What LATCH Does

LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. According to the NHTSA, 85 percent of child car seats are installed incorrectly. This standardized child restraint anchorage system allows child safety seats to be installed without using the vehicle's seat belt system ? making installation easier and more convenient.

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How LATCH Works

As of Sept. 1, 2002, all automobile manufacturers were required to install two sets of small bars in the rear seat of all new vehicles; these anchorages are generally located where the vehicle seat cushion meets the seat back. All new child safety seats must now have lower attachments designed to attach to these vehicle anchorages.

All cars manufactured after September 2000 are also equipped with top tether anchorages. Most child safety seats manufactured after September 1999 have top tether straps that attach to one of the vehicle's built-in tether anchorages. Together, the lower anchorages and the top tether anchorage make up the LATCH system.

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Installing a LATCH Safety Seat

To install a LATCH Safety Seat, follow these steps:
  • First, read the safety seat's instructions along with your vehicle's owner's manual for proper use and correct installation information
  • Locate the vehicle's lower anchorages and the set of small bars in the rear seat of the vehicle, then connect them to the child safety seat's lower LATCH attachments
  • If necessary, adjust the child safety seat LATCH attachments according to the manufacturer's instructions arrangement.
  • Once attached to the lower anchorage bars, follow the manufacturer's instructions to tighten for a secure fit
  • Hook the child safety seat's top tether strap to the vehicle's tether anchorage and pull to tighten
  • When attached, the child safety seat should not move more than an inch forward or sideways

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If Seat Doesn't Have the Lower LATCH

Most child safety seats manufactured before Sept. 1, 2002, will not have this lower anchorage system. But keep in mind that although the LATCH system was created to make installation safer and easier, performance standards testing for all car seats remains the same.
All child safety seats are safe to use when:
  • They're installed according to the manufacturer's instructions
  • The child safety seat has not been recalled
  • The child safety seat has not been involved in a crash

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If Vehicle Doesn't Have Anchorages

LATCH-equipped child safety seats can still be safely installed using the vehicle's seat belt system. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure that your car seat is properly secured.
If your vehicle does not have tether anchorages, you may be able to have one retrofitted. Check with your vehicle manufacturer or local dealership.

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