Tethers and anchor points
All NZ/Aus and American standard seats in our country should be tethered when forward facing (tether, not teether!!). (Standards Blog) Pretty much – for safety – you should follow the guideline of “if it has a tether, use it!”. There might be some loop holes within this, which will always be explained in the manual that comes with your seat.
Not having seats tethered, or tethering to an incorrect point is the most common mistake I find when checking car seats. And it is unsafe – tethers should always be connected to an anchor point that is installed into a structural point of the vehicle.
Common mistakes made by lots:
- Tethering to a luggage point
- No tether attached at all
- Tether over or under tightened
- Using isofix/latch points to tether to
- Inappropriately installed anchor points
New Zealand definitely has some very clever DIYer’s – however installing anchor points is not an area you should play around with if you do not know what you are doing. I know I don’t go near them unless I am sure!
So with all that, how do I find the tether point in my vehicle?
The first place to access this information is in your manual. However – not all vehicles sold in NZ come with their manual due to a large number of imports. Car manuals can be found online in most instances, or you can ring the dealership of the make of your car and sometimes they will have one.
If you cannot access a manual – then I always recommend going to see a Child Restraint Technician, or a mechanic who are knowledgeable about the types of anchor points, and what to look for when hunting for them.
What do they look like?
This is another confusing aspect of anchor points – they can all look very different!
Typically they are metal loops in the rear of the car, either in the boot, roof or on the parcel tray of sedans. They generally do not move.
What is the difference between Luggage points and Anchor Points?
Luggage points are designed to assist with storing of luggage – they are not installed into structural points of the car, and are not load tested. This means they cannot withstand the amount of forces put on them in the case of an accident and a car seat being attached to them.
(photo from drivingtests.co.nz)
What if I’m not sure?
Ask for help – go and see a Child Restraint Technician or ask your local mechanic. If you do not have access to a technician locally you can always utilise online support in such forums as the Carseat Discussion Group (here) on Facebook. Here you can put photos up and numerous technicians will be able to try to assist you.
If in doubt – always check it out! Top tethers are crucial in minimising forces during an accident. Incorrect tethering can increase the injuries suffered, or worse prove fatal. It’s always best to get advice if you are unsure at all.