Mighty Tite

Car seat belt fastener

Whether you’re using seat belts in an older car or the LATCH system available in newer vehicles, properly securing a child car seat by tightening the straps adequately at each attachment can be really aggravating. Even with the best leverage and tools, you just can’t pull them enough to keep the seat from sliding. After trying countless handyman alternatives, I settled on the Mighty Tite, a device with a ratcheted handle that lets you apply otherwise impossible leverage to secure the seat as snugly as possible. I first dismissed this one as a gimmick, but I’ve found it dead simple to use and incredibly effective. I’ve used mine in at least five different cars and car seats, all with the same excellent results: no car seat budged.

It’s worth noting I’ve read conflicting reviews and opinions about this product, as well as differing philosophies on car seats. Some insist that if you follow a car seat manufacturer’s instructions properly, you won’t need any extra assistance to secure it. On more than one occasion, I’ve followed the instructions (even double checking the installation with the local police station or baby store as many suggest), and have been told my seat is “fine” — but to me, it still seems, to be much too loose. Others say that if your seat gives more than an inch in any direction, it’s too much; other say more slack is appropriate and still safe.

In terms of the Mighty Tite, some people worry about undue wear on belts caused by it and wonder how it (and child car seats secured with it) will react in an accident. After years on the market, I think it’s useful — though certainly not definitive — to observe I’ve seen no reports of any problems caused by this product in an accident. It’s worth also noting that this thing does crease the seatbelt a bit, but I can’t fathom how it would cut the belt.

In the end, as it goes for many things with products related to children, there’s a lot of information and emotions out there, but the only clear authority out there (the NHTSA) has not reviewed Mighty Tite to set the matter straight. This product has been offered by many reputable retailers, including child specialty stores, for years, and it’s made by a company that makes reputable seats. Again, I’ve found it keeps my child car seat firmly in place. It might help you, too.

If you do go with the Mighty Tite, be sure to use a seat protector — or any kind of mat with decent friction — under the car seat in combination with one of these, as the child car seat is bound to crease your car’s upholstery when it’s pulled this snugly.

-- Marshall Votta 04/29/09

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