June 21

How to fix a stuck seat belt

Repair

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You don’t need to be reminded just how crucial seat belts are for your safety while driving. They hold you securely in your seat and might be the difference between life and death in the event of an accident. 

Unfortunately, every once in a while, seat belts tend to get jammed which can expose you to great danger!

While this is a problem that can easily be fixed when you take your car to the mechanic; it doesn’t hurt to know how to fix this problem yourself. After all, you can’t always rely on technicians to get everything done for you.

In this post, we take a look at how you can fix a stuck car seat belt!

Why Do Seat Belts Get Stuck?

Before we dive into the details, you must understand that there are different reasons that may cause your seat belt to get stuck. Each of them will require a different approach to fix the problem.

Case 1: Fixing a Seat Belt That is Auto-locked

Sometimes, the seat belt might get jammed as a result of the auto-lock function. This is a relatively simple issue that you can easily sort out. All that is required is to free up the seat belt from this position. Follow the steps below to fix this:

Step 1- Ensure that the seat belt has been unfastened and that it can move freely. 

Step 2- Pull the seat belt  so that you are holding more of the seat belt and instead of fastening it, let it retract.

Step 3- Note the length and how the belt is hanging at this point. If it retracts into its usual position, the issue has been resolved. If this is not the case and the belt is hanging loosely, there might be a serious underlying problem.

You might want to try the other solutions in this guide.

Seat belt

Case 2: Fixing a Tangled Seat Belt

If you tried following the steps above but nothing is working, then you might have to pull out and expose the full length of the belt to diagnose the problem. Possibly, the belt could be tangled somewhere inside. Follow the following steps to solve it:

Step 1- Remove the plastic covers that the belt retracts into. You can use a screwdriver or a pair of pliers. Simply slip it under the plastic cover then pop it upwards. If the stuck seat belt is on the back seat, you’ll first need to examine the locking mechanism in the trunk.

Move the seat forward and check the floor of the trunk to inspect the belt mechanism. 

Step 2- Once you have access to the full seat belt, pull it all the way out to expose the full length. Use a clamp to secure the belt at the top so that it doesn’t retract then slowly examine the whole length of the belt.

Do this by running the belt through your finger and checking for any tangled areas. In some cases, tiny objects might end up getting stuck to the fabric of the belt, remove such to ensure the smooth operation of the seat belt.

Step 3- If there are no stuck objects, then the belt may have accumulated dirt that is causing it to jam. Remember that most people forget to clean the seat belts when washing their cars. 

There are so many things that car belts come into contact with such as sweat, dead skin, fluid spillages, etc.-that may latch on to the belt fabric and impede its retractability. 

Alternatively, the fabric may also harden from extended use and become less flexible. Thus, the belt might not snap back into place effectively, which means you should clean it. 

seat belt

Step 4- Soak the belt in a warm trough of water with a little detergent and allow it to soak for about 15 to 30 minutes. Wipe it with a clean and dry piece of cloth then give it some time to dry. The seat belt should now operate smoother and snappier. 

Step 5- Reassemble the seat belt to test if it's working. Once it is correctly reinstalled into the mechanism, pull it out and release it to check how well it retracts. If the belt returns to its usual position, then your problem is fixed.

Otherwise, you might want to check the actual seat belt mechanism to fix the issue. 

Case 3: Fixing a Jammed Seat Belt Mechanism

The seat belt mechanism is a complex device featuring a spinning gear wheel that enables the belt to pull out and retract. In some situations, the wheel can get stuck, resulting in problems when you try to pull out the belt.

While this issue might demand more work than the other two problems above, it is still doable. Just follow the steps below:

Step 1- Clean the side panel to get a clear path to the belt mechanism. In most cars, you’ll notice two side clips holding it down, and these are located at the bottom of the car.

Step 2- Lift the clips by slipping a flat-headed screwdriver underneath , popping it upwards. You might find the front clip a little more challenging to pop and this is because it’s attached to the car using a hidden screw. 

Step 3- Locate the locked compartment on the vehicle’s floor and use a screwdriver to open it. From here, safely remove the front clip. 

Step 4- With the clips out of the way, it’s now time to remove the side panel. You can use a screwdriver to separate it or simply pull it out using your hands. It shouldn’t be difficult as there are no screws attaching it to the car. 

Step 5- Remove the seat belt mechanism by unscrewing the bolts using the relevant keys. Use your finger to pull away the clip connecting to the mechanism. 

Step 6- Turn the device to its side to expose the several pins securing it down. Remove the pins and locate the small box that’s also held down by more clips. Remove these too so that the box is loose and take off the plastic lid.

Step 7- Remove the two plastic pieces underneath the plastic lid and on top of the second piece, you’ll see a spring that should also be removed. Once you can access the gear wheel, rotate clockwise to unjam it. 

Pull the belt to confirm that the gear is turning freely. If it is, your work is done and you now need to reassemble everything.


Conclusion

There are a number of reasons why a car seat belt gets stuck. Luckily, some of these problems are easy to resolve and you don’t need to take your car to the repair shop. You might want to attempt to fix your car belt using one of the solutions above to ensure that your safety on the road is not compromised. Nevertheless, never shy away from consulting the professionals if you end up getting stuck somewhere!

About the author 

James Ruhle

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