Any product that does not come with your car seat or vehicle is considered an "aftermarket" product. It is never recommended that you use anything extra with your car seat without
the express consent of the car seat manufacturer. Here are the reasons that seat-belt tightening devices like the ones shown above are not recommended.
1. A seat that ALREADY meets the federal safety
standards "met" the safety standards with the product attached. This
says nothing about how this device performs in real life with children
climbing in/out of the seat stressing the webbing; repeated use from
installing more than once; product being used to "make" an incompatible
seat fit, etc.
2. This product does NOT replace a locking clip - if your seat belt
requires one, you still have to use one (correctly) in addition to using
the product. And if you're using the locking clip correctly...why do you
need a product like this?
3. Both products have poor instructions. Both sets of instructions tell
the user to:
- install the car seat according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Since a car seat installed according to the manufacturer's instructions
will be correctly installed, there is no need for either product.
- rock the top of the car seat to check for excess movement. A properly
installed car seat may still have movement at the top (especially a
rear-facing car seat). The CORRECT way to check for excess movement is
AT THE BELT PATH (which neither set of instructions ever suggest)
4. The product can cause damage. According to the manufacturers, the
devices did not cause damage during testing. One set of
results obtained from one of the manufacturers showed that in one test,
the device did damage the seat belt. However in real life, where
overzealous parents can and do over-tighten these devices, damage can
happen and has been caused to the car seat and to the seat belts.
5. The packaging can absolve the product manufacturer of liability.
- Some car seat manufacturers warranty will be void if you use a product
like this. For example, Britax specifically forbids the use of
such a product with their seats.
- The packaging states that your car seat should be installed according
to manufacturer's instructions; most manufacturer's instructions do not
include adding a product like this to the seat belt to install
the seat. Doing so may void the warranty of your car seat.
- The packaging specifically states that if you over-tighten the
belt, you are responsible. Any damage to seat belts, car
seats, or children is your own fault.
- The packaging specifically states that if you misuse the
product (in many cases, simply using the product is misusing the
product based on the above statements), any damage to your seat belts,
car seats or children is your own fault.
Finally, Kathleen Weber, who was the Director of the Child Passenger
Protection Research Program in the University of Michigan Medical School when the testing was done on
Mighty-Tite has this to say: "...the product may have limited
application but is not appropriate for general use."
So while such a product may have some use for a client who is trying to
correctly use their car seat but simply cannot tighten the belt
appropriately (because of injury, illness or physical disability), it
should not be viewed by the general public as the "required separate
tightening tool that will enable everyone to easily and safely secure
the child seat without exerting a great deal of effort."
The best tool for correctly installing a child safety seat? A
Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician
teaching you how.
The cheaper, and definitely safer alternative.