Making the Most of your Car Manual

owners manual

When thinking about child passenger safety, it is important to know where to locate information both in your car manual and in the car seat manual. Both provide important guidelines to ensure your child is appropriately restrained correctly. Often, your car manual would be located in the glove compartment. But if you cannot locate it or it did not come with the car when you bought it, you can always look up the manual online by searching for car model, year car was made, and the manufacturer. 

First, you want to locate the car model, year the car was made, and the manufacturer. Often, this is located on the front cover of the manual. These are important detail that can help you register your car in case there is a recall on the car. Next, you may see a table of contents where you can locate information about how your car operates, specific car features, and passenger safety. When locating information about car seats, look for the key words such as “child restraint” or “child passenger safety.” Your manual may not use specific words such as car seat but if you look for these other key words that can help you locate information about the car seats. 

You will also want to locate information about the seat belts and where your air bags are located in the car. Knowing where the seat belts and air bags are in the car, we will you know the best location to install the car seat. It will also provide information about the appropriate way to position the seat belt on adults as well as when using a car seat. Also, it is important to never place a rear facing seat in front of an active air bag. When available, the back seat is always the safest place for children. There may be air bags in the front of the car or on the sides, but your car manual will help tell you exactly where to place the car seat. 

The car manual will also provide guidance about how and where to install different types of seats such as rear facing, forward facing, and booster seats. 

Also, your car manual will tell you how to use the LATCH system and if your car has the ability to install the car seat using the lower anchors. The manual will also tell you where to attach the tether part of the car seat into the correct location in the car. Tethers are important safety feature of the car seat to use especially when the seat is forward facing.

When installing the car seat, it is always important that you look at both the car manual and the car seat manual. Both manuals have critical information about child passenger safety and need referenced together to ensure the car seat is installed as safely as possible. 

Overview of items to locate in the manual: 

  • Child passenger safety or child restraint information 
  • Location of air bags and seat belts 
  • Installation of different types of car seats 
  • Safety information about how long children should ride in the back seat 
  • LATCH system location and guidance 
  • Tether locations in the car 
  • Seat belt guidance for all passengers including expecting moms