Anyone who owns a car already knows how much effort goes into keeping the vehicle maintained. There is a seemingly endless list of car parts that you must take care of, from the engine to the gearbox, to the tiny light bulbs inside the cabin. Oh, and let's not forget all the many different fluids that you need to replace, as well! But of all the less urgent car parts that require care and inspection, does your seat belt need maintenance, too?
Well, considering how a seat belt protects you during a collision, the answer is yes. Yes, your seat belts do need maintenance just like any other part of your car. The good news is that you don't have to drive your vehicle to the workshop to do that. You can do it from the comfort of your home, and it'll only take you a few minutes each time.
Here’s what you need to know about seat belt maintenance.
Seat Belt Maintenance 101
When it comes to seat belts, there are no moving parts to replace, and there is no fluid or oil that you need to top up. You don’t need any equipment or supplies except for your eyes and maybe some good lighting from a flashlight or your phone.
1. Keep Your Seat Belt Clean
First and foremost, you have to make sure that your seatbelt webbing is clean. To do this, all you need is some mild soap, warm water, and a piece of cloth to wipe dirt and stains off of your seat belt.
Cleaning your seatbelt isn’t just about getting rid of ugly stains, though. The fact is that seatbelt material can and will slowly get weaker with time. That process happens much faster when you expose it to sunlight, moisture, and dirt.
By the way, that’s also why you should never clean a seatbelt using strong detergents or cleaning chemicals. Those chemicals will cause the belt to disintegrate faster than expected.
Remember: a weak seat belt will not be able to protect you in the event of an accident.
2. Check the Webbing
Cleaning the webbing of the seat belt is an excellent first step. Still, you’ll need to inspect it closely, inch by inch. What you’re looking for are signs that the material may have become worn-out or damaged. Burn marks, frayed stitching, and ripping are all warning signs that a seatbelt is slowly wearing out.
Once you’ve checked it closely, make sure that the webbing is flat. Remember: a car seatbelt needs to tighten around your body quickly if a collision forces your body against it. If the belt isn’t completely flat, it may get jammed and fail to do that.
3. Clear Out the Buckle Areas
They say that a chain is only as good as its weakest link. The same is correct about seat belts. Regardless of what kind of seatbelt your car may use, you’ll still need to buckle it down. That buckle area tends to catch dirt and all sorts of rubbish. Dust, food crumbs, even small coins might fall into the part where you buckle your seat belt.
That is dangerous because the next time you put your seatbelt on, the buckle might not catch on correctly. In the case of a car accident, that seatbelt may come unbuckled as a result.
So, as part of your seat belt maintenance plan, you should always clear out those seat belt buckles. A quick vacuum can suck out anything that may have lodged itself in there, and you can then use your flashlight to make sure the area is spotless.
4. Check the Tongue and Buckle
Once you’ve cleared the buckle area of any dirt, take a step back and check the tongue and buckle as a whole. That’s where the belt and the buckle meet, which also means that it's the most vulnerable section of the entire seat belt setup. Weakest link on a chain, remember?
Test it out. The tongue should click into the buckle quickly and tightly. You can test out the strength of the connection by pulling on the belt; it should stay attached to the clasp no matter how hard you yank.
Equally important is that you can unbuckle the belt quickly whenever you need to. Press the eject button and make sure that you can remove it without a problem.
5. Check the Anchorage
Seat belts always need to be anchored directly to the car’s structure. That guarantees that the entire seatbelt setup will keep you in your seat during a collision. So, a good part of seat belt maintenance is to inspect where the seatbelt setup meets the car’s frame.
You may need to get close to the floor to see where the anchorage is located. Bring a flashlight with you to see clearly. Once you’ve found the anchorage, look out for any corrosion, rust, or deformities of any kind. Repeat the process with every seatbelt that your car has.
If the anchorage is in good shape, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
6. Replace Immediately (If it’s worn out)
So, you’ve checked the belt, the buckle, and the anchorage. What do you do if you find damage along any of these points on the seatbelt setup? You replace it immediately, no questions asked.
Cars have many parts and several safety features. Some are less critical than others, so you can replace them whenever it is convenient for you. Others are so critical that it might even be illegal to drive until you’ve got it fixed.
Your seatbelts are one of those critical safety features that you cannot neglect at all. If you think that there’s something wrong with your seat belt, take it to a qualified mechanic or your car’s manufacturer to have it inspected. If they confirm that it’s damaged, get it replaced immediately.
Don’t risk your own life or your passengers’ by neglecting your seatbelts.
It could mean the difference between life and death someday.
Buy Only from Reputable Sellers
If you’re looking for replacement seat belts, be sure to check out Carpart.com.au, where you can browse the listing or submit a request through the site's Parts Finder. Once you fill in the details of what you're looking for and send the request, it will go out to car parts suppliers all over the country. Then, the site takes care of the searching while you wait for the offers to come in. You may then choose the most competitive quote and get those parts sent right to your doorstep! Ask for a quote now!
By Ray Hasbollah