Wheel Well NPO

Our Wheel Well Team of Experts with more than 20 years of combined experience
are ready to answer all your Children's Road Safety questions.

Car Seats for Kids FAQ

To qualify for a car seat through the Car Seats for Kids campaign, all you need is a child and a car. The campaign operates on the understanding that if you are reaching out, it is likely because purchasing a new car seat might be financially challenging for you. We are situated in Randburg, we ask a donation that you can afford towards the campaign for the seats.
Additionally, we do handouts in collaboration with Supa Quick periodically. If you would like to see when or where please keep an eye on our Facebook page.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide the seats for free. We need to cover the expenses associated with processing the seats and managing the campaign. We ask for a donation you can afford towards the campaign. We usually get anything from R300 but if you can afford more, it will be greatly appreciated as it goes towards keeping our doors open.

To determine the safety of a second-hand car seat, there are several key checks to perform:

  • Tighten and loosen the harness completely, checking for any signs of fraying.
  • Lift the cover to ensure it is intact and not deteriorating.
  • Examine the Styrofoam or 3D printed nylon under the cover to ensure it is undamaged.
  • Test the recline function by adjusting the seat from fully reclined to fully upright.
  • If there is a moving headrest, ensure it raises to the top and stays in position when pulling down on the harness.
  • Conduct a visual inspection of the seat, looking for any stress marks that may appear as white marks on black plastic.

If these checks seem challenging, you can reach out to us for assistance. We can provide support through our campaign, offer guidance via a video call assessment, or you can bring your second-hand seat in for a thorough cleaning and inspection.

Car seats do not have a strict expiration date like perishable items; nothing within the car seat will typically expire within a set timeframe such as 10 years. However, depending on the level of care, certain components of the seat may experience wear and tear over time. If the seat has been well-maintained, with the cover and harness still in good condition, it can be safely used beyond 10 years.
It is important to note that regulations regarding car seats are continually evolving, and newer seats often incorporate advancements not present in a 10-year-old seat. While it is advisable to use the newest seat possible, especially considering ongoing safety improvements, using a second-hand seat is a preferable option to not having a seat if you cannot afford to buy one new.

Your car seat is considered outgrown when your child surpasses the specified weight or height limit. If the car seat does not have a height limit, it is considered outgrown by height when, in the rear-facing position, the harness dips more than an inch below their shoulders, or in the forward-facing position, it dips below their shoulders.

To ensure correct harness fit, follow these guidelines: For rear-facing, position the harness at or below the shoulder level, and for forward-facing, place it at or above the shoulder level.
When tightening the harness, eliminate any twists to guarantee a secure fit. Begin by buckling in your child, remove slack from the hips, and then tighten the harness until it is snug enough that you cannot pinch it between your fingers.

If your child’s legs extend beyond the edge of the rear-facing seat, it does not indicate that the seat is outgrown nor is it a safety or comfort issue. This is because infants and toddlers are more flexible than adults due to their hip bones being underdeveloped. It is common for them to sit with their legs crossed against the backrest or hanging over the sides of the seat. The rear-facing seat is considered outgrown only when the harness drops more than an inch below the shoulders on the highest setting or when the child has reached the maximum weight limit.

It is recommended to keep a child in a rear-facing position for as long as possible, up to at least 15 months. This is considered the safest way to travel because, during a collision, the child moves in the direction of travel. In forward-facing seats, while the body is restrained, the head is flung forward, which can result in severe injury. In contrast, with rear-facing seats, the child moves back into the seat, and the shell provides support for the spine and neck. Beyond 15 months, while rear-facing is still beneficial, you can transition to forward-facing if necessary. Although rear-facing remains safer, forward-facing is not considered unsafe at this stage, and the decision can be based on individual circumstances.

The distinction between an infant car seat and a convertible car seat lies in their functionality and intended use. An infant car seat is designed specifically for newborns and typically accommodates infants from birth up to around 13 kilograms, or approximately 15 months on average.
On the other hand, a convertible car seat is more versatile, covering multiple stages of a child’s growth. These seats are designed to accommodate infants as well but extend their use to older children, ranging from 18 to 25 kilograms or even up to 36 kilograms. This roughly translates to an age range of 6 months to 12 years old, making convertible car seats suitable for various stages of a child’s development.
While convertible car seats offer a cost-effective solution by accommodating various stages of a child’s growth, it’s essential to consider that the specific needs of infants differ from those of toddlers or older children. Convertible seats, in attempting to cater to multiple stages, may compromise on certain features such as side impact protection and the ability to recline as much as dedicated infant seats.
Dedicated infant seats are designed to meet the unique requirements of newborns. They often provide enhanced side impact protection and offer an optimal degree of recline. Additionally, infant seats are more portable, making it easier to move around with the baby.

We recommend using a dedicated infant seat for at least the first 6 months and then transition into a convertible or multi-stage seat. This approach ensures that the specific needs of a newborn are adequately addressed before moving on to a more versatile car seat.

The height and weight limits for car seats and boosters vary depending on the specific seat, so it is advisable to always refer to your seat’s manual for accurate information. Car seats are categorized into four groups:

  • Group 0+: Suitable for birth to 13 kg/75 cm/15 months, and always used in a rear-facing position.
  • Group 1: Designed for 9-18 kg/105 cm/4 years, these seats are harnessed and can be either rear or forward-facing.
  • Group 2: Intended for 15-25 kg/125 cm/7 years, typically high back boosters, with a few seats capable of harnessing up to 25 kg.
  • Group 3: Designed for 22-36 kg/150 cm/12 years, either as high back boosters or booster cushions.

Some seats are convertible or multi-stage, covering more than one group. It is crucial to consult the manual to determine when to transition from one group to the next.

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If your child has outgrown the harness in a multi-stage car seat, it is time to transition them to booster mode. Using the harness with a seatbelt over it is not recommended, as it may compromise safety in a collision. In such a scenario, the harness might fail, and the seatbelt will not be able to protect your child effectively. The harness could restrict your child’s body movement, preventing it from responding appropriately during a collision. If your child reaches 18 kilograms before they are developmentally ready to transition to booster mode, it is worth noting that some car seats are designed to accommodate higher harness weights, up to 25 kilograms. It is crucial to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and transition to booster mode when the harness is no longer suitable for your child’s size and weight.

The safest place to install a car seat can vary based on factors like the make of the vehicle, car seat, parent’s height, and the number of children. Generally, in the event of a collision, the middle seat at the back is considered the safest due to its distance from the point of impact. However, it may not always be practical as some vehicles lack full seatbelts or Isofix points in the middle.

A recommended option is to install the car seat at the back on the passenger side. This choice has several advantages: it allows for easier interaction with the baby when driving alone, provides convenient access for parallel parking on the pavement side, and enhances safety in case of a hijacking, enabling quick and secure removal of the baby. If there are multiple children, placing the youngest behind the passenger and the oldest behind the driver is advised.

To check if the car seat is securely anchored to the car and will not shift during a sudden stop, follow these steps:

  • Use the Inch Test:
    After installing the car seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions, perform the inch test. Firmly grasp the car seat at the belt path or base and attempt to move it side to side and front to back. The car seat should not move more than an inch(2.5cm) in any direction.
  • If using ISOfix:
    Confirm that the car seat is securely attached to the vehicle’s ISOfix points. Double-check that the installation indicators on the ISOfix and Tether Belt/Load leg are green.

By following these steps and regularly checking the installation, you can help ensure that your child’s car seat is securely anchored to the car and will remain stable during a sudden stop or collision.

Car seats require three points of contact for secure installation. Isofix provides a rigid connection directly to brackets in the car, utilizing two points of contact. However, this setup creates a potential hinge, allowing up and down movement. To address this, the top tether or load leg is crucial, as they contribute additional stability, preventing the seat from rebounding during a collision and enhancing overall safety.

To thoroughly clean and maintain your car seat, especially with messy kids, regular upkeep is crucial. Start by vacuuming and wiping down the seat regularly. Additionally, perform a deep clean every 6 months to a year. Refer to your car seat manual for specific cover removal instructions; it often provides a step-by-step guide. It is helpful to document each step with photos which you can follow in reverse for easy reassembly. Clean the cover using a gentle detergent in the washing machine, wipe down the harness, and shake out and wipe down the body. Ensure everything is fully dry before putting it back together. If this process seems overwhelming, feel free to seek assistance from us, either with specific instructions for your seat or by bringing it in for a professional deep clean.

If your baby’s head is slumping forward in the car seat, make sure the harness straps are snug and correctly positioned. If your seat comes with inserts/ additional padding check the manual to make sure that you are using the current ones for your baby’s developmental stage and check that the car seat is at the correct recline according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can place a rolled-up blanket on each side of your baby for extra support. Ensure the car seat is properly installed in your vehicle, dress your baby in thin layers. If the issue persists, feel free to reach out to us personalized assistance, and always follow the guidelines in your car seat manual. Avoid using aftermarket products that are not approved by the manufacturer to maintain safety.

It is not recommended to use aftermarket accessories with a car seat unless explicitly approved by the car seat manufacturer. Aftermarket products, such as cushions, strap covers, or head supports, may interfere with the proper functioning of the car seat, and compromise its safety features. Car seat manufacturers design their products with specific guidelines to meet safety standards, and using unauthorized accessories can alter the seat’s performance, potentially putting your child at risk in the event of a crash. Always refer to the car seat manual for guidance on approved accessories, and if in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly to ensure the compatibility and safety of any additional items used with the car seat.

The canopy provided with your car seat is useful when you are on the go, offering protection for your baby from direct sunlight. While in the car, window shades are more practical, as the canopy might obstruct your view of the baby from the front. If your car seat is missing the canopy, you can alternatively drape a thin blanket over the seat’s handle to shield your baby from the sun. It is crucial to check on them regularly to prevent overheating.

Yes, most infant car seats are designed to be used both with and without a base. If your infant car seat is compatible with a base, you can install the base in one car for convenient daily use, and then you can use the car seat without the base in another car when needed.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Check Compatibility:

Ensure that your infant car seat model is designed to be used without the base. Most car seats have indicators or labels that specify whether they can be installed without the base.

  • Practice Installation:

Familiarize yourself with the proper installation method for using the car seat without the base. This usually involves securing the car seat using the vehicle’s seat belt instead of attaching it to the base. Pay attention to proper positioning, angle, and securing of the seat belt to ensure the car seat is securely installed.

Using your infant car seat with or without the base provides flexibility and convenience for traveling with your baby in different vehicles. It is important to note that the car seat is designed to be just as safe when used without the base as it is with the base. The base primarily adds convenience by allowing for easier installation and removal of the car seat. Always prioritize proper installation and adherence to safety guidelines to ensure your baby’s well-being while traveling, regardless of whether you are using the base or not.

If you are in a car collision with your baby in the car seat, follow these steps to ensure their safety and well-being:

  • Check for Injuries:

First, assess your own and your baby’s condition for any signs of injury. Remain calm and try to keep your baby calm as well.

  • Call Emergency Services:

If there are any injuries or if you are unsure about the severity of the situation, immediately call emergency services for medical assistance.

  • Stay in the Vehicle if Safe; Avoid Moving the Baby Unless Necessary:

If it is safe to do so and there is no immediate danger from other traffic or hazards, remain in the vehicle and avoid moving your baby from their car seat unless it is unsafe to leave them in the vehicle. If you need to leave the vehicle, try taking out the entire car seat with your baby in it, as they may have neck or spine injuries, and moving them might exacerbate their condition. If you must move your baby, do so gently and with great care to minimize any potential further injury.

  • Secure the Scene:

Turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers and make the scene more visible. If it is safe, set up warning triangles or flares to warn approaching vehicles.

  • Follow Car Seat Replacement Guidelines:

Follow the guidelines provided by the car seat manufacturer and your insurance company regarding replacement after a collision. Many car seat manufacturers recommend replacing the seat after any collision, regardless of severity.

Installing car seats in a smaller or compact car may require some special considerations to ensure proper fit and safety. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a Compact Car Seat:

opt for a car seat specifically designed for smaller vehicles. These seats are often more compact and can fit better in tight spaces.


  • Measure Your Car:

Before purchasing a car seat, measure the dimensions of your back seat to ensure it can accommodate the car seat properly.


  • Install the Car Seat Correctly:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when installing the car seat. Ensure a secure fit and tight installation, whether using Isofix or seat belts.


  • Consider the Front Seats:

In some cases, you may need to move the front passenger seat forward to accommodate the car seat in the rear. Ensure that the front seat still allows for safe and comfortable seating.


  • Test the Fit:

Test the car seat installation thoroughly to ensure there is enough space for the car seat and that it does not impede the functionality of other seats or safety features in the car.


By taking these considerations into account, you can ensure that your child’s car seat is installed safely and securely in your smaller or compact car.

Side-impact protection is a safety feature designed to enhance the safety of car seats in the event of a side collision. It typically involves additional energy-absorbing materials and structures built into the sides of the car seat to help minimize the impact forces transferred to the child during a crash from the side.
To determine if your car seat has side-impact protection, you should refer to the product’s manual or label. The manufacturer usually provides information about specific safety features, including side-impact protection, if it is included in the design. If you are unable to find this information in the manual or on the label, you can contact the car seat manufacturer directly for clarification.Accordion Content

It is preferable not to check car seats onto planes, but unfortunately, due to the condition of most rental seats at destinations, renting is not always feasible. To increase the chances of the car seat surviving the luggage hold, it is essential to take precautions. While airports offer plastic wrap for luggage, this is not sufficient to protect the seat from being jostled around by handlers or during turbulence in the hold. We suggest using bubble wrap and boxing the car seat for added protection, leaving the top of the box open and carrying extra tape to seal it after security checks. Additionally, considering insurance for your car seat provides an additional layer of protection.

Placing infant car seats on top of shopping carts is not recommended. This position is not secure, and there is a risk of the seat falling off. To ensure the safety of your child while shopping, it is better to place them in the seat of the shopping cart by the handlebar. Alternatively, consider using a stroller or baby carrier, these options provide better support and reduce the risk of accidents or falls while navigating through the store.

In South Africa, local car seats adhere to European guidelines, which prioritize one-step emergency release capability. European-designed seats incorporate features like grippy shoulder pads to deter little ones from escaping.
Chest clips can sometimes obscure inadequate harness fit, but adjusting the height and tightness of the harness usually resolves the issue of escape. In a collision, an incorrectly fitting harness cannot properly secure the child.

Additionally, it is essential to position the chest clip correctly at armpit level for it to effectively perform its function. If the clip is positioned too high, it may uncomfortably press against the neck. Conversely, if it is positioned too low, it could potentially cause injuries to the abdominal area. This is often difficult to do as kids tend to fidget and often move the clip that you have placed correctly.

If you are still unsure, Contact Us.