Back to top
Home | Car Seat Inspection and Installation in Marin

Car Seat Inspection and Installation in Marin

Rear-facing car seatOne of the most daunting things that new parents face, is… installing the car seat! Believe it or not, four out of five car safety seats are actually installed incorrectly. Before my son was born, my husband spent what seemed like many frustrating hours installing the car seat in the back of our car. Eventually he was pretty happy with the job that he did. That is, until we took the car to the CHP for a car seat inspection, where it was declared incorrect. In fact, the officer took out the seat and reinstalled it correctly in just a few minutes!

I've heard similar stories from fellow parents, so it's definitely a must to get your car seat inspected by a qualified agency or individual before you use it for your precious cargo. They'll check your installation and, if needed, show you how to properly install the seat.

In Marin, you have a few choices for inspections, most of which are absolutely free, although due to the popularity of these services you should make an appointment well in advance. Don't put it off until a week before your due date!

In all cases, you should thoroughly read your car seat manual and attempt to install the seat yourself before bringing it in for inspection. (By the way, some local police departments in Marin County, including those in Mill Valley, San Rafael, and Novato used to conduct inspections, but they now refer parents to the CHP.)

  • California Highway Patrol
    53 San Clemente Drive
    Corte Madera 94925

    (415) 924-1100
    The Marin office of the California Highway Patrol in Corte Madera offers free car seat inspections for parents. Make an appointment with the CHP by calling (415) 924-1100. (If you work in San Francisco, the CHP's office at 455 8th Street also offers car seat inspections by appointment; call (415) 557-1094.)
  • AAA
    99 Smith Ranch Road
    San Rafael 94903
    (415) 488-2901

    750 Redwood Highway Suite 1210
    Mill Valley 94941

    (415) 380-60310 or (415) 380-6036
    The AAA offices in San Rafael and Mill Valley offer free car seat inspections by appointment. Appointments must be made 6 to 8 weeks in advance. For San Rafael inspections call Agustin Renteria at (415) 488-2901, and for Mill Valley call Wayne Black at (415) 380-6031 or LJ Atangan at (415) 380-6036.
  • Baby World
    514 4th Street
    San Rafael 94901
    (415) 456-5533
    The Baby World store in San Rafael offers car seat inspections on Tuesdays by appointment only. Car seat inspections and installations/adjustments are free if you purchased your car seat at any Baby World location. If you bought your car seat elsewhere, inspections are still free, but installations or adjustments will cost $40. Call for an appointment at (415) 456-5533.

Car Seat Safety Guidelines

The best place for little ones to ride is a rear-facing car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing seat, and only switch to a front-facing seat when the child is a minimum of 12 months of age or 20 pounds in weight. They also advise parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing seats as long as possible—until age 2 or until they reach the maxiumum weight and height for their car seat.

Rear-facing seats are much safer in a accident, as they do a better job of supporting the head, neck, and spine of infants and toddlers and distribute the force of the collision over the entire body. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention found that children under 2 riding in a rear-facing seat are 75 percent less likely to die or sustain severe injuries in a crash than those in a front-facing seat.

The AAP also recommends that children ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they've reached at least 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old. Children should also stick to the back seat until they're at least 13.

You can get the AAP's full car seat policy as well as the car seat technical report as PDF downloads from the AAP's website,


Fire Department

Many fire departments will also help you.