Although I have discussed this issue in other threads, I decided to post a new one because the LATCH system has not been discussed in specifically.
As a D-90 aficionado
and Dad, I wanted to improve the safety, stability and convenience of the car seat configuration in the rear of my Defender while keeping the vehicle looking stock
and minimizing the need for drilling or spending lots of money.
I'm sure many of you have placed a car seat in the rear of your Defender using the lap belts and found that, like most other cars, the carseat shifts around and seems 'sloppy'. All car seats sold today come with the LATCH system which snugs the car seat in place and improves the overall anchoring of the seat. I have improved the anchoring system in my other cars using a welder, bolts, webbing, etc. and thought I'd do the same for the 90.
I have attached some pictures because they're really worth a thousand words and you've got better things to do than read verbose descriptions but here's the basics:
- Remove the existing bench seat brackets that are mounted on both interior sides of the wheel wells and drill a 1/4" hole through the center of the bracket (see pic).
- Install a high grade steel 1/4" bolt through the hole, cut it to length and weld it into place. If you don't have a welder you can drill the hole on through the wheel well body and use a suitable washer and nut to secure it into place.
- Replace the brackets and presto, you have a LATCH system for one car seat centered in the rear bench seat.
If you're like me and have two kids then you need to keep going:
4. Locate the device seen in the picture below- basically a seat belt strap with a piece of 1/8" metal attached to it that the LATCH buckle can snap into and hold securely. Both of my car seats came with this piece.
5. Attach the webbing end to the existing seat belt anchor in your D90 ensuring the appropriate length to reach the car seat LATCH buckle. You can accomplish this in many ways- but one method I found that works well is to fold the nylon webbing material several times, heat up an appropriately sized sharpened metal bar and push it through the folded webbing by melting away the material. Makes a nice, smooth hole every time and doesn't compromise the strength of the anchor. (The picture below doesn't show this b/c the original installation went to the bench seat brackets mounted under each side of the bench seat.)
6. Bolt both straps down and they're left dangling along with the existing seat belt buckles. Now you can use these to position one or two car seats safely.
I also like to use the anchor strap that comes standard on most car seats and route it over the back of the seat and hook it into the existing seat belt anchor.
PLEASE don't email me or respond about the dangers of transporting children in a Defender. I don't take my kids much over 40mph in the D90 so I'm not concerned with air bags, crumple zones, impact times or the like. I posted this because I wanted to share a great way to easily improve getting a car seat in and out of your Rover, improve the stability of a car seat on the rear bench seat and to allow your kids to enjoy the Defender too.
A couple of additonal pics.