>How to outsmart a squirmy worm in a booster – Use the AUTOMATIC LOCKING RETRACTOR. Learn how below…
Almost all shoulder belts have a retractor. The retractor is the device that not only spools the excess belt, but also locks the belt so that it holds you tight in a crash.
All shoulder belts typically have an emergency locking retractor. This means that during normal driving the belt is loose – it slides freely in and out – but locks tight in an emergency, like when you slam on the brakes. During normal driving, with the shoulder belt in the emergency locking mode, you can lean forward and back – an amount of freedom of movement that is just too much for many children in booster seats and seat belts as they can’t resist the urge to wiggle and squirm.
If your car is a 1996 or newer, the retractor is usually a switchable retractor – meaning that it can switch from the usual mode of locking only in an emergency, to a mode where it locks at all times – called the automatic locking mode. Changing the belt from the emergency to automatic locking modes is easy – simply pull the shoulder belt out all the way (do it slowly) – when you get to the very end, let the belt go back in. As it goes back in you will likely hear a ratcheting sound – and if you give a gentle pull you will notice that the belt is locked.
In the automatic locking mode, the shoulder belt only gets shorter – it does not get longer. Meaning, you can not lean forward to pick up your toy or fight with your sibling on the other side of the car. With the belt in the automatic locking mode, the seat belt holds tight at all times just like the child was used to when they were riding in a 5 point harness car seat.
Some cars do not have a switchable retractor. Most Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge vehicles do not have switchable retractors – they only have the emergency locking retractor. Other vehicles that may not have a switchable retractor are some vehicles made by GM, Ford, Saab, and Volvo.