What is an ISOFIX car seat?
ISOFIX stands for International Standards Organisation Fix, and it is the term given to the international standard system for fitting a car seat to a vehicle. It applies to Group 0/0+ and Group 1 child safety seats.
An ISOFIX car seat is one which can be secured in your car by attaching it to the vehicle’s ISOFIX anchor points.
The alternative way to install a car seat is using the vehicle’s three-point seat belt, but this is less safe than using ISOFIX. The chances of fitting a car seat incorrectly - which could compromise your child’s safety - are higher when using the seat-belt installation method. ISOFIX is the safest way to install a child car seat in a vehicle.
Not all car seats are suitable for all cars.
Every car produced since 2006 has universal ISOFIX anchorage points as standard but cars manufactured before this point may not. Before buying an ISOFIX car seat, it’s essential to check that the seat you are considering is safely compatible with your vehicle.
You can determine whether your car has ISOFIX anchor points by consulting the vehicle’s handbook or contacting the manufacturer. You may also be able to see ISOFIX labels on your car’s back seat, or feel the anchor points.
How does an ISOFIX car seat work?
An ISOFIX car seat generally requires a base unit which simply attaches to ISOFIX anchor points in the vehicle to secure it safely to the vehicle’s frame. Depending on your vehicle and the car seat you choose, some will also have a top tether or support leg which adds additional stability and prevents the seat from moving around in the event of a collision.
Benefits of ISOFIX car seats
Unrivalled safety is the main and most obvious benefit of choosing an ISOFIX car seat. ISOFIX seats offer your child the best protection if your vehicle is involved in a road traffic accident.
An incorrectly installed seat could compromise your child’s safety in the event of a collision but ISOFIX seats are generally quick and easy to install correctly, minimising that risk. The seat slots on to connectors on the base unit which in turn plugs into the ISOFIX anchor points in your car. Installing the seat in your vehicle safely is simply a matter of ‘clicking’ it into place and securing the top tether or support leg if there is one. Many ISOFIX car seats also have light and sound indicators on the base unit which confirm when the seat is correctly installed, offering further peace of mind.
One point to consider before buying an ISOFIX car seat is that some ISOFIX seats cannot be installed in vehicles without ISOFIX fittings, so moving your car seat between family vehicles could be problematic. If you replace your car you will also need to check that it’s also compatible with the ISOFIX car seat you have purchased.
Types of ISOFIX car seats
There are three types of ISOFIX car seats to choose from:
Semi-universal ISOFIX car seats
These seats are installed via ISOFIX anchor points and a support leg and/or top tether. Check with the car seat manufacturer to confirm that this seat is compatible with your vehicle before you buy. If your vehicle has under-floor storage, for example, then this type of seat may not be suitable.
Universal ISOFIX car seats
These are car seats which are approved for use in all vehicles which meet ECE R14 and R16 safety regulations. These seats are secured using ISOFIX anchor points and a top tether or leg support. If your car handbook states that it’s suitable for Universal ISOFIX child seats, this type of seat may be safely used.
Vehicle-specific ISOFIX car seats
These are ISOFIX car seats have been tested and approved for use in specific vehicles. The car seat manufacturer of this type of car seat can provide a vehicle list to confirm whether your car is approved for use with this type of seat.
Where to buy an ISOFIX car seat
ISOFIX car seats can be purchased from all reputable car seat manufacturers.