Car Seats for Cars with Lap belts only

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Carseat in our 87 VW Vanagon Westfalia

June 2004

We have one Britax for our Subaru. We now need a second car seat to put into our 87 VW Vanagon Westfalia. It has only lap belts. Also, there is no point on the floor to tie the seat into (as was done with the seat in the Subaru). I am looking for other Westie/Vanagon owners who have experience (positive or negative) with seats. Thanks. Keith

although i am not a westie owner, we do have a vintage truck and a 75 bmw 2002, so two things come to mind in terms of retrofitting safely. the first being that you can certainly upgrade to a shoulder strap seatbelt, and the second being, that you can install a large eyebolt to act as a tether latch. fairly simple and safer than a lone lap belt. linda
You can retrofit your Westie with at least one shoulder belt (we did on our 85) and I've read on the Vanagon list that someone figured out a way to do it on the closet side. Check the archives of the vanagon list (it should be recent).

You didn't indicate the size of your child, but since there is no way to retrofit the seats for headrests you need either a shoulder belt and a BPB or a Britax SE (I think now they are called Husky's) which will allow you to use the lapbelts in a carseat that goes to 80lb.

As for tethers, I retrofit our GL in the ''backback'' - but for the Westy, I bolted another seatbelt to one of the (used) seatbelt bolts and used it to tether to. Some people weld a bolt in the back compartment - not on the engine lid cover but to the frame. Also, when you retrofit the shoulderbelt on the one side, you'll have to pull the panel - you should find a number of holes in the frame there that you can bolt an anchor to.

It should be easy enough but a little time consuming - I did it enormously pregnant.

Car has only lap belts in the back seat

Nov 2001

Can anyone recommend a booster seat for a 40-pound child for use in a car that has only lapbelts in the rear seat? Katie

Britax has a seat called the laptop that can be used with a lap only belt and you should check with the car dealer you may be able to have the seat belt retrofitted to have a shoulder belt. Also fisher price made a seat called the futura that is a 5 point harness to 60 pounds they are hard to find because fisher price stopped making car seats but dmart online has them at the moment in stock. Also Britax makes a seat called the Super Elite that is 5 point harness to 80 pounds they are also hard to find due to popularity and manufacturing constraints, but if you get on a waiting list you can get one. Darlas Baby Boutique ,in El Cerrito, had some coming in I don't know if they arrived yet but you could call the melinda
As far as only lap belts on the back seats, that is all I had. The lap belt, when securely fitted as directed, keeps the seat from flipping in any way. I know mine never moved an inch. I believe mine was a COSCO model, but we had several over the years so I can't be sure. Marianne
I just went through a lengthy investigation into the issue of booster seats without shoulder belts because my 2 year old is on the cusp of 40 lbs. so needs to move into something other than her Britax Roundabout. Some of the information I read in the recommendations today is inconsistent with what I've learned in my investigation, so I thought I'd throw in what I've learned, just to confuse the poor questioner even further.

My 1988 Toyota Corolla doesn't have shoulder belts in the rear or air bags anywhere. Toyota, two local Toyota dealerships, and Henry Chin's auto shop in Berkeley (recommended to me for possible retrofitting by Christian at Rockridge Kids) all said either the car couldn't be retrofitted for shoulder belts or they didn't know how to do it, whether parts were available, etc. Henry Chin has retrofitted other cars, though, so it's worth a shot, even if you have another 88 Corolla--individual cars vary in terms of rear seat construction, etc. I inferred, if it wasn't stated directly, from an NHTSA leaflet that all cars could be retrofitted, but that appears to be untrue.

The Super Elite, which I thought would be the answer to my dilemma, is not available (according to several local stores I've called (including Darla's), the Britax website, and a customer service representative at Britax with whom I spoke last week) and won't be until the summer of 2002, if ever. One salesman told me he thought it would never be available.

So, the two options that are available to me are the Britax laptop in the rear seat or a regular booster in the front passenger seat. Both the Rockridge Kids experts and the car seat expert at Berkeley P.D. thought a booster in the front passenger seat was safer than the laptop because the laptop does not restrain the upper body at all. So that's what I'll do while I seriously contemplate a new car. Hope this is useful.