Rear-facing or forward-facing? Booster seat or safety belt? If you have children, you know there are a lot of questions about how, exactly, to keep them safe in a car. Find the answers in our car seat guide:

Car seat guide: Which seat should I use?

If you’re not sure when to move your child to the next type of car seat, look to these stages:

Rear-facing safety seat: Children should stay rear-facing as long as possible, up to the limits of the car safety seat. This includes almost all children under 2.

Forward-facing safety seat, with harness: Many seats can take children up to 60 pounds or more. When they are ready and exceed the seat’s limits, move to a belt-positioning booster seat.

Belt-positioning booster seat: Use until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder safety belts fit properly—generally when children are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall and 8 to 12 years old.

Lap and shoulder belts: When children can use the vehicle safety belt without additional safety seating, they should always use lap and shoulder safety belts for optimal protection.

Front seat versus back seat: All children younger than 13 should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

One more thing: Check your state’s laws but keep in mind that state laws don’t always match best practices.

Car seat guide: What are common mistakes to avoid?

Moving out of a booster seat too soon: Use booster seats until safety belts fit properly—when children can sit with their back against the seat, knees bending at the edge of the seat and feet touching the floor.

Not installing the car seat tightly enough: The car seat shouldn’t move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch at the belt path.

Harness straps too loose: Harness straps should lay flat without twists. Be sure the harness is snug enough that you can’t pinch any extra material at the child’s shoulder.

Driver or other passengers not buckled up: Everyone in the vehicle should always ride safely buckled up. Kids are watching their parents and learning.

Car seat guide: Should I buy a new or used car seat?

Sure, it’s nice to save by buying it used. But it’s not always a good idea, especially with car seats. Here are four reasons you should always buy a car seat new:

  1. The used car seat may be worn or damaged, and it won’t offer maximum protection in a crash.
  2. Used car seats may have been recalled due to defects. Using a recalled seat puts your child at risk. When you buy your new seat, register it using the model number on the seat’s label. You can call the number listed on the label, or register the seat online. You’ll be notified if your car seat is recalled.
  3. Just like eggs or yogurt, car seats can expire. An expired car seat could fail in a crash because the materials deteriorate over time. Find the expiration date at the bottom or back of the seat.
  4. Used seats may be missing key parts, and there are many—hardware, straps, clips, instruction manuals and more. If some parts are gone, that makes the seat less effective in a crash.

Sit Tight in Your Rental

Members get free use of one child, infant or booster seat with every Hertz car rental.

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