Stow That Top Tether Strap!

(Last Updated On: July 26, 2017)
Graco 4Ever top tether stowed for rear facing in the designated location on the top of the seat's shell

Graco 4Ever top tether

All convertible and combination car seats have a top tether. Since top tethers are an essential safety feature of every forward facing harnessed car seat installation, the tether should be attached to the vehicle’s top tether anchor at all times when a seat is forward facing. When rear facing, a convertible seat’s tether will be stored.

Stow that top tether! Image on left shows rear facing convertible seat installed in a van with the excess webbing hanging out the door. Image on the rightshows the same seat with the excess tether tucked away.

Stow that top tether!

Don’t Leave it Hanging!

But don’t leave a tether strap hanging! A tether strap may have a long tail to accommodate anchors that are far from the vehicle seat. That long tail can get in a world of trouble if it’s just left to hang.

A convertible car seat that’s installed rear facing will usually have a tether anchor that is not currently in use. That means for both rear facing and forward facing car seats, stowing the tether or excess webbing is an important part of proper installation.

Rear Facing

Evenflo SureRide top tether stored neatly away in designated location on top of shell

Evenflo SureRide top tether stored neatly away

Top tethers are rarely used in the United States for rear facing installations. In most cases, when a convertible car seat is installed rear facing, the tether must be properly stowed. The exact storage spot varies from car seat to car seat, but there’s always a place for the tether to go when it’s not in use.

Storing that unused tether is especially important when the car seat is installed rear facing.  If the webbing is extended, the metal hook could become a dangerous projectile in the event of a crash or sudden stop.

Forward Facing

Side view of Britax Advocate installed forward facing showing the tether attached to a ceiling anchor and the tether bundled away

Britax Advocate ClickTight forward facing tether

The top tether is a critical piece of every forward facing installation. Once a tether is properly attached to the vehicle and tightened, there’s still one step to do!

Bundle and store the excess webbing so it doesn’t get caught hanging outside of the vehicle or create a strangulation hazard for a child.



Many car seats have a handy pouch, elastic, or compartment for exactly this reason. Rubber bands, zip ties, or hook-and-loop ties are perfect for making a neat bundle to tuck away.

Three images: in the first a Britax Frontier is installed with tether tail hanging out the door. In the second we see the tether with the tail bundled. Third image is a close up of the tail of the tether bundled and tied with a hair elastic.

A hair elastic keeps this tether from getting caught in the door.

In Summary

Take a few minutes to properly store the top tether and excess webbing on your child’s car seat. A few seconds to find the right spot can help keep your Littles a little bit safer!