A Guide to ISOfix

If you’re a new parent you might already have heard of the strange acronym being thrown around in car safety features. You wouldn’t want to compromise on the safety of your child and would need reassurance that you’re making informed choices. So is ISOfix safer than seat belts?

What is ISOfix?

Before the ISOfix system was introduced, parents had to buckle up your child in car seats with seat belts. The problem with this method is that there was some risk of the seat belt not being properly secured. Another issue was whether the seat belt was adequate safety for this purpose.

ISOfix is a simple and easy ‘click-in’ method of installing child restraints in a vehicle securely. It uses metal bars that are attached to the car’s chassis, with metal connectors that your child seat fixes into. For extra precaution, ISOfix includes green and red indicators so that you know for sure that the seats are latched in properly.

Why is it called ISOfix?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is based in Switzerland and develops international standards that support innovation and provides a solution to global challenges. Standardisation and world-class specifications ensure quality, safety, and efficiency to products.

Fix: (verb) To fasten (something) securely in a particular place or position.

How to check if your car has ISOfix

Globally, the ISOfix system was first introduced in 1997 and became mandatory in certain parts of the world for vehicles launched after November 2014. This is not the case in South Africa where not all cars come with the ISOfix mounting system yet and only some models have them installed as a standard feature. 

Usually, the anchor points are installed in the rear seat of a vehicle. You can check for the ISOfix labels or running your hand between the gap of the rear car seats where the base and backrest join. In other cases, the fitting points may be visible.

3 different types of ISOfix bases

Most ISOfix infant car seats can have a separate base which is installed and fixed firmly into the car. Seats for toddlers mostly come with the base integrated.

Once you’ve established your car has an ISOfix system installed and you’re ready to go shopping for a child seat, first check your vehicle owner’s manual what type of system you have:

  1. Universal – Three anchor points. Two-point connections and a top tether behind the car’s seat that anchors the child seat and stops it from twisting or lurching forward.
  2. Semi-Universal – Three anchor points. Two-point connections and a support leg instead of a top tether. Forward- and rear-facing system
  3. Vehicle-Specific – Two anchor points. Special features make it compatible only with specific vehicles.

The downside of ISOfix

While the benefits of this system are clear that it is safer than the old seat belt, there are a few disadvantages to consider:

  1. Less portable – since they are much heavier than a standard child car seat, it can be more difficult to swap between cars.
  2. More costly – an advanced system like this is going to be a fair amount more expensive than its poorer cousin.
  3. Less flexible – Unlike a standard child seat that can be used in any car along with a seat belt, ISOfix seats must be compatible with the system fitted with the car. Also, some ISOfix seats cannot be used with a seatbelt, so it may be a good idea to ensure you buy one that can if you want that flexibility.
  4. Angle – For parents with infants, because ISOfix seats are supposedly safer the more upright its position, your baby may not be able to support his head yet. A standard child car seat allows you to adjust for more comfortable sitting and sleeping angles. 

In summary

While tests have proven that ISOfix is safer than seat belts in a collision, there are definitely pros and cons to both these child restraint systems. Fit and comfort are almost as important as safety, as it can go a long way in providing you with a less stressful drive.

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Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Auto Pedigree.