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New Year, New Iowa Car Seat Rules

Is your car seat attached using LATCH anchors? The LATCH system was developed to make it easier for parents to safely install car seats. Any parent who has spent hours trying to get a tight fit with an unwieldy seat belt can appreciate the ease of the LATCH system. You simply click the LATCH connector into the built-in anchors, tighten the straps, and you are done.

But, while LATCH makes it easier to install car seats, it isn’t always the safest choice. LATCH is currently recommended only for children who weigh less than 40 pounds. But many parents don’t know about the weight limit. They continue to use LATCH anchors until the child outgrows the child seat, and some car seats are designed to hold children who weigh as much as 85 pounds. This is a problem because the LATCH anchors on many cars aren’t designed to hold more than 65 pounds. If the child and car seat weigh over 65 pounds, the anchors can fail, causing the child to be ejected from the vehicle. This means that a child with a heavy car seat could be in danger even if the child weighs less than the 40-pound weight limit.

The new car seat recommendations take into account the fact that some car seats are heavier than others. All car seats manufactured after February 1, 2014 will be labeled with the recommendation that parents stop using the LATCH system when the child and car seat combined weigh over 65 pounds. When the child and seat combined are over 65 pounds, parents should use the seat belt for car seat installation.

Most car seats weigh between 15 and 33 pounds. Weigh your child and car seat before deciding whether to use LATCH or the seat belt for installation.

Deciding Which Car Seat Installation Is Right for You

  • Weigh your child.
  • Weigh your child’s car seat.
  • Add the weight of the child and the weight of the car seat.
  • If the sum is less than 65 pounds, install the car seat using the LATCH anchors.
  • If the sum is greater than 65 pounds, install the car seat using your vehicle’s seat belt.

According to Kid Safe USA, as many as 80 percent of American car seats are not properly installed. If you have questions about your car seat installation, get it checked by a professional. Car seat checks are offered on the second Thursday of each month at McGrath Buick GMC Cadillac in Hiawatha. Call 319-310-SEAT to schedule an appointment.

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Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham
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