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  1. #1

    Question Locking Seat Belt vs Locking Clip

    I'm looking for any advice from anyone with experience on the subject.

    Question: Which is safer (if either) and which is easier for a booster seat in a late model Toyota, to lock the seat belt or to use a locking clip?

    Background Details of Questions: The two different toddler/ boosters we have come with optional locking clips to use with seat belts that allow you to move the belt some when the seat belt is buckled. Both of our Toyota's (Camry and Sienna) allow the seat belt to loosen unless you pull the shoulder belt ALL THE WAY out, until you reach the very end of it, and then let it retract (with a clicking noise as it retracts locked). If you do that, then it locks and will not allow any slack to loosen unless you push the button to release the belt. That is how we do it when using the seat belt to secure the toddler seat, and use the toddler seat's harness for the child. However, when we start using the child restraint as a booster seat, and have to use the vehicle's seat belts to restrain the child, I'm not sure if it will be better to pull the seat belt all the way out and retract it every time or to just use a locking clip. I've never used the locking clip and haven't tested it out yet. I was hoping someone might have already figured out which is safest and easiest and could share their experience with me to save me the time of testing it out myself and the potential of choosing the easier, but less safe option (if that is possible in this situation).

    Thanks for any time or help you can give me.

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  3. #2
    When the Safe Kids Coalition did an information session for our PTA, they were very clear that when using a booster seat, you buckle the child in normally. You do not lock the belt in any way. I also called Graco to ask them, when I first got my son's Turbobooster, and they concurred: locking clips and locking seat belts are for car seats only, not boosters.
    Any technicians out there want to chime in?

  4. #3
    Senior Community Member scatterbunny's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Using the locking clip is not okay to do, from what I have read, but locking the seatbelt should be just fine. I have seen techs recommend it in certain cases, actually.

    "When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people." ~Abraham Joshua Hesche

  5. #4
    Admin - CPST Instructor murphydog77's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    In a wind tunnel
    Locking the seat belt while using a belt positioning booster is considered OK as long as it doesn't go against manufacturer instructions. Unfortunately, from what I've read from other parents, you're likely to get differing responses depending on the customer rep you're talking to and the position of the moon in the sky. We usually suggest locking the belt (some belts don't lock at the retractor, like Toyota belts do) when the child is wiggly or for support for a sleeping child.

    Never use a locking clip on a seat belt when a belt positioning booster seat is used. In a crash, the upper body will load the shoulder portion of the belt first, pulling the lap portion tighter, thus preventing submarining under the belt. If you use a locking clip, the lap portion won't be able to be pulled tighter and it increases the risk of submarining.

  6. #5


    Thanks for the feedback.

    Murphydog77, I think you are right about the potentially differing feedback from the customer reps. The manufacturer's instruction booklet does not say to NOT use the locking clip or to NOT lock the seat belt. As a matter of fact, on the installation instruction for using the restraint as a booster, it says after putting the child in the booster and buckling the seat belt across the child:
    "Pull up on the shoulder belt to tighten. Check periodically to ensure your child has not moved out of position and loosened the shoulder belt."

    To me, the instructions seem to indicate that you should lock the seat belt- that you don't want it to move or loosen.

    However, when I called the manufacturer, they said not to use the locking clip and to NOT lock the seat belt (by pulling it all the way out and retracting it). The rep said that the booster is only designed to raise the child to height so the vehicle's seat belts can be used the same way as an adult. She said that there SHOULD be play in the seat belt just like for an adult and that locking the seat belt could cause problems in instances such as when tapping on the brake, the child would be locked in instead of allowing the child to gently lurch forward, like the adult would be able to. But to me, I'm much more worried about what happens when we SLAM on the brakes or are in a collision, than when I tap on the brakes.

    It really seems like there would be a school solution on this one- that based on tests, there would be one recommendation.

    Again, thanks for help. Based on Murphydog77's and the manufacturer's differing comments, I guess I'm going to do some more thinking about this one. I welcome and would appreciate any more advice, including from those who have already commented.

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