Taking your first step into the big, good world of child restraint systems can be daunting and thrilling all at once. Choosing a model capable of long-lasting without doing the same to your bank balance was always going to be a challenge or, at least, it was until the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster glided onto the scene. With its multi-functional changeable modes and great safety techniques, the Tranzitions offers a phantasmal set of features designed to take the riding experience to travel with your child to the next level. Even better, it does this without blasting through your life savings, making it the best introductory child safety booster car seat.
Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Seat Review
1. Who Is It Best For?
Will the Graco Tranzitions be a good option for your child and your family?
This might be an awesome cheap child safety seat, but it’s certainly not for small infants or newborns.
Given its 22-lb lowest weight requirement, it’s recommended to use the Graco Tranzitions for big toddlers who are ready to take a forward-facing ride. That means at least 12 months old or better for a 2-year-old toddler, based on your local state laws on the minimum age requirement for a child restraint.
In terms of weight and height limits, the Graco Tranzitions performs well as most booster seats – it comes with 100-pound top weight and 57-inch top height. It will suit big kids up to 7 years old for safe riding until they outgrow the car seat at an older 8 or 9 years of age.
The Graco Tranzitions has been engineered to give the little passengers the option to expand their riding remit, but with the option to alternate adventures off-the-5-point-harness with travel in both high back and backless modes.
2. Pros and Cons
3. Value for Money
Is the price tag worth it?
Costing under $150, the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster is the best budget combination safety booster. Is it worth the price tad? You bet it is, especially if you’re looking for multi-mode long-lasting for big kids.
It trounces the likes of the KidsEmbrace and Chicco MyFit, thanks to its detachable design. The Graco Tranzitions allow removing the backrest to turn into a backless booster, even though it’s cheaper than these two models.
Of course, it does not perform as well as the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 car seat, which supports four modes (in three-car seat stages) – rear-facing, forward-facing, high back booster, and backless booster.
You’ll think it’s worth it if you know the price of the 4Ever DLX. It cost almost $200 more than the Tranzitions. The price gap is even more than the price of a Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35, which will make up the rear-facing mode for Tranzitions.
Its longevity is a different story. Don’t get me wrong, the Tranzitions can hold its own and ranks alongside its main competitors, but it was designed with protection in mind rather than a long lifespan.
If you’re looking for a child safety seat with a longer lifespan, the all-in-one car seats sit in the top spot. However, they’re much more expensive and you don’t get the same thrill or backless riding as you will with the Tranzitions.
What other car seats should you consider?
Dimension and Width
Both as a booster with a harness, the Tranzitions is 1-inch wider than the Atlas. That does not affect much in the view on design, as both do not fit 3-across anyway.
But Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster looks a bit slim for its shorter depth and higher height.
The 17.4-inch depth is just good to install on any of the back seats, without taking space from the front to the back. Along with the forward-facing position installation, drivers and passengers on the front row of the vehicle should not feel any space pressure.
The 26.5-inch height is a bit preferable to accommodate growing big kids. This height beats some all-in-one car seats, like the Graco 4Ever DLX and Britax One4Life.
Even though the manufacturer boasts the Tranzitions is a lightweight and portable harnessed booster, it may not meet your expectations to change it from vehicle to vehicle.
Weighing up to 20 pounds with the base, it is a bit difficult for most moms to complete this uninstall-switch-install process if you’re using the Tranzitions in a 5-point harness or high back booster mode. It’s not that slim or compact to hold from one car to another.
Game changes when you turn it from a car seat with a backrest to backless mode. The base weighs just 7 pounds and can be effortlessly taken and installed in any vehicle.
As a result, the rating of the portability is up to 8 for the Graco Tranzitions’ overall performance.
Two Cup Holders
Graco Tranzitions has two cup holders, which are built into the car seat base. So no matter what mode this child safety seat is serving, the cup holders will be there to hold the drinks and snacks.
The cup holders are not removable, because the slots are firmly and deeply embedded in the seat base. This design is very brilliant, reducing the seat’s total width.
This sacrifices a bit of padding area on the seat width and might cause a little uncomfort. But that’s not a big problem anyway.
Installing the cup holders to the Tranzitions is simple. Just lift the cup half out of the cupholder. Rotate cup. Align cup holder tabs with T-slots in shell and slide cup holder into place.
6. Crash Tests and Safety Ratings
The Tranzitions might be one of the safest harnessed booster car seats from Graco. It comes with the manufacturer’s exclusive feature – the Tranzitions is ProtectPlus Engineered to ensure your child’s safety from all around: frontal, side, rear, and rollover.
Let’s talk about its safety features one by one.
Start from the frontal protection. The Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster meets or exceeds the child restraint criteria for a frontal crash test under the US FMVSS 213. This is a mandatory standard crash test for all car seats for sale in the US.
In terms of side protection, it’s another standard crash test that is required to do for all car seats with 5-point harness. This should be the primary reason that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends using the 5-point harness for security for as long as possible until your child outgrows the top weight or height allowed with the harness.
For Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster, the harnessed weight limit is 65-pound, and the height limit is 49-inch.
Moving to the rear and rollover safety tests. Its rear-impact was tested based on the European Rear-Impact Crash Pulses and tested to
Weight and Height Limits
It’s no secret about the weight and height limits of the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster now.
It can face only the front, starting with a minimum weight requirement of 22 pounds for the 5-point harness. The top weight is the same as the 5-point harness mode in other convertible or all-in-one car seats – that is 65 pounds at most.
The height limit of a 5-point harness commonly goes up to 49-inch. The combination of a 65-pound weight limit and a 49-inch height limit, no matter which comes first, makes sure your child can be secured with the 5-point harness until they are five years of age, or even six or seven years old if they grow at a normal pace.
After switching the Tranzitions to booster mode – high back or backless, it is capable of riding a child from 40 pounds to 100 pounds, or between 43 and 57 inches.
The company changed the minimum weight qualification from 30 pounds to 40 pounds, which is also the base for booster seats in the child safety seat rules in all US states.
Plus, your child should be 4 years or older to ride in the car seat if you switch the Graco Tranzitions from harness to booster mode.
The Graco Tranzitions is designed for toddlers and big kids. Without the rear-facing stage, Its age range is not as long as the all-in-one car seats, like the SlimFit3 LX.
It does not specify the minimum age in the user manual. But according to the car seat laws of all states and its lowest 22-pound bottom-weight, it’s assumed that Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster will be suitable for a toddler at least 1-year-old in some states or 2 years or older in other states, like New York and Pennsylvania.
The top weight of 100 pounds and top height of 49 inches makes it last long for big kids up to 8 or even 10 years of age. That would be good enough for the legal age/weight/height to get out of the car seats in all US states by the regulations – typically 8 years of age.
As its name indicates, the Graco Tranzitions combines two car seat stages – forward-facing and booster, based on the NHTSA’s rules.
It only misses the first rear-facing stage for newborns and infants. After your child outgrows this car seat, they might not need a safety seat anymore but with the vehicle’s seat belt for protection.
Is a Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster allowed on planes?
Yes, in conditions. This child restraint is certified for use in aircraft only when used with the internal harness system. You should use it only on forward-facing aircraft seats.
Just follow the instructions for vehicle installation to install it in the planes.
However, you should NOT use this child restraint in aircraft when used as a booster seat because aircraft do not have shoulder belts.
The best practice is to contact the airline for their specific policies.
Lifespan / Longevity
How long is Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster seat good for
Just 7 years of time from its manufacture date.
According to the user manual, you should stop using it 7 years after the date of manufacture. How do you know this date exactly? You can find the label on the back of the car seat.
In real-life use, the Tranzitions might not last that long. The manufacture date is not the same as your purchase date; the former should be earlier than the latter.
That means, the actual usage is shorter than 7 years of lifespan.
One way to confirm the Graco Tranzitions last long enough for your child is to use this formula:
8 – the current age of your kid = the lasting a car seat should do for riding your child
* 8 means the eight years old when your child can get out of a car seat.
Which Installation Method Should I Use?
This car seat can be installed in your vehicle using either the vehicle seat belt or the LATCH system.
Both ways are equally safe to ride your child as long as you install it properly following the Diono Radian 3R user manual. It’s NOT allowed to use both methods at the same time.
Install Forward-Facing with LATCH Straps
1. Remove LATCH and Tether Hook from Storage Locations Unhook tether and lay it in the seat.
2. Place Car Seat Forward-Facing in Back Seat of the Vehicle Place forward-facing in vehicle seat. The bottom of the seat should sit as flat as possible on the vehicle seat.
3. Extend the LATCH Strap. For easier installation, extend the LATCH strap to its maximum length by pressing the gray button and pull out on the strap.
4. Attach LATCH to Vehicle’s Lower LATCH Bars. The LATCH strap should not be twisted.
5. Tighten the LATCH Strap Press down firmly in the center of the car seat while tightening the LATCH strap.
6. Attach Top Tether Hook Extend the tether by pressing the gray button and pulling out on the strap and attach. Consult the vehicle’s owner manual for a specific location.
7. Tighten Tether Strap Remove all the slack.
8. Test For Tightness Grab the sides of the seat where the lower anchor strap is and slide the car seat side-to-side and front-to-back. If the seat moves less than 1” (2.5 cm), it is tight enough.
Install Forward-Facing with Vehicle Seat Belt
1. Store LATCH Strap Attach LATCH hooks to the plastic rings as shown.
2. Unhook Top Tether Hook From Storage Location and Lay it in the Seat
3. Place Car Seat Forward-Facing in Back Seat of the Vehicle Place forward-facing in vehicle seat. The bottom of the seat should sit as flat as possible on the vehicle seat.
4. Route the Vehicle Seat Belt Thread vehicle seat belt through the forward-facing belt path (marked with an orange label) and out the other side. Buckle it. The seat belt should lie as flat as possible and not be twisted.
5. Lock the Vehicle Seat Belt In most vehicles today, slowly pull the shoulder belt all the way out and then let it go back in. You will hear a clicking sound. Slowly pull out on the belt and it should be locked. If not, review your car’s owner manual and section 7-D.
6. Tighten the Vehicle Seat Belt Press down firmly in the center of the car seat. Pull on the shoulder belt to tighten while feeding the slack back in the retractor.
Check Your Work
- Car Seat Does Not Move More than 1” (2.5 cm) at the Belt Path
- Harness Straps at or Just Above the Child’s Shoulders.
- Chest Clip Even With Armpits
- Cannot Pinch Harness Straps at the Shoulder
Booster Installation for Graco Tranzitions
Install Backed Booster
1. Remove The Harness System
- A. Loosen Harness Straps (A) Push down on the harness release lever while pulling out on the harness straps.
- B. Remove Straps From Metal Splitter Plate Face the rear of the seat and remove the belt straps from metal splitter plate as shown.
- C. Remove the Buckle Strap and Harness Straps From the bottom of the car seat, rotate metal retainers to the side in order to push them through the slot easier.
- D. Pull Restraint System Out of the Seat
- E. Push on Back Support to Release and Remove.
- F. Detach Lower Seat Elastic Straps On the rear of the seat, detach 2 lower seat pad elastic straps from hooks as shown.
- G. Store Metal Splitter Plate On the rear of the seat, lift the flap and fit the splitter plate into the holder. Pull the adjustment strap to tighten in place.
- H. Attach Seat Elastic Straps Attach 2 elastic straps onto the hooks on the rear of the seat as shown.
- I. Place Seat Back Hooks Into Gutters and Raise Seat Back
2. Unhook Tether From Storage location and Lay it in the Seat
3. Place Car Seat Forward-Facing in Back Seat of the Vehicle Place forward-facing in vehicle seat. The bottom of the seat should sit as flat as possible on the vehicle seat.
Skip to Step 9 if Not Using LATCH
4. Extend the LATCH Strap. For easier installation, extend the LATCH strap to its maximum length by pressing the gray button and pull out on the strap.
5. Attach LATCH Hooks to Vehicle’s Lower Anchors. Lower Anchor strap should not be twisted.
6. Tighten the LATCH Strap Remove all the slack from the LATCH strap
7. Attach The Tether Extend the tether by pressing the gray button and pulling out on the strap and attach. Consult the vehicle’s owner manual for a specific location.
8. Tighten Tether Remove all the slack.
9. Thread the Vehicle Seat Shoulder Belt Through Seat Belt Guide on the Headrest.
Install Backless Booster
1. Remove the Back Support See section 4-B for instructions on how to remove back support. Once back support is removed, store with harness straps in a safe place.
2. Place the Booster Seat Forward-Facing in the Back Seat of Vehicle Place forward-facing on a vehicle seat that has a lap/ shoulder seat belt. The base should sit as flat as possible on the vehicle seat.
Headrest and Harness
To grow with your child, the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster comes with an 8-position headrest. That’s as good as some premium models.
Along with the Graco’s unique Simply Safe Adjust Harness System, you can adjust the harness and headrest to 8 height positions with one hand at the same, with no rethreading. This saves a lot of time for busy parents.
The big headrest on both sides includes plenty of padding, which not only ensures great comfort but also provides extra side impact protection in case of any crashes.
It helps to give support to hold your child’s head when they fall asleep.
The headrest is adjustable to accommodate growing kids, up to 8 positions.
Two armrests are just on top of the cup holders. They are friendly for big kids to lay their arms with the drinks or snacks in the cup holders in their easy reach.
The armrests are just in average size, not as big as the ones on KidsEmbrace.
10. Care and Maintenance
Cleaning Seat Pad
Clean with a damp sponge using mild soap and cool water. If needed, headrest cover may be removed for cleaning. Remove harness and buckle strap. See section 4-B. Remove headrest cover as shown. Machine wash cover in cold water on a delicate cycle and drip-dry. DO NOT USE BLEACH.
Clean with a damp sponge using mild soap and cool water. If needed, the seat cover may be removed for cleaning. To remove, unbutton snaps on the seat back as shown. Remove harness and buckle strap. See section 4-B. Remove seat cover as shown. Machine wash cover in cold water on a delicate cycle and drip-dry. DO NOT USE BLEACH. Reverse the steps to reattach the seat cover.
See section 4-B for instructions on how to remove back support. On the rear of the seat, detach 2 lower seat pad elastic straps from hooks as shown. Remove seat cover as shown
Cleaning Buckle Strap
From the bottom of the car seat, rotate the metal retainer to the side in order to push it through the slot easier. Pull buckle strap from child restraint as shown.
To clean the buckle, place in a cup of warm water and gently agitate the buckle. Press the red button several times while in the water. DO NOT SUBMERGE THE BUCKLE STRAP. DO NOT USE SOAPS, HOUSEHOLD DETERGENTS or LUBRICANTS.
Shake out excess water and allow the air to dry. Repeat steps as needed until it fastens with a click. Re-insert the buckle into the same slot it was removed. Pull up on a buckle strap to make sure it is secured.
Cleaning Harness and LATCH Straps
Surface wash only with mild soap and damp cloth. DO NOT IMMERSE THE HARNESS STRAPS or LOWER ANCHOR STRAP IN WATER Doing so may weaken the straps.
If harness straps or lower anchor straps are frayed or heavily soiled, contact Customer Service at www.gracobaby.com or 1-800-345-4109.
|Suitable for||Toddlers, preschoolers, and big kids|
|Portability (1-10)||8; not that bulky or heavy|
|Weight limits (lb.)||22-65 for 5-point harness, 40-100 for highback booster|
|Height limit (inch)||49” for forward-facing, 43-57” for booster|
|Dimension||19 x 17.4 x 26.5 inches (WDH)|
|Cup holder||Two on both sides|
|Age Range||1-10 years old|
|Installation||LATCH and seat belt|
|Extra Features||Include backless mode, Graco ProtectPlus Engineered|
The Graco Tranzitions does not specify its warranty on the user manual. Its warranty is in accordance with the limited warranty of all the Graco products.
Typically, the warranty is at least 12 months for the major parts, but the manufacturer does not make this clear.
The first and most important thing is to find and check the user manual, in which you’ll find the detailed instructions to install the Graco Tranzitions properly.
It’s usually included in the package, but you can always find the online user manual on its official website, or download the PDF here.
14. FAQs on Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster
FAA Approval This seat is approved for airplane use in harnessed mode only. Belt-positioning boosters cannot be used onboard an aircraft.
In most US states, a 2-year-old child is legally approved for riding in a forward-facing car seat. That means, they can use Graco Tranzitions, which can be used in harness mode with children weighing 22-65 lbs and 27-49 inches.
It fits smaller toddlers well, but remember, kids under 2 should be rear-facing for better security considerations. If your child is over age 2 and has outgrown their rear-facing convertible car seat, this is a great fitting seat now and will grow with your child!
The Graco Tranzitions will last for 7 years of usage from its first manufacture date.
No, it can not. The Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster does not have any recline for adjusting the seat.