It used to be that you could expect a metal locking clip to come with every carseat that didn’t have a built-in lockoff but those days are gone. Both Evenflo & Dorel have recently decided to exclude the locking clip on their carseats. Why? Because parents misuse them more often than they actually need to install their carseat using one. In other words, the locking clips were more often part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
I have to say that I agree with this assessment. In the field, I see more locking clip misuse than proper use. Most parents have no idea what that metal clip is for but if the carseat comes with it then it has to go somewhere, right? Wrong. Most of the time – a locking clip is not needed. More on that below.
Retail models of Evenflo convertible and combination carseats now come with a statement attached to the harness alerting consumers to the change and providing information on who to call if you really do need a locking clip. You can also buy a locking clip from a local baby store or even use one that you took off a different carseat. Locking clips are the ONLY component that you can swap from seat to seat, even across brands.
Evenflo infant seats and institutional models sold to CPS programs will continue to come with locking clips.
Dorel seats have also gone locking clip-less across all their brands (Cosco, Safety 1st, Eddie Bauer & Maxi-Cosi). Unlike Evenflo, who continues to provide locking clips with their infant seat models, none of the Dorel seats have locking clips included anymore. So if you’re purchasing any Dorel infant seat that doesn’t come with a lockoff and you’re planning to install the carseat with seatbelt – consider yourself warned. You may want to order a locking clip before you need to install the seat, just in case you wind up with a tilting issue. Read on for more info on that. Below is a page from a Dorel instruction manual.
Now, let’s review the reasons you would actually NEED to use a locking clip and some reasons why you might WANT to use one.
You NEED to use a locking clip (or a carseat with a built-in lockoff device) if all 3 of these conditions exist in your vehicle:
- Your vehicle was made before Model Year 1996 AND
- You have a lap/shoulder belt that is one continuous piece of webbing AND
- The lap/shoulder belt has a sliding latchplate and an ELR retractor (this means the seatbelt has no pre-crash locking features and the seatbelt will only lock in emergency situations like hard breaking or a crash)
If your vehicle was made AFTER 1996 then your seatbelts are required to have some way to lock to keep a carseat in place tightly during routine driving. If you are installing a carseat and you’re not going to use lower LATCH anchors in your vehicle, and your carseat or infant seat base doesn’t have a built-in lockoff device, it’s imperative that you understand how your seatbelt locks. Most vehicles have switchable retractors but some vehicles or specific seating positions have locking latchplates instead. It’s very important to know what your vehicle has and to understand how these features work before you install any carseat with a seatbelt. See your vehicle’s owners manual for specific information on how to install a carseat in your vehicle using the seatbelt. If you have questions, please visit our car-seat.org forum and we’ll be happy to help answer them.
You may WANT to use a locking clip if you are installing an infant seat base with seatbelt under these conditions:
- You are installing with a lap/shoulder belt that is one continuous piece of webbing
- Your infant seat base does not have a lockoff device for the seatbelt
- Your vehicle has a switchable retractor
- Your base starts to tip sideways over time due to the locked seatbelt exerting pressure on the side of the beltpath
For more info on proper use of locking clips please visit Heather’s very helpful webpage: http://www.carseatsite.com/lockingclips.htm