Jun 272011

Recently the seat belt on my wife’s car stopped retracting. This is the first time I had this happen to one of my cars. I was not too worried until I started looking for a replacement seat belt. OEM replacements are not widely available on internet stores and my favorite place to look, eBay, resulted in very few hits and even those were pricey. I decided to take a chance with a universal replacement. I do not often review items but I have no complaints with the site I ordered from: http://www.seatbeltcity.com/. There are others but I decided on this one because of the wizard on their main page. Finding the correct kit to order was extremely easy and the price was half of a used OEM replacement.

It took a week to get the package, not a lot of shipping options but it still arrived in a reasonable amount of time. Luckily we have a few cars at our disposal to borrow in these situations.

Replacing a seatbelt is pretty straight forward. There are only a few components on the standard 3-point retractable kit so I will not go into the details of replacing the belt. I will however give you a warning on what to expect when replacing a modern OEM seat belt with a universal seat belt.

First, sensors. There are lights to warn you if your belt is not clasped and in this case there is a sensor at the recoil attached to the airbag. My guess is that when the airbag deploys the seat belt locks also. In both cases there is no place to connect these items on the new universal seat belt. The warning light is not an issue since it disables itself when nothing connected. The other sensor complains if the cable is not attached. I am still researching that one but in the mean time the wife is not complaining so it is low on the list.

Next, the screws provided on the kit may or may not actually fit in your car. In my case they did not so I reused the ones that were holding the previous belt in place. The ones installed from the factory are not your normal screws; you may not have the correct tool in your tool box. I happened to get lucky and have the correct torx socket.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to modify to fit. In my case the belt latch attached to the seat (You will have to remove the seat) had a key that the OEM belt used for alignment. The universal latch had no such key. Not a problem for one of my favorite air-tools, the cut off wheel.  I cut off the key and the new latch installed fine.

All in all the removal and install was not hard, more discovery than anything else. The one thing I have never liked to do is remove interior trim panels and I had to remove a few to get to all the components. The snaps are never the same once you remove them for the first time so the panels never fit exact ever again. These were not the worst I have seen but they are definitely meant to be installed once and left alone.

 Posted by at 10:45 pm