Fitting a Child Restraint

You might think that fitting a restraint into a car is an easy task, but it can be quite difficult to get right.

In fact, about 70% of child restraints are not installed correctly. A child restraint that is not fitted properly could result in serious injury or even death in a crash. If you have your restraint professionally installed, the fitter can also show you how to use the restraint and answer any questions.

Even after the seat is installed, the seatbelt and tether can come loose over time. It's important to check these and also move shoulder straps as children grow. A properly fitted and adjusted car seat is your child's best protection against injury in a crash. 

RACV recommends you have child restraints professionally installed. RACV has a network of restraint fitters throughout Victoria who can fit your restraint or check that it’s installed correctly.

What should I check?

There are regular checks you can do to make sure you are using your car seat correctly, these include checking that:

  • the harness and the seatbelt are firm and without twists
  • the seatbelt is clicked into place properly
  • the tether strap is firmly attached to the anchor point (see your car’s manual for anchor point locations)
  • the gap between the child and harness is no more than 2 fingers
  • the child’s shoulders are within the correct range of the shoulder height markers
  • the restraint is still right for the child's size.

Tip: Keep the instructions that came with the restraint in a safe place, like the dedicated pocket on the restraint to refer back to if anything needs adjusting.

Anchor points

Child restraints and most booster seats need to be attached via a top tether strap to an anchor point in the car. Typically, the anchor point can be found on the parcel shelf in sedans, and on the floor area in station wagons, vans and hatchbacks. Some station wagons may have the anchor point on the inside roof area.

Depending on when a car was manufactured, this will be either a special anchor bolt or anchor fitting. For the location of anchor points in your vehicle, refer to your owner's manual.

Make sure a luggage hook is not confused with an anchor point.