Author Topic: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb  (Read 5031 times)

jeromedawg

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Hey guys,

I just got a great deal on a convertible carseat (Graco 4ever) and was just trying to install it in my older 1993 Camry. I can't, for the life of me, get the thing to fit snug against the center OR sides in the back. The seats are leather (and slippery), so I'm sure that doesn't help. The center seatbelt is just a lapbelt that is manual adjust so there's no locking or shoulder harness. The side seats have locking shoulder-belts but I just couldn't get the seat in there snug enough. Is it really supposed to be this hard? I was working up a sweat... same thing happened when I tried to install the Graco Snugride in our Rav4 - had no idea how to do it right so had someone at the police dept show us. And even after that I still have no idea what to do. Is my Camry just too old to support these new car seats? How can I get it in tighter? The officer at the PD showed us a trick where you twist the seat belt receiver several times to make a tighter connection - I tried that but it didn't work in the Camry.

On a side note, I have been contemplating downsizing to a one-car family but I have a lot of reservations about this. We are planning to have my wife go SAHM probably in Jan or Feb but we also wanted to see how my new job goes, which is a telecommute job (but I may need to go work out of an office location every now and then). Having the flexibility of one more car isn't necessarily a bad thing here in SoCal. I suppose I could consider moving though :) We just have to see how things go with telecommuting. In terms of how this relates to the car seat, we're still going to need the seat either way as our boy gets older (and also if we decide to try for #2). Are car seats expected to just be a real PITA with cars from a couple decades ago?

Last resort is just to bring it all back to the PD and have someone take a look and help install (or tell us that it's not possible). The problem with that is that we have to schedule an appt for it in advance since they get backlogged with car seat installation help requests. It's worth the trouble though. Just wanted to get an idea if anyone else has installed a newer car seat in a [much] older vehicle.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2015, 09:28:23 PM by jplee3 »

jda1984

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2015, 07:03:21 AM »
I'm not familiar with that car seat in particular, but I've had success in getting things tight with center lap belts by figuring out about how long the belt needs to be, unthreading it from the seat, then making it a little bit smaller (maybe 1/2 to 1 inch).  Rethread it through the car seat, put a bunch of force/weight on the seat and get that belt to click.  The seat will spring back some since your child(ren) doesn't weigh nearly as much as you do so it should be very secure at that point.  You could do a similar thing with the side lap belts, but it's more challenging.

If you're trying to put it in rear-facing, I've had some trouble with some car seats in the past and getting the angle right.  I had to resort to shimming it with a towel roll in one case.

KCM5

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2015, 07:22:34 AM »
jda1984 has some good advice. Second the towel roll or maybe a pool noodle to get the right angle.

In general, I don't think you're having problems because its an old car. I think they just suck to install and some models are easier than others.

I'd first try the middle using the lap belt. One thing to note is that it is a proper install if it doesn't move more than one inch at the belt path when firmly wiggled. I always thought it was an inch at the back of the seat, which is way harder to get. But a tight install with less than an inch of movement at the base of the seat should be your goal.

Edited to add: have you tried switching the seats? Have the convertible in your wife's car and the infant seat in your car?

lthenderson

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2015, 07:26:34 AM »
Back when we had a car seat in a car pre-2001 LATCH being mandatory, I installed it in the center seat where there was only a manual lapbelt. I could pull on it to get it nice and tight by putting some weight on the seat as I tightened it. If you want to install it on the side where there is a shoulder belt, all the convertible seats that I have seen come with a clip that you have to attach to the shoulder belt part that attached it to the lap belt part to keep it from releasing slack. It is difficult to get on and adjust though which is why I mainly went with the manual lapbelt.

Gin1984

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2015, 07:28:45 AM »
I have installed cat seats in both a 2001 prelatch truck and a 2003 with latch car.  In both cases, it was helpful to have the PD check it out.  You don't know what you don't know, you know?  ;)

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2015, 08:14:11 AM »
I have a '94 Civic with a new car seat.

I have it in the middle over the bump. I just have an old school lap belt too.

I put the seat in place and then use my knees and body weight to push the car seat down as much as possible.

I then use my arms and muscles to pull the lap belt as tight as possible.

I then connect the seatbelt.

Then I hop off and make sure it is still snug.

Let me know if you still can't get it after this?

fonzarthur

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2015, 08:32:04 AM »
Use a towel like others have said to keep the angle, measure out where you need to position the car seat adapter on the seatbelt to secure it and put it in place, then with your knee on the seat really lean into it to get the belt buckled.  Sometimes it take a couple tries to get it just right and with the <1" of movement at the belt path. 

Schnurr

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2015, 09:32:50 AM »
... same thing happened when I tried to install the Graco Snugride in our Rav4 - had no idea how to do it right so had someone at the police dept show us. And even after that I still have no idea what to do.

It sounds like the car is not the problem :)
Have you read the instruction manual for the seat?

Gin1984

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2015, 09:40:10 AM »
... same thing happened when I tried to install the Graco Snugride in our Rav4 - had no idea how to do it right so had someone at the police dept show us. And even after that I still have no idea what to do.

It sounds like the car is not the problem :)
Have you read the instruction manual for the seat?
While 96 percent of parents and caregivers believe their child safety seats are installed correctly, research shows that seven out of 10 children are improperly restrained.
http://www.seatcheck.org/news_fact_sheets_statistics.html
It seems like jplee is just more aware than most people.

AZDude

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2015, 10:08:47 AM »
My old pontiac was a real pain to get a car seat in, and I had to shove and push and heave until I thought i might break something, but that thing was immovable once it got in there. Imagine the horror when it was peed on and I had to take it off to wash the cover... Seriously, next time just wait until your inside and then just pee on the carpet, or on me... anything but the carseat.


mm1970

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2015, 10:20:54 AM »
Back when we had a car seat in a car pre-2001 LATCH being mandatory, I installed it in the center seat where there was only a manual lapbelt. I could pull on it to get it nice and tight by putting some weight on the seat as I tightened it. If you want to install it on the side where there is a shoulder belt, all the convertible seats that I have seen come with a clip that you have to attach to the shoulder belt part that attached it to the lap belt part to keep it from releasing slack. It is difficult to get on and adjust though which is why I mainly went with the manual lapbelt.
Definitely this, and the PD.

My husband always puts his weight on the seat when strapping it in.

jeromedawg

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2015, 11:18:38 AM »
Thanks all for the tips and advice. I'll give it another go sometime today (when the kid isn't excessively wailing and I can step away for a sec). The problem with the install is that there's not a ton of space in the back to give my weight on the seat (plus it's bulky). And the fact that it's rear-facing (since my kid is 3.5 months now) especially doesn't help with ease of install. Getting the base in for the infant carrier seems like cake compared to this... at least when the officer at the PD showed us and had us do it haha.

elaine amj

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2015, 12:01:10 PM »
Convertible carseats are just a pain. And some brands are easier to install than others. I would book an appt with your PD.

Or try the pool noodle/rolled up towel trick. Also study some videos. I was pretty carseat obsessed when my kids were little and think it is unlikely that your carseat won't fit into your car (now if you were trying to get THREE carseats in a row, that would be a different story.

I would sit in your house and carefully study how the belt loops through. I often take it all apart and loop the belt myself so I can make sure it is snug and fits my child. MUCH easier in the house :)

In your car, shift both front seats as far to the front as possible to give you space. Then work on the install (rearfacing is harder because it is hard to get the angle to lean down on the seat). Do it on a calm day when baby is happily occupied somewhere else and you have lots of time.

jeromedawg

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2015, 04:31:43 PM »
I tried a rolled up towel but that doesn't do anything as far as making it more snug. The Graco 4ever has an adjustable base anyway to allow you to set different reclining angles so I don't know that a towel would be very beneficial unless there is a way to get a more tighter/snug fit that I'm just not realizing.

I'm definitely getting the belt through the belt loop - the problem is that there's not enough slack in the buckle to get a good grip and pull it to the buckle clip and make things tight. Also the buckle, if I pull it too much will end up at the mouth of the buckle loop and I really won't have any leverage. I called the PD and left a VM to try to setup an appointment. I don't feel like I'm gonna get anywhere with this, other than perhaps a good workout.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2015, 05:12:06 PM »
I know making an appointment and going in is a pain. Do it anyway. Installing a rear-facing seat with a seatbelt is hard under the best of conditions. And unless your baby is super-huge, he should fit his baby bucket for a while longer while you get it sorted.

jeromedawg

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2015, 05:47:13 PM »
I know making an appointment and going in is a pain. Do it anyway. Installing a rear-facing seat with a seatbelt is hard under the best of conditions. And unless your baby is super-huge, he should fit his baby bucket for a while longer while you get it sorted.

Yea hopefully it's not too long from now. I ended up installing it a lot more snug than it was before (but I'm not fully confident so hopefully the PD will check it out and help). I ended up *sitting* in the seat (LOL!) and getting the buckle to click in. That was about the tightest fit I've gotten so far hahaha.

MayDay

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2015, 06:35:31 AM »
I would basically buckle the seat in, then throw as much body weight on it as I could, then yank the belt tighter and tighter while I was on top of it. 

In our Civic, this was probably quite hilarious to watch.   It was a tight fit back there. 

Some seats tighten up drastically easier than others.  We had 2 types, a Britax and a Diono Radian, and the Britax was amazingly easier.  So it might not just be you :)


jeromedawg

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2015, 10:50:54 AM »
I would basically buckle the seat in, then throw as much body weight on it as I could, then yank the belt tighter and tighter while I was on top of it. 

In our Civic, this was probably quite hilarious to watch.   It was a tight fit back there. 

Some seats tighten up drastically easier than others.  We had 2 types, a Britax and a Diono Radian, and the Britax was amazingly easier.  So it might not just be you :)

Haha this is effectively what I did by sitting in it LOL. I think I pulled something in doing so :O

The issue with the stupid seat belt is that you have to be at the right angle to pull to tighten it (e.g. if it's clipped in and you yank upwards it won't budge - you have to pull away from the buckle (which would be towards the seat itself, in which case there's pretty much no space). So the only viable solution is to tighten the belt first to where you want it, then apply weight to the seat and pull the buckle and clip towards each other as tight as possible. And even then, I'm not confident that the seat is tight enough! It's a real PITA this car seat. Maybe I will go with the suggestion of swapping it out with the infant base that's in the Rav4. But we've almost been exclusively using the infant base and carrier, and plan to until he grows out of it.

MerryMcQ

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2015, 11:12:53 AM »
Honestly, I always took the cars to a car seat clinic to have them installed. I felt better having a professional check it out.

You may want to look for car seat installation clinics outside of the local PD. By me, Baby's R Us generally hosts them once a month. The local children's hospital hosts them periodically, and the fire stations host them as well. There is rarely a weekend that doesn't have an installation clinic within 5 - 10 miles of where we lived. Maybe you can find something more convenient than making an appointment with the PD.

jeromedawg

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2015, 12:02:41 PM »
Honestly, I always took the cars to a car seat clinic to have them installed. I felt better having a professional check it out.

You may want to look for car seat installation clinics outside of the local PD. By me, Baby's R Us generally hosts them once a month. The local children's hospital hosts them periodically, and the fire stations host them as well. There is rarely a weekend that doesn't have an installation clinic within 5 - 10 miles of where we lived. Maybe you can find something more convenient than making an appointment with the PD.

Thanks, I've checked around and I haven't really seen or heard of many in my area. If there are places, they charge $$$ for it. Surprisingly, even the FD doesn't offer anything - I emailed the county fire district and they said they don't offer this service there or at any of the firehouses. That really surprised me... anyway, I'll take another gander, but I think the PD is probably the way to go here (unless I want to pay)

COlady

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2015, 12:29:46 PM »
I know making an appointment and going in is a pain. Do it anyway. Installing a rear-facing seat with a seatbelt is hard under the best of conditions. And unless your baby is super-huge, he should fit his baby bucket for a while longer while you get it sorted.

Yea hopefully it's not too long from now. I ended up installing it a lot more snug than it was before (but I'm not fully confident so hopefully the PD will check it out and help). I ended up *sitting* in the seat (LOL!) and getting the buckle to click in. That was about the tightest fit I've gotten so far hahaha.

I recently learned that PD and fire department personnel are not certified car seat installers and sometimes make significant errors. You might consider finding a certified carseat tech to check you install:

http://cert.safekids.org/find-tech-0

jeromedawg

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Re: Just got a convertible car seat... won't fit in older car or I'm just dumb
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2015, 02:07:07 PM »
I know making an appointment and going in is a pain. Do it anyway. Installing a rear-facing seat with a seatbelt is hard under the best of conditions. And unless your baby is super-huge, he should fit his baby bucket for a while longer while you get it sorted.

Yea hopefully it's not too long from now. I ended up installing it a lot more snug than it was before (but I'm not fully confident so hopefully the PD will check it out and help). I ended up *sitting* in the seat (LOL!) and getting the buckle to click in. That was about the tightest fit I've gotten so far hahaha.

I recently learned that PD and fire department personnel are not certified car seat installers and sometimes make significant errors. You might consider finding a certified carseat tech to check you install:

http://cert.safekids.org/find-tech-0

Our PD has specific officers who are in fact certified. It's typically not an on-duty police officer that you would envision patrolling the streets. This is partly why appointments are required - they get so backlogged with requests that it's the only way to handle things.