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What is ISOFIX? Keeping your child safe in the car

3 weeks ago
Chasing Cars Team

We all want our little ones to be as safe and secure as possible when riding in the car. Having a child restraint that’s correctly fitted to the vehicle, properly adjusted, securely fastened and the right size for the child is paramount.

ISOFIX, a universal product standard used for attaching child safety capsules in vehicles, has been available in Australia since 2014. The ISOFIX concept originated in Europe with the idea of creating a child restraint system that could be used independently of a vehicle’s installed seat belts.

How does ISOFIX work?

The ISOFIX system combines manufacturer-installed vehicle connection points with an ISOFIX-compatible child car seat. In the car, a pair of dedicated low anchorage bars is fitted to the junction of the back seat cushion and seat back; the attachment connectors on the compatible child seat then clip on to those anchoring points.

In addition, the child seat’s top tether strap is attached to a top tether anchorage point in the vehicle, restraining the top part of the child seat. With ISOFIX, you have the choice of securing the bottom of the seat with the car’s built-in ISOFIX attachment points or with your existing seat belts.

Australian law stipulates that you must always have the seat attached to the top tethering point, regardless of whether you use ISOFIX connection points or the vehicle seat belt to secure the lower part of the child seat. Always read the installation manual carefully before attaching an ISOFIX car seat to your vehicle.

Does my car have ISOFIX?

Not all Australian cars have ISOFIX connection points – it’s entirely up to the car manufacturer whether to include them with their new cars. However, it’s easy to determine if your vehicle is ISOFIX-compatible. Check the car’s user manual – it will specify if the car features ISOFIX fittings. The dealer you purchased the car from will also have this information. In newer cars, ISOFIX low anchorages are easy to spot: they’ll either be clearly visible in the back seat or their location will be marked with an ISOFIX symbol. ISOFIX connection points look like a small recess with a metallic bar across the front. You can find a handy list of ISOFIX-fitted Aussie vehicles here (subject to change as new cars are added to the mix).

Bear in mind that not all car seats sold in Australia are ISOFIX-compatible. To be sure, look for a label that shows the car seat complies with Australian/New Zealand Standard 1754. It’s illegal to use an ISOFIX car seat from overseas.

What are the advantages of using ISOFIX?

There are two main reasons why ISOFIX child restraint systems are becoming such a popular addition to modern Australian vehicles:

Easy to install and use

The clip-in system is simple and reliable. Before ISOFIX arrived in Australia, a Monash University study found that 88% of forward-facing car seats, 67% of infant seats and 63% of booster seats were incorrectly installed in this country. The simplicity of the ISOFIX design helps mitigate the margin for error traditionally associated with installation and use of child vehicle restraints.

Flexibility

As long as your vehicle is fitted with an ISOFIX top tethering anchor point, you can use either ISOFIX-compatible lower anchoring points or the car’s existing seat belt to secure the lower part of an ISOFIX child seat. You also have the option of buying a seat with a rigid or flexible attachment connector. The rigid version is a pair of solid connector protrusions and the other consists of a pair of flexible straps that you can adjust. [i]  [ii]


[i] https://www.budgetdirect.com.au/blog/what-cars-have-isofix-in-australia.html?segment=CP-MOTOR&LinkId=13703&campaignid=2057507908&adgroupid=73459164902&feeditemid=&targetid=kwd-392655054893&loc_interest_ms=&loc_physical_ms=9069214&matchtype=e&network=g&device=c&creative=361282640767&keyword=what%20is%20isofix&gclid=Cj0KCQjw8rT8BRCbARIsALWiOvTeX6_4Vhu7PL8po8Zrp0sE0hamLSf3MlUf-RRgOYJBLzzy4SsEzIIaAqmmEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

[ii] https://www.childcarseats.com.au/faqs#:~:text=What%20are%20the%20definitions%20of%20ISOFIX%20related%20terms%3F&text=ISOFIX%20compatible%20system%20for%20Australia,connectors%20and%20top%20tether%20strap.

Disclaimer: This information is general in nature only and does not constitute personal advice. While Chasing Cars has endeavoured to ensure the information we’ve relied on is accurate and current, we do not guarantee it and accept no liability for this information. Chasing Cars recommends you obtain specialist advice specific to your individual circumstances before purchasing any motor vehicle.

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