It started as a simple problem when you’re driving to work. And now it simply won’t retract the way it’s supposed to be. In this article, I will help you on how to fix a stuck seatbelt.
Seatbelts are the most important automotive element especially when it comes safety. Make this the primary reason why you should consider paying attention to whatever problem this device might impose.
Reasons Why Your Seatbelt is Jammed
There are a couple of reasons why your seatbelt is stuck. It’s probably one of these causes.
This is quite common to people who often drive with their windows open. The seatbelt may absorb grime and dirt from time to time, causing it to accumulate enough that it eventually works slower than usual.
There are also cases when the retractor itself is locked. Normally, problems like these can be dealt by the dealership. However, you can actually do the troubleshooting yourself. With this, you won’t be spending time going to the mechanic to have this fixed for you.
1. Cleaning solution
You can easily beat dirt and grime with a simple cleaning process. Here’s the first solution to put an end to your slow seatbelt.
- First, you will have to get your cleaning materials. You can use a combination of hot water and laundry detergent. You can also utilize a spray-on cleaner; the one you use on fabrics and carpets.
- Retract your seatbelt fully. Make sure no slack is left.
- Prevent the seatbelt from automatically drawing back. Apply any form of clamp or a vise grip and attach it to the maximum point where the retractor is pulled out of the webbing.
- Now apply your laundry detergent and hot water combination.
- You can also use the spray-on cleaner.
- Brush the entire length of the seatbelt and make sure that dirt is totally cleaned off.
- If possible, you can even grab a bucket full of soapy water and immerse the entire seatbelt and let it soak for a while.
- Now brush the seatbelt again with clean water.
- Do the previous step repetitively until no traces of soap and bubbles can be seen in the device.
- Do NOT release the grip yet.
- Let the fabric fully dry.
- Do NOT use the seatbelts unless it has totally dried.
Now you can bring back the former retraction speed of your seatbelt and you have prevented it from getting stuck again.
2. Manual undoing
When the retractor is locked, you can try pulling seatbelt fabric as much as you can and allow one more yank and see if the locked belt will undo.
If the first attempt is unsuccessful, you will have to take the retractor outside of your car. After which, manually spin the spool with the use of a screwdriver. This should make the seatbelt draw back again into its mechanism.
3. Resetting a stuck seatbelt
Unlatch the seatbelt from the cartridge if it’s still buckled in and pull the thing until most of the seatbelt is released. Pull on the seatbelt with a little strength and try to release it from the auto-lock mechanism.
Now slowly release the belt and let it steadily go back to its mechanism behind the seat. If you notice the devise does not properly snap back to where it’s supposed to be, you can theoretically conclude the seatbelt might be twisted or tangled within. Another possibility is a jam in the mechanism itself.
Now here’s how to troubleshoot the problem.
- Using needle nose pliers or a ‘flat nose’ screwdriver as a small lever, raise and pull apart the plastic cover holding the seatbelt. Now you have access to the hardware and belt loop.
Note: Practice extreme caution in pulling off the plastic cover to prevent any damage to it. Do not raise the plastic in just one spot; use the lever (screwdriver) in multiple spots.
- If the seatbelt in question is the one in the backseat, you might need to pull off a little trick. Pull the seats down and find the seatbelt mechanism commonly just below the layer of the trunk floor.
- Ever know the location of your spare tire? The layer underneath that floor is where your target is. Simply lift it up.
- Once done, you can now pull the entire seatbelt out. Do not rush when pulling.
- Try to observe any discrepancies and watch out for any objects or any element jammed in the belt itself, as it might be the cause of this trouble.
- Use your other finger when pulling out stuck objects. For stubborn objects, you can use a needle nose plier to pull them away.
- Do not forget to check the bottom part of the seatbelt mechanism.
- If you’ve finally located the jam, simply untangle it.
- Once done, it’s finally time to roll the seatbelt back into place; just release the seatbelt slowly.
- When the seatbelt is completely in place, pull it again and test whether it will retract back into place normally like it is supposed to.
- Repeat the test a couple of times to make sure everything’s fine.
- Once satisfied, release the seatbelt and let it lock into place.
- Replace the plastic cover you have pried off earlier.
- Also put the seat back into its right position.
Note: In emergency conditions where you only have a small amount of time to get out of danger, it is best if you have a seatbelt cutter ready at hand. You simply won’t have time trying to solve the problem with solutions that take time.
For more serious seatbelt problems, it would be better to have the dealership repair it for you. Do the same thing if nothing of the solution above ever helped you. Major seatbelt malfunction may require actual replacement.
So that ends our discussion on how to fix a stuck seatbelt. It is common among different drivers across different car models to have their seatbelt jammed.
And it’s highly important that you fix this problem before it manifests in future scenarios. You might thank your seatbelt one day so make sure it works properly, today.