fit a rearward-facing seat in the front of a vehicle if the airbag is active.

Keep the instructions in a safe place in case you need to refer to them again and if you are unsure, seek advice and ask someone to check for you. It can be a dull task reading an instruction manual however if it can help to prevent risk and improve safety for your child, and is much better than using a trial and error method.

Keep to the rules, stay safe and if in doubt always ask for advice.