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Learn to Properly Install a Car Seat by Visiting a Child Passenger Safety Tech (CPST)

Car Seat Recommendations and Buying Guide

One of the best ways to ensure that you know how to properly install a car seat, is with a visit to a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST).

The visit usually takes about 20-30 minutes, but the CPST should take all the time necessary to ensure that you feel competent and confident in re-securing a car seat into your vehicle and re-buckling your child into their car seat on your own.

Card your tech! Ask to see proof of his or her current certification.

During the check up, a CPST will:

  • Fill out a checklist form (including car seat type, location in vehicle, misuse observations, if any, etc.).
  • Review car seat selection appropriate for your child’s age, size, and review factors affecting proper use.
  • Review the restraint manufacturer’s instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual with you.
  • Ensure that an appropriate seating position in the vehicle is being used, especially when using LATCH.
  • Check the car seat for recalls, visible damage, and an expiration date.
  • Have you install the car seat(s) correctly using either the seat belt or LATCH system.
    • You should feel free to ask how to install the seat in different seating positions.
  • Discuss the next steps for each child, such as when to move to the next type of restraint:
    • Rear- to forward-facing car seat
    • Forward-facing harnessed seat to a belt-positioning booster seat
    • Belt-positioning booster to an adult safety belt
  • Discuss safety in and around the vehicle (never leaving kids unattended, walking around the vehicle before moving, etc.)
  • Discuss your state laws and best practice recommendations for occupant safety.


To find a CPST near you, check out this handy NHTSA Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator tool.

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