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Not only is a car seat for children a good idea these days, it's actually law until they are 12 or 135cm, which ever milestone they reach first, for them to do so. In a case of "unexpected necessity" a child over 3 can legally travel without a seat in a car, but it's not something I really would be happy for my children, who still have a fair few years of seat usage, to do, hence me owning this seat for occasional and emergency use.
Normally when thinking of buying a car seat (and a quick count has lead me to the horrifying conclusion that 7 years, and 2 children has meant 7 seats so far), I would tend to research it thoroughly, on sites like this one and via "Which"reports, I think it's really important to get the correct seat. My purchasing of this seat was rather different though - in actual fact it was bought when one of my children got rather violently ill during a car journey- I'll spare you the details - conveniently very near to Halfords, which is where I bought this seat seeing as their usual one was rendered temporarily unusable so that I could get them home safely. The booster was around the £20 mark and purchased in about 2 minutes flat - holding one vomit covered child certainly speeds up the decision and purchasing process....
Installation of this seat is pretty well straight forward and involves little more than plonking the seat on your car seat and attaching your child (aged 4 and up) with your usual seatbelt. The booster seat is backless, and identical to the base of the Graco Junior Maxi car seat, with which it shares the same manual. You can't, however, buy the base and then opt to buy the back to add on later, but the footprint and construction is the same, design wise this means that there is a rather strange unusable hinge section on this booster at the rear of the seat, which measures in at 41cm by 41cm.
There are two cupholders, one each side, to the turbobooster, which can be pulled out and pushed in and which, in my experience tend to be an invitation to children to spill drinks everywhere than a very necessary feature in all honesty. There's a removable, washable cover - ours is pink, but this booster also now seems to be available in red and dark blue as well as the lighter blue pictured above. There's nothing much to the seat really - very little padding at all. The fabric which covers the booster is not particularly pleasant to touch, being synthetic and textured, but it's hard-wearing enough and hasn't faded so far in over 2 years' use. The whole thing is in one solid piece - as a seat it's pretty light, weighing in at 2kg, and easy to transport between cars and easily stowable. The plastic it is made of is very solid indeed.
In theory you can adjust the arm rests for your child's comfort, but as this involves using a screwdriver it's not really something I've done, but it's good to have that possibility for when my children get bigger. According to the manual (link at bottom, page 32) you can use the "seat belt adjuster" (not pictured above) to help position the seat belt, the adjuster is just a length of fabric on a belt that attaches to the seat base - in reality in my experience this doesn't really work though and the adjuster just really serves as a way of making sure the seat doesn't fly about in the event of sharp braking with no child in the seat. Speaking of children being in the seat - though not the most comfortable of seats, my children have always been happy to sit in this one, perhaps helped by the fact that theirs is bright pink. It sits well on the car seat, and seems to adapt to a variety of seats successfully, we have used it in about 10 different cars in all, it seems to work well and is stable, if not necessarily the most comfortable of seats.
For occasional use this seat is ideal, I do think, however, that I would be rather loathe to use this seat on longer journeys or as their only stage 3 seat - why? - well there's absolutely no head protection at all, and I do think it's perhaps worth buying the version with the back for younger children in particular who, should the worse happen, really need the protection to their neck that a head-hugger provides. Recent "Which" reports have been well publicised and highlighted this point, and I really think it is worth spending a bit more on a seat and not buying this one if it is for frequent use. An additional £20 would buy you the Logico L model which is more padded, more comfortable, and also has a back.
That said, I'm glad to say that we have had much more use of this seat than the one journey back from Halfords it was initially purchased for. It's handy to have as a spare for transporting a third child coming to tea, or to hand over to Granny to pop to the shops in her car with one of my offspring. We tend to use it for short journeys only, and for this use it's ideal. Of course as the weight limit on this item is 36kg it may be that older children who may not need head protection as much, may be too heavy for it; as with all car seats it really is a good idea to check that the seat is appropriate for your exact circumstances.
Overall, for the use (ie occasional) to which I put it I am happy to recommend this seat, at the time of writing you can pick one up for £11.50 from Mothercare, which strikes me as very good value, generally this item will cost you around the £20 mark, on the scale of car seats that's a good price for making sure your child can travel safely and legally on a short journey. I'd give it 4 stars, for the reason that it isn't very padded and you can't buy a back add on even if you want to - but it does raise children to the level they should be to be safe. I'm not sure what's "turbo" about this seat in all honesty, but as a booster, it's pretty good, it's great value, and it's been a worthwhile buy for us.
Link to manual for indepth information:
I bought this car seat for my son, not out of necessity, but to replace his previous one that was beginning to look a little old and worn. I bought it for £14.99 with free postage from Amazon.co.uk, which I thought was a bargain. It was one of the cheaper models on the market, but it is a brand I trust and have used before so was confident in my purchase.
The booster seat is suitable for children weighing 15-36 KGs, or 33-79 LBS. This is probably for children aged 5+ (depending on the height and weight of the individual), and is the last step before sitting unsupported.
The car seat is the basic model that has a base seat with two hooks for the car seat to go round. The 'hooks' on this model are thick and chunky so can be used as arm rests. The arm rests are adjustable and can be raised/lowered by loosening a screw, then tightening again once you have reached the desired height. This in no way affects the safety of the seat.
You will also receive a thick strap that ties to the back of the seat, the other end had a plastic clip that you feed the strap through in order for it to be positioned correctly on the child, i.e. over the shoulder, rather than the neck, as can be the case with smaller children.
Fitting the seat proved a little more difficult than it should have been.
When I opened the box I found two 100 page booklets, I hoped that they would give me enough information to confidently install the seat. The first booklet was written in various other languages, the second contained English instructions, plus ten other languages - this meant that the instructions were nowhere near as detailed as I had imagined, or hoped for.
Most of the instructions are advising on how to attach the; head support, lower back support, armrest covers, and body pillows. This would be great, if I actually had any of these items!
This is a generic booklet that seems like it is thrown in with every Graco car seat, no matter how different they are. As mentioned, there were two 100 page booklets, only one and a half pages were relevant to this model; this seems pretty ridiculous. The information I needed could have been printed on a single page leaflet and would have saved Graco a lot of money on paper and printing costs - not to mention time for consumers to wade through this useless information.
To be fair, there was an extra couple of pages of warnings, although these were pretty irrelevant too, warnings such as, 'never use a second hand booster seat' - pretty useless information for someone who will be reading this leaflet as they have just bought a new booster seat! They also warn that, 'the booster seat can become hot if left in the sun' - really?
Anyway (rant over!), from studying the diagrams, I managed to figure out where the seat belt when and how to use the shoulder clip. The seat belt goes under the arm rests, as they usually do on these types of seats. The shoulder clip ties to the base of the seat, you then attach the clip to the seat belt on the opposite shoulder, adjusting the length to fit your child.
My son liked the look of this seat and was eager to sit in it. At first, he commented on how comfy it was, although once I attached the shoulder clip he complained that the strap dug into his back. I tried to adjust it but it still dug in due to the angle of the strap. I think that the seat could be used without the clip as it works in exactly the same way as other boosters that don't have the clip, it appears to be only used to adjust the height of the seat belt. I haven't removed it yet, as I plan to look online to check how this will impact on the safety of the seat.
Usually I like to test a product fully before reviewing it, but crashing my car is something that I am not willing to do for the purpose of this review (!), so I am unable to say how the seat performs upon impact. The unit does look secure though, and I imagine that it will work in exactly the same way as other units of this type.
Overall, I am happy with the car seat. It looks smart and stylish and is easy to use; the initial set up can be frustrating, although this is more of an issue with the instructions than the seat so I can't be too harsh on the product. I therefore award the Graco Backless Booster Seat.... 4 stars!
This is a good seat for an older child (the recommended age is over 4), more so if you need to switch between cars and don't have seperate seats for each car or store at home if you just use it occasionally as it doesn't take up much room and only takes seconds to install.
Rather than uses its own belt to secure the child, this makes the child fit the seat, both by raising the height of the child and a strap and plastic clip allows the shoulder belt to be adjusted to fit the child and not cut into the child's neck.
The arms constrain the lap part of the seat belt which prevents the seat sliding out from under the child in a crash, which makes it safer than other booster seats without this design.
The seat itself is quite narrow, which can be both an advantage and disadvantage. I find it useful as three of these seats will fit across the backseat of a Ford Fiesta (although the cup holders then can't be used), however if your children are large it may not be a good fit. I have an average sized 8 year old and she fits into it comfortably but I think by the top of the age range it would be tight.
The padding part of the seat can be removed and washed in the washing machine (wonderful if you have children who get car sick)