Three tips for seat belt maintenance

Three tips for seat belt maintenance

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Seat belt laws have been in place long enough that most everyone has become accustomed to buckling up. You get in, reach over, pull the belt across and click it in place. It is most likely such an automatic part of getting ready that the act hardly gets noticed.

As a result, seat belts can end up being neglected. But just because a seat belt clicks in place does not mean it will function as intended. Seat belts need to be inspected and maintained like any other part of the vehicle.

What to look for

First, take a look at the functionality of the retractor. If the belt does not retract properly, the belt ends up being too loose against the occupant and won’t properly restrain in the event of an accident. That empty space gets taken up pretty fast!

Another issue with seat belts that do not retract properly is that they end up getting caught in the door as it is closed. Closing the door on the belt can damage the belt webbing or the latch tongue that inserts into the buckle. Also, a belt caught in the door will be pulled out of that trapped position fast if an accident takes place which means the effectiveness of the belt is reduced because it is now much too long to restrain much of anything.

Second, pull the belt all the way out and look at the webbing. Spots where things have spilled may have made the belt harder than 10-year-old beef jerky, resulting in a point where the belt could tear and fail. Look for fraying and other damage to the belt webbing.

Third, check the buckle and tongue for proper operation. Buckles seem to attract a lot of trash that can make them stick or not latch properly. Look to see if the tongue is bent or damaged in any way.

These are only a few simple steps to remember during maintenance. They may seem obvious, but keep in mind that all vehicles are different and have different safety maintenance needs. Always check the service information to see if there are other recommended seat belt inspections, as well as criteria regarding seat belt parts replacement. You don’t really want to take any chances when it comes to something as important as seat belts.

This article was contributed by Jake Schell, associate product manager for Mitchell 1’s Commercial Vehicle Group.

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