Top Theter: What Is It? How Does This Security System Work?

We know that it can be quite difficult and frustrating for many parents to properly install a Child Restraint System (CRS) , and one of the most common installation mistakes is incorrectly fitting and tightening the Top Tether Strap, also known as a Top Theter . And in some cases, it hasn't even been used in the lifetime of a car, either because they don't know it exists or they don't know how it should be used.

This system, which uses the ISOFIX anchorage to secure the top of the seat, prevents it from tipping forward in the event of an impact. This element works as an anchor for child restraint systems to the vehicle chassis, greatly reducing the possibility of serious injury to the child in the event of an accident . The importance of a Top Tether system is to prevent possible rotation by not letting the car seat sink into the upholstery. Therefore, it is essential to know how to use this security element properly.

What is a Top Theter ?

As we said at the beginning of the article, the Top Theter is a strap attached to the top and back of a convertible or combination seat , and attaches to a strap anchor in the vehicle (sometimes). Since 2000, car safety seats have had tether anchorages, and as of September 1 of that year, top tethers have been required in all new vehicles marketed.

For older vehicles, retrofit programs existed to install tie-down anchors on cars without factory-installed anchors; this was especially prevalent in Canada, where the law required the straps to be used on forward-facing seats, but no hardware was required on the vehicle until the 2001 model year. But now, since these straps have been standard equipment for the past 15 years , many companies are running out of spare parts to retrofit older vehicles.

Why is Top Tether important?

A Top Theter holds the top of a child's car seat back an additional 4 to 6 inches during a crash. For the child and parents it means that the seat and child are less likely to collide with the seat back in front or the center console. If a child's head hits the front seat in a crash, they are more likely to sustain head and neck injuries; these injuries can be very serious or fatal , so reducing them is vital.

Also, as an added benefit, because the seat sits farther back, arms and legs are less likely to be injured on impact with the front seats. While it's not the law on our roads, it's important enough to put up with a little inconvenience and move the kids in your vehicle so they're sitting where the tether anchors are.

Top Tether Locations and Types

Unfortunately, there are no specific locations for top tether anchors on the car . They can be located on the roof, on the back of the rear seat, in the load floor area of ​​the trunk, behind the headrest or on the rear filler panel.

Restraint anchors have not yet been standardized . Most of them look like a rectangular piece of metal screwed on one end and open in the middle ( like an "O" hammered into the surface ). Some strap anchors appear to be just part of the vehicle rather than a dedicated strap, some are loops, and some look like holes in the metal. Either way, the location and shape of the hold-down anchors will be listed in the car manual.