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Why do child car seat ratings differ, and which is the best classification?

Why do child car seat ratings differ, and which is the best classification?


Are you looking to purchase a child car seat but you see that the different ratings do not coincide? Choosing the best child restraint can be a complicated task. Firstly we should bear in mind that  there is no one child car seat which is perfect for everyone. In much the same way that we all have different cars and do not have the same kind of lifestyle, we should choose a child car seat according to our particular needs. Naturally, independent crash tests can help us make a decision.

Various automobile clubs and European consumer associations draw up twice-yearly reports in which they evaluate a series of child car seats. The child car seats are subjected to tests which are much stricter than the approval tests. In these tests the CRS's safety is assessed, in terms of head-on and side impacts. The installation and handling, ergonomics and comfort for the child is analysed, as well as whether there are any hazardous substances in the seat's fabric. We can be sure that the chilkjd restraint systems are submitted to a demanding analysis. 

However, doubts can arise when we see, for example, that child car seats evaluated by clubs such as the RACE or the RACC do not coincide with the seats that bear the well-known Swedish stamp, the Plus Test. Basically, the tests carried out and the factors which are taken into account are different. In the Plus Test the manufacturers submit to these tests voluntarily in order to obtain the aforementioned stamp which guarantees that the seat in question has passed the Swedish safety tests. Indeed, these tests focus on checking the stress that the passenger's (i.e. the child's) neck would have to withstand in the event of a head-on collision. Therefore, rear-facing child seats receive a better grade

We cover the different kinds of tests out there, in the article entitled ‘How are crash tests on cars undertaken in order to ensure the safety of the CRS?’

We should take into account that, depending on the approval standard we choose, the child car seat will have passed certain safety tests. If a child car seat is approved it means that it has successfully passed the minimum safety requirements established for the European Union. Of course, a CRS approved under the R129 standard, (the most recent one), has higher safety standards given that it includes, for example, the side impact test. This is not the case for the R44/04 standard.

It is fair to say that there is no one single rating which we can look to in order to decide which is the ideal seat for us, given that a number of factors need to be considered: the type of vehicle being used; 

what kinds of child car seats can be installed in it, and, according to the particular approval standard, whether the child's height must be taken into account; whether to choose a rear-facing child car seat, (Fundación MAPFRE recommends using one until the child is at least 4 years old); whether or not it is easy to handle and install; if the child is comfortable in it, and if we can use ISOFIX anchorages.

We should know that although a child car seat may be absolutely perfect, according to friends and family, it may not be the right one for us. That is why we should take into account all of the previously mentioned factors. We need to evaluate all the alternatives, and we should visit a specialist centre and have the option of testing the seat in person: install the CRS, place the child in it, check that it fits well in the car, be satisfied that the specialists have answered all our questions, that it is an approved seat. This is the only way to find the perfect child car seat.

Find further advice here on how to choose a child car seat.

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