The Ultimate Guide to Seat Belt Repair
Seat belts can fail for several reasons. Fortunately, many of these problems are repairable.
A do-it-yourself approach to fixing your seat belt can save you repair shop costs and improve safety. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common problems with car safety belts and how to fix them.
The seat belt webbing is woven from polyester and has the tensile strength to support 28 kNw (6,000 lbs). It is mold, mildew, and rot-resistant, unaffected by UV rays or acids. It also does not shrink. However, it can still become worn out, frayed, or chewed by dogs. If this occurs, you will need to have your seat belts replaced.
You can purchase 2″ wide nylon seatbelt webbing from many home improvement stores or online retailers. It has a soft feel and is comfortable in your hand, but it has an incredible strength. You can use it to make a game day bag or a sassy summer tote, but it can be used much more practically as a replacement for your damaged seat belts.
If your seat belts have been damaged in an accident, by a dog, or simply by time, getting them repaired by companies like Safety Restore is essential for your safety and to keep your car looking new. Professional seat belt restoration services can replace your webbing and the pretensioner in less than 24 hours and will return it to you looking like new. They are certified seat belt masters or technicians and use OEM-quality webbing that meets or exceeds FMVSS standards. They can also replace the color of your seat belts to match your car.
The buckle is the most common seat belt part to become jammed. Almost anything can get lodged inside – paper clips, coins, small toys, etc. This can interfere with the action of the springs and cams that make the tongue release or latch into place. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to fix.
In most cases, a jammed buckle is caused by something stuck in the female portion of the buckle (where the male end of the seat belt goes). First, try sticking a butter knife or similar object into the buckle to see if any impediment can be removed. If this doesn’t work, you can shoot some compressed air into the buckle or spray a little lubricant on the inner workings.
If the female portion of the buckle still doesn’t open or move when you push the red button, it’s time to take it apart and inspect it for problems. This may require removing the seat, but it’s usually the best way to get a closer look at the inner mechanism. Once you have the buckle apart, you can see the red push button, springs, and cam that keep the buckle open. If any of these are broken, it’s time to replace them! Also, it’s a good idea to clean the buckle periodically.
The retractors of a seat belt make the webbing tighten when you buckle up. These also lock up when you suddenly stop, helping prevent injury or death in an accident. They are equipped with a spring, some gears, a sensor, and a pyrotechnic explosive device that helps seat belts work as they should in the event of an accident.
There may be a few reasons why your seat belt webbing is not retracting. The most common reason is dirt and grime on the webbing, causing it to be clogged and not retracting properly. Other causes can be a twisted belt or other objects obstructing the retractors.
To fix this, start by pulling the webbing out as far as it will go and giving it a good yank. If this doesn’t fix the problem, you must take it out of your vehicle and use a screwdriver to spin the spool to let it retract into the mechanism.
Be aware that this is a very difficult task and will require patience, determination, and the right tools. It is recommended to hire a professional, but if you choose to do this yourself, be sure to remove the negative battery terminal to avoid accidentally disconnecting or damaging the seat belt’s electrical connector.
Pretensioners and force limiters (FL) are built into seat belts to restrain passengers better in a crash. They work to prevent seat belts from putting too much pressure on the chest and rib cage in a frontal impact. They do this by immediately tightening the belt and removing any slack, which helps to lessen injury.
A pretensioner looks like a gun. It’s a tube with a slug and pyrotechnic charge sitting in it that is attached to the end of the seat belt buckle. When the pre-tensioner is activated in a crash, the slug shoots down the tube and deploys the charge. This causes the spool to move rapidly back and forth, which takes all the slack out of the belt and locks it in place.
Seat belt pre-tensioners have been around for decades, and all cars and trucks since 2008 have them. They have been shown to significantly reduce injuries in tests with child-sized dummies during run-off-road events, and they also help align the passenger’s body so that the airbag can do its job.
You’ll know a passenger-side front pretensioner has deployed if you find the seat belt cinched up and straight across in the front seat instead of sagging down the vehicle’s center. You should report this finding in your patient assessment and the fact that the passenger was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.