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Thread: Seat belt retractors - serviceable?

  1. #1
    One of those purists you keep hearing about. sdg3205's Avatar
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    Seat belt retractors - serviceable?

    Has anyone breathed new life back into a lazy belt retractor?

    My drivers one seemed decent when out of the car but clearly doesn't have enough oomph once reinstalled. I have to help it recoil.
    Dave

    Here, somewhere.


  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdg3205 View Post
    Has anyone breathed new life back into a lazy belt retractor?

    My drivers one seemed decent when out of the car but clearly doesn't have enough oomph once reinstalled. I have to help it recoil.
    Try cleaning and relubricating it and making sure the belt is not twisted. It is not recommended to work on it, it is a primary safety device and you have no way to test it after tampering with it.
    David Teitelbaum

  3. #3
    Senior Member Rich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdg3205 View Post
    Has anyone breathed new life back into a lazy belt retractor?
    Yes.

    Try what Bruce tried. LINK: http://dmctalk.org/showthread.php?1814

    Looks like he got resolution in post #6.

    With all disclaimers about safety stuff.
    March '81, 5-speed, black interior

  4. #4
    One of those purists you keep hearing about. sdg3205's Avatar
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    Update

    I removed the retractor yesterday and gave it some TLC. It was clearly not safe in its current state as it wouldn't recoil without me shoving belt back down the door trim.

    I DID NOT open it up, one doesn't need to. Using compressed air and WD-40 i got the mechanism working as good as new.

    Here's whatcha gotta do.

    Tools needed:

    clamp or vice grip
    compressed air
    a vice
    WD-40 (or similar)
    shop rags

    1. Remove retractor from car (assumes you can remove trim panel)
    2. Place upright in the vice via the bracket.
    3. pull belt out all the way and gently use the vice grips to hold the belt to the cross bar on the mechanism
    4. locate where the belt terminates into the spool - this is your big access point.
    5. fire compressed air down the spool slots into both sides of the mechanism, as well as around the perimeter of the black plastic casing, and anywhere else you like
    6. turn the retractor to ONE side on the vice - fire WD 40 into the same places you did with compressed air (mop up extra lubricant to avoid exposure to belt!!!)
    7. Let it soak
    8. put retractor upright and exercise the belt in and out for a few minutes
    9. repeat with the opposite side
    10 repeat steps 6 - 9 with a second dose of WD 40
    11. Let sit upright in the vice for a few hours to let excess lubricant drain.
    12. Reinstall.
    Dave

    Here, somewhere.


  5. #5
    Senior Member Denverdelorean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdg3205 View Post
    I removed the retractor yesterday and gave it some TLC. It was clearly not safe in its current state as it wouldn't recoil without me shoving belt back down the door trim.

    I DID NOT open it up, one doesn't need to. Using compressed air and WD-40 i got the mechanism working as good as new.

    Here's whatcha gotta do.

    Tools needed:

    clamp or vice grip
    compressed air
    a vice
    WD-40 (or similar)
    shop rags

    1. Remove retractor from car (assumes you can remove trim panel)
    2. Place upright in the vice via the bracket.
    3. pull belt out all the way and gently use the vice grips to hold the belt to the cross bar on the mechanism
    4. locate where the belt terminates into the spool - this is your big access point.
    5. fire compressed air down the spool slots into both sides of the mechanism, as well as around the perimeter of the black plastic casing, and anywhere else you like
    6. turn the retractor to ONE side on the vice - fire WD 40 into the same places you did with compressed air (mop up extra lubricant to avoid exposure to belt!!!)
    7. Let it soak
    8. put retractor upright and exercise the belt in and out for a few minutes
    9. repeat with the opposite side
    10 repeat steps 6 - 9 with a second dose of WD 40
    11. Let sit upright in the vice for a few hours to let excess lubricant drain.
    12. Reinstall.
    I would recommend using wd-40 to clean and remove dirt, but use something like lithium grease in a spray form for lubrication. wd-40 is not technically a long term lubricant. very nice write up.

  6. #6
    One of those purists you keep hearing about. sdg3205's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denverdelorean View Post
    I would recommend using wd-40 to clean and remove dirt, but use something like lithium grease in a spray form for lubrication. wd-40 is not technically a long term lubricant. very nice write up.
    I see what you're saying, but lithium grease isn't suitable for this application unless you're willing to pull your retractors apart. The lube needs to move around on its own. Lithium grease won't do that.
    Dave

    Here, somewhere.


  7. #7
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    I took this picture way back in March 2002. Yes, thirteen years ago.
    I thought the seat belt could be serviceable so I removed the black plastic cover and BOING!!! the coiled spring violently jumped out as you can see in the picture.
    The coiled spring is attached at one end to the black plastic cover and the other end is attached to the metal shaft that goes through the center of the seat belt.
    The other side has a black plastic cover, which houses the ratcheting mechanism. On the mechanism side you will see the small light blue plastic thing for the passenger seat belt. The drivers side seat belt has a red plastic thing.
    Remove ONLY the plastic cover on the mechanism side. From there you may be able to rotate the mechanism thereby allowing the seatbelt to once again rotate freely.
    I threw that passenger side seat belt in the garbage a long time ago since I figured I had ruined it because I was unable to get it working properly.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member mluder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdg3205 View Post
    I see what you're saying, but lithium grease isn't suitable for this application unless you're willing to pull your retractors apart. The lube needs to move around on its own. Lithium grease won't do that.
    How about graphite in a spray?

    Cheers
    Steven
    Cheers
    Steven Maguire
    #4456


    IT'S A TRAP!!!!!

  9. #9
    One of those purists you keep hearing about. sdg3205's Avatar
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    It has been a while since I tackled this, but my recollection is that I needed a lubricant that could roll and shake around to coat everything. Give it a shot, you can't make it worse!
    Dave

    Here, somewhere.


  10. #10
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    Repairing seatbelts - my advice is don't even think about it!

    Please do not attempt to disassemble and repair any seatbelt mechanism. I believe it violates some federal law if I'm not mistaken. In any case if it malfunctions in an accident and anyone other than the person who repaired it is injured the "tamperer"s liability would be almost unlimited. WD 40 would even cause a liability issue IMHO if something bad were to happen. (Note-It is also a violation to tamper with seat tracks and/or modifications to the mounting areas.)
    Rob

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