When it comes to child safety car seats, you have probably heard many confusing new words being thrown around, and one of them is Isofix.
In this article, we will discuss what it’s all about and answer questions that most people ask in relation to Isofix vs others.
What is Isofix
ISOFIX stands for International Standard Organisation Fix. Iso fix is an internationally standardized car seat fitting system that provides an alternative means of securing your child’s car seat or base without the needing to use a vehicle seat belt.
The system uses two clips that automatically connect the child car seat to two Isofix brackets, which are welded onto the chassis of a vehicle (the gap between the bottom of the seat and backrest). Depending on the car seat, it may also use a tether or leg load.
With this system, you just need to push the metal prods extending from the base or car seat onto the Isofix bracket until you hear an audible click, making for a simple, secure and fast installation. This installation method is especially convenient if you need to keep taking your child’s car seat in and out or frequently needing to switch it between cars.
By law, all new car models manufactured after 2014 must-have Isofix brackets and also have a third point where you can secure a strap, also known as a top tether, which prevents a child’s car seat from rotating in times of a crash. Depending on the car model, the tether strap point may be located on the floor, car’s pillar, or the back of the adult seat.
Some older cars may have Isofix brackets but not a tether strap point. However, it may still be possible to use Isofix on such a car if it has a support leg to make the third point.
The Isofix system covers both Infant (Group 0/0+) and toddler (Group 1) seats. More details on Isofix’s Wikipedia page here.
History of Isofix
Since the first car entered the market, modifications were made and restraints put in place to protect adults, but there was not much regard for children. In fact, the first child seat was a booster seat designed not for safety but to raise the child to a height that the driving parent would easily see them. The first child safety seat became available in 1960, and even in the decades that followed, it wasn’t a requirement by law to use one.
Manufacturers of child restraints then realized that the three-point seatbelts varied greatly in vehicles and that many parents were installing their seats correctly. They decided to design the Isofix mounting system to try and get their child car seats installed effectively in as many vehicles as possible.
The Isofix system was introduced in 1997, after a joint development effort by Britax-Romer, a car seat maker, and Volkswagen who installed the Isofix in their fourth-generation Golf. Later in 2002, it was implemented in the US and in 2004 by the EU. It remains the standard in European cars as Isofix and in American and Canadian cars as LATCH system. In 2014, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approved Isofix to be used in Australian roads.
European isofix system
Are Isofix car seats safer?
Research by independent bodies shows that Isofix mounted seats are incredibly safe. Instead of relying on the vehicle’s seat belt, a child’s car seat is fixed directly onto the child seat base. This highly minimizes the child’s car seat movement in the event of an accident, especially during a side impact.
According to research by Maxi-Cosi, 94% of parents use Isofix correctly. This is because one simply has to click the Isofix connectors in to install the car seat firmly.
Plus, almost all Isofix seats have green and red indicators to show you have installed the child car seat correctly. When you also factor in the top tether strap or a metal load leg, anti-rebound bar in some car seats, the Isofix system becomes incredibly secure. And, you can also secure booster seats permanently with Isofix.
Are Isofix car seats better?
Research by Independent bodies shows that the Isofix mounting system is very secure. Instead of using a seat belt, the child car seat is fixed directly onto the vehicle’s body, greatly reducing movement in case of an accident. And the other advantage is that they are so simple and fast to fit.
Isofix vs latch
Both Isofix and LATCH are systems for the rigid installation of child car seats. Isofix is mainly used in European cars, while the LATCH system is used in the US and Canada cars.
LATCH stands for Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children. It has been a safety requirement to use on all cars and child car seats in the US since September 1st, 2002.
The Isofix system includes slots built into the car seat frame. The LATCH system features a strap attached to a car seat or detachable base with hooks on either end. But there are rigid LATCH seats as well, which connect to lower anchors in a vehicle just like a seatbelt.
Sometimes it can be difficult to locate the lower anchors, requiring you to pull apart the crack between the seat and back of the adult car seat to locate them. Depending on the car, the tether anchor positions may be found on the floor, roof, or fixed to the back of the car seat. With the LATCH system, you attach the child car seat using connectors that are open clips attached to a strap. And just like the ISOFIX system, it also has two anchor points, but they are located at the bottom and a tether behind the rear seat.
In terms of safety, neither one is safer than the other as both systems are different and in different countries with their own laws and regulations. But, they are easier and faster to install and greatly minimize the risk of installing child car seats incorrectly, leading to severe injuries in the event of an accident.
Isofix vs belt/seat belt – is Isofix safer than seatbelt?
No, Isofix is not safer than a seatbelt. You can achieve a safe and secure car seat installation using both methods when done correctly. The Isofix system only reduces the chances of installing a child car seat incorrectly.
Isofix vs Isofit
Isofix and Isofit are car seats that attach directly onto the vehicle’s body with connectors onto the anchor points.
However, with Isofix car seats the child is secured using a five-point safety harness, while Isofit uses a vehicle’s built-in three-point seat belt instead.
The other difference is that Isofix description is used for Group 0+ and 1 while and Isofit is described for Group 2/3 during the classification of child car seats.
Isofix vs Isocatch
Both Isofix and Isocatch are methods of installation that secure the seat to your car seat body from the Isofix points. However, Isocatch uses Isocatch connectors and seat belts to secure the child car seat, while Isofix uses a metal load leg or top tether.
Both systems help to keep the seat stable in place.
Isofix vs Non-Isofix
Isofix car seats have a base that clicks into slots located in the crack between the vehicle seat and backrest.
A Non-Isofix car seat uses the vehicle’s seat belt system. Installation varies depending on the design and can be via a three-point or two-point system.
Both Isofix and non-Isofix car seats provide the same level of protection when used correctly. But Isofix provides a greater advantage over the seat belt mechanism because it reduces chances of error during installation to the bare minimum and is easier and faster.
Isofix vs i-size
Well, you already know that Isofix is a child car seat attachment system belonging to the R44/04. On the other hand, i-Size is a new regulation that the EU introduced in 2013 as part of the UN regulation ECE R129.
i-Size aims to make all car seats fit in all cars, and it will eventually become the industry’s standard. It will allow car manufacturers and child safety seat manufacturers to have a uniform design that will fit any vehicle type or make. Presently, not all Isofix car seats will fit into your car even if your car has anchor points and connectors; i-Size was designed to change this.
Aside from the universal fit, i-Size seats are thought to provide better protection because, unlike regular Isofix seats, they will be required to pass frontal, rear, and side-impact tests. Also, they are only installed with Isofix connectors, which reduces the chances of wrongly installing a child car seat.
i-Size seats are also intended to keep babies in the rear-facing position for longer, up to 15 months, instead of the standard 12 months for Isofix.
And, i-Size car seats are classified based on the child’s height instead of weight, which is what the R44/04 regulation uses.
Isofix vs Isosafe
Isofix is a standard that specifies how to install a car seat using specific connectors and either a top tether or load leg.
On the other hand, Isosafe is a mechanism for keeping a child’s car seat stable and in place. It is not a regulation for installing a car seat; rather, it helps improve the performance of Isofix and enhances comfort for the child during rides.
While Isofix uses connectors, Isosafe requires the use of a vehicle seat belt.
When did Isofix become standard?
Isofix was introduced in 1999, but it became a standard for most new cars in 2006. Thereafter it was made into a requirement by law that all new car models launched from November 2012 have Isofix brackets and in all vehicles manufactured after November 2014. Today almost all European cars have Isofix.
If you are buying a used car, ensure it is fitted with the Isofix brackets. Look for the Isofix logo either on a label, tab, or plastic cover hiding the anchor points.
What Isofix base do I need?
With a wide range of Isofix bases in the market, choosing the right one for your car can be confusing. Your best bet is to check with your child seat manufacturer; they usually have a website listing showing which seats are approved for which cars. Also, they will be able to advise you on which Isofix child car seat fits your vehicle.
Are Isofix bases universal?
No, Isofix bases are not the same. Most infant Isofix car seats come with their own Isofix base that installs firmly onto the car. At the same time, most toddler Isofix car seats use integrated bases. You can only use a base with a car seat of the same brand, which the manufacturer states are compatible.
Also, Isofix bases are not all the same. Some connect with a support leg, a top tether, and some with no third point.
Which Isofix base for maxi Cosi pebble
- Pebble Pro iSize- FamilyFix2
- Pebble Pro i-size- FamilyFix3
- Pebble Plus infant carriers- 2WayFix
- Pebble 360- FamilyFix 360
Which Isofix base for maxi Cosi cabriofix
Can Isofix be fitted to any car?
No, Isofix seats will not fit in just any car, even if the car has Isofix brackets. You need to check with your child car seat manufacturer.
When will Isofix be compulsory/will Isofix become law?
Isofix is mandatory in all new cars manufactured after November 2012 but, iSize is going to be the new standard in the future as it aims to provide universal means of safe installation of all car seats in all vehicles.
Can Isofix be retrofitted?
Yes, if you have a vehicle without the Isofix system, you can have the Isofix bracket retrofitted. And, this is possible for the majority of vehicles from different manufacturers.
Can I use a European car seat in the US?
No, it is not legal to use a European car seat in the US and vice versa because of the difference in regulations.
Isofix installation steps
To install an Isofix car seat, follow the steps below.
- Locate the Isofix points in your car. Look for the label, or feel with your hand deep in the gap where the seat and backrest meet.
- Locate the Isofix connectors (two metal prongs sticking out of the back) on the child seat or base
- Line the connectors and the Isofix slots and then push them into one another. You will hear a click or visible color change from red to green if the base or child car seat has an indicator to show installation is correct.
- If using the top tether, connect the top tether strap to its fixing point in the car.
- If using a child car seat with a supporting leg, make sure to adjust it correctly so that the seat is firmly braced onto the floor. Some have an indicator that turns green when the leg is set correctly.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at Motherhood HQ (formerly 10BabyGear). I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at email@example.com.