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The quick fix to a slow seat belt retractor

Old 01-13-2019, 03:18 PM
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Default The quick fix to a slow seat belt retractor

If you have a seat belt that doesn't retract with the same vigor it did 10 years ago, fear not, there is a simple fix. I read some posts of others with this issue and most recommended buying a new unit, but that requires dismantling your B pillar. The wonders of Youtube taught me a far simpler solution.

The issue is your seat belt builds up a bunch of dirt and gunk over time and this gums up the retractor.


- What you need to do is get a bucket of hot water and put some dish soap or detergent in it.
- Put the bucket on your seat with a towel under.
- Pull your seat belt out all the way and hold it at the top guide with a pair of small vice grips.
- Dump the seat belt in the bucket of hot water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
- While you are waiting get a plastic trim remover tool and wrap a wet rag around the end.
- Slide the tool into the crevice the belt retracts into on the B-pillar. If you shine a flash light in there you will see a bunch of gunk on the guide. Try to clean as much of this as you can.
- Then slide the tool into the seat belt guide at the top of the B-pillar (the shoulder guide). If you look at this with a flashlight you will also see its full of dust and gunk.
- Then pull the belt out of the bucket and wipe it down with the rag to try to clean as much of the gunk off as possible.
- After you dry with a rag, pull it out again and pin it with vice grips. Drape it over your steering wheel to let it dry with the windows open.

Pro Tips

- After you clean it, dip the belt back in a bucket fresh water to get the soap off.
- Make sure you let it dry overnight in your garage with the windows down. Or dry it with a hairdryer.

If you dont do these two critical steps you will come out the next day with your windows fogged up and car smelling like a strip club.

Last edited by TheBruce; 01-13-2019 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 01-13-2019, 07:27 PM
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OK, I’ll ask. How do you know what a strip club smells like?
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:42 PM
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The bachelor party you were obligated to you to. It wasn't your choice, you had to.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:15 AM
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:22 AM
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Wiping the belt with armor all is another trick as it makes the belt more slippery and easier to retract/wind. That's an old trick from the 914s when the retractor mechanisms get tired.
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:49 AM
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Default As a quick clean

I took upholstery cleaner, with the scrub brush. Pull out the seat-belt and hold it out, spray the upholstery cleaner on the belt, scrub the seat-belt with the brush, let dry in the sun or in the garage with the windows down if you don't want you car to smell like a strip club....which I have no idea how one smells...nope, not at all.

I think the bucket method might work better but I never had time to try it.
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Old 01-14-2019, 10:30 AM
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I can attest to this as working. In my case it was my kids first car, a piece of crap 18-year old VW (the car, not the kid ). I had the entire seatbelt assembly out and did the cleaning as described above but in the kitchen sink - pull it all the way out, hold it in place using vice grips, let just the belt soak in hot water and dish detergent, then rinse and dry. After reinstalling it now works better than the belt in my three-year old daily driver.

Cleaning the belt without removing from the car is worth trying. If you already have the belts out, give it a go in your kitchen sink.
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