C2-LATCH10 nbrev
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 many cars,
if both car and car seat have the LATCH parts. A top tether
gives extra protection for children in forward-facing seats.
ALWAYS use a tether on forward-facing seats, if possible.
The LATCH system has two parts (see picture, right):
1. On car seats: Tether and lower (LATCH) attachments are
on most car seats made after September 1, 2002. Most
are straps with connectors. A few models have rigid lower
LATCH connectors. Others tighten automatically when
Top tether straps have been sold with forward-facing
car seats since 2000.
2. In cars (including SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks): All
models since 2003 have the LATCH system. Many models
from 2001 and 2002 also have LATCH. Tether anchors
have been required in most cars since 2000. Earlier models
can be retrofitted for tethers, but not LATCH.
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 place with a LATCH system has:
Two lower anchors: a pair of small metal
bars located where the lower seat cushion
meets the seat back. They may be up to 3
inches behind the cushion. Hidden anchors
are marked with a small round symbol on the Lower anchor
seatback (right). A few cars have 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.
Top tether strap
LATCH anchors in
car: tether anchor at
top, lower anchors
Car seat with LATCH
system, installed in
a car with tether and
lower anchors
Newer cars must have LATCH (lower anchors and
tether anchor) in at least two rear seating positions. A third
position must have a tether anchor to use when installing
a car seat with the seat belt. In vans, at least one of the
LATCH positions must be in the second row of seats.
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 use both the
seat belt and lower straps unless the car AND car seat
instructions say it is okay.
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 in the center 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 © 2010 Safe Ride News Publications, 800-403-1424 • www.saferidenews.com
Reproducible by SRN Fact Sheet purchasers only. For non commercial distribution only.
C2 Revised 1/10
Learning About LATCH
What is the LATCH system on a car seat?
Can I install a LATCH car seat with a seat belt?
The top tether strap has a hook
that connects to the tether anchor
(picture below).
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.
Lower LATCH straps with connectors that hook or push onto
the lower anchor bars (pictures below). A few car seats have
rigid connectors built into the car seat.
LATCH on different types of
car seats:
Push-on LATCH connectors
on some lower straps
Hook-on connector on tether
• Rear-facing infant car seats:
and some lower straps
Only lower straps are required (no
tether). Car seats with separate bases have
the lower strap on the base. If the infant car seat can be used
without its base, install with a seat belt. Sometimes a LATCH
strap retrofit kit can be used (check with the car seat maker).
• Convertible car seats (rear-facing and forward-facing):
In the rear-facing position, most use only the lower
attachments. Use the tether strap 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
attachments and the tether.
• Forward-facing car seats: Most have
a top tether (right) as well as lower
• Combination seat: can be used as a
car seat with a harness or a booster;
check instructions for LATCH use.
• Car beds, booster seats, vests,
Top tether strap
and car seats for children over 48
and hook
pounds are not required to have LATCH.
There are some that do have LATCH.
Questions about LATCH:
Which is safer, LATCH lower anchors or the seat belt?
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?
Lower LATCH connectors should never be used beyond
the limit in the car seat and vehicle instructions (usually 40 or 48
pounds). Use the seat belt instead for heavier children. Some
car makers list weight limits for the lower LATCH anchors and
tether anchors in the owner’s manual. Always check the car seat
instructions and the car owner’s manual.
All car seats with harnesses for children over 48 to 50 pounds
come with a top tether strap. Using a tether above the car
manual’s stated weight limit may have benefits you should learn
about. (To find out about using tethers for heavier children, go to
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 using the 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.
The goal is tight installation. The LATCH system and the
seat belt are both tested for crash protection. In some cars,
LATCH anchors will provide a better fit. The seat belt will be
tighter In other cars. Always choose the method that works best
for you to get the car seat in tightly. ALWAYS use the tether on
forward-facing seats, whether using lower anchors or seat belt.
My old car seat does not have LATCH. Is it unsafe?
Can I use LATCH lower anchors to put a car seat in
the center?
Tell your insurance agent if LATCH anchors have been used
in a crash. Tell the body shop to check the LATCH anchors for
damage and replace them if necessary.
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 seat). However, if you
cannot get a tight installation with the seat belt (and tether), try
using a side seating position with the LATCH system.
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 many added safety features, so it is best to get a newer
Should LATCH anchors be replaced after a crash?
• NHTSA 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 Technician:
866-732-8243 or www.seatcheck.org
FACT SHEET © 2010 Safe Ride News Publications, 800-403-1424 • www.saferidenews.com Reproducible by SRN Fact Sheet purchasers only. For non commercial distribution only.
C2 Revised 1/10
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