Child car seats’ installation consternation

Some child car seats are so difficult to install that they could be unsafe, says Which?

In its latest round of testing,* Which? found the Renolux Next Confort (24%,** £150) was so complicated to fit it concluded there was a high risk of installing the seat incorrectly and advises parents not to buy it.

Installing a child car seat correctly is vital to prevent injuries in a crash. But Which? knows of just three areas in England where parents can get the full services of a Child Car Seat Centre to give advice on buying and installing seats. These are Wigan (Lancashire), Bromley (Kent) and Rayleigh (Essex).

The consumer organisation wants to see far more UK councils giving parents practical fitting advice and is calling for a nationally recognised training standard for shops that sell child car seats, to whom most parents have to turn for vital buying information.

Another seat, the Renolux 360 (20%, £150) also performed poorly in Which?’s tests and was given ‘Don’t Buy’ status. Fitting this seat wasn’t quite so much of a problem, but it offered “woeful protection” in front crash tests. The shell of the seat was thrown forward and twisted violently so that the child would have collided with the seat in front.

The top-rated child car seats, which not only offered good protection but also clear instructions for easy installation, were:

  • Britax Baby-Safe Sleeper (77%, £180, for group 0 – children from birth to about nine months).
  • Maxi Cosi Cabriofix with Easyfix base (82%, £185, for group 0+ - for children from birth to about 12 months).
  • Mamas & Papas Primo Viaggio Isofix (75%, £225, for group 0+).
  • KiddyInfinity Pro (78%, £130, for group 1 – about nine months to four years).
  • Britax KidFix (Isofix) (77%, £127, for groups 2 and 3 – about four to 12 years).

Richard Headland, Editor, Which? Car, says:
“You can buy the safest seat on the market but it must be fitted correctly to protect a child. We’ve found some seats difficult to install and others offered poor crash protection, which simply isn’t acceptable. Until the legal standard*** improves, children will be at risk.”