ISOFIX Car Seats - Everything you need to know
Australia has caught up to the rest of the world by adopting the safer ISOFIX child restraint systems. Tinitrader has noticed that there is still confusion in the market place as to what ISOFIX actually means. So before you buy your ISOFIX car seat, read our guide on what you need to know.
What is ISOFIX?
ISOFIX is simply an alternative car seat installation method that makes it easier to ensure your child restraint is fitted properly. You still need to ensure you choose the correct car seat for your child.
The name ISOFIX stands for ISO (international standardization Organization) plus Fix (fixation).
What does ISOFIX mean?
The seats provide added security for parents by attaching directly to the car through locking mechanisms. In addition, the seat is still required to be secured by a top tether strap.
There are two styles of ISOFIX attachments methods available, Rigid and flexible.
- Rigid connectors- a pair of rigid connectors are located at the base of the child restraint which connects to the vehicle’s ISOFIX low anchorages.
- Flexible connectors- a pair of flexible straps with connectors are located at the base of the child restraint which connects to the vehicle ISOFIX low anchorages.
Flexible connectors have the ability to suit variety of vehicles.
Not all ISOFIX lower anchorage points are exactly the same width apart from each other; this may vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
With either Rigid or Flexible connectors the top tether strap must be anchored to the vehicle.
The vehicle sea tbelt will not be required when either the Flexible or Ridgid connectors are being used.
Do all vehicles have ISOFIX low anchorages?
No. Since 2000 some imported vehicles from Europe, Asia and United States have arrived in Australia fitted with ISOFIX low anchorages. This has been included on a voluntary basis by the manufacturer, so not all vehicles sold in Australia have ISOFIX low anchorages.
However Holden, pre-empted the revised standard change in Australia and ensured its VF Commodore range is the first locally-produced car fitted with the improved latching system.
How do I know if my vehicle is fitted with ISOFIX low anchorages?
Before buying an ISOFIX car seat check for the international ISOFIX icon along the back seats in your vehicle. The lower connectors can be visible or hidden depending on the make and model of your car.
Also check your vehicle’s manual to make sure your vehicle is compatible.
While you are there, check to see how many ISOFIX anchorages there are.
In general you will find the two outer-seated positions in the back row have lower anchorage points.
Keep in mind that ISOFIX carseats only allow child car seat manufactures to produce ISOFIX compatible rearward and forward facing car seats, no booster seats!
What are the safety benefits of ISOFIX?
This locking mechanism ensures the child seats are correctly secured each time they are used and reduces movement in both side and frontal impact crashes.
Also they are much more convenient to attach and remove than the current method of securing a belt through the back of the child restraint.
Will ISOFIX become manatory in Australian and can overseas Isofix car seats be used?
No, ISOFIX will not be mandatory in Australia anytime soon but be aware of using or buying overseas ISOFIX systems. The Australian standard will still requires the use of the top straps for child restraints, in addition to the mechanism for attaching the seat to the car at its base. A good way to know if you are using Australian standard carseat is to check if it has Australian standard for child restraints (AS/NZ 1754) label on it.
Will all Australia car seats be ISOFIX compatible?
No, child restraints that use the vehicle seatbelt and top tether strap will continue to be available.
More than 250,000 child seats are sold in Australia each year. Cheaper brands cost from about $200. ISOFIX seats typically range in price from $400 to $650 about $50 more than equivalent non-ISOFIX seats
Regardless if you choose ISOFIX car restraint or not, here are some safety tips to follow to help keep your little one safe and sound while in their Child restraint.
Always make sure it has Australian standard AS/NZS 1754 label
Ensure the seat is the appropriate size for your child (the child’s size, weight and age must be considered)
When installing a child car seat, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Always ensure your child is wearing the restraint and it fits snug with no slack or twisted strap.
This is really important for your child’s safety and you should get into the habit of checking this every time you are putting your child in and out of the car restraint.
Also regularly check that the restraint is adjusted properly for the child’s size according to restraints user’s manual
Never leave your child unattended in the car.
I would recommend that you seek a professional car seat fitter, that fits car seats on a regularly bases, to fit your child car seat for you. Make sure you are with them when they fit the seat and learn about the key anchorage points and how to check if the seat is the appropriate size for your child. Ask questions if you are not sure about anything. Take responsibility for your child’s safety!