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Monthly Archive:: October 2011

2012 Honda Pilot Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

Sometimes, it doesn’t take an all-new model to distance itself from the pack.  The previous Pilot was already a great choice for kids in the crowded midsize SUV market.  With a little “refreshening” plus a few feature changes, you can make a good thing even better!  That’s the case for the new 2012 Honda Pilot crossover sport utility vehicle.  With an EPA rating of 18 city and 25 highway in front wheel drive trim, Honda claims it is the most fuel efficient 8-passenger SUV on the market!  Honda also gave the EX-L and EX trim streaming audio and HandsFreeLink, a nice safety bonus to keep your hands on the wheel!  Improved noise insulation is a nice improvement, also, as are the larger display and multi-view camera on higher trim levels.

Many will appreciate the updated appearance.  It actually *looks* like an SUV.  Many buyers opt for an SUV over a minivan or station wagon, despite the many advantages of minivans.  Often, this choice is made because of the soccer mom/dad minivan image.  The funny thing is that many of today’s crossover SUVs are sleek enough that they look little different than a glorified minivan or wagon!  That’s not the case with the rugged-looking Pilot.  Some reviewers and buyers complain it is too boxy in appearance, but really, unless you actually need heavy duty towing or off-roading capability, isn’t that what sets apart a three-row SUV from a minivan?

Well, there is at least one other thing:

Harmony Dreamtime Booster *Giveaway* – Either Way, It’s a “Best Bet”

Thanks to our generous sponsor, Harmony Juvenile Products, we’re giving away another IIHS Best Bet Rated booster!  It’s the Harmony Dreamtime Deluxe and the winner will have their choice of either Black/Silver or Black/Pink fashions.  The Dreamtime has the unique distinction of being the *only* dual usage (highback and backless) booster to earn the coveted “Best Bet” rating in both modes!  We have a review of the Dreamtime here

Enough talk.  How can you win?  Just leave a comment here at CarseatBlog thanking Harmony for a job well done!  We also encourage you to show your support for what they’re doing by liking their facebook page.

A random winner will be selected on November 15.  The prize will be shipped to a winner in the continental USA only, sorry!

Now the fine print – You are not eligible if you have previously won a carseat or sponsor giveaway at CarseatBlog.com (our own giveaways of bags and such don’t count if no sponsor was mentioned).  Also, please note that you may enter and be eligible for any of our other giveaways running at the same time as this one!  Blog writers and editors are also not eligible.  Only one entry per household/family, please.  If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count.  We politely ask that you only enter if you intend to use this booster seat and would also appreciate the favor of a followup comment about the Dreamtime Deluxe.

We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above.  We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules if necessary.  If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize, a new winner will be selected.  Good luck!

Please note:  If this is your first comment at CarseatBlog, or if you are using a different computer/device or a new email address, your comment may not appear immediately .  It will not be lost; it may just take a few hours for it to be approved.  Thank you for your understanding and patience as this is the only way we have to reduce comment spam.

How to Use A Rear-Facing Tether

RXT in MDX tetheredIn the What Is A Tether? blog article, we learned all about forward-facing tether use. But what if you have a convertible carseat that can be tethered in the rear-facing position? How do you do it? Any why?

 

Which Seats Can Be Tethered Rear-Facing?

Let’s start with which current carseats can be tethered rear-facing. There are four manufacturers which allow their convertibles to be tethered in the rear-facing position: Britax, Diono (formerly known as Sunshine Kids), Combi and Peg Perego. If your carseat isn’t listed, it can’t be tethered when rear-facing and the tether should be stowed safely away until you need to use it for forward-facing.

 

 Models That Currently Allow Rear-Facing Tethering
 Britax  Advocate
 Boulevard
 Decathlon (Discontinued)
 Highway
 Marathon
 Marathon “Classic”
 Pavilion
 Roundabout 50 “Classic”
 Roundabout 55
 Combi Coccoro
 Diono/Sunshine Kids  Radian 65, Radian 80 & Radian XT (Discontinued)
 Radian R100
 Radian R120
 Radian RXT
 Rainier, Pacifica & Olympia (2014 models coming soon)
 Peg Perego   Primo Viaggio SIP 5-70
 

 

Styles of Rear-Facing Tethering

There are two styles of rear-facing tethering: Swedish and Australian method. Swedish is the more popular of the two in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and has the tether attached to a point under the front seat. Australian is more common in, you guessed it, Australia. In the Australian method, the tether comes back over the carseat and is anchored to the vehicle’s tether anchor. Right now, Britax is the only manufacturer that allows Australian tethering. There are pros and cons to each method.

 

Pros Cons
Australian RF Tethering
  • Carseat won’t over-rotate towards floor of vehicle.
  • Provides some side impact rotation stability.
  • Must maneuver child under tether strap to load and unload.
  • Doesn’t limit rebound.
Swedish RF Tethering
  • Tether is out of the way for securing child in carseat.
  • Provides some side impact rotation stability.
  • Reduces head excursion in rear impacts.
  • Limits rebound.
  • Doesn’t prevent over-rotation toward floor of vehicle.

 

Britax Pavilion - rear-facing tether - Swedish method  Australian tethering

A note about Australian seats and why they tether to the vehicle’s tether anchor: Australian convertible carseats have an anti-rebound bar/foot that prevents the seat from rebounding into the vehicle seat. That anti-rebound bar, combined with the tether that doesn’t allow downward rotation, means that there is little movement of the carseat in an impact.

Why Should You Tether Rear-Facing

Many parents and caregivers are concerned about a rear-facing carseat rebounding into the back seat. Rebound is the secondary movement a rear-facing carseat will make during a frontal crash. The initial movement is a downward rotation as the carseat is pulled towards the point of impact in a frontal crash. After the carseat reaches its peak rotation, it will start to rebound towards the back of the vehicle seat. This is similar to how a driver moves forward into his airbag and then rebounds back into his seat in the late stages of the crash sequence. This rebound motion isn’t necessarily a terrible thing since rebound is generally considered to be a “low energy event”.  If there are injuries to the child that occur as a result of rebound, they should be relatively minor because the main forces of the crash have already been absorbed by that point. The most common rebound-related injuries occur when children rebound into something that has been placed on the backseat facing them (such as hard mirrors or toys dangling from the infant carseat handle). Contrary to what some people believe, rebound isn’t something that was designed or engineered into a rear-facing carseat as a way to manage energy in a crash; it’s just the result of the top of the carseat not being connected to the vehicle.

By tethering a rear-facing carseat Swedish style, rebound is greatly reduced. The installation may also be more secure and there may be benefits in side impact or rollover crashes simply because the CR is firmly attached to the vehicle in more than one place which improves overall stability. There’s a definite benefit in rear impacts since tethering a seat Swedish style reduces head excursion, much the same way a tether works for a forward-facing carseat.

But let’s be clear: rear-facing tethering is optional. No carseat requires its use; think of it as an added feature.

 

How to Set Up A Rear-Facing Tether Using the Swedish Method

Since the Swedish method uses an anchor point under the front seat, you’ll have to move the front seats forward. Look for a solid point that’s anchored to the vehicle floor, like a front seat leg or seat track. If the point you want to use isn’t solidly bolted to the vehicle frame, there’s a possibility the tether might fail in a crash. A seat that is able to be tethered rear-facing will come with a tether connector strap, otherwise known as a D-ring (though lately, they don’t look like “D” rings). This D-ring is threaded around the solid point you’ve found and the carseat’s tether is attached to it. If the D-ring doesn’t fit around the leg, see if the plastic covering will pop off. These cosmetic pieces usually are removable and can be put back on either after you’ve attached the D-ring or after you’re done with rear-facing.

If you are installing the rf seat in a 3rd row or have one of the rare vehicles that has a tether anchor on the back of the front seat or front seat track (some Ford minivans do, as do some Volvo and Saab models), you can attach the tether of Britax and Combi seats directly to the tether anchor on the vehicle seat in front of the carseat, as long as that tether anchor isn’t already being used by a ff seat (Diono/Sunshine Kids doesn’t allow their tether to be used in this manner). It’s much more important for a ff carseat to be tethered than a rf one if you have to choose between which seats get tethered. Plus, you can always use the d-ring for the rf seat. And it’s never preferable to turn a carseat ff because you can’t tether rf.

For positioning, try to use an anchor point closest to the carseat; for example, if you’re installing the carseat on the passenger side, use the passenger side front seat leg, not the driver’s seat leg. This will help keep the carseat from leaning excessively. Carseat manufacturers also test the rf tether when it’s 20° off-center or less. Twenty percent is about the distance to the vehicle seat front legs directly in line with the rf carseat. Attach the tether to the rf tether point you’ve created with the d-ring or to the tether anchor and pull the slack out of the tether. Do not use the tether to change the angle of the carseat; simply pull it snug.

 

Concerns

  • Finding a suitable location to wrap the d-ring (aka tether connector strap) around. Many newer vehicles have potential locations that are covered by large plastic trim pieces that can’t be easily removed. In some vehicles rear-facing tethering just isn’t possible because there is no suitable location.
  • Airbag sensor wiring: As you wrap the d-ring around the front seat leg, take care not to disrupt any wiring that may be attached or near the leg. This wiring may be for the front seat airbag and you definitely don’t want to mess with it. If you notice any airbag warning lights coming on after you’ve attached the rear-facing tether, discontinue use of the tether immediately.
  • Older vehicles: Some older vehicles in the rust belt may have problems with undercarriage rust. This could be a problem because if something is rusted, it’s a weaker point in the vehicle and the whole purpose of using the vehicle seat leg is to provide a solid tethering point. We don’t have any statistics on rusted vehicles, but it is something to keep in the back of your mind.
  • Vehicle manufacturer resistance: Because rear-facing tethering isn’t commonplace, most vehicle manufacturers don’t address it in their manuals (even Volvo omits it from their American manuals). Some vehicle manufacturers are not on board with rf tethering at all, though it may be because of user error in setting up the d-ring.

 

Now for the pictures . . .

Swedish Gallery

    

   Britax Pavilion - rear-facing tether - Swedish method

If you have a 2005-2012 Honda Odyssey, you’ll be interested in reading this thread from our car-seat.org forums. It’s a step-by-step guide on using a rear-facing tether in those vans. If you have a 2013-14 Honda Odyssey, you can see video on how to tether rear-facing in this blog post.

Thanks to CDNTech for providing her ’03-’08 Grand Caravan pictures in this thread: http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=28939; and thanks to Emily for providing the pictures of her ’12 Volvo S60 front seat track tether anchors!

 

Australian Gallery

 Aussie tethering  Britax Pavilion tethered rear-facing - Aussie style Britax Pavilion - tethered rear-facing - Aussie style

 

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

On September 21, I gave birth to my third child.

Because I wanted to keep thing relaxed yet upbeat, I listened to my Beatles mix throughout labor. The music kept me happy and calm, and I looked forward to seeing what song my baby would be born to.

At one point things got very intense, and I knew it would be time to start pushing soon. What would the next song be? Something optimistic, like “Here Comes the Sun”? Something sentimental, like “In My Life”? Something soothing, like “Let it Be”?

No. It was “Drive My Car,” which, if you’re not familiar with it, is not sentimental, soothing, or particularly optimistic. In fact, it’s downright goofy, about an up-and-coming starlet looking for someone to drive a car she doesn’t yet own.

It’s not that I don’t like this song. It is, after all, on my playlist. But it was not a song I wanted my baby born to.

At that moment, however, the last thing I wanted to do was move, not even to fast-forward my iPod. So I resigned myself to the fact that my baby might be born to that ridiculous song.

But then it occurred to me that we were smack-dab in the middle of National Child Passenger Safety Week. What better time for a CPST to have a baby, and what better song to give birth to?

As it happened, the baby wasn’t born until two songs later. (That song, by the way, was “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which I’m still trying to justify somehow.)

However, I just wanted you all to know that even in the midst of transition, I was thinking about car seats. But is anyone really surprised?

ABC Expo 2011: What’s New from Orbit Baby!

So many updates and cool new innovative products coming soon from orbit baby (not that we would expect anything less from them)!  And they totally get brownie points for the 10th Anniversary Car-Seat.org mouse pad photo op!  We felt the love… thanks guys!  We <3 orbit baby too!