Learning About LATCH
Learning About LATCH
The Easier Way to Install a Car Seat
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) is a
way to attach a child’s car safety seat (car seat) to the car
without using a seat belt. It is called UAS in Canada and
ISOFIX in Europe.
LATCH can make tight installation easier in cars that have
LATCH parts. A top tether gives extra protection for children in
forward-facing seats. The tether can also be used when the
car seat is installed with a seat belt.
The LATCH system has two parts (see picture, right):
Top tether strap
LATCH anchors in
car: tether anchor
(top), two lower
anchors (below).
1.On car seats: Tether and lower (LATCH) attachments are
on most car seats made after September 1, 2002. Most
are flexible straps with connectors. A few models have
rigid lower LATCH connectors.
A top tether strap has been included on all forwardfacing car seats since 2000.
2.In cars (including SUVs, vans, and pickups): All cars
since 2003 have LATCH (a pair of lower anchors and a
tether anchor). Many models from 2001 and 2002 also
have LATCH. Tether anchors have been required in most
cars since 2000. Many older cars can be retrofitted with
tether anchors, but not lower anchors.
What is the LATCH system in a car?
Check the car owner’s manual for locations of tether
and lower anchors. Many are marked with the symbols
shown below. Each position with a LATCH system has:
Two lower anchors: a pair of small metal
bars located where the lower seat cushion
meets the seatback. They may be up to 3
inches behind the cushion. Hidden anchors
are marked, often with a small round symbol
on the seatback (right). A few cars have Lower anchor
small tags that say “ISOFIX.”
One tether anchor: a bar, bracket, or
webbing strap located behind the seat back.
It may be marked with a tether anchor symbol
(right). Tether anchors are in different places Tether anchor
in different car models.
Every Ride
A Safe Ride
Car seat with LATCH
system installed in a car
with tether and lower
Cars with LATCH must have a full system (two lower
anchors and a tether anchor) in at least two rear seating
positions. A third seating position must have a tether
anchor that can be used with a car seat installed with the
seat belt. In cars with three rows of seats, at least one of
the LATCH positions must be in the second row.
Most cars have a tether anchor in the center back. Some
cars also have lower LATCH anchors in the center back, but
most do not. (Check the owner’s manual.) If there are no
lower anchors there, use the seat belt instead (see page 2).
Basics of Using LATCH
Always read and follow instructions for both the car
seat and the car.
Always tighten LATCH straps after connecting them
to the anchors in the vehicle. In most cases, tighten the
lower LATCH straps before tightening the tether strap.
Use the seat belt instead if the lower LATCH straps
do not hold the car seat tightly. Do not install a car seat
with the seat belt and lower straps at the same time.
Do NOT use lower LATCH anchors in the center
seat position to install a car seat UNLESS the car AND
the car seat instructions allow it. If it is not allowed, use
the seat belt for center installation instead.
Never attach two car seats to one LATCH anchor.
Make sure children do not play with the shoulder
belts that are not in use. That could be dangerous.
FACT SHEET © 2013 Safe Ride News Publications, 800-403-1424 • www.saferidenews.com This is copyrighted material. These sheets cannot be reproduced or copied.
C2 Revised 1/13
Learning About LATCH
What is the LATCH system on a car seat?
Lower LATCH straps with connectors that hook or push onto
the lower anchor bars (pictures, right). A few car seats have
rigid connectors built into the car seat.
The top tether strap has a hook
that connects to the tether anchor
(picture, below).
Push-on LATCH connectors
on some lower straps
LATCH on different types of
car seats:
Hook-on connector on tether
• Rear-facing-only car seats: Only
and some lower straps
lower straps are required (no tether).
Car seats with separate bases have the lower strap on the
base. If the rear-facing-only car seat can be used without its
base, install with a seat belt when not using the base.
• Convertible car seats (rear-facing and forward-facing):
In the rear-facing position, most use only the lower straps,
not the tether. Use the tether only when the seat is facing
forward unless the instructions allow use rear facing.
In the forward-facing position, car seats use both the lower
straps and the tether.
• Forward-facing car seats: These
have a top tether (right) as well as
lower straps.
• Combination seats: Can be used as a
car seat with harness or as a booster;
check instructions for LATCH use.
• Car beds, booster seats, and
harnesses/vests are not required to
Top tether strap
and hook attached
have LATCH. There are some that do
to a tether anchor
have LATCH.
Questions about LATCH:
Which is safer, LATCH lower anchors or the seat belt?
The goal is tight installation. The LATCH system and the
seat belt are both tested for crash protection. In some cases,
LATCH anchors will provide a better fit. Other times, the seat
belt makes a better fit. Always choose the method that works
best for you to get the car seat installed correctly. REMEMBER:
Use the tether on forward-facing seats, whether using lower
anchors or a seat belt to install.
Can I use LATCH lower anchors to put a car seat in
the center?
Do NOT use the lower anchors to install a car seat in
the center unless the vehicle owner’s manual and car seat
instructions state that this is okay.
If lower anchors cannot be used in the center, use the seat
belt (and the tether on a forward-facing car seat). However, if
you cannot get a tight installation with the seat belt (and tether),
try using a different seating position.
Can I install a LATCH car seat with a seat belt?
Yes. All LATCH car seats can be installed using a seat belt
instead of LATCH. To make the seat belt stay tight, see the car
manual and car seat instructions. Generally, do not use both
the seat belt and LATCH together. Using both at the same
time may affect crash protection, so it is very important to check
the manufacturers’ instructions.
How do I check for a tight fit?
Hold the car seat where the
LATCH straps or seat belt go
through the car seat. Pull forward
and from side to side. If the car
seat moves more than an inch, it is
not tightly secured.
Can LATCH be used with car seats for children
over 40 pounds?
Car and car seat makers usually set limits for how heavy a
child can be when his/her car seat is installed using LATCH (at
least 40 pounds, but often heavier). If your child weighs more
than that limit, use the seat belt instead.
Always check the instructions in the owner’s manuals. Some
list weight limits for LATCH use, but others don’t. If you are
installing a car seat with a harness for a child over 40 pounds,
and neither manual states the LATCH weight limit, install using
the seat belt and/or call the car maker and the car seat maker
for guidance. You can also contact a Child Passenger Safety
Technician for help (see Resources).
Should I use LATCH with a booster seat?
LATCH can be used with some boosters. Check the booster
directions about LATCH use. Vehicle anchor weight limits do not
apply when the child is in a booster with a lap-shoulder belt.
LATCH keeps the booster seat in place while the child climbs
in and out. It also holds the booster when it is not in use.
My old car seat does not have LATCH. Is it unsafe?
All car seats since 2002 must have LATCH. If your car seat is
older than this, it is too old and should be destroyed. Newer car
seats have added safety features, so it is best to get a newer model.
Should LATCH anchors be replaced after a crash?
Tell your insurance agent if LATCH anchors have been used
in a crash. Have your car dealer and/or body shop check the
LATCH anchors for damage. If necessary, replace them or use
the seat belt instead.
• National Auto Safety Hotline: 888-327-4236,
800-424-9153 (tty), www.safercar.gov
• SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.: 800-745-7233,
800-747-7266 (Spanish), www.carseat.org
• Find a Child Passenger Safety Inspection Location: 866-732-8243 or www.seatcheck.org
FACT SHEET © 2013 Safe Ride News Publications, 800-403-1424 • www.saferidenews.com This is copyrighted material. These sheets cannot be reproduced or copied.
C2 Revised 1/13
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