Seat belts are designed to withstand tremendous force in vehicular accidents, but even these robust systems can become damaged over time. This damage could compromise their ability to protect you during an accident.

Luckily, seat belt problems are easy to diagnose. A few simple steps can help determine whether your seat belts are in good working order.

Loose Seat Belts

Sometimes seat belts can become jammed and locked in place. This is much more dangerous than a loose strap because it prevents the seat belt from doing its job and can allow the driver to be thrown forward into the dashboard during an accident, potentially causing head or neck injury. This problem is usually caused by objects or debris getting stuck inside the seat belt retractor’s internal mechanism. This can result from children playing and dropping small items, workplace debris, etc. This type of seat belt malfunction is straightforward, as all you need to do is firmly wiggle the webbing to jar lose the internal binding.

Another common issue with seat belts is that they get twisted or kinked. You should pull the seat belt out and check for twists or kinks to fix this. If you find one, fold the seat belt section twisted tightly and flip it over to the opposite side.

Another simple fix for a twisted seat belt is using a little WD-40 or similar lubricant on the sticking areas. Alternatively, you can heat the parts of the seat belt with a hair dryer to loosen them.

Worn Out Fasteners

While seat belts may appear relatively simple in their design, they are incredibly complex units that must work cohesively to keep occupants safe. This is why a seatbelt that is even slightly malfunctioning could be dangerously defective in an accident. While seatbelts are designed to withstand significant force, they will wear out through age and use. When that happens, it is essential to have a seat belt replacement and get the system repaired quickly.

One of the most common problems with seat belts is that the webbing can become damaged, causing it to break or fray. This can occur through regular use or due to a manufacturing defect. Webbing that is broken or frayed can significantly reduce a seat belt’s ability to protect you in the event of an accident.

Another problem that can occur with seat belts is that they become twisted. Often, this is due to dirt or other debris that has gotten into the retractor mechanism. To fix this, the spool and spring must be manually rotated and untwisted for the seat belt to function correctly.

Finally, seat belt latch plates can also become worn out. When this occurs, it can make it difficult to click the seat belt into place. This serious safety concern should be addressed as soon as possible.

Worn Out Latch Plate

The rectangular spindle that extends through the latch can become misaligned with its strike plate on the door frame. This causes the latch to bind and not fully retract or open. To fix this, clean out the latch mechanism and spray lubricant on all surfaces that come in contact with each other. Try moving the latch repeatedly to distribute the oil and loosen up any stuck parts.

If the latch still binds, use cardboard spacers behind hinge screws as shims to square things up. You may also need to enlarge the hole for the strike plate with a chisel. You’ll need to replace the strike plate if you cannot get the latch to contact it correctly (it strikes more than 1/8 in. high or low).

Worn Out Retractor Spring

If the seat belt is not retracting properly, a problem with the retractors may be to blame. Seat belt retractors use a clock spring similar to that found in your steering wheel to apply tension and wind the spool that holds the seat belt webbing. This spring can wear out over time, causing the webbing to remain slack in the car. This is often due to general wear and tear, but other reasons can also lead to this issue, including a clogged or broken spring or damage to the retractor mechanism.

The polyester fabric used to make your seat belt webbing can become brittle with age, making it stiff and rigid. This can affect how your seat belt retracts, causing it to slow down or stop working. This is especially common in vehicles with aftermarket modifications, such as a roll cage or custom seat installation.

One way to fix this is to clean the seat belt retractor. Start by pulling out the seat belt to extend it completely, then remove any debris that you can see inside the retractor. Once you’ve cleaned it, try pulling and jiggling the seat belt to see if it can be straightened out. If this doesn’t help, it is probably time to get a replacement seat belt retractor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *