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Discussion Starter #1
I've been looking at the local dealer Calibers (SE and SXT), and I noticed that the rear seat headrests are fixed and full (No opening to pass a baby seat belt). I find this inconvenient if you need to install a baby seat. You would need to pass the belt over the headrest and secure it. I don't feel it would be a secure installation.

Do all Calibers have fixed and full headrests ? I've seen some prototypes with rear headrests that are removable and adjustable.
 

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If you need to install a baby seat, it should be in the center, not off to one side (uless of course you have 2 seats to install) the center of the back seat is statistically the safest place to install a child's car seat. In that case there is no headrest to interfere. That was our experience when we test drove an SXT last weekend Fitting a child seat to the rear seat of the Caliber was much easier and quicker than on other cars we've test driven recently.
 

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panrob01 said:
Do all Calibers have fixed and full headrests ? I've seen some prototypes with rear headrests that are removable and adjustable.
As far as I know do the Export-Models have the same headrests on the rear bench as on the front seats.
 

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Here is what the 2007 Dodge Calibers Owners Manual states regarding child safety seats. Hopefully this provides the information you need.

Child Restraint
Children 12 years and under should ride properly buckled up in a rear seat, if available. According to crash statistics, children are safer when properly restrained in the rear seats, rather than in the front. Child restraints are held in the vehicle by the lap/shoulder belt or the LATCH child restraint anchorage system.
  • The infant carrier is only used rearward-facing in the vehicle. It is recommended for children who weigh up to about 20 lbs (9 kg). “Convertible” child seats can be used either rearward-facing or forward-facing in the vehicle. Convertible child seats often have a higher weight limit in the rearward-facing direction than infant carriers do, so they can be used rearward-facing by children who weigh more than 9 kg (20 lbs) but are less than one year old.
  • Rearward-facing child seats must NEVER be used in the front seat of a vehicle with a front passenger airbag. An airbag deployment could cause severe injury or death to infants in this position.
Here are some tips on getting the most out of your child restraint:
  • Before buying any restraint system, make sure that it has a label certifying that it meets all applicable Safety Standards. We also recommend that you make sure that you can install the child restraint in the vehicle where you will use it, before you buy it.
  • If the seat belt has a switchable retractor, it will have a distinctive label. To operate the switchable retractor, please refer to Automatic-Locking Retractor (ALR) in this section.
  • In the rear seat, you may have trouble tightening the lap/shoulder belt on the child restraint because the buckle or latch plate is too close to the belt path opening on the restraint. Disconnect the latch plate from the buckle and twist the short buckle end of the belt several times to shorten it. Insert the latch plate into the buckle with the release button facing out.
  • If the belt still can’t be tightened, or if by pulling and pushing on the restraint loosens the belt, disconnect the latch plate from the buckle, turn the latch plate around, and insert the latch plate into the buckle again. If you still can’t make the child restraint secure, try a different seating position.
  • Buckle the child into the seat according to the child restraint manufacturer’s directions.
The passenger seat belts are equipped with either cinching latch plates or seat belt retractors that can be switched to an automatic locking mode, which are designed to keep the lap portion tight around the child restraint so that it is not necessary to use a locking clip. If the seat belt has a cinching latch plate, pulling up on the shoulder portion of the lap/shoulder belt will tighten the belt. The cinching latch plate will keep the belt tight, however, any seat belt system will loosen with time, so check the belt occasionally and pull it tight if necessary.

Because the lower anchorages are to be introduced to passenger carrying vehicles over a period of years, child restraint systems having attachments for those anchorages will continue to have features for installation in vehicles using the lap or lap/shoulder belt. They will also have tether straps, and you are urged to take advantage of all of the available attachments provided with your child restraint in any vehicle.

NOTE: When using the LATCH attaching system to install a child restraint, please ensure that all seat belts not being used for occupant restraints are stowed and out of reach of children. It is recommended that before installing the child restraint, buckle the seat belt so the seat belt is tucked behind the child restraint and out of reach.

If the buckled seat belt interferes with the child restraint installation, instead of tucking the seat belt behind the child restraint, route the seat belt through the child restraint belt path and then buckle it. This should stow the seat belt out of the reach of an inquisitive child. Remind all children in the vehicle that the seat belts are not toys and should not be played with, and never leave your child unattended in the vehicle.

Installing the Child Restraint System
We urge that you carefully follow the directions of the manufacturer when installing your child restraint. Many, but not all, restraint systems will be equipped with separate straps on each side, with each having a hook or connector and a means for adjusting the tension in the strap. Forward-facing toddler restraints and some rearward-facing infant restraints will also be equipped with a tether strap with a hook and means for adjusting the tension in the strap.

Lower Anchors and Tether for Children (LATCH)
Your vehicle is equipped with the child restraint anchorage system called LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tether for Children. The LATCH system provides for the installation of the child restraint without using the vehicle seat belt.

All three rear seating positions have lower anchorages that are capable of accommodating LATCH-compatible child seats having flexible, webbing-mounted lower attachments. Child seats with fixed lower attachments must be installed in the outboard positions only.

Regardless of the specific type of lower attachment, NEVER install LATCH-compatible child seats such that two seats share a common lower anchorage. If you are installing LATCH-compatible child restraints in adjacent rear seating positions, you can use the LATCH anchors or the vehicle’s seat belt for the outboard position, but you must use the vehicle’s seat belt at the center position.

If your child restraints are not LATCH-compatible, you can only install the child restraints using the vehicle’s seat belts. Please refer to, Installing the Child Restraint System for typical installation instructions.

Here are some pictures of the rear childseat attachment points.
latch.JPG latch2.JPG

NOTE: For additional information refer to www.seatcheck.org.

Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Dan,

Look at the text for the rear seat back tether anchor, it says to route the belt under the middle of the rear seat headrest. It's impossible if the headrest are full. The text should be revised accordingly. And if you pass the strap over the headrest, is it safe ???
 

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I hate to dig this one out of the depths, but now that more of us have calibers - hopefully with properly installed child seats, how are you handling this issue?

I only just recently (almost a year after buying my caliber) attempted to install a forward facing seat in my caliber, and ran into this very issue. Running the tether over the top of the headrest compresses/deforms the top 3" or so of it (go check, your rear headrests are not entirely "solid"). I don't want the tether installed that way, as I'm concerned about it permanently damaging the headrest (with the Texas heat and all, I'm sure it wouldn't take long before it takes that shape for good) so my alternative was to simply run the tether around the headrest, but I'm not entirely sure this is safe, however I can't see that the risk of permanently deforming the headrest is exactly safe either - clearly it won't matter while there is a child seat in use there, but I do worry about after, since I don't plan on getting rid of my caliber any time soon.

Installing the seat in the center isn't an option either - not with two other rear-facing seats in the back ;)
 

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We've chosen to attach the top/rear strap by routing it around the headrest. I've done a little reading on LATCH and my, very unqualified, opinion is the top stap is just there to stabilize things, and the bottom stap does most of the work in a crash. Given that our car seats can be mouted with either LATCH (with all three connecting points) or with a seatbelt (through just the bottom), I am satisfied with having the top strap routed around the headrest.
 

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panrob01 - if your child seat has the straps to attach using the LATCH child restraint system, use the LATCH system. With the LATCH system, there is no need to worry about any over the seat straps or headrests in the way or pass through needed to secure the car seat. The LATCH system is a great system and is very secure. My wife has it in her Liberty and I obviously have it in the Cali. We use Graco's Snugride System and they work great.
 

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LATCH is designed to be used as a system, not exclusively of the top anchor while FORWARD facing... rearfacing seats (with the exception of Britax and Sunshine Kids Radian) don't use the top tether... so clearly a graco snugride wouldn't :rolleyes:

I'm going to take some pics of the install both ways and send them to a car seat tech I know, and see what she says... I'm hoping that around the headrest may be fine. My husband's jeep has a similar design in the back seat, so whatever solution works in the caliber will be helpful for his car as well.
 

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To clarify my previous post, we use the LATCH system in the Caliber with the top strap routed around the headrest. In our Ram pickup there is no LATCH, so we use just the seatbelt through the bottom of the carseat. Given that the car seats are designed to work with just a seatbelt through the bottom of the seat, I am comfortable with the top strap of the LATCH going around the headrest of the Caliber.
 

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"With the LATCH system, there is no need to worry about any over the seat straps or headrests in the way or pass through needed to secure the car seat"

Actually, on forward facing car seats with the LATCH system, part of that system is the top over(or under, or through) the head rest strap. As for rear facing, most of them only use the bottom strap. We have a Combi car seat that can be used with a base secured with the LATCH, or seatbelt, or the carseat itself can be held in with just the seatbelt, so you don't have to transfer the base between vehicles, or take it with you when traveling.
 
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