How Do I Install a Car Seat in an Extended Cab Truck?
“My truck doesn’t have tethers in the back seat, I’ve looked all over for them!”
If I had a quarter for every time I heard that phrase I would play so many claw machine games, let me tell you…
But chances are your truck DOES have tethers; they’re just not what you’re used to seeing.
Tethers in an Extended Cab Truck
Tethers are an incredibly important connection point in a forward facing install. A properly used tether reduces head excursion by 4-6 inches. That is a very significant amount of space, especially when taking into consideration the close proximity of the front seat backs and how they’ll come into play in a crash.
What I’m getting at here is that you should always use the tethers that are available to you… you just have to find them first. That’s where I come in.
Because nothing in life is ever easy, there is no one right way to route a tether in an extended cab truck. It depends on the manufacturer. For instance, the Honda Ridgeline has a very tricky set up. You have to route the tether behind the vehicle seat’s head restraint around a small bar, then pull it down the front of the seat back to attach to the tether anchor point that lives where the seat back and seat bottom meet.
So… totally easy and not at all confusing, right?
In a Ford F-150 Crew Cab they are slightly more straightforward. Route the tether webbing from the child seat through the loop that is directly behind the seating location and attach it to the loop next to it. There will be specific rules for each seating location though; for instance, if you are trying to install a seat in the center position which side should you connect the anchor to: behind driver or behind passenger?
The answer to that lies in your manual. If you do not have the manual handy you can try looking it up online (Ford has a handy tool on their website with instructions on how to install seats using LATCH in their vehicles) or you could always ask your friendly local CPST (*wave*). It would be nearly impossible for me to list all the ways in which the tethers connect, so please do not hesitate to reach out and ask for help! In case you’re wondering: the reason tethers must be routed this way is because the space in the rear of a truck is severely limited, so in order to ensure that there is enough space to take the appropriate amount of slack from the tether, the anchor it connects to has to be a certain distance away. Make sure that you have enough seat to work with though! Some trucks have shorter seat pans for the back seats in order to save space, and the general rule is that in order to properly and safely install a child restraint at least 80% of the seat’s base needs to be supported. Check the manual for your child restraint to be sure; some seats allow no overhang at all.
Placing a Car Seat in the Front Seat
Now here’s a friendly reminder to NEVER EVER DO NOT EVER put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of any vehicle if you cannot turn off the airbag. If you must put a forward-facing child in the front seat always push the seat as far back as possible to keep their body away from the airbag and, as always, check for a tether anchor.
Dana is the lucky mother to two incredible kids (aged 10 & 6) and the happy wife of Nate. She stumbled around in her adult life for a while before finally realizing that she could get paid to pursue her passion: keeping kids safe. In 2013 she started working at Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale where she eventually became a Child Passenger Safety Technician with additional Special Needs training. Dana also runs the child passenger safety-focused Facebook page Buckle Up Detroit and works with the amazing lady bosses at Metro Detroit Doula Services offering car seat classes, consultations, and more!