Over the past decade, a number of car manufacturers such as Ford, Mercedes and Lexus have implemented an airbag seatbelt system in the outer rear seats of some models of their cars.
While this is a great safety feature for adults and kids in some booster seats, it can pose an expensive issue if you buy the wrong car seat, and a catastrophic one if you install an inappropriate car seat using this seatbelt.
Over the past 3 years we have seen a number of Ford Mondeo models brought in by customers that have these seatbelts and some customers have been ill-advised by retailers and even car sales people in regards to just throwing any old car seat into the back of the car and happy days... sadly not so.
However, in the interest of useful information....what seats can we use?
ISOFIX compatible fittings are the best option in a car with this seatbelt, so many 0-4 seats can work, but that isn't all car seats and doesn't suit every family.
Some non-ISOFIX seats can be used as long as the seat belt path does NOT run between the restraint shell and the occupant's body. It MUST run between the restraint shell and the vehicle seat. PLUS, it must be wide enough to cope with the expanding seatbelt in an accident without warping or breaking your restraint.
Unfortunately, the list of what you can't use is pretty long.
At this point, NO Infasecure restraints (some boosters may be ok) can be fitted into a seat with an inflatable seatbelt unless they have an ISOFIX fitting.
In April 2020 Infasecure said:
"We currently manufacture two restraints with the ISOFIX attachments only. The Kompressor 4 Astra (ask for the CS8513 model, the CS8313 Kompressor 4 Astra is a standard install only) and the Quinta Quantum."
Maxi Cosi capsules and seats with ISOFIX fittings are fine, as are the Mother's Choice seats with ISOFIX. Unfortunately, the extremely popular Mother's Choice Convertible Booster seats like the Prime, Kine, Flair, Spark, Tempo, Levi or Solo CANNOT be installed using an inflatable seatbelt at all.
Britax Safe-n-Sound has published information on this issue on their websites globally and their position is:
"Potential fitment issues with some child restraints are:
- Gated 3 bar slides or locking clips cannot be fitted to the sash belt of an inflatable seat belt.
- Child safety harness cannot be used because the gated 3 bar slides cannot be used to create a de-facto lap belt.
- The additional thickness of the sash belt means that the lock-offs and seat belt guides fitted to some child restraints cannot be used.
- The seat belt routing used to install some child restraints means that an inflatable seat belt may interact with the child in the seat or with the seat hardware in an unfavourable manner. In these situations, Britax Australia does not recommend the use of these restraints with the inflatable seat belt.
NOTE - If the centre seating position of the vehicle is not equipped with an inflatable seatbelt device and the child seat is fitted in this position, then the above considerations do not apply. The Mondeo is also fitted with ISOFIX low anchorages on the rear outboard seating positions. Thus there are options for fitting child restraints without the use of the inflatable seatbelts. Prior to purchasing your child restraint, please check that it is suitable for your vehicle. The following is intended to advise which Britax manufactured child restraints are suitable for use with the inflatable seatbelts in the Ford Mondeo.
Comments on specific types of child restraints:
At this point in time, Britax Australia only recommends the use of booster seats in combination with the inflatable seat belt.
NOTE 1 - Where the sash belt cannot be fitted through the booster seat sash guide, Britax does not recommend the use of the inflatable seat belt with the booster seat.
NOTE 2 – Where the sash belt can be fitted through the sash guide and the inflatable section of the belt interacts with the belt guide, Britax does not recommend the use of the inflatable seat belt with the booster seat.
Britax does not recommend the use of any of its other accessory products with the inflatable seat belt. Including the Child Safety Harness.
For ISOFIX compatible child restraints, Britax recommends the use of the vehicle ISOFIX anchors to install these restraints in these vehicles.
For all other non-ISOFIX child restraints, Britax recommends fitting the child restraint in the centre seating position providing that this position is not equipped with an inflatable seat belt."
This image courtesy of Britax displays the way the inflatable seatbelt works;
As of June 2020 in Australia NO Type G seat (harnessed to 8 years) can be fitted using an inflatable car seat. ISOFIX is currently not rated in Australia to retain its integrity with an 8 year old in a type G seat, so all Type G seats are seatbelt-fit only.
Don't Panic - if you have a Type G seat and a car with inflatable seat belts, the middle seat usually has a standard seatbelt so we can often fit a type G in that position. It just becomes an issue when you have two children that you want to put in type G seats or a toddler in a type G seat and a newborn in an ISOFIX seat right next to them.
So what to do?
As a team of experienced fitters and parents, at Baby Things we're all about practical solutions.
1. Before buying a seat for your car with inflatable seatbelts, have a chat with us about the family situation and plans for the future. We can help you avoid expensive errors.
2. If you have a Type G seat for a toddler already and a newborn coming, it may be worth buying or even renting a more suitable seat to get you through the "touchy phase". We have forward-facing seats in our hire stock suitable for such cars.
3. For children over 4 years we would ordinarily recommend a Type G seat, however, in a car with inflatable seatbelts if you have more than 1 child over 4 years 2 boosters may be the answer. Come and chat with us before making a decision as the booster needs to thread the seatbelt in an appropriate way.
4. Three restraints across in a car like this is a complicated beast and needs careful consideration.
Your children's safety is our primary concern, and we are always happy to work through the best solution for them.
Go safe & go well.
Claire Hung - NSW Authorised Restraint Fitter