What Can You Expect From a Meeting With a Car Seat Tech (CPST)?

This information is modified to be Canada-specific from a guideline developed by the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety.

What should you — a parent, caregiver, grandparent, daycare provider, or anyone at all who transports children — expect from a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) certified with the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada (CPSAC)?Victoria clinic photo

The car seat installation experience is an interactive one. As the caregiver, you should leave confident that your child’s seat is installed correctly AND that you are comfortable reinstalling and using it correctly. To ensure that you have the best experience you should prepare for an education.

Some technicians work strictly as volunteers, often at a cost to themselves.  Some will accept tips or donations to an ongoing ‘seat check fund’ to purchase things such as pool noodles and photocopies.  Others will set a flat rate for a check, or charge on a sliding scale depending on need. Some do private checks for a fee but volunteer at public check events like a clinic.  Please make arrangements with a technician about any potential cost prior to meeting.

If you are pregnant, schedule an appointment 1 to 2 months prior to your due date. Many CPSAC technicians work as volunteers and have their own families and jobs to work around, and some moms deliver early.


Using the car seat manual, install the seat into your vehicle prior to your appointment.  If you do not have a manual, contact the manufacturer of your seat prior to your appointment to obtain one.

crst3Look up “Child Safety Seats” or “Child Restraints” in your vehicle owner’s manual. You will learn how a child’s car seat should be installed in YOUR car. The car seat manual may not reference the requirements specific to your vehicle.  If you do not have a vehicle owner’s manual, contact the manufacturer of your vehicle prior to your appointment to obtain one.

Bring the car seat manual AND the vehicle owner’s manual with you to your appointment.

Know your child’s weight and height.  Bring your child with you. If possible, also bring another adult to help watch the child while you are learning.  It’s hard to absorb the information and fully participate in a seat check if you’re also chasing kids.

Be prepared to learn, not just watch the CPSAC technician install the car seat. They’re trained to teach you, not install it for you.

Clean excess ‘stuff’ out of your car. The technician (and then you) will probably need to be in your vehicle.

DSC00134_3_2This one-on-one education typically takes 30-45 minutes, depending on the car seat(s) and the vehicle. The CPSAC technician should take all the time necessary to ensure that you feel competent and confident in re-installing the car seat into the vehicle and re-buckling your child into the car seat on your own.

If you have arranged a private check with a CPSAC technician the location, time, and cost (if any) will be prearranged.  If you are attending a seat check event or car seat clinic that is the culminating event for a car seat training course be aware that the technicians will be new and still learning. Be understanding of their learning process, and know that they are being supervised by both experienced technicians and their instructor.


Card your tech! Ask to see proof of their current certification.  If the technician is not a certified CPSAC tech ask what their qualifications, certification, and experience are, and ensure they are both knowledgeable and up to date.

During the seat check, a CPSAC technician will:

  • Fill out a checklist form (including car seat type, location in vehicle, misuse observations, if any, etc.).  The technician will uninstall the seat, even if it appears to be perfectly installed when you arrive.
  • Review the car seat manual and the vehicle owner’s manual with the caregiver and ensure that both are being followed correctly.
  • Ensure that an appropriate seating position in the vehicle is being used, especially when using UAS.
  • Check the car seat for recalls, visible damage and an expiration date.
  • crst2If you are not the original owner of the seat, the Technician will discuss the risks of a used seat.
  • Have you install the car seat(s) correctly using either the seat belt or UAS. You are encouraged to ask to learn how to install the seat with either system or in different seating positions.
  • Discuss the next steps for each child, such as when to move to the next type of car seat.
  • Discuss the benefits of everyone riding properly restrained, including all adults and pets.
  • Discuss safety in and around the vehicle.


  • Discuss and demonstrate proper fit of your child in the seat.
  • Discuss your provincial laws and best practice recommendations for occupant safety.
  • After the seat check, ensure you can say yes to ALL of these questions:
    • Did you perform the final installation or assist in performing the final installation?
    • Do you feel confident about installing and using the car seat correctly?
    • Were your questions answered? If not, were you given direction as to whom you should contact or will the CPSAC technician follow up with you?

Would you like to meet with a technician near you? If you’re on Vancouver Island look here for someone to help you.  If you’re elsewhere chances are we know of a technician near you. Please visit us on our Facebook page to ask for a referral, or check out this map.

Maybe you’d like to become a technician yourself! Check out scheduled courses across the country here, or subscribe for email notification of upcoming courses by province here.

4 comments to What Can You Expect From a Meeting With a Car Seat Tech (CPST)?