LATCH: LOWER ANCHORS AND TETHERS FOR CHILDREN
Typically when people talk about LATCH, they mean the lower LATCH anchors. Be certain that you understand the car seat manufacturer’s instructions on using LATCH and read your vehicle’s instruction manual very carefully. Some vehicle makes have had lower LATCH anchors in the back seat since 2001 but lower LATCH anchors weren’t made mandatory until model year 2003 for passenger vehicles weighing less than 8500 lbs. Top tether anchors have been in in passenger vehicles since 2000.
If a top tether anchor is available, use it with a forward-facing car seat, even when using a seat belt to install the car seat. The vehicle’s manual will state specifically if LATCH is available; look under the child restraint section. All car seats (belt positioning booster seats, car beds and vests are exempted) manufactured after September 1, 2002, must be LATCH-compatible, though they may still use the vehicle’s seat belt to be installed in non-LATCH vehicles. If your vehicle isn’t equipped with LATCH, continuing reading through the sections on installing car seats below that apply to your situation. For more info on LATCH, read the FAQ.
LATCH-compatible car seat:
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions
• Use the appropriate LATCH belt paths; i.e., use the rear-facing LATCH belt path for a rear-facing installation and the forward-facing LATCH belt path for a forward-facing installation
• Read your vehicle’s instruction manual carefully to determine where you may install the car seat. LATCH may not be available in the center.
• Snap the hooks down firmly onto the vehicle’s LATCH anchors and verify they are correctly connected
• Pull the belt(s) tight so that the car seat moves less than 1” when you tug on it at the belt path
• Press down or put weight on the seat as you pull the belt tight
• Seats with rigid LATCH connectors, instead of the more common belt with hooks, adjust as you push them tighter into the vehicle seat
• For a forward-facing car seat, attach the car seat’s top tether to the tether anchor directly behind the car seat and pull it tight