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Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or Westfalia?
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depps74
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:56 pm    Post subject: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or Westfalia? Reply with quote

My wife and I want to buy a van for the family either a VW camper or a westfalia . We are concerned about how easy or possible it is to secure two child safety seats to the back seat?

We are also wondering how to best go about buying one if the child safety seats are even possible.
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gonewesty4good
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 6:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Welcome to the Samba. This topic can be searched easily above. Many vendors sell appropriate parts for shoulder belts and extensions needed for ease.
I run three wide in our Weekender now!
There is no LATCH system available however.
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Welcome to the invanity!
Good resource for current price ranges would be to check the classifieds section here.
However, your in NY and it's part of the "Rust Trust", but you know that!
Personally I would check Auto Trader, Craigslist and every resource any where west of the Missisippi to find one preferably in the southwest for one that is not rusted.
Do your research here in the Samba becsuse there is every question you haven't thought to ask yet!
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

There is a samba member who was trained in child safety seat installation and she had some good topics on exactly what you are asking.

I'll see if I can find them.

Found it:

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7974474
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depps74
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

@ SteveM I Thanks so much. I actually dont know what your talking about. I'm new to all this. We live in NYC and instead of moving to the suburbs we are going to buy a van and travel. Trouble is my wife is concerned with safety and its quite a rabit hole to figure out if the westy is safe, then if so the car seat.

IF its safe, then we gotta find one, Ive heard about rust, but even if I found one in southwest gotta get it checked, rather would have my mechanic here check it out.

Which leads to my final inquiry. (sorry I know this is a lot) Even if I find one here that checks out it seems any van, even if its "fixed up" requires work and money over time.

Any leads for any good trustrowrthy sales in northeast would be great.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Hello,

This is definitely not your “final inquiry”. There are folks here who’ve owned vws for dozens of years and they’re still asking questions. Wink

Keep in mind that Vanagons are 30 - 40 year old cars. They were odd when they were new and are more odd today. Owning and maintaining a Vanagon is something of a lifestyle choice since every single one requires constant maintenance. So yes, even if you buy a dialed Vanagon (rare) it’s likely going to need attention for the maintenance items that are due next in the never-ending maintenance cycle. Plan on buying a good Vanagon and spending a year or more getting it to a baseline and then continuing the cycle from there.

As for buying a Vanagon, review this awesome PPI checklist to become oriented to the purchase process:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=568164

Reviewing this list of FAQs is also a good step in the orientation process:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=525798
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:56 am    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Echoing that you have to be expect to be your own mechanic.

Asking “ Is a car safe?” Is a bit like asking for a the length of a string.

Any Vanagon is safer for the kids in a big box crush zone, secured in car seats

For you and partner, it’s less safe than a modern car, by virtue of ( in pseudo-random order)

- any 30 year old car has deterioration in metal strength from corrosion
- lack of active driving features like slip,control, stabilization, and antilock brakes bigger brakes don’t fix this, they just make it skid faster

- lack of active safety features like air bags, side bags, belt temsioners, fuel shut off, etc
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:31 am    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Just to note, while Vanagons didn't do quite as well in crash tests compared to the "safest" cars of the 1980, they had the best overall safety record because they are typically not driven as fast or as recklessly as other vehicles.

Having the engine in the back and the windshield far from your head are two inherent safely features of a Vanagon, there are many others.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:46 am    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

our 3 kids in car seats. Feel free to reach out for specifics.

-Dana
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:55 am    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Welcome!

The thread on child seats linked above is your best resources. We have 7 month old and i went through a lot of versions of looking into this and much of it comes down to which child seat you choose and how it mounts to the car. The one I got is a Britax and has a click fit system, or similar spelling or name. Basically the belt goes through the seat and then the whole think clamps down on it. I had a number of issues getting other seats in due to belt length, locking clips, etc. that this one eliminated. It's absolutely doable to get a seat safely in the van.

Now, the actual van safety is an interesting topic. Most of the comments above really nail it. My wife really gets nervous because it isn't as safe as our other cars, which can't be argued with. However, I'd look up the crash test videos and pics of recently wrecked vans here on this forum. All of that gave me a surprising amount of confidence. These vans do surprisingly well in a wreck!. No, they are not modern safe, but it's also not a rolling death trap, which I think you could make more of an argument for with a bay or a split especially. VW took a good deal of effort to engineer inherent safety features into these vans, consistent with the time, which was a real transition.

Good luck, it's absolutely doable.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 2:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

OP,
If you look close you'll notice straps in DSDunbar's photo going back from the rear of the seats. I have those too, it's a kit GoWesty sells to high-mount a LATCH point for forward-facing car seats like those pictured. So between that aftermarket kit and the lap belt any carseat can be mounted as securely in a van as it can in any modern car.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

You can safely put in car seats, but if your Wife is looking for modern safety found in new cars? ..... it ain't happening!

These old units are safer than a lot of Vintage vehicles as many members here can testify to, but they can't hold a candle to modern SRS units.

There is a level of assumed risk you must assume.

But even the safest rolling safety cage needs to be packed safely so baggage doesn't become missiles lopping off body parts upon impact.

Dave
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Our family baby hauler is a 1994 4Runner that pre-dates the LATCH system. I went to the junkyard and unbolted the center lap belt out of a truck, cut the strap off, and welded 1/4" square U-bolts to the seatbelt tabs. When I installed them I think I had to switch the center lap belt mounting points with the side seat belt receptacle points to get the spacing correct. Cost less than $20 and you use the factory seat belt mounting points.

FWIW I wouldn't consider a vanagon un-safe. My 1994 Civic 2dr hatch tin can that weighed 2100lbs and had a roof line lower than the mirrors on must trucks and SUVs was pushing it, a vanagon with the kids in the center of the vehicle I would feel quite comfortable with. I've actually considered getting rid of my single cab Tacoma for a vanagon so we can have a backup baby hauler when baby #2 comes along.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Somewhere there is a picture of Colin's (Amskeptic's) Bay Window Bus that took a frontal hit with both cars doing about 50 mph. The Bay looked a lot better than the other car and Colin walked with minimal injuries. A Vanagon should do even better.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:23 am    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Here’s the quick test for your risk assessment skills

Do you replace your car seats after their expiration date?

If you do, get a Honda Pilot. You meet the nicest people in a Honda

If you don’t know car seats expire, you pass
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:19 am    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Just out of curiosity,
where will you keep it in the city?
What experience does your mechanic have with 30 year old Vanagons?

There is a window sticker somewhere that says: "VW-turning drivers into mechanics: or something close to this effect.

There have been some absolute horror stories of ownership on here, but there are also really great ownership experiences on here too. They always seem to be overshadowed by the naysayers.

It is a lifestyle owning one of these. I have had really good experiences, but I am a mechanic of sorts and when something does break I can fix it.
For the record I've not really had any major breakdowns on the road except running out of gas back in 2012! My vehicles have run and run and run.
Even when I questioned how well it was running during certain times!
The thing is don't let a Red light on the dashboard throw you into a mindset of tragedy. Learn how the vehicle works and you can fix 90% of any problem or do a work-around to get you home.
Even if you have no mechanical experience, don't worry VW will make you a mechanic if it's your destiny! Laughing Laughing Laughing

We have the best auto parts stores in the country who are dedicated to our cars and keeping them running with the right parts.
Even better is this forum where there is always good advice to be found.

Basic knowledge starts here:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=525798

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=569110&highlight=wilderness

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=312076&highlight=wilderness

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=430995&highlight=wilderness
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:32 am    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

There are lap belts for the rear seats and middle bench of you end up with that. I rigged up some LATCH connections for the middle bench and also ran the lap belt.

A larger concern for me is when the kids are out of the car seats. Shoulder belts and headrests are not stock in most (all?) Vanagons. You can work out solutions, but it's a bigger project than putting car seats on the rear.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 3:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

driverdave wrote:
A larger concern for me is when the kids are out of the car seats. Shoulder belts and headrests are not stock in most (all?) Vanagons. You can work out solutions, but it's a bigger project than putting car seats on the rear.


Putting shoulder (3-point) seatbelt is easier than it looks. You can buy a premade kit (GoWesty sells one). The mounting points are already in your van!
There's a good topic on that install, you can find it in the FAQ I believe.
However, on the driver's side of a Westy you have to cut through the cabinets, that's a little more work.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 3:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

Expand your search outside NYC
KATSTAN got herself a great Vanagon Westie down in FL and transported up to Hudson Valley , about $1000 to transport it up

That’s reasonable on a purchase budget of 15000-20000

Out in rust free Southern CA, Robbie can do a pretty good pre purchase inspection for $500 or so. Reach out via airschooled.com
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gonewesty4good
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2020 5:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Possible to rig a child safety seat in a VW van or westfalia? Reply with quote

If you want to go VW, buy one out west and fly/drive back out. Plenty of rust free, well maintained vans if you do the research.

Do a lot of research here first; rent a van and see if it is right for you first IMO.
A/C and all modern amenities go a long way when kiddos are involved.

Good luck! We got your back.
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