The Graco TurboBooster is one of the most popular high back boosters for older kids – it’s inexpensive, and provides a great seat belt fit most of the time. It also hosts of one of the most common misuses we see as Child Passenger Safety Technicians – the elusive screws in the armrests. What? Screws? Armrests? Are we talking about a booster seat here? Yes, we are still talking car seats. To better explain, here are pictures:
A high back TurboBooster comes out of the box looking like this. Like everything you buy your kids – some assembly is required. This, however, is a little easier than removing your average plastic dump truck from the box, and it’s designed to save your kid’s life – go figure. Let’s take a closer look at that little plastic bag:
Instruction manual (which you need to read before doing anything else!), registration card (don’t forget that either – that’s how they contact you if there were ever a recall. Mail that in, or better yet – go online and fill it out right away), shoulder belt positioning clip for backless mode, instruction manual (yep, that was said twice, it’s that important – go read it!), and the star of the show: those two little screws.
After you’ve read the instruction manual, you’ll know you need to pop those two armrests into their slots. There are two height positions, you may use whichever is more comfortable for your child and best positions the lap belt. The seat will look like this, and you’ll see a little hole, which is where the screws are going to go.
Locate yourself a Phillips screwdriver, and go to town. Do the same on the other side, and you’re all set to go!
Why are those screws so important? Graco doesn’t tell us the exact answer, but here’s what is known: those armrests are designed yes, to keep your child nice and comfy in the car at all times, but more importantly, to help ensure the lap belt is placed low on the child’s hips and off the soft belly. This allows for the pelvis to take the force of a crash rather than the child’s internal organs. Those armrests can’t be removed with the screws in them – so it’s pretty obvious that they’re doing a vital job for the booster to do its job properly. Some models are now sold with the screws pre-installed, but this model was manufactured two months ago and purchased from a Target store yesterday, so many of them have to be done yourself. If you own a TurboBooster, please – go check it now! Make sure your screws are there, and if they are not, use an alternate booster until you can get replacements.
Unfortunately, you cannot hunt around your garage and use a couple of screws that fit, they need to be the correct ones from Graco. You can order replacement parts online here, or call 800-345-4109.