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  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Jul 2009
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    Exclamation Best car seats for small car and old car?

    I need to buy 2 convertible car seats for my 1-year-old, one for my car and my husband's. I plan to use them rear facing.

    I am looking at the Britax Roundabout for my 2006 Mazda3 with LATCH. I am most concerned that when in RF position the car seat will hit the back of the front seats and/or the center console. I can barely get a Graco SnugRide in there now. I have to pull my seat forward so much that my feet are cramped at the pedals.

    I am looking at Radian 65 for my husbands 1996 Jeep Cherokee (no LATCH) or the Britax Roundabout. Any experience with these? Since he has no LATCH it seems almost impossible to really get the belt tight. Is the Radian too big? Does the either car seat in rear facing postion bump up against the center console? or the front seats?

    Thank you. - Sarah

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  3. #2
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Best car seats for small car and old car?

    The Radian I hear works well in Jeeps of that era rear and forward facing. I'm not certain why it'd be an issue to get the belt tight, but someone with a Jeep may be able to answer that better. You may need a locking clip to do it, though. And it's large front to back, but I think it fits well in Jeeps rear facing. It'd probably only fit between the front two seats in a Mazda.

    The Roundabout is a great seat, but you're going to be buying another one very likely within a year or 18 months, maybe sooner, if your son outgrows it rear facing too soon. So it's a pricey seat to buy to have to buy another one so soon. If you love a Britax I'd look at the Roundabout 50 or Marathon or Boulevard.

    However, even before those I'd look at the Learning Curve True Fit (which if your Jeep doesn't have locking belts I'd look at before the Radian so you don't need to use a locking clip), the Evenflo Triumph Advance, and the Graco My Ride. They're cheaper and have either higher or similar top slots to the Marathon and Boulevard (and all are longer lasting than the Roundabout), they have taller shells, and they offer more leg room. The True Fit also beats the other seats except the Radian in that it has a seven year lifespan (the others have six, the Radian is eight).

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 61", 99#, seatbelt
    laine 9/16/09, 46", 54#, Diono Monterey, Chicco KidFit Zip Air
    in a 2015 BMW M235i, and my 2011 Mercedes E350 wagon


  4. #3
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    8

    Re: Best car seats for small car and old car?

    Wendy -

    If the height limit is 40 inches on the Britax how would she outgrow it in a year? she'll only be 2 by then.

    I was worried about getting a really high car seat because it might block my view since the Mazda is so small.

    Can you recommend a convertible that would work in my mazda that will eventually have to be next to the Graco Snug Ride when I have a second child?

    THanks for all your info! Sarah

  5. #4
    CPS Technician canadiangie's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
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    Calgary, AB. Canada
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    5,194

    Re: Best car seats for small car and old car?

    Hi,

    A rear facing seat is outgrown when the child's head is 1" from the top of the seat. Because the Roundabout has a shorter shell than some seats it is often outgrown rear facing by age 2.

    A forward facing seat is outgrown when the upper weight limit is reached OR the child's shoulders are level with the top harness slots OR the tips of the child's ears are level with the top of the seat -- whichever comes first. Because the top harness slots of the Roundabout are only 15 inches, most children outgrow it by seated torso height long before they reach 40lbs, and long before they are old enough to transition to a booster seat.

    It's because of those reasons that many people here opt to avoid the original Roundabout.

    Because your baby is older, she does not need a 45 degree recline anymore. You can install a Britax seat as upright as 30 degrees, meaning a Marathon or Roundabout 50 may fit just fine.

    My dh's car is quite small in the backseat and I have 2 rear facing Marathons back there at about 30 degrees and it's just fine. I'm in the process of moving the girls to rear facing TrueFits and they too fit just fine, though Learning Curve (maker of the TrueFit) says they can't be anymore upright than 35 degrees.

    The Jeep most likely has locking latchplates, meaning you pull the shoulder belt tight after buckling and the belt stays snug. Either way, I'd look at a TrueFit for that vehicle as they have built-in lockoffs which make installation easier for the most part. There again, she's older so she can be more upright, so space shouldn't be an issue. If the Jeep has large clunky latchplates on the seatbelt they may get in the way of closing the lockoffs on the TrueFit. If that's an issue you can twist the belt stalk (the buckle, or 'female' end) down 3 times to shorten it. This should help to keep the latchplate away from the lockoff. Using a pool noodle under the foot of the TrueFit may also help to move the seat farther away from the latchplate. I know it sounds confusing, but this is where we come in.

    I think the most important thing to remember is that you're not having to achieve a 45 degree angle anymore like you did with the Snugride. Knowing this should make things a lot easier. Feel free to head to Toys R Us and install a bunch of seats. Take some pics and post them here. We can critique your work and make suggestions on how to tweak angles, etc.
    dd1 - 8y6m, hbb PWSGL
    dd2 - 7y3m, hbb PWSGL
    dd3 - 4y3m, ff advocate/frontier xt

  6. #5
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Best car seats for small car and old car?

    Tall carseats (and tall kids) tend to block vision in the back. If that's a big problem for you check out seats that don't sit up on tall bases. So the My Ride and the True Fit come to mind right off the bat. They sit lower on the seat and tend to block less vision back there.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 61", 99#, seatbelt
    laine 9/16/09, 46", 54#, Diono Monterey, Chicco KidFit Zip Air
    in a 2015 BMW M235i, and my 2011 Mercedes E350 wagon


  7. #6
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    167

    Re: Best car seats for small car and old car?

    The jeep seatbelts do NOT lock. That is why I am a HUGE fan of Britax in our 98 Jeep Cherokee. Anything with built in lock-offs would be preferred in that car. When we did have the Radian installed, it most definitely hit both front seats (we had it in the middle)...but not the console. I posted in your other post too...LMK if you want me to go out and test it for you this afternoon!!!
    M, 8yo, in a Monterey and Monarch
    L, 6yo, in Nautilus harness and Radian
    L, 3yo, Nautilus

  8. #7
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Best car seats for small car and old car?

    All cars since 1996 have required locking belts, either at the shoulder or at the buckle. So if your 1998's don't lock, then you have broken seatbelts. If they don't lock at the shoulder they likely lock at the buckle.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 61", 99#, seatbelt
    laine 9/16/09, 46", 54#, Diono Monterey, Chicco KidFit Zip Air
    in a 2015 BMW M235i, and my 2011 Mercedes E350 wagon


  9. #8
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    167

    Re: Best car seats for small car and old car?

    My bad. They do not lock in a way in which I consider safe nor tight enough for a car seat installation, I guess. I don't want to have to second guess my install and check if it's loosened! And if that's the case, why do they have car seat locking clips at all?? I was under the impression you needed them if you couldn't pull it all the way out and lock them that way. I've never gotten my seats installed in a way I am comfortable with in cars that don't have belts that lock in that manner...so now I'm curious LOL!
    M, 8yo, in a Monterey and Monarch
    L, 6yo, in Nautilus harness and Radian
    L, 3yo, Nautilus

  10. #9
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Best car seats for small car and old car?

    Quote Originally Posted by True Blue View Post
    My bad. They do not lock in a way in which I consider safe nor tight enough for a car seat installation, I guess. I don't want to have to second guess my install and check if it's loosened! And if that's the case, why do they have car seat locking clips at all?? I was under the impression you needed them if you couldn't pull it all the way out and lock them that way. I've never gotten my seats installed in a way I am comfortable with in cars that don't have belts that lock in that manner...so now I'm curious LOL!
    Actually lightweight locking latchplates are a favorite among many techs (I prefer locking shoulders, but I rarely have trouble with LLLs). If they're loosening over time the easiest thing to do is to install the seat as you would, make it as tight as you would, then unbuckle the seat and flip the seatbelt over 180 degrees. That'll enforce the lock at the buckle. No locking clip needed.

    The locking clips are needed for seats that don't have locking belts. Pre 1996 cars, belts that are broken, international cars, and to prevent tipping. If a seatbelt locks at the buckle it's a perfectly safe seatbelt to use for a carseat provided you get a good installation. Same as a belt with a locking retractor.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 61", 99#, seatbelt
    laine 9/16/09, 46", 54#, Diono Monterey, Chicco KidFit Zip Air
    in a 2015 BMW M235i, and my 2011 Mercedes E350 wagon


  11. #10
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    167

    Re: Best car seats for small car and old car?

    Geesh, just when you think you're neighborhood car seat geek...you get trumped! LOL!!!! It's really amazing how much info is involved in good installs...it's no wonder SO MANY seats are not installed properly!!!! (though I have to say, the ones I see installed improperly by my friends are very, very improper, like why bother reading the manual improper, sadly) Thanks for telling me this info!!!
    M, 8yo, in a Monterey and Monarch
    L, 6yo, in Nautilus harness and Radian
    L, 3yo, Nautilus

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