You may want to rethink that option package and buy the regular old-fashioned seatbelts. While a great idea in theory with adults and with older kids in backless boosters, if you’re still installing carseats, these belts can cause problems for you depending on your carseat manufacturer. Now sure, this technology is old news by now since Darren talked about it a year ago. But carseat manufacturers are just now putting the warnings in their manuals about installing their carseats using these inflatable belts. Britax is the first to put the warnings in their manuals and Combi is set to follow. Ford has stated that they have tested carseats with the “airbag” seatbelts and the carseats have performed as expected.
What do you do? You follow the carseat manufacturer’s guidelines since they have the best knowledge of how their carseat will perform. If the manufacturer says no inflatable seatbelts, try using LATCH instead to install the carseat or use a carseat from a different manufacturer that doesn’t have the inflatable seatbelt warning. If you’re buying a 2011 Ford Explorer, check the options list on the window sticker carefully to see if the inflatable seatbelts are included. Some dealers are automatically choosing this option when ordering the vehicles from Ford, so you may not have a choice if you’re choosing from a vehicle on the lot. Inflatable seatbelts are also on some commercial airplanes in the bulkhead seats and on many private planes. They are thicker than regular airplane seatbelts, so they should be easy to detect. And there is another 2011 car with the inflatable belts: the Lexus LFA. But I dare you to install a carseat in that car ;).