The Pros And Cons Of ISOFIX Car Seats

Published: 11th August 2010
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With the sheer number of child and baby car seats on the market, making a decision on the right one for new parents' needs can be a daunting one at the best of times. There's a baffling amount of choice to suit most budgets so where to even start when choosing?

Well, first and foremost, buyers need to decide which securing system they want to use. There are two main choices: traditional seatbelt systems, which rely on the vehicle's three-point seatbelt to keep the seat in place in the event of a crash, or the newer ISOFIX system, which locks the seat into two anchor points connected to the car chassis, which protrude at the base of the vehicle's existing seat, and a top tether anchor point.

The main advantage to using ISOFIX seats is the ease of installation and removal of the car seat - research from the German Insurance Institute, only 30% of seatbelt-secured child seats are installed correctly, whereas the figure jumps up to 96% when using the ISOFIX system. It's not hard to see why when you try out both systems - seatbelt systems can be incredibly fiddly to secure properly, although with practice the process becomes second nature. ISOFIX seats, on the other hand, simply slot into place with a satisfying click - and most have an indicator letting the user know if they aren't installed correctly.

On the downside, ISOFIX seats are generally more expensive than the alternative. And when it comes to having a baby and stocking up all the associated essential paraphernalia, costs add up very quickly.

In addition to the seat cost, parents with vehicles which don't have the necessary anchors as standard will have to shell out further to have them retrofitted - this is easily done, however, and retrofitted anchors give the same performance as those installed at the outset. All new European car models introduced since 2006 have been required by law to come with ISOFIX anchorages as standard; all new cars produced from 2011 onwards will be subject to the same ruling.

Another factor to take into account is whether the seat is likely to spend the majority of the time in one specific vehicle or if it will move from one car to another - and potentially other cars that don't have ISOFIX anchors - on a regular basis. While ISOFIX seats can be secured via seatbelt in vehicles without the required anchors, it's obviously worth working out if paying extra for an ISOFIX seat makes sense if it's going to spend a lot of time in a vehicle without the necessary fixing points.

On the whole, ISOFIX is an ideal system for those with a high enough budget. For ease of use and overall safety, the system is second to none. That said, however, seatbelt system baby seats are still perfectly safe - provided they are installed with the necessary care every time they're used. The best course of action when unsure of which car seat system to plump for is to do your research. A great idea is to take a look at online shopping sites that carry user reviews - real opinions from real people are always invaluable.
Be sure to look into car seats before making your purchase.

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