Can You Put a Car Seat in a Single Cab Truck?

 

Welcome to the Ultimate Guide on Putting a Car Seat in a Truck!

If you are a new parent, your child’s safety is of utmost importance. But can you put a car seat in a single-cab truck?

Look:

A single-cab pickup truck is a great option if you need to haul more stuff than a four-door model allows. However, you can’t carry car seats in those trucks as you can in larger models.

In most vehicles, the front seat has a lap belt only and does not have a shoulder strap or tether anchor to secure your child’s seat.

Put Car Seat in a Single Cab Truck

However, it is possible to put a car seat in the front vehicle seat of your single cab truck, given some conditions.

In this guide, I will highlight some major factors affecting the installation of your baby car seat in a single cab truck. Besides, I’ll also talk about some state laws to show how they vary for car seats in trucks.

Can’t wait? Let’s begin!

Can a Baby Ride in a Single Cab Truck?

As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 13 should travel in the back seats.

However, if your trucks lack a rear seat, you can definitely use the front seat for your child’s car seat. Just make sure the airbag is inactive or you put your baby in the middle seat.

For forward-facing car seats, the minimum age and weight requirements are 1 year and 20 pounds, respectively.

Can You Place a Car Seat in a Truck With No Back Seat?

If you have a pickup truck, it may not have a backseat. If this is the case, you can legally put your child in their appropriate car seat in the front.

Make sure they are buckled securely in place and that they are old enough to sit up on their own so that they don’t slide around too much.

If your truck has a bench seat instead of individual seats, this method will still work for older kids as long as you use one of those harness-like devices that help keep them from sliding all over the place (and possibly getting injured).

What Factors Should You Consider While Installing a Child’s Car Seat in a Vehicle?

Your child is a growing bundle of excitement and wonder. Whether they’re a newborn, toddler, or teen, you want to make sure they are safe while traveling in your car.

Consider these guidelines when preparing to install a car seat:

Airbag Condition

Children are much smaller, and therefore they are more vulnerable to get hurt during an accident.

Airbags protect you in an accident, by cushioning your body from seat belt forces. It’s important to know that airbags are not going to protect young children as they can do more harm than good if you are using a rear-facing car seat.

This is because an infant is much more fragile and its skull is not fully formed until about 18 months of age. And an active airbag can hit the back of your baby’s head in a rear-facing seat.

Therefore, you must ensure that the airbag is fully deactivated before installing a child’s car seat.

Seat Space and Size

Truck features are essentially the same for both single and extended-cab trucks, with a few exceptions. The backseat of the crew truck is spacious, with lots of room for passengers. However, this is not the case with regular cab pickups.

The car seat must occupy more than 85% of the base area upon installation. Seat manufacturers’ manuals will explain how to install a car seat and give you a guide on how much room is needed.

In general, the average car seat base is approx. 57.4 cm (22.6 in.) long, so 85% of that is about 48.79 cm (19.2 in.).

So the single cab truck seats that are 48cm wide satisfy the requirement. However, always check your user manual for complete guidance.

Vehicle Model/Make Year

It’s important to consider the model of your single-cab truck, as it will impact how you install your car seat.

When you install a forward-facing car seat, you will secure it with an anchor that runs through both sides of the seat. This is the top car seat tether anchor and is an essential factor in securing your child correctly in the seat.

If you drive an older model single-cab truck, such as ’99 F-150, ’97 Chevy S10, 1998 Ford Ranger, or ’00 Nissan Frontier, you may need to install a top tether anchor. It’s because they do not come factory-equipped with it.

Car Seat Installation Features in the Vehicle

Trucking along with a baby is a big job, so you need to ensure that your truck has the necessary features to install a car seat.

These may include a lap and shoulder belt, tether anchor, and lower anchor (LATCH). There are many models that include some of these options, but not all of them.

The best solution if the vehicle you are traveling in does not have an anchor for a top tether is to ride your child in a rear-facing car seat.

Some convertible car seats have extended weight and height limits, enabling them to be used for longer. If it does, you’ll know your baby will be safe in it.

Owner Manual Instructions

Always consult your vehicle owner manual before using a car seat in a single cab truck as the specific instructions for that model/make year can vary.

In the manual, you’ll have all of the answers to your questions about LATCH, tether anchor, seat belt, car seat type, airbag, and seat location.

If you are installing a car seat type that requires a safety belt, the vehicle must have a lap and shoulder belt installed in the middle seat. If the vehicle only has a lap belt, you should not put the car seat on the middle truck seat.

Car Seat Laws and Trucks

Car seats are governed by a patchwork of laws that vary from state to state. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know if you have a car seat in your truck:

Florida

It’s illegal for drivers not to provide proper restraint systems (both rear-facing and forward-facing) for infants and toddlers under 5 years old unless the vehicle has no backseat at all.

Indiana

Indiana lawmakers require all passengers younger than 16 years old to use booster seats unless they meet certain height/weight requirements specified by each vehicle manufacturer. However, there are no specific laws for putting a car seat in a single cab truck. Still, it’s best to deactivate your airbag.

Texas

Texas does not have laws on where a parent should put the car seat in the truck. So you should always use an appropriate seat depending upon the age, height, and weight of your child.

Can You Place Two Car Seats in a Single Cab Truck?

No, you cannot.

A truck with 2 passengers and a driver can accommodate a car seat in the middle safely. However, it’s not possible to put two car seats side-by-side in a single cab truck.

It’s because there just isn’t enough legroom for both kids to be comfortable when you’re going over bumps on the road!

Can You Put a Rear-Facing Car Seat in a Single-Cab Truck?

Yes, it is possible to put a rear-facing car seat in a truck with no back seat. But make sure your state does not specify an age limit for your child to ride in the front passenger seat even if the airbag is inactive.

Nevertheless, the back of the cab is the best place to install it, because that’s where you’ll have more space.

Your state may have different rules about placing infants and young children in vehicles with no backseat at all, so check your local laws before you try this one out!

Where to Put a Car Seat in a Truck?

The rear seat is the most secure place for a car seat as there are no active airbags. When you place your car seat in the front row and the passenger airbag activates, it can lead to a serious injury to your baby’s head. It’s true when you are using a rear-facing car seat.

Therefore, make sure that your baby’s car seat is forward-facing. And place it as far away from active airbags as possible. Also, try to use a car seat with an internal harness system rather than a clip-in type.

Can You Place a Car Seat in a Bench Seat Truck?

Yes, you can put a car seat in a bench seat truck. You will need to install it in the middle of the bench seat and harness car seat with a belt and tethers. 

Conclusion

So, can you put a car seat in a single-cab truck? Yes! It’s more difficult than in other vehicles but you can do it. The key is to get the right booster seat and make sure it fits correctly before driving off with your little one.

Last Updated on October 12, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!