How to properly install a child seat

You might think that anyone who can read an instruction manual and follow directions could install a car seat correctly. In reality, though, it’s not so easy. 

And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3 out of 4 car seats are improperly installed.

Below are the most important factors when it comes to installing your car seat correctly and where to turn for help if you’re confused. (Illustrations courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)

Placement and orientation of the car seat

Baby seat

Car seats for young babies should be installed in the rear-facing position in the center of the rear seat (or the center seat of a van or station wagon with more than one backseat). Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible – until age 2, or when your child reaches the seat’s maximum rear-facing height and weight limits. (Read more about how to choose and use a car seat.)

Once your toddler outgrows the rear-facing capabilities of his car seat, he can ride facing forward. The middle of the backseat is still the safest place for him to sit.

Booster seats – used for children weighing 40 to 100 pounds (ages 4 to 12 and up to 4 feet 9 inches tall) – are intended for use with a shoulder and lap belt, ideally in the backseat. See more information about how to choose and use a booster seats.

Tips for installing your seat successfully

  • Read your car seat and vehicle manuals to make sure you understand how to install the seat. If the information isn’t clear, call the automaker, the safety seat manufacturer, or both. Or take a 30-minute workshop to make sure you get it right (see “Getting more help,” below).
  • Use the tether system if possible. All child safety seats and vehicles manufactured after 2002 must be compatible with the LATCH system, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (some cars manufactured between 1999 and 2002 also have the system).The LATCH system is designed to make installation of a car seat easier and safer by attaching the car seat directly to anchors permanently attached to the vehicle instead of using the seat belt to secure the seat. Although only front-facing infant and toddler car seats are required to have both the upper and lower attachments, all child safety seats with a five-point safety harness (including rear-facing infant car seats) are required to have the lower anchorsIf you own a vehicle that doesn’t have the anchoring system, consider having your car retrofitted (check with your local auto dealership for information on cost and feasibility).
  • If you’re installing a forward-facing seat, make sure it’s flat against the seat’s bottom and back. Be sure to check the safety seat’s instructions for the recommended angle of recline (this goes for rear-facing seats too). Use your hands to push down as hard as you can on the car seat – or better yet, place your knee on the car seat and push down with all your weight to squash the air out of the cushion underneath it.
  • If you’re installing a safety seat and not using LATCH, make sure the car’s seat belt is threaded through the correct slots, and pull the belt as tight as possible so there’s no slack. The car seat should move no more than an inch forward and backward or side-to-side on the belt path. Once you’ve buckled the belt, give it a yank to make sure it’s locked.
  • If your car is a pre-1996 model, chances are the lap and shoulder belts don’t lock in place unless the car comes to a sudden stop. (To test them, see if you can move the car seat more than an inch to either side or toward the front of the car when the belts are buckled tightly.)If the seat moves, you’ll need to secure it with a locking clip, a small metal device that looks like an oversized paper clip. The locking clip fits around the seat belt (about half an inch above the buckle) to hold the belt firmly in place.If you have an older car and your car seat didn’t come with a locking clip or you’ve misplaced it, contact the manufacturer to order one or purchase one at a children’s supply store.
  • Check to make sure the seat is secure and resists side-to-side motion. If you can still tip the car seat forward or sideways more than an inch or so, unbuckle it and try again until you get a tight fit.

Using the installed car seat

  • Be sure you know how the harness system works. You can tighten and loosen the straps around your baby with the harness adjustment lever.
  • Adjust the harnesses to make them snug. If you can pinch any of the harness material between your fingers, it’s too loose.
  • If there’s a plastic harness clip that rests across your baby’s chest, keep it at armpit level to hold shoulder straps in place.
  • The straps should always lie flat. Straighten them out if they become twisted.
  • After you buckle your child in, tug on the straps to make sure they’re secure.
  • Place rolled-up cloth diapers, blankets, or towels around your newborn to keep her snug in the car seat. You can also purchase head, neck, and body supports to secure your baby.
  • If your infant’s head flops forward, make the seat more level by wedging a folded towel or other firm support under the front of it. If your car seat has a level indicator, use it to adjust the seat’s recline (usually between 30 and 45 degrees) to keep your baby’s head resting comfortably back.

Getting More Help

Because so many parents have trouble getting their car seats installed properly, manufacturers and child safety experts recommend that new parents sign up for a car seat installation workshop. Such classes usually take about half an hour – a small investment of time for the peace of mind that comes with your baby’s safety.

Where to find one? The NHTSA has inspection stations with certified technicians who can inspect your car seat and teach you how to install it properly. The NHTSA’s website listschild safety seat inspection stations by zip code so you can find help near you.

If you’re looking for help online, see:

  • The NHTSA website’s ease-of-use rating information, to help you find a car seat that’s simple to install and use
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics’ handy car safety seat checkup
  • SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.’s website, a rich resource of technical details about car seats, the best safety seat for your child, and how to install car seats properly

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Phone: (877)840-7541
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Is your vehicle ready for Spring?

spring road

Now that the warmer weather has arrived, it’s time to ensure your vehicle is ready to enjoy many miles of warm weather driving. Here are a few tips to make this seasonal transition:

1. Get a car wash. Spring for the undercarriage wash to remove salt and road debris, like chunks of asphalt, to prevent rust and make your car more aerodynamic (which improves its fuel efficiency).

2. Replace worn wipers. Winter can be brutal on your wipers—make sure they’re ready for spring showers. Check that the rubber isn’t dry or cracked, then turn them on and make sure they’re properly cleaning the windshield. If you see a problem, install a new set.

3. Check your coolant. The coolant system works overtime in warmer weather so your engine won’t overheat. Have an ASE-certified (master) mechanic flush and refill the coolant system every other year. An engine that runs too hot or too cold won’t get good gas mileage.

4. Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Properly inflating your tires can improve fuel efficiency and is a very important safety step. Check the owner’s manual or look inside the driver’s side doorframe for your vehicle’s tire pressure rating, then use a pressure gauge to make sure they’re at the right level. In warmer weather, tires that are not properly inflated are also more likely to have a blowout.

5. Change the oil. Regular oil changes help prevent engine wear and can even save you gas money. Synthetic motor oil also offers great engine protection in extreme temperatures. Check your owner’s manual to see how often this should be done on your car.

6. Get a tuneup. A poorly tuned engine can reduce fuel efficiency. To ensure your vehicle’s peak performance, get a tuneup once a year. A basic tuneup can involve the replacement of spark plugs, inspection of spark plug wires, distributor cap, distributor rotor and air filter as well as inspection of the distributor’s dwell and timing. It also provides an opportunity to check out your vehicle’s systems, such as brakes and fluid levels.

7. Check your air filter. A dirty air filter makes it harder for your engine to breathe and hurts gas mileage.

Win Kelly Chevrolet Buick GMC
12421 Auto Drive
Clarksville, MD 21029
Phone: (877)840-7541
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2014 Chevrolet Impala First Drive

Impala - 2014 - 001

We’re looking out over the San Diego cityscape from a penthouse high above the street. It’s dusk, and the lights wink on among the thicket of tall buildings silhouetted against the sky. It’s one of those vertigo moments … not because of the view but because of the 2014 Chevrolet Impala a few feet behind us. How did this car get up here?

It’s not the physical challenge of putting a 201.3-inch sedan in the small patio area of a penthouse on top of an apartment building that makes us feel wobbly. It’s the idea of such a stunt with a Chevrolet that seems unhinged.

Impala - 2014 - 002   Impala - 2014 - 004

You know, Chevrolet. The car company that makes plain but honest cars with all the glamour (Corvette aside) of farm implements. Yet when you flat-out ask Impala chief engineer Todd Pawlik what’s the most important thing about the 2014 Chevrolet Impala, he says, “It’s the way it looks.”

Remaking the corporate architecture

Sure, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala is the newest entry in the full-size, front-wheel-drive sedan segment, but there’s more at stake than the usual boasting about sales numbers compared with the Ford Taurus or Toyota Avalon. The 2014 Impala is about being the best, the kind of commanding statement we don’t expect from a company famous for looking sideways and shuffling its feet when ambition has been called for. As we walk out of the Andaz hotel onto F Street the morning after the penthouse unveiling, the Impala greets us with the same kind of character as the comprehensively refurbished, 90-year-old hotel itself, a modern presentation strengthened by traditional elements. Built on the Epsilon II platform that began with the Opel Insignia and which has produced striking cars in long-wheelbase form from Buick and Cadillac, its statement of Chevy tradition comes from the swelling line of the rear fenders, a design flourish introduced with the very first car to carry the Impala name in 1958 and best expressed in the wonderful 1965 model. -   Impala - 1965

You can tell the 2014 Impala is right after driving the first 50 feet. The car moves away from the curb all at once, with the confident, forthright and yet reassuring feel that Bentley and Rolls-Royce engineers have told us is the signature of a fine motorcar. Epsilon II has worked for Chevy engineers because they have been able to cherry-pick all the best bits Buick and Cadillac have developed and refined. This includes a 305-hp, direct-injection 3.6-liter V-6 that revs so crisply, plus the six-speed automatic transmission that quickly locks up its torque converter to enhance fuel efficiency (EPA-rated 19 mpg city/29 mpg Highway for the V-6).

Go big or go home

As you’d expect in a large car, the Impala’s cabin is all about spaciousness. It delivers 105 cubic-feet of passenger volume, with 45.8 inches of legroom in front and 39.8 inches in the back. The low cowl and receding wings of the dash enhance the sensation of space, while the use of high-strength steel in the A-pillars enables them to be twisted slightly to increase the driver’s field of view.

Impala - 2014 - 005

The interior is rich with standard convenience features, like the increasingly usable MyLink interface (an improved version of Cadillac CUE). An 8-inch touchscreen lets you click, swipe and drag the screen icons, connect up to ten devices through Bluetooth, and display the optional 3D navigation system. Optional leather trim is laid conspicuously thick on the dash surfaces, and while this effect seems slightly take-me-to-the-country-club gorgeous in a color that contrasts with the upholstery, it’s very Euro when executed in a complementary color.

Michigan-size people fit in the rear seat, and the doors have been bowed outwards slightly to increase shoulder room by placing the locks at the rear of the window sill. The car is very quiet thanks to double-pane acoustic glass for the windshield and front side windows, plenty of acoustic baffles within the body structure, and a pretty slippery 0.30 Cd that controls wind noise.

Driving in the spirit of harmony

It is the way the 2014 Chevrolet Impala drives that really sets it apart. The suspension action is wonderfully hydraulic, as if GM engineers have discovered shock damping at last. The car smoothly blends the transitions between acceleration, braking, steering and cornering in a very impressive way. This is no sports sedan, yet it represents a responsive yet stable platform for fast cross-country driving.

We hammer the V-6 through the gears as we pass a service truck on the two-lane road to Campo and the transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, although there are no manual control paddles. The stiction-free, Camaro-style electric-assist steering is precise. The front suspension with its reinforced strut towers quickens response from the tires, which come in 18-inch, 19-inch and 20-inch dimensions. The car also rides with more equanimity on the 19s and 20s than we’ve seen from some premium cars. We like the P245/45R-19 98V Goodyear RS-As best.

Impala - 2014 - 006There are plenty of business facts in this car’s story, including the forthcoming availability of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder model that is expected to make 21 mpg City and 31 mpg Highway, plus a mild-hybrid that will make 25 mpg city/35 mpg Highway. Pricing ranges from the $27,535 LS with the four-cylinder engine to the $36,580 LTZ with the V-6. The mid-price LT models between these two extremes will represent 55 percent of the volume.

Quality takes a big effort

When chief engineer Pawlik describes his team’s challenge in sustaining close tolerances in the complex fit between the hood, the fender and the elaborate LTZ-style headlight cluster, sweat pops out on his forehead. This makes us even more impressed with the car’s quality. His is the same kind of sweat equity that has put the 2014 Chevrolet Impala in a penthouse on top of a building in downtown San Diego.

Impala - 2014 - 003

That and one of the large number of giant construction cranes that are all over the city these days. The publicity stunt only cost $5000, we overheard. Of course, as the car was dangling about 100 feet above the street, the breeze off the fogbank over the ocean apparently made the car sway enough to make your heart stop.

Sourced from “Automobile, – by Michael Jordan | Photographs by: Andrew Yeadon”

Win Kelly Chevrolet Buick GMC
12421 Auto Drive
Clarksville, MD 21029
Phone: (877)840-7541
Email: Contact Us

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