The ISOFIX system was developed in the 1990s by the child car seat manufacturer Britax Römer and the automobile manufacturer VW. It is an international standard system with which you can quickly, easily and safely install a baby car seat or child safety seat directly in a vehicle without using a seat belt. The first car with Isofix anchor points was the VW Golf IV in 1997. Since 2004 Isofix became extremely popular so that all new cars are now equipped with Isofix and Top Tether anchor points. Nowadays Isofix hooks can be found on almost all child car seats (group 0 + / 1, 1, 1/2/3, 2/3 and i-Size).
The installation of a car seat with Isofix uses two anchoring points built into the vehicle’s back seat. These are located between the backrest and seat. The hooks on the child car seat must be clicked into these. In some child car seats, the Isofix brackets are already part of the seat. For others, it is necessary to purchase a separate Isofix base, which is to be installed in the car first and then the child car seat or infant car seat must simply be clicked onto the base. As soon as a rigid connection has been established between the child car seat and the body of your vehicle, there is – depending on the type of approval for the baby car seat or child car seat – a second fixation via a third point. This can be either an upper or a lower tether or a support leg. These three additional fixations prevent the child car seat from tilting in a forward direction in the event of an accident or rotating around the retaining bracket.
A top tether is an additional seat belt that is used to attach a child car seat to another anchor point in the car, which is usually located at the back part of the back seat in the car boot. For this, the belt is guided over the backrest and then fastened and tensioned at the anchor point by using a bracket. When fastening the top tether, make sure that you attach the belt to the correct anchor point in the car. Sometimes this point can be confused with the headrest shaft or the attachment point of an additional safety belt for luggage. (Neither is intended for use with a top tether, nor would it withstand the forces that can occur in an accident.) All cars made since November 2012 must have an anchor point for the top tether, but even some older car models can be equipped with it. The so-called low tether or lower tether is used for rear-facing child car seats (Reboarders). For this option, the belt straps are used to tension the child car seat in the direction of the floor panel.
Many baby car seats are used in conjunction with an Isofix base (either included in a set or sold separately) that is permanently installed in the car. Then only the infant car seat needs to be clicked in or released from the base, accordingly. The base has a support leg that extends from the base of the child car seat to the vehicle floor and clicks into place at the desired position. A support leg is only effective if it touches the floor panel directly. It is designed to prevent the baby car seat or child car seat from tipping over or rotating in the event of an accident. It also helps to mitigate some of the impact forces. Most bases have a visual or acoustic indicator that shows whether the support leg is installed correctly.
Most major manufacturers offer tools on their websites that you can use to check whether your car is compatible with the baby car seat or child car seat you prefer. Therefore, we recommend you to read the manufacturer's information before buying a child car seat.
A study by the General Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV) on group 1 child car seats showed that 96% of the car seats equipped with ISOFIX were properly installed. In comparison, the same study found that only 30% of the child car seats that were fixed with the conventional seat belt were correctly attached. This is because the anchor points of the seat belts vary in size, length, and position from car to car. Therefore, it is practically impossible to create a child car seat that fits perfectly in every car.
ISOFIX scores particularly well in terms of safety, because it offers the fastest and safest way to attach a child car seat in the car. It is also very easy to use. As soon as you hear a click, the hooks are securely connected to the anchor points. You only have to make two settings to fasten your child: First push the child car seat as far as possible to the backrest of the car seat. Then, you have to adjust the position of the child car seat so that it is horizontal on the seat surface and the journey can begin! By attaching an infant car seat or child car seat to the body of your car by using Isofix, the likelihood of it being installed incorrectly is reduced significantly. ISOFIX also offers a much faster and easier way to attach and detach a baby car seat, and thus makes it much easier to use a travel system.
A disadvantage of the ISOFIX system is that not all ISOFIX child car seats are compatible with all car models. This can be a problem especially if you have to switch the child seat or the baby car seat between two cars, which may be of different years of production. Therefore, before buying a child car seat, make sure to find out whether your car is compatible with an ISOFIX seat.
In addition to this, ISOFIX child car seats are somewhat more expensive than child car seats without this system.
ISOFIX is an international standard that is voluntary, while i-Size is a binding law. This means that it is not legally required to use ISOFIX, but it is mandatory to follow the i-size law. The i-Size law is an EU safety regulation that determines how the child car seat must be installed in the car, i.e. in which position children up to or from a certain age must be in order to be particularly safe in the child car seat. The i-size law also stipulates that baby car seats and child car seats must have additional side impact protection and ISOFIX connectors.
Child car seats equipped with ISOFIX offer you a great plus in safety and practicality when you are travelling by car with your little one. However, it often seems difficult for many parents to decide on a suitable model. It is just as difficult to make general recommendations for a particular child car seat, as it has to fit your child in particular. In addition to a wide range of ISOFIX child car seats by premium brands such as Chicco, Cybex, Recaro and many more, we at kids-room.com also offer individual buying advice so that you will definitely find the right child car seat.
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