10:53 PM 02-20-2010
I am preparing to move my daughter from her infant bucket to a convertible seat. I have a 2009 Camry, and the seat will be in the middle of the back seat. I had a lot of problems getting the base of her infant seat in correctly, and I wasn't able to use the latch restraints. So I want to make sure I get a good fitting convertible seat.
I'm specifically considering a True Fit or Britax Marathon or Diplomat. Does anyone have any experience with these seats in a newer Camry? Or any other seat recommendations for a newer Camry? Or any seats that don't fit well in the Camry?
08:35 AM 02-21-2010
Welcome to C-S.org
Can you specifically describe the problem you were having in your vehicle? You are correct about not using LATCH; you may ONLY use the seatbelt for the center install in a Camry.
When you choose a convertible, you want a seat that will keep your daughter rear facing as long as possible. 3-4 years is ideal. The Diplomat is not a good choice because it's a very small seat and will be outgrown rear facing before she's old enough to be forward facing, and it will be outgrown forward facing before she's old enough for a booster.
We generally don't recommend the Marathon because, compared to other seats, it has very limited leg room for older toddlers and preschoolers, and only a 35 pound rear facing limit.
The First Years True Fit also has a 35 pound rear facing limit, but it also has loads of leg room and a very tall shell, so it may be an excellent choice.
Also please consider the Graco My Ride and Safety First Complete Air, which rear face to 40 pounds, and the Sunshine Kids Radians 80SL and XTSL, which rear face to 45 pounds.
What's your budget like, and could you give us the general height and weight of your baby?
09:26 AM 02-21-2010
Thanks for the welcome!
I had a local state trooper help me install the infant car seat. (It's part of what she does.) The problem we had was getting the middle seat belt as tight as we could. Once the seat belt was fastened, it seemed we could always pull the seat belt a little tighter (we did push the base down as far as we could). Now, it's in as tight was we could do it, but it tilts up a little on the side that the seat belt originates because the belt is so tight it pulls the base up a little right there. The trooper assured me it was still safe. The base can't move side to side more than an inch. It was definitely a two person job.
My daughter is 6 months, 17 lbs, and about 27 inches. She's gaining about a pound a month. She'll grow out of the infant seat at 22 lbs and 29 inches. So I don't immediately need a convertible, but I want to get this figured out ahead of time.
I have considered the Safety First Complete Air, but hadn't seen enough reviews on it. The Radian has also been recommended, but I don't know much about it.
I don't really have a budget, and while I'd like to spend less, it wouldn't bother me to spend 300-400 on a seat that fits my car and keeps my daughter safe for as long as possible.
My other constraint is that I don't live in a big city. The local BRU has the Complete Air, but not any Britax (though Target has a Marathon), and I'm not sure if anywhere has the Radian or the True Fit. I'm going to check out the local BRU's stock today. I don't mind buying online, but the limited local supply makes trying out seats more difficult. And given how difficult it was to get the infant base installed tightly, I'd really like to minimize the number of times I need to take the base out to try out new seats. This may require a trip to a bigger city.
Thanks for your help!
09:55 AM 02-21-2010
Ah, I understand.
What you're describing is a common problem with infant seats. We use the very professional and technical term 'tippiness'
The solution for THAT is to use a locking clip rather than locking the seatbelt. This can be a bit of a royal pain, and some parents prefer to install on the side with LATCH rather than deal with the seatbelt/locking clip combo.
The problem can also be worse with some brands of seats than others, particularly those with very low-to-the-seat belt paths. Did you by chance have a Dorel infant seat? (Safety First, Cosco, Eddie Bauer)
The good news is that (sometimes, not always) tippiness isn't usually an issue with bigger, bulkier convertibles, but if it is, you have the same options as above.
Honestly, with your car, any of the four convertibles I mentioned would be fine. The Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL will probably keep your child rear facing the longest, and keep her harnessed until she needs a booster (6 or so). So, yes, it's a 300 dollar purchase, but you won't need to replace the seat for another six years. But really, any of the four are fine. I really would steer you away from the Britax seats unless you're married to the idea of owning one.
If you're near a Target, they have an excellent return policy; you can order on line, try the seat in your vehicle, and if you don't like it/it doesn't work, as long as you don't remove the tags and repackage it correctly, you can return it to the actual store for a full refund including shipping.
12:52 PM 02-21-2010
Remember that with some seats you may need to twist your buckle stalk down, but other than that, a locking clip or lockoff would solve any tipping and there shouldn't be huge problems with most seats in your car.
09:42 PM 02-23-2010
Thanks. I guess I don't understand what the locking clip does or how it works. The trooper who helped me didn't mention needing it (I don't remember if I asked about it).
I didn't even realize that the Camry didn't have a middle latch system. Do you know how easily the Complete Air, My Ride, True Fit, and Radian compare on ease of installation with the seat belt?
I looked at the Complete Air, and it said the top cover couldn't come off and could only be spot cleaned. I realize this isn't a safety, but any ideas how the Complete Air, My Ride, True Fit, and Radian compare on ease of cleaning?
08:22 AM 02-24-2010
Basically, the locking clip acts as a belt positioner to hold the belts (and therefore the car seat) in the correct place before an accident happens. Once the accident happens, the emergency locking retractor (inside the car at the top of the seatbelt) takes over, 'locking the belt'. The locking clip is not strong enough to withstand crash forces by itself, so it can't be used as a replacement for a broken emergency locking retractor.
All cars made 1997 and after are required to have a way to pre-lock the seatbelt without using a locking clip. Some seatbelts can be prelocked by pulling the belt all the way out and letting it 'click' back in (like yours). Others have a little doohickey down by the male end of the buckle that is basically a locking clip all ready installed on the seatbelt.
The trouble with the seatbelts that lock by pulling them out, they work by 'clicking'...each time the seatbelt feeds back a little more into the retractor, the retractor holds it there and doesn't let it go back. If you have a really sensitive retractor, or a really small seat without a lot of bulk, every time you go over a bump or take a hard turn, it clicks back one more time, until eventually the baby is lying on his side. LOL.
This page offers a good primer on locking clips: http://www.carseatsite.com/lockingclips.htm
I don't *think* any of the four seats you mentioned will be difficult to install with a seatbelt in your vehicle, although the only way to know for sure is to try
For the Complete Air, I agree that the non-removeable head pad cover was probably not the most well-thought-out thing to ever happen in the history of car seat design. We have one, and it hasn't been a problem for us, but, if, for example, your child has a history of severe motion sickness, you might want to pick a seat that's more completely washable!
(just remember that you can never launder a harness, only the cover).
The My Ride and the Radian covers wash up very nicely in the washing machine on cold. I haven't personally disassembled a True Fit for washing so I'll let someone else cover that
08:51 PM 02-24-2010
I was leaning toward the Radian, but just saw all the questions about how to install it correctly. It doesn't sounds like an easy to seat to install. I guess I do need to figure out a way to try the seats out.
Thanks for all your help.