Child seat retailers at odds with government body

A Carbuyer investigation has found confusion among retailers and motorists over which child seats are appropriate for which vehicles

The new i-Size child seat rules – known in the industry as R129 – were brought in to ensure greater safety for children in cars by mandating side-impact protection in seats, as well as making ISOFIX anchor points obligatory.

In the UK, i-Size child seats can only be fitted if the car’s handbook says they’re approved for use in that model of car.

However, an investigation by Carbuyer has revealed discord between what retailers are telling customers and what the government’s Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) advises. We conducted a survey of a dozen major stores including Halfords, Mothercare, John Lewis and Kiddicare. Only one staff member from the stores we contacted advised us that there were compatibility issues between i-Size seats and older ISOFIX cars.

Conversely, the VCA told Carbuyer that “although the i-Size system may appear to be mechanically compatible [with older ISOFIX cars], the legislation is clear that they’re only compatible if the vehicle manufacturer indicates as such in the vehicle handbook”.

At present, only a handful of cars on sale meet the new R129 i-Size regulations. While these cars’ handbooks indicate that older ISOFIX seats can be fitted, many cars built to the previous set of safety regulations make no mention of the new rules in their handbooks and, in keeping with the VCA’s advice, should not have i-Size seats installed in them.

Derrick Barker, creative and managing director of child car seat specialist JMDA, has concerns about the advice being given at present. He told us: “Consumers cannot assume that i-Size and ISOFIX are the same thing, despite what some retailers and manufactures might say.”

Mr. Barker added that while there was a lot of information out there for consumers, not all of it is accurate: “in the current environment, consumers can only rely on the vehicle manual,” he said.

If you’re looking to buy a new child seat in the immediate future, our advice is simple: check your car’s handbook and purchase a seat that complies with whichever set of regulations is listed – i-Size (R129) or the older regulations (R44).

For more on child seat rules, our comprehensive guide has all the information you need.

Most Popular

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

New Skoda Kodiaq unveiled for 2021
2021 Skoda Kodiaq Sportline static
Skoda Kodiaq
13 Apr 2021

New Skoda Kodiaq unveiled for 2021

Best new car deals 2021
i20
Deals
9 Apr 2021

Best new car deals 2021

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Tips and advice
10 Nov 2020

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?
Tips and Advice
23 Mar 2020

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
24 Feb 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Best cars
10 Mar 2020

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Best cars
24 Dec 2020

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
1 Feb 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Hot hatches
9 Apr 2020

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks