WARNING!! Mighty-Tite is not tested or approved by NHTSA!Aug 21, 2000 (Updated Aug 25, 2000) Write an essay on this topic.
I hope that people will not run out and purchase this product until they fully understand the risks involved in using it. Normally, this would appear as a product review of sorts, but I felt I needed to write the editorial here, after noticing a recent Epinion on the Mighty-Tite seat belt tightener in this category. I'm hoping that those who read that Epinion will also take mine into consideration.
Mighty-Tite is considered by Child Passenger Safety experts to be an "after-market" product. The manufacturer of any after-market product can make any claim about their product that they want, because the federal regulations for car seats do not apply to any of these products and the products do not have to meet any standards to be sold. They can just be made and sold. This is unfortunate for the general public, because they see things on the labels that can make them assume they do.
The Mighty-tite site even states that they "meet and exceed" FMVSS 213. I have studied FMVSS 213 - (and it's LONG), and it doesn't even say anything about seat belt tension, or anything about ANYTHING that the might-tite does...FMVSS 213 is the Standard that governs how Child Safety Seats function and perform. That's ALL. The bottom line is, the jury is still out on this. It could turn out to be a beneficial product. On the other hand, it could be potentially dangerous. There's no way of knowing until it has been proven one way or the other in real life situations. The thing you have to decide is: Do you want your child to be the test case?
As for tightening seat belts, there are some "tricks of the trade" that may help. There's "the tigger" - grasp the shoulder part (or the tail of a lap belt) of the buckled belt and pull while bouncing in the seat. Each bounce should get the seat a little tighter. There's the "counter pressure" (my personal favorite) - grasp the tail/shoulder belt and pull while semi-standing in the seat and pressing shoulders/back against the roof of the car. There's the "rock tite" method - grab the tail/shoulder belt and pull while kneeling in the seat and rocking back and forth, pushing down into the seat with each rock. If you're using a locking clip (lap/shoulder belt only), get the belt AS TIGHT AS YOU CAN, then use a piece of chalk to mark on each belt where they line up. Unbuckle the belt, line up the chalk marks, put the locking clip on, and then have someone put all the pressure in the seat while you buckle it. If you have Locking Retractors (pull the shoulder belt all the way out - if it ratchets in and can't be pulled out until it's gone all the way in, it's a locking retractor), simply lock it before you begin your tightening. For a lap only belt with a tail, if it loosens after installation, try flipping the female end of the buckle over once. For a locking lap belt, buckle the seat in, lock the belt, then push the belt back into the retractor while using one of the tricks I mentioned above.
Mighty-tite is apparently only for use with lap/shoulder belts, and will not help get a tight fit in cars with problems like contoured seats, deep buckets, or long buckle stalks. And just a note, in their instructions, they show how to "test" if the seat is tight (grab at the top and pull), but the instructions they give are NOT the correct way to check for tightness (grab at the belt path and give a firm tug).
Here's the opinion of Mighty-tite by another CPS technician as posted on a CPS list: "I haven't actually seen this product in use but in looking at the web site I had some concerns about its use. Their main selling point was that it is extremely difficult to install a seat tightly without using their product. They also made reference to the fact that you don't need several people to install this product alluding that you normally need several people to install a seat . This mis-information as a marketing ploy disturbs me. The web site also continually mentions for parents to read the instructions that come with the car seat. If parents read and followed all instructions there probably wouldn't be a need for such a product. My opinion is that if you can get a tight fit in a car without using such devices why take the chance that such a device may not prove safe in a crash. Also on their web page they show what appears to be an infant in a front facing car seat which leads me to distrust their claims to have thoroughly researched car seat safety."
Before you run out and purchase a product such as Mighty-Tite, which may or may not prove safe in real life, I strongly suggest that you contact your local SafeKIDS or NHTSA-certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (NHTSA is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and they are the "governing agency" for child safety seats) to receive a free car seat check up. Generally, any car seat that can be installed in your vehicle tightly can be done so without the use of possibly hazardous products such as Mighty-Tite.
Copy and paste this into your browser to find a local CPS technician: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/Contacts/index.cfm
Copy and paste this into your browser to find a SafeKIDS checkup near you: http://www.safekids.org/buckleup/launch.html
Good luck with those installations, and keep those kids buckled in safely!
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