Faced with an alarming situation where statistics show that two thirds of children are not properly restrained in the car the isofix fixing system marks a real revolution in the field of car safety. This method of attachment, integrated directly into the vehicle's structure, replaces the use of seat belts. Thanks to the standardisation of this system, introduced following the adoption of the regulations i Size (R129) in 2013, it is now easier for parents to choose and install a car seat. This article will show you how ISOFIX works and its advantages, a quick and reliable method of securing your child in the car.
What Is Isofix?
This anchoring system, which has become an international standard adopted by carmakers and car seat manufacturers around the world, guarantees faster, more reliable installation of car seats. Isofix is a standardised fastening system for securing car seats in cars. It is a fixing system that uses specific anchorage points built into the vehicle's structure, rather than using traditional safety belts.
Car seats fitted with isofix attachments have metal hooks that attach to the vehicle's anchorage points, ensuring that the car seat is secure and stable. The isofix attachment system has become a standard in many countries. It is widely recognised as the safest method of securing children in the car.
The Advantages Of Isofix Fixings
ISOFIX eliminates many of the common mistakes made when installing a car seat, thanks to its predefined anchorage points, integrated into the structure of the vehicle itself. These rigid connection points ensure direct, robust attachment of the seat to the car's bodywork, reducing unwanted movement in the event of sudden braking or a collision.
- Quicker and easier installation: The Isofix system eliminates the need to wrap the seatbelt around the child seat and adjust it manually. The seat's metal hooks attach directly to the vehicle's anchorage points, making installation much easier.
- Better car seat attachment : The Isofix anchorage points are specially designed to withstand the forces generated in the event of an accident. This ensures that the seat is more secure and stable, offering greater protection for the child.
- Reduced car seat movement Thanks to its direct attachment to the vehicle's anchorage points, the Isofix system reduces seat movement during the journey. This provides greater comfort for the child, while maintaining a more secure position.
- Better protection in the event of an accident : Isofix anchorage points are stronger than traditional safety belts. They are specially designed to withstand the forces generated in the event of an accident, offering optimum protection for the child by limiting the movement of the seat in the passenger compartment and absorbing some of the kinetic energy generated during a collision.
- Reducing the risk of installation errors : The Isofix system is simpler and more intuitive to install than traditional methods. Seats fitted with isofix attachments have visual and audible indicators that make it easy to check that the car seat is correctly installed. This considerably reduces the risk of installation errors, guaranteeing greater safety for the child.
How Does Isofix Work
The ISOFIX attachment system is gradually replacing the use of seat belts for installing car seats. To anchor the car seat, you first need to locate the two isofix hooks located on the rear bench seat of your vehicle, between the backrest and the seat. These hooks act as anchor points to which the car seat's isofix attachments can be securely fastened.
Components of the Isofix fastening system
This system consists of metal anchors securely attached to the vehicle structure, attachment arms on the car seat, and indicators to confirm correct installation. Together, these elements interconnect to provide a secure attachment point for the car seat.
These attachment points are the heart of the ISOFIX system. They are metal slots integrated directly into the vehicle's structure, generally concealed between the seat and backrest of the rear seats. Their role is to provide a direct, secure attachment point for the car seat.
Lock indicators are a key feature of the ISOFIX system, designed to reassure parents that the car seat is correctly installed. They can take the form of visual or audible signals that appear when the seat hooks engage correctly in the vehicle's isofix anchorage points.
These indicators are essential to ensure that the system is installed correctly. They can be visual or audible indicators that confirm that the car seat is perfectly anchored to the vehicle's isofix attachments. This feature ensures that the car seat is properly secured.
Fixing Arms (Isofix Connectors)
The attachment arms, or isofix connectors, are the elements that attach to the vehicle's anchorage points. These isofix connectors are located on the car seat and allow it to be attached directly to the vehicle's isofix anchor points. They are designed to absorb the forces generated in an impact and keep the car seat in place.
Additional Anchor Points
In addition to the two main anchorage points, a third attachment point is often used to provide additional stability and safety. This third attachment point may take different forms depending on the car seat model, but its purpose remains the same: to hold the car seat in place and limit its movement in the event of a collision, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
Top Tether (Universal System)
This device takes the form of an additional restraint strap, known as a Top Tether. It connects the car seat to an additional anchorage point, usually located behind the rear seat. This additional method of attachment provides greater stability and safety for the car seat, which becomes one with the vehicle. The Top Tether strap is a universal system designed to be compatible with all vehicles fitted with isofix attachments.
Symbolised by an anchor, this restraint strap is usually attached to a hook located behind the rear seat of the vehicle. However, depending on the model of your vehicle, it can also be fitted to the floor or ceiling of the boot. For correct installation, we recommend that you refer to your vehicle manual to find the exact location of this fixing point.
Support Leg (Semi-Universal System)
The support strut is a telescopic bar that extends vertically between the car seat and the vehicle floor when the car seat is installed. It must remain in permanent contact with the ground to ensure optimum stability of the car seat. The support strut offers increased safety by limiting tilting or excessive movement of the car seat, which is particularly important for protecting the child in the event of an accident or sudden braking.
Not all vehicles are equipped to accommodate a support strut, so it's important to check that the car seat is compatible with your vehicle. Some car models have storage compartments or other features that could prevent the strut from being used safely.
Does My Car Have Isofix
Since 2011, the ISOFIX® mounting system has become a compulsory standard for all new car models. This system is designed to facilitate the installation of child car seats and to improve safety by reducing installation errors.
However, not all car seats are compatible with the ISOFIX system. So it's vital to check that your car seat or isofix base is compatible with your vehicle before you buy. This not only ensures that the car seat will fit correctly, but also that your child is as safe as possible when travelling.
To determine whether your car is equipped with the isofix system, you can generally check the following points:
- Car manual : The easiest way to find out whether your car has an isofix system is to consult the vehicle manual. It should indicate the location of the isofix mountings in the vehicle.
- ISOFIX labels : Look for the ISOFIX labels between the base and back of your car seats, which are often marked with the ISOFIX logo.
- Metal buckles : Feel between the seat cushions for the metal loops, which are the ISOFIX connection points.
- Car manufacturer or dealer : If you're still not sure, you can contact the manufacturer of your car or a dealer who sells your model of car. They should be able to tell you whether your car is equipped with ISOFIX mountings.
Differences Between Isofix & Seat Belts
The use of seat belts for installing a car seat presents a greater risk of error. Problems such as incorrect positioning of the car seat, poorly adjusted straps or an incorrectly positioned belt, particularly under the child's neck, can compromise safety. These errors are more common with seat belts, as they require more handling to secure. In comparison, the ISOFIX system, with its standardised anchorage points, offers a more intuitive method of attachment, considerably reducing the risks of installation.
|Installation with ISOFIX
|Safety belt installation
|Uses standardised anchorage points built into the vehicle.
|Use the vehicle's safety belt to secure the car seat.
|Fast, often in just a few minutes.
|It may take longer to ensure that the belt is properly tightened.
|Visual or audible indicators to confirm correct installation.
|No specific indicators; requires manual verification.
|Easy to install
|Intuitive design that does not require in-depth reading of the manual.
|It is often necessary to consult the manual for correct installation.
|Highly stable thanks to rigid connection to the vehicle chassis.
|Less stable, can be prone to installation errors.
|Requires a vehicle fitted with ISOFIX anchorage points.
|Universal, as long as the vehicle is fitted with safety belts.
|Easy to transfer
|Easy to transfer between vehicles fitted with ISOFIX.
|Can be transferred between all vehicles, but requires complete reinstallation.
|Learning to install
|Few variations in the installation process between different models.
|The process can vary considerably between different seats and vehicles.
|Safety in the event of impact
|Better protection in the event of an impact thanks to reduced seat movement.
|Depends on the quality of the seatbelt installation.
How To Fit Isofix Car Seat
Attaching an isofix car seat is quick and easy. Simply align the seat's Isofix arms with the anchorage points in the car and snap them firmly into place. Most Isofix car seats are fitted with visual or audible indicators to confirm that the seat is correctly fitted. To remove it, simply press the release button on the Isofix arms and pull the seat out of the anchorage points. This ease of installation and removal makes the Isofix system particularly practical.
Follow these simple steps to correctly attach or remove a car seat or isofix base:
How To Install Isofix Car Seat
- Locate the isofix anchorage points in your car : They are usually located between the backrest and the seat of the rear seat and are often marked with labels bearing the ISOFIX logo.
- Prepare the car seat: Make sure that the ISOFIX arms of the car seat are in the deployed position for attachment.
- Connect the isofix arms : Insert the ISOFIX arms of the car seat into the anchorage points until you hear a "click", meaning that they are correctly locked.
- Secure the car seat: Check that the car seat is secure and does not move. Some car seats have indicators to confirm that the installation is correct.
How To Install Isofix Base
- Find the ISOFIX anchorage points : As with the car seat, they are located between the backrest and the seat of the rear seat.
- Prepare the base: If the base is fitted with a strut, make sure it is correctly adjusted and rests firmly on the vehicle floor.
- Connect the ISOFIX arms on the base : Insert the ISOFIX arms of the base into the anchorage points until you hear a "click".
- Secure the base: Make sure the base is stable and does not move. If it is fitted with audible or visual indicators, check that they indicate that the installation is correct.
- Attach the car seat to the base: Place the car seat on the base and follow the instructions to lock it in place. This is usually done until you hear a "click" indicating that the seat is secure.
How To Remove Isofix Car Seat
- Locate the Isofix release buttons : These buttons are usually located on the car seat's Isofix arms. They may be hidden under a cover or visible directly on the arms.
- Press the unlock buttons : Hold down the release buttons firmly. On some models, you may need to press a button for each Isofix arm.
- Remove the car seat: While holding down the buttons, pull the car seat towards you to detach it from the car's Isofix anchorage points. This may require a little force, especially if the seat is securely fastened.
- Check that the seat is completely detached: Make sure that the Isofix arms are completely disengaged from the anchorage points. Sometimes, one arm may disengage while the other remains attached.
- Remove the other fasteners: If your car seat also uses a Top Tether or a support leg, make sure you detach them before removing the car seat completely.
- Remove the car seat from the car: Once all the fastenings have been removed, lift the car seat out of the car. Take care not to scratch or damage the interior of your vehicle when removing the seat.
- Check the condition of the Isofix fixings : Before reinstalling the seat or using the Isofix fixings for another seat, inspect them to make sure they are not damaged.
The Safest Way To Attach A Car Seat
Despite a slightly higher purchase cost than child car seats which are installed using the seatbelt, the ISOFIX attachment system is currently the most widely used. the safest method of fastening for your child. However, before making a final choice, it's essential to ensure that your car has the necessary ISOFIX anchorage points and that the car seat you choose is compatible with your vehicle. It's also important to read the information on each car seat's approval label carefully, to ensure that it is both compliant and safe.
- Isofix reduces the risk of injury to a minimum. poor installations, Whether it's problems with loose car seats or seatbelts that are too short.
- The additional anchoring points reinforce the car seat stability and thus the child safety.
- ISOFIX makes it easier using and installing the car seat from one car to another.
- Car seats can be fixed more quickly and easily to the car's ISOFIX attachments.
Check the compatibility of car seats with your car :