Check installation of Britax Marathon in Ford Focus

U

Unregistered

Guest
I have just installed a new Marathon RF in the passenger-side outboard position of a 2006 Ford Focus 4-door hatchback using UAS (LATCH). My son is 10 months, 22 lbs, 29". I'm trying to find a place to have the installation checked, but in the meantime I was hoping that the great folks here could reassure me that what I've done is OK. One more thing, we are in Canada.

I couldn't figure out how to get images into this message, so I've posted them on flickr - sorry for the extra clicks.

Here are two pictures of the seat in the car, one from each side:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyd/2352495278/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyd/2352495186/

Our backseat (seat part) is quite tilted, so it looks pretty strange. We've got it in pretty tight on the UAS anchors, so much so that the back end of the seat at the bight is quite compressed:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyd/2351666435/

My first question is basically just does this look alright in general? Is it OK that the seat material is compressed like that? Does the angle look OK? I'm worried it might be a little too upright.

Now for the tether. My understanding is that use of the tether is optional, but the installation felt quite loose without it. My problem is there is no good place to use the tether. After reading some posts on here I used the D-ring attachment and wrapped it around the seat belt stalk (female part) of the passenger front seat. This is not bolted to the floor, it is attached to the seat, but I figure it is strong enough to hold the seat belt, right? Now that I'm writing this, I'm thinking that it probably isn't a good enough spot for the tether! In any case, here is what I've done:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyd/2351666307/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyd/2352494790/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyd/2351666533/

The tether is attached on an angle, not straight back. If it is ok to use the seatbelt stalk like this (the seat won't be moved), would it be equally ok to use this bar that is underneath the seat so the tether could go straight back?:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyd/2351703997/

If neither of those is ok, the only other option I can see is the bolt holding the seatbelt (male end) on the other side. But the webbing of the D-ring would be wrapped around the webbing of the seatbelt above the bolt. Would that work?:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyd/2352532552/

There is absolutely nothing else bolted to the floor that I can attach this to. The seat gliders aren't raised at any point where you could slip the webbing through to use the D-ring.

Sorry if this was a little long winded. I've been really impressed with everything I've seen on this site and I'm hoping you guys can help me so I won't be scared to put my son in his car seat!

Many thanks.

(ps - I have registered, just waiting for it to be official)
 
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Jeanum

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
Staff member
Hi and welcome. :) My first thought is to agree with you about it being super-upright. A rear facing recline angle between 30 and 45 degrees is considered an acceptable recline angle range, with 45 degrees being more appropriate for a newborn or infant to keep the head from slumping down and possibly compromising the baby's airway. A more upright angle (no more upright than 30 degrees, though) is considered more appropriate for an older baby or toddler with good head control.

I would first double check that you have the Marathon in RF mechanical recline mode. The Marathon's base has two mechanical recline position/modes basically, reclined, and not reclined. It needs to be in recline mode for a rear facing installation, while upright mode is for forward facing installs. The back seat of your vehicle does look pronouncedly sloped, which is also probably making the Marathon more upright. If making sure the Marathon's base is in reclined mode doesn't help to increase the recline angle, you might need to use pool noodles (up to 3 noodles) or a tightly rolled up towel placed at the crease (bight) of the vehicle seat under the front edge of the Marathon to increase the recline angle.

I know we have other Focus owners and techs experienced with the Focus on the forum who might be able to offer more specific suggestions for RF tethering points. :) The front seatbelt stalk is an acceptable rear facing top tethering point when there's no alternative spot, as long as the seatbelt stalk is connected directly to the vehicle floor. You're also not supposed to rely on the top tether to make a loose installation tighter. The installation needs to be secure with less than one inch of movement at the Marathon's belt path before you connect the top tether.
 

snowbird25ca

Moderator - CPST Instructor
I just looked at the first few pictures. ;)

The seat is definitely too upright, but I'm mostly wondering about where you have your LATCH anchors coming out of? They should be on the side of the seat with the webbing on the black metal bars - in the close up picture it looks like the anchors are coming out the front edge of the seat - if this is the case you need to slide them out onto the black bars on the side. Here's a pic to show how they should look:

radianoutlookinstalls019.jpg

(Not the best quality, but you can see the webbing on the bars - that's how it should be.)

I think if you position the front of the base closer to the seat bite you'll be able to get more of a recline when installing it. Also make sure that the LATCH anchors are in the correct place - if they're coming out the front of the seat that's probably a large part of the reason for why the seat is so upright - and would explain it being hard to tighten. ;)

(You can log in with your newly registered info & your posts will still be moderated initially, but they'll show up under your user id once approved. ;))

eta: I have VERY sloped seats in my truck and am able to get it reclined enough with just the aid of the top tether. I think you'll notice a big difference by repositioning the seat and moving the LATCH anchors. Looking at the pic's again I'm quite certain they're not in the right spot.
 

BookMama

Senior Community Member
I agree that the MA is way too upright. However, it also looks like the base of the MA is quite far away from the seat bight (the "crack" at where the vehicle seat meets the back of the vehicle seat). Try re-installing the seat with the base closer to the bight and you should be able to get the right recline. I can do so in my 2003 Ford Focus wagon (same back seats, I believe) with no noodles or towel.

LScarseat2.jpg

It's a little hard to tell, but see how much closer that base is to the vehicle seat back?

Oh, just found this picture, which shows it a little bigger. You can also see how compressed the vehicle seat is. Please ignore the 6.5YO in the seat - he was just being silly. :p

BBinDC0907.jpg


Also, the Focus cushions are incredibly squishy. When I tighten the LATCH belt, I lean on the part of the car seat where DD's bottom goes - otherwise the front (where the LATCH connectors are) will be squished down in the seat, causing it to be more upright.

See how much the back of the seat is squished into the vehicle seat? (Ignore the angle here, it's a trick of the camera.)

DecathlonSquishingSeat.jpg


I think that bar you mentioned is the same place that I have my seat tethered.

RFtether.jpg


I wouldn't tether it to either seat belt stalk. I've also been able to slip the webbing of the D-ring underneath the seat track (the one toward the center of the car) and use that as the tether spot. I've done this in my car as well as in a 2003 Focus sedan. I don't have a picture, of course. :( But I found that using the bar under the seat (as long as you don't move the vehicle seat) allows the vehicle seat to be a bit further back, which I prefer because I don't like having the airbag in my face.

Hope this is all helpful.
 
looking at the photos i think you have the latch webbing comingout of the wrong place also. they should be attached to the letal bar that goes along side the seat. someone else posted a photo. to get them there you have to tak the cover off th ebottom open the lower seat belt lockoff and side the latch clip through that hole you see. make sue they are on the right side one wil say drivers side on it. if they are not DO NOT TRY TO TAKE THEM OFF..simply pu them both back to the center of the bar in the front of the seat under the cover and loosen one. then slide the other through it. they will switch sides this way. as far as the angle i agree it is too upright. try installing with the front of the base of the marathon closer to the seat bight. this should help the recline angle. once you have the latch in the right spots and tightened your seat should barely move if any. these britax seats get very tight installs. once the seat moves no more then one inch back and forth near the seat bight in your case then attch the top tether. the tether should be able to help you get a little more of a recline if needed. make sure the seat is tightly installed before the top tether. hope this helps. once you change the latch post some new photos please.
 

sparkyd

Active member
Thank you so much for the feedback so far.

snowbird25ca - I definitely have the webbing of the LATCH connectors coming out in the wrong place. The manual makes no mention of the correct positioning, although there is a picture but I didn't notice the difference without there being words describing correct placement to go along with it. The text just says to take out the LATCH connectors and hook them up - no mention of positioning. Thanks for pointing that out.

BookMama - Thanks for the Focus-specific feedback. So it is OK to use that bar under the seat to tether even though technically it can move?

I'm going to go and take the seat out and try again.
 

sparkyd

Active member
Isn't it amazing how much easier things are when you do them properly?? :)

I just re-installed my Marathon in the same spot (RF on passenger side with LATCH) with the connector webbing in the right spot and it was a snap. The seat wiggles but the base doesn't move much at all. I tried moving to centre but Dad wouldn't be able to drive with the seat there. I'm holding off on the tether for now while I consider the various points of view that I've seen put forward on this site.

Here are two new pictures - looking better? :eek:

2352510753

2352510705


I think the angle is OK now, but I'm not 100% sure. I'm still hoping to get it checked by a tech soon.
 

crunchierthanthou

New member
Yup, it looks fine as long as it moves less than 1" at the beltpath and his head doesn't slump when he sleeps. Be sure that you store the tether while you decide where to connect it. No one wants to get hit in the head with that hook; it would be quite a projectile in a crash.
 

unityco

Ambassador - CPS Technician
I tried moving to centre but Dad wouldn't be able to drive with the seat there.

Hmm... it's been a while since I've had a Marathon, but we had it installed RF in the centre of our '06 Focus and were able to have both front seats pushed back. The back of the Marathon puzzled quite well between the two front seats which is how we got away with not having to move them forward. Maybe my install wasn't quite right back then though. :shrug-shoulders:

I was never able to find a perfect RF tether spot either. :)

HTH!

ETA: You can use LATCH in the centre of the Focus if you want.
 

jen_nah

CPST Instructor
Thank you so much for the feedback so far.

snowbird25ca - I definitely have the webbing of the LATCH connectors coming out in the wrong place. The manual makes no mention of the correct positioning, although there is a picture but I didn't notice the difference without there being words describing correct placement to go along with it. The text just says to take out the LATCH connectors and hook them up - no mention of positioning. Thanks for pointing that out.

BookMama - Thanks for the Focus-specific feedback. So it is OK to use that bar under the seat to tether even though technically it can move?

I'm going to go and take the seat out and try again.

You can tether to a moving part as long as you are aware that if you move teh seat foward or back that it will adjust the angle so you will need to fix that each time the seat is moved.
 

Mommy2Marcus

New member
Hiya Hun! It looks good to me to! Alot better the 2nd time around! I see that you were saying that you couldn't use a center install due to DH not being able to drive with it. I am not sure why it wouldn't work. I have a RF Marathon installed center in a 2 door tiny Cavalier with no problem at all. The top of the seat goes in between the two front seats a little bit, but even with that my DH has no problem with it & he is picky about that stuff. He can also lay his seat all the way back & take a nap on lunch at work with no problem or interferance with the car seat at all. Can you post pics of your center install? Here in my center install.

Here is what it looks like from the drivers side!
012.jpg


Here is what it looks like from the side!
012-1.jpg


If these do not help let me know & I will try to get better!
 

sparkyd

Active member
ETA: You can use LATCH in the centre of the Focus if you want.

(quick "forum speak" question - what does ETA stand for? :whistle:)

Can I use the outboard LATCH anchors in the centre position because it is OK to do so with a Britax Marathon? My car manual says:

"Install a child seat onto the lower anchors at the center rear seat ONLY IF the child restraint manufacturer recommends that the child seat can be installed to anchors that are spaced up to 450mm apart"

When I installed our infant seat (Graco), I used the outboard position because that manual says:

"UAS is defined as anchorages 280mm (11.02 inches) on center. As a manufacturer we do not recommend using the UAS system in the center position if it exceeds this length."

So I just assumed that would apply to all seats and that the LATCH anchors in the centre seat of my car are too far apart. The Marathon manual doesn't say anything about the location of the seat (outboard vs centre) or the distance between anchors. Does that mean it doesn't matter?

Does anyone else find the Britax manual to be a little lacking?? :(

Hmm... it's been a while since I've had a Marathon, but we had it installed RF in the centre of our '06 Focus and were able to have both front seats pushed back. The back of the Marathon puzzled quite well between the two front seats which is how we got away with not having to move them forward. Maybe my install wasn't quite right back then though. :shrug-shoulders:

I have a RF Marathon installed center in a 2 door tiny Cavalier with no problem at all. The top of the seat goes in between the two front seats a little bit, but even with that my DH has no problem with it & he is picky about that stuff. He can also lay his seat all the way back & take a nap on lunch at work with no problem or interferance with the car seat at all. Can you post pics of your center install?

When I went to re-install I pulled the seat over to the centre to see if it would fit (was going to use seat belt) and it looked to me like there was no way the driver seat would be able to move back or recline as much as DH needs it to (would be fine for me). There isn't much room in between the seats so I don't see how it would be possible for the Marathon to fit in between. It would have to fit in behind with proper seat positioning for driver and baby. I took a picture of our front seats from the back:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkyd/2356847460/

I've got another question for all you knowledgeable people out there! I've seen in a couple of places that you have to switch from LATCH to seatbelt once your little one reaches a certain weight (48 lbs?) as the anchors are only tested to that weight. There is nothing about that in either my car manual or the Marathon manual. How do I find out what is safe?

Thanks again for all the help! I am so thrilled to have found this forum. :)
 

BookMama

Senior Community Member
You CAN use LATCH anchors in the middle of your Focus. Ford and Britax both allow it.

Ford has a 48 lb LATCH limit, so you won't need to worry about that for a while.
 

lemurmommies

New member
Yep, you can use LATCH in the centre, but if you do it is basically impossible for passengers in the rear seat to buckle their seatbelts (or so I have found.) If you don't frequently travel with passengers in the back then it wouldn't be a problem. We didn't do it because I almost always still sit in the back with DS if DP is driving.
 

crunchierthanthou

New member
Britax allows borrowing anchors for center installs as long as the vehicle manufacturer does (which Ford does in the Focus) and they are between 11 and 20 inches apart (which they are- 18" in the Focus). :)

ETA means Edited To Add- the post was changed after it was originally submitted.
 

unityco

Ambassador - CPS Technician
(quick "forum speak" question - what does ETA stand for? :whistle:)

ETA means "Edited to Add". I put that in after I first posted my answer. :)

I'm sorry you can't make it work in the centre, but if you've got it outboard, that's great! One difference we had is we had no recline on the driver's seat at all.
 

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