STICKY SEAT BELT? HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO
For safety’s sake, it’s important to keep your seat belts in tip-top shape
When seat belts get sticky or constantly jam, they can be a real pain every time you get into your ride and buckle up. Some of the most common causes of slow recoil action and intermittent uncoil lock-ups are easily serviced without special tools.
If one or more of your seat belts are suffering from slow recoil, take a moment to feel the fabric weave of the belt. If it seems stiff and has lost its softness and pliability, you may not have to do any further diagnosis. Grime, oils, and general dirt from our collected clothing, combined with the nasty environment of our mobile greenhouses can take their toll.
The first — and possibly only — step to take is to wash the belt in a solution of warm, soapy water (mild dish detergent is OK). Without fiddling with any interior trim, simply pull the belt out as far as it will go and hold it from recoiling with a plain clothespin snapped onto the belt at the shoulder loop on the door’s rear pillar.
Then, set the bucket down on the floor, but move the seats as far as possible out of the way. Stuff as much of the belt into the soapy water as you can, agitate it a few minutes and let it soak for a half-hour or so.
When you look at the state of the water at the end of the soak, you may be disgusted with its filth. Give the belt a rinse in a clean bucket of water and thoroughly towel dry it before letting it recoil back into its base. If your restraint has returned to its normal function, congratulations! You can repeat the cycle for the upper part of the belt that didn’t touch water the first round.
If your belt is still a little slow, you might have to consider the possibility of dirt, dust, and whatnot having accumulated into the retractor itself. This is where DIY hacks may have to end in favour of a more professional approach; almost all latemodel vehicles use an explosive detonator to recoil the front seat belts in the event of a collision.
If you’re not sure if your ride is so equipped, check first before poking and prodding around the seat belt bases. Some employ these devices in the recoil spool, and some in the inner belt’s base. Shop technicians will disconnect the main battery before doing any work, thus removing the risk of unintentional activation.
If, during any cleaning or inspection of your seat belts you find any fraying on the belt itself, you will need to get it replaced for safety’s sake. The forces that belts are subjected to in a collision are considerable, and any weakening of the material due to fraying brings a real risk of failure when you need them the most.
Some of the most common causes of slow seat belt recoil action and intermittent uncoil lock-ups are easily serviced without special tools.