I have seen much confusion around car seats with tether straps, and those without, when to use it, rearward and forward use. So let’s clear this up in this blog post.
Firstly it’s important to remember that New Zealand allows the sale of 3 different countries standard of seat, and as such, each standard has differing requirements in regards to the top tether.
Australian car seats.
Australian standard, AS/NZS 1754
Known here as the Safe N Sound, Mother’s Choice, IGC, Infa Secure, some Safety 1st and Maxi Cosi branded seats.
Australian seats are currently identifiable as seats with height markers on the cover around the shoulder (since 2010-2012), they also have a tether strap that comes out from the top back sides of the car seat. Or a single strap that can be split off, as two straps, found on seats that install rear and forward facing, some forward facing only seats have a single strap these days, such as Maxi cos (the same as our Safety 1st complete Air, without rear facing ability).
These seats require the top tether to be used at all times, in both rear and forward facing positions, the strap must pass to the rear of the car, and in some cars will require an extension strap to reach the bolt if tucked in the far rear of the car.
In short – Always use, to the rear of the car.
FMVS 213 – Show a yellow “S” mark (NZ Standard)
They come as bit of a mixed bag these days. The likes of Evenflo, Diono, Britax, Safety 1st, etc. They have a top tether attached and are designed for use forward facing. Some of these seats, Diono RXT, Diono R100 and Britax Boulevard can be used tethered to the front when rear facing attached to a “D” ring. All other American seats sold here need to be used with no tether when installed rear facing. The strap must remain attached to the seat shell, so it does not become a projectile risk.
In short – not required rear facing. Not all seats allow tethering to the front of the car, check your seat manual.
UK ECE 44.03/44.04.
Some have top tethers, some don’t and some tether to the front seat in front of the car seat, using 2 straps.
Brio Zento, Axkid and Britax Max Way seats use the dual straps to the front seat.
Many other UK seats sold here do not have top tethers at all, they cannot be added either. They rely on a full lap & sash seat belt for the install, wrapping around the back of a capsule (unless used with an in car base), and weaving awkwardly in and around the frame of a forward facing seat, the shoulder strap of the seat belt acts like a tether strap for the seat. Capsules often need the handle to be turned forward when used in the car if not used with a base.
In short – probably not likely to have a top tether, and if it does it typically found on rear facing only seats.