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Now that our third son has been born (10/19 YEAH!) I can be found loitering around various stores in the infant section seeing what’s new and groovy. My, my, how things change in a few short years ... and for the better. ToysRUs security was making their final pass, about to call for the dragnet, when low and behold I found something to buy; a bunch of LATCH retrofit straps made by Evenflo called SecureRight.

The straps are designed for use with a large subset of car seats made by Evenflo (haven’t quite figured why “universal attachment” systems seem to be manufacturer specific?), except, of course, not with the base of the On My Way infant seat, which we own. I called Evenflo to find out why the strap wouldn’t work with the On My Way and all the representative could tell me was that the seat base was wider than the LATCH attachment points. They didn’t say anything about structural problems or failures, just that it was too wide. I installed the base with the LATCH strap and it seemed to work fine, but took it off (REPEAT: took it off, no flames PLEASE)as the instructions clearly state not to use it with my seat. I’ll call back again and see if I can find out any more on why this is not recommended combination.

I did buy a couple of the LATCH retrofit straps for two Evenflo convertible seats we own. Only drawback at this point is the price, about $25 a piece. Cheap in the scheme of safety for my children, but it seems a bit pricey for a couple of metal hooks, a length adjuster, and some nylon strapping. The TETHER setup, which is essentially the same, minus one hook and with a way longer strap, was only about $15. Guess they’ve gotta recoup all the R&D, testing, and certification costs, like NOW!

I really wasn’t that interested in LATCH until I got out the old infant seat and hosed it off for it’s 3d and final go round with our new baby. Installing it in the Odyssey was easy, what with the fully extend ratchet mode of the seat belts. What caught my attention was how much force is being placed on the frame of the infant seat’s base by the shoulder/lap belt combo passing through the outer “hoop” of the base. It’s like, the more you try and synch the base down, the more the shoulder portion of the belt is being forced to work against the lap portion of the belt holding the seat down, and the more the belts are trying to rip the base apart. The outer side of the unweighted base is actually about 1/2“ above the automobile seat surface. In the bigger convertible seats, all this is going on behind the seat cover, within the seatback, and within a more substantial frame, but on the infant seat base its all right there to easily see. On our other cars I had installed the base with the locking clip, or in the center lap belt only position, so the shoulder strap was isolated from the tension being exerted by the lap belt to hold the seat down. I’ll probably go back to this setup in the Odyssey for this particular seat.

Another, now apparent, benefit of the LATCH straps is that the car seat is now movable as a single unit with the automobile seat, independent of the shoulder strap, so you can move it forward and back to achieve more pass through room or more rear leg room as needed. Also, when and if we ever move the middle row seats together, access to the third row seating won’t be blocked by the cars seat belts stretched from their side anchors to the middle seating position.

Unfortunately, being the OCD (OdyClub Dad ... Nah!) parent that I am, I also bought the TETHER retrofits for the convertible seats, now that we have a car with TETHER attach points. Once I installed the TETHER I lost the ability to move the seats forward and back at will, with no further adjustments, as the TETHER attach point is fixed in relation to the car floor. Moving the seat forward introduces slack into the system that must be removed; moving it back requires you to loosen the strap enough for the new position. Another thing that caught my attention is the routing of the TETHER strap around two soft, compressible portions of the seatback on its way to the attach point. It seems that in the event of a collision the strap would further compress the automobile seat material at these two points and allow the top of the car seat to move forward more.

One final note, and forgive me if I’ve simply missed this in the literature all these years, but both Evenflo (during my phone conversation with them) and Graco (in their product literature for one of their infant seats I read about on the Internet) say that you should replace your car seats if they are 6 or more years old. Hmm, disposable car seats. As I had Evenflo on the line, I was able to question this recommendation further. There were three main reasons the Evenflo representative gave, 1. non-compliance with newer safety recommendations, 2. deterioration of the plastics used in manufacturing the seats, and 3. wear and tear (aside from accident damage) of everyday use, especially if the seat had been exposed to direct sunlight. Funny, they didn’t include “the desire to sell more car seats”. Cynicism aside, these seem like valid points, and I am curious to get others opinions on this.

Sorry to spout so. I just thought some of this might be of interest to others.
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’90 4Runner – lacking for a family of 5
’02 GG Odyssey EX-L-RES – my new best friend

tnuckels
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Another thing that caught my attention is the routing of the TETHER strap around two soft, compressible portions of the seatback on its way to the attach point. It seems that in the event of a collision the strap would further compress the automobile seat material at these two points and allow the top of the car seat to move forward more.</font>
Yeah, I thought about that. I just went ahead and compressed those points. A few years of that will leave permanent marks, no doubt, but that's the price.

You'd'a thunk that Honda would have planned for that with a plastic piece...even something temporary that could be snapped or bolted into place, specifically for this application...

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">One final note, and forgive me if I’ve simply missed this in the literature all these years, but both Evenflo (during my phone conversation with them) and Graco (in their product literature for one of their infant seats I read about on the Internet) say that you should replace your car seats if they are 6 or more years old. Hmm, disposable car seats.</font>
Well, not disposable, not really. But seats advance in safety all the time; 6 years of safety advances can be serious stuff.

Also, they're sure--as am I--that the seat has been suitably abused over 6 years that the possibility of its original safety level being compromised is great.

I agree with this.
 

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Thanks for the heads up on the Evenflo kit. I've been trying to find one for a few weeks, but haven't been successful. I'll give TRU/BRU another try tomorrow.

There is no current "Best Practice" for the maximum age on carseats. The reasons given to you were good ones, though. Generally, most agree that 10 years is too old. 6 years also seems to be a common manufacturer limit, and is endorsed by their marketing group. Obviously, if your carseat was in a basement for a couple years between kids, or sat in a box for a year before purchase, a parent might choose to go beyond these limits.

Even so, the newer safety standards [Thanks, NHTSA;-) ] and advances are a good reason to keep current regardless of the condition of the carseat.
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by tnuckels:
as the TETHER attach point is fixed in relation to the car floor.</font>
Huh? Did I miss something when I installed my car seats and read the manual on my '01, because I used the hook built into the underside of the middle-row seats for the teather strap. Or was there a change on this mount with the '02?

Now I gotta go re-read the owner's manual


Scott
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well, the middle row seats can slide forward and backward on runners that are part of a frame that is attached to the floor, and the tether attach point is welded to a cross member that is part of that frame. Seat moves ... frame and tether attach point stay put, thus “as the tether attach point is fixed in relation to the car floor”, as opposed to moving in relation to the floor or being fixed in relation to the seat.

I don’t know if they changed it from ’01 to ’02. When you move the automobile seat with the tethered child car seat in it forward and back, does it change the tension on the tether strap? If so, it’s probably the same arrangement as mine, if not, it’s setup different.
------------------------------------------------------------------
’90 4Runner – lacking for a family of 5
’02 GG Odyssey EX-L-RES – my new best friend

tnuckels
 
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