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Old Ford Fiesta (R reg 1997) car seat saga!!

(35 Posts)
sassylassie Sun 02-Oct-11 13:39:09

OK, please bear with me on this - it's going to be a long post, well probably more like an essay! But hopefully it'll be mildly entertaining for anyone who's had a similar frustrating experience!! grin

My DH and I had a very, errr... entertaining hmm day yesterday trying to sort out a car seat for our DC1 due in January.

The day started with an appointment at John Lewis at 9.45 to test the fitting of a Maxi Cosi Cabriofix or Pebble. (We'd decided on the Baby Jogger City Mini and so were looking at car seats to go with that.) Neither fitted in our Fiesta - the seatbelt was MUCH too short even with lots of fiddling. The Maxi Cosi seat belt base also proved not to be an option due to buckle crunch. sad To top it all, the Baby Jogger City Mini didn't even fit in our boot fully assembled. We asked if the back wheels could be removed - the JL rep said no (which later proved to be untrue!).

Next move: DH rang our local Ford dealer to enquire about replacing the seatbelt with a longer one or getting a seatbelt extension. They told him that as of the last 3 years Ford no longer do longer seatbelts. We also discovered from reading online that it is illegal to use plug-in seatbelt extensions with a child car seat. As we were nearby we popped into the Ford dealership to look at some new cars (we were pretty desperate!), but left with me almost in tears due to a really obnoxious salesman who was ready to consign our beloved Fiesta (which only has about 30k miles on the clock) to the scrap heap. After this I was more determined than ever that we would have to find a solution to the problem. I really don't want us to have to try to find the money for another car just to deal with this!

Next stop Halfords as we thought they'd know more about cars and fittings and we might be able to try out some other car seats in our car. By this point we'd almost given up on the idea of getting a car seat to fit the Baby Jogger. sad The guy at Halfords seemed really knowledgeable and told us what he'd recommend is going to the Mobility Centre as they would sell longer seatbelts for large people with mobility problems and we could get one of these fitted by a garage or do it ourselves. Failing that we could go to a breakers yard and get a front seat belt from an old Fiesta and fit that in the back.

So off we went to the Mobility Centre. The woman there basically just looked at us like were nuts and said "Err no. We don't sell seatbelts."

DH then suggested that on our way home (by this time is was about 2pm!) we should go to our local garage and ask about this idea of getting a front seatbelt to fit in the back (as DH was a bit suspicious of what the Halfords guy had told us) and the mechanic told us in no uncertain terms that this was a) not safe and b) wouldn't work anyway as the fittings are different. His advice was to "just google it". As if we hadn't tried that already! I was really demoralised by this point and had pretty much lost all hope.

We went home for some much-needed lunch and by chance I found an article in the pregnancy/baby magazine I'd just bought about choosing car seats and an ad for the Britax B-Agile travel system. I looked up the B-Agile online and it seemed to have great reviews and a good alternative to the Baby Jogger City Mini. I started to think this might be a better option anyway. My DH also found that people in forums were saying that the Britax car seats fit their old Fiestas and Ford Focuses which had short seatbelts. We rang an independent retailer listed on the Britax website and they had both the B-Agile and the Britax SHR Plus II in stock and were happy for us to try them in our car. So we got back in the car feeling quite optimistic and headed off to the shop.

The woman at the shop was brilliant, very helpful, but no the Britax car seat would not fit (not even close!), despite lots more fiddling. Unfortunately she didn't have the Britax belted base in stock so we couldn't try that. On a positive note we really liked the Britax B-Agile (thought it seemed a lot more sturdy than the City Mini) so we were keen to go with that, if only we can find a car seat option that works! The lady at the shop said she would ring Britax on Monday to check whether the base will work in our car and then order it in if we got the green light. She also said that loads of her customers (esp. with Ford Fiestas and Focuses, even new Focuses!) had had this problem and many people had left her shop in tears!! Apparently, some garages will fit longer seatbelts, but not official Ford dealers. So I guess if the Britax base doesn't fit either (or we have buckle crunch again), we'll need to ring around some garages.

The other alternative (short of buying a new car) seems to be fitting the seat in the front passenger seat, but to do that we'd have to permanently disable our airbag (no option on our car to switch this on and off) and we know it's not as safe as having the baby in the back, so we're really not keen on that option at all.

By the time we left the shop it was 5 o'clock! What a way to spend a glorious sunny day. sad

Phew, apologies for the ridiculously long post! Who would have thought this could be so complicated? (And why can't Ford get their act together if so many people have this problem?)

Would love to hear from anyone else who's been through or going through anything similar, and of course any solutions MN-ers might have!! :-)

sassylassie Sun 02-Oct-11 14:38:49

I should just mention we also tried the 'fit finder' function on the Britax website and it confirmed that the SHR Plus II would fit our car, but it doesn't...

TruthSweet Sun 02-Oct-11 15:51:34

Have you tried fitting in the front seat? It would mean your DH has to ride in the back if you all go out together but if you don't have an air bag or have a switch-off-able one and push the seat back it's fine.

Then you could go for a seat like Britax Two Way Elite when your baby reaches 9kg as they need very little seat belt length to rf (plus it goes up to 25kg so would sort you until about age 5-7).

sassylassie Sun 02-Oct-11 16:53:59

Hi TruthSweet, thanks yeah I did mention we'd thought about the front seat option but would probably have this as a very last resort because we'd have to permanently disable/remove the airbag on our car and as it generally seems to be considered a less safe option. Sorry, my post was WAY too long and that detail was unhelpfully right at the bottom! Thanks for the thought anyway... smile

TruthSweet Sun 02-Oct-11 17:49:43

That will teach me not to read more carefully! It's very common in Norway/Sweden to have a rfing car seat in the front and they are the leaders in car seat safety - though having said that the safest place (theoretically taking in to account the different types of crash) is the rear middle seat.

Hope you find something to work soon.

Tried a M&P Primo Viaggio on its base

I've had one in the family car before ( M reg clio)

Alternatively, you might have more luck if you go for a carseat WITHOUT the base as they need less room that way

hth

Although we had a Britax First class in the end. It was a pain in the @rse fitting it as the fit-finder wasn't joking when they said the seatbelts were only just short enough, however once it was in, it wasn't moving anywhere

fluffystabby Sun 02-Oct-11 18:27:13

A M&P Primo Viaggio on a base will fit in a Fiesta (I had one in a 1998 Fiesta for DD2 at a time)

GoldenGreen Sun 02-Oct-11 18:37:12

ok, I know v little about car seats really but is the problem here finding something for the car AND your choice of buggy?

If so, I really would just get whatever car seat fits best in your car and not worry about having something that clips on the buggy - just get a buggy suitable from birth that fits in your boot. You can manage, you really can, despite the fact everyone will try and sell you a travel "system".

I really feel for you being passed around from pillar to post today - a stress you don't need.

sassylassie Sun 02-Oct-11 18:40:29

Thanks onetwothreefourfive and fluffystabby Any idea whether the M&P Primo Viaggio is compatible with the Britax B-Agile? If so, I guess we'll need a separate adapter too.

Yeah onetwothreefourfive, we tried just the car seats without the bases first (tbh, didn't really want to spend money on a base!), but there was just no way the seats would fit without. The Maxi Cosi easy fix base did actually fit in terms of seatbelt length, but instead we had the buckle crunch issue! Madly hoping the Britax base won't be a problem, but we should find out tomorrow.

Did you just leave the Britax First Class in the car? We want to use it as part of a travel system so it would be a real pain to move it in and out if it is very tight to fit I think! confused

sassylassie Sun 02-Oct-11 18:43:20

No worries TruthSweet smile. If we had a switch-on switch-off airbag we might be more willing to consider the front seat option. Oh well!

RandomMess Sun 02-Oct-11 18:43:30

Would you consider an older britax car seat, one without the base, you could route the car seat belt under it rather than over it. I also had one nightmare car and ended up with a Graco car seat and using the belted in base and it worked fine. Graco not the best car seats but at least no buckle crunch.

fluffystabby Sun 02-Oct-11 18:43:48

ACtually, I think a Graco on a base should fit too.

If I was in your shoes, I'd do what someone else has suggested and get a car seat that fits and a buggy that suits and not worry too much about the travel system aspect of it.

RandomMess Sun 02-Oct-11 18:45:08

You could also consider fitting a totally new car seat belt, securon sell them - you need a mechanic experienced in that sort of thing to do it for you - another option I considered when I needed to replace a lap belt with 3 point belt!

sassylassie Sun 02-Oct-11 18:52:32

GoldenGreen Thanks for the sympathy!! grin Yeah, pregnancy hormones definitely kicked in and I was very moody and tearful!

Yeah, as you and fluffystabby suggest, if the Britax base option isn't a go-er we should probably go with a Britax buggy and start from scratch with car seat options and not worry about the travel system thing (encouraging to know it's not really that essential, and we're getting a carrycot anyway!). It's just that everyone who tried the car seats in the car yesterday said they were WAY too short, and the woman at John Lewis seemed to think there wasn't much point in trying other car seats as they'd all be the same!

RandomMess When you say an "older Britax car seat", sounds good. Is there a particular one you have in mind? Stupid question but blush I take it you mean an older model rather than one for an older child...? We need a from birth one.

Obviously, we don't really want to be compromising on safety or comfort. Tricky I know! Sigh!

fluffystabby Sun 02-Oct-11 18:54:35

Sassy - will PM you

RandomMess Sun 02-Oct-11 18:55:21

Yes I mean an older model can't remember what it's called though confused will go hunt on line...

sassylassie Sun 02-Oct-11 18:55:26

RandomMess Yeah, the fitting a new car seat belt thing seemed to be what lots of people with Fiestas and Focuses end up doing, as the woman at the independent baby retailer told us yesterday. Not a bad option. Thanks for the Securon tip - off to check with Dr Google! smile

sassylassie Sun 02-Oct-11 18:56:04

Thanks fs!

sleepevader Sun 02-Oct-11 18:57:05

Had a similar problem. Short belts , long buckles. Ended up with a britax seat- older model.
First class will almost certainly fit your car forward facing most likely but really unlikely to rearfacing as belt needs to be quite long. Agree about advise rectal way elite though.

Graco autobaby was no good in my car as seat belt too short and buckle crunch on base.

Choice of buggies great btw.

sleepevader Sun 02-Oct-11 19:00:33

It was the britax babysure I had. Fitted with normal routing but had alternative routing for short belts. However I would never use a second hand car seat so unless britax have surplus stocks this may not be helpful.

RandomMess Sun 02-Oct-11 19:01:38

I'm sure it was the carry tot but before it was all isofix compatible

RandomMess Sun 02-Oct-11 19:04:51

Got any friends who may have one that they could pass on to you, so you know it hasn't been in an accident?

sleepevader Sun 02-Oct-11 19:06:11

Ps I discovered the problem a week before due date - at least you have a little bit of time!

sleepevader Sun 02-Oct-11 19:07:54

Also you may find some of the cheaper seats which are less bulky but still safe fit if it's the belt length that's the biggest issue.

TruthSweet Sun 02-Oct-11 19:41:49

I had a Nania baby bucket that had dual routings so in cars that had very short seat belts you could install the seat another way (still rfing). It was very cheap £25 in 2006 so wouldn't be fabulous in terms of safety but would meet the minimum safety reqs.

Just like this one. If you did buy one however I would ask the seller to check the date of manufacture as we had to destroy ours before it was even 5 years old due to the plastic being covered in stress marks (blanching of the plastic) and ours was just the spare not a daily used one.

TBH getting the seat belt replaced (or a new car) might be the best option (sorry [flowers])

The First Class is a (allegedly) 0-4 years carseat that stays in the car. Rear facing until 13 kg, and the ff until 18kg

However my unbeliebably lanky toddler outgrew it at 14 months. Yes really

Fitting it was 'interesting'- easier to route the seatbelt round the seat and THEN do it up

Ilanthe Sun 02-Oct-11 20:32:56

My DS went in the front seat using a Maxicosi Cabriofix in MILs R reg Fiesta which we have had to borrow a few times. There is no air bag fitted at all though so nothing to turn off. He loved being able to look at DH as they drove along. I understand your reluctance at the moment but it is probably safer than fitting a new seatbelt or buying a cheap seat.

If you still have the car when your DC goes forward facing I can confirm the Kiddy guardian pro fits in the back with no problems at all.

notfarmingatthemo Mon 03-Oct-11 12:49:35

this base with the car seat that goes with it may fit. My friend had to have this one as it was the only seat that didn't have buckle crunch in her car. Did very well in safety tests as well.

justforinfo Mon 03-Oct-11 17:05:08

Bit of a long shot, but ford fit ISOfix for £70 (we had it done in our 02 focus) that may be worth looking at as you wouldn't have to faff with seatbelts and buckles at all then smile I know its an extra expense but no headaches :D

sassylassie Mon 03-Oct-11 22:24:21

Thanks everyone. Lots of possibilities there! smile The woman from the shop rang back to say that the Britax rep and their tech guy had both said the Britax base would probably fit so she's ordering one in and we'll go and try it when we can.

I think plan B is the replace the seatbelt option.

We'd still like to have something that we can put on our Britax B-Agile buggy if we can, so not considering incompatible car seats just yet, but that would be Plan C! Ditch the travel system idea and just try to get any seat that fits. Don't want to go for a bottom-of-the-range one though, unless there's one which happens to be dead cheap and somehow doesn't compromise on safety, comfort or build...!

justforinfo Unfortunately the engineer at the Ford dealership told us we couldn't put ISOfix in our car as it's too old, but you can with the ones post 2000s.

justforinfo Tue 04-Oct-11 18:48:01

Ahhh ok, thats good to know at least smile I'm glad you've got it sorted! Now you can kick back and relax..... lol!

sassylassie Tue 04-Oct-11 22:07:55

justforinfo Thanks, I can't quite relax just yet though. We've been assured that seats/bases will "definitely fit" so many times before now we've given up believing it until we actually see it. I've even heard that seatbelt length is not an exact science and the cuts can be different on each individual car (same model, same year etc)! Anyway, I think it'll be a couple of weeks until we actually get to try it out [holding breath]...

sleepevader Tue 04-Oct-11 22:27:07

Also length can vary from seat to seat so try both!

sassylassie Sun 16-Oct-11 17:59:40

Hi folks, quick update. Good news - yesterday we tried the Britax belted base in our Fiesta and it fits! Yay! grin This was such a relief, so we've now ordered the Britax B-Agile pushchair (competitor to the Baby Jogger City Mini), car seat and carrycot, which was our first choice, so it was nice not to have to compromise or buy a standalone car seat. The B-Agile seemed really nice and light and maneouvreable and very easy to fold, but it also seems quite sturdy, so we're very happy with it. For anyone out there who's really struggling with a very short seatbelt as we were, and finds that NOTHING fits when it comes to newborn car seats, I can really recommend the Britax belted base as an option. It has a different fitting from the Maxi Cosi base and requires very little seat belt, so it's not a problem.

Phew - one less thing to worry about! Now on to all the other stuff...

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