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Old 01-10-2017, 05:42 AM   #1
Michael Star
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Clean your seatbelts (it helps to allow them to retract again)

No seriously, it helps to fix the slow retract issue. I should have taken pics, but failed. Here are the steps though:
  1. Pull seat belt all the way out
  2. Use a clamp to prevent it from retracting
  3. 5 gallon bucket with hot soapy (I used dish soap) water
  4. Put as much as you can into the bucket
  5. Use a rag and wipe up and down the entire length of the belt
  6. Be grossed out by how dirty the water is
  7. Allow the belts to dry completely before pulling the clamp off and letting them retract
  8. BAM! Enjoy belts that retract again
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:59 AM   #2
rmdashrf
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Been meaning to do this, great tip!

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Old 01-10-2017, 09:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Star View Post
No seriously, it helps to fix the slow retract issue. I should have taken pics, but failed. Here are the steps though:


  1. Pull seat belt all the way out
  2. Use a clamp to prevent it from retracting
  3. 5 gallon bucket with hot soapy (I used dish soap) water
  4. Put as much as you can into the bucket
  5. Use a rag and wipe up and down the entire length of the belt
  6. Be grossed out by how dirty the water is
  7. Allow the belts to dry completely before pulling the clamp off and letting them retract
  8. BAM! Enjoy belts that retract again


Great guidance!


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Old 01-10-2017, 11:35 AM   #4
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Nice reminder. I probably need to do this on a few of my vehicles, though I am a bit scared of what I'll find in that water..
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please do post some pictures as not all of us can read.
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Old 01-10-2017, 12:00 PM   #5
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I am trying to find the details on seatbelt care, inspection and the need for it to be replaced. Soaking the fabric, I worry the affects.

It stems from something I read that the material ages, obviously accelerated by UV exposure, and renders them less than optimal for safety performance.

It is a topic which I would love to now more about.. any automotive safety engineers who can address this?

lAso, it usually is the retractor that needs cleaning. Though I am sure any of lur E30s would ebenfit from a cleaming after 30 years of even the most judicious use, i still do not like the idea of saturating the fabric of the belt. A 2002 guy, a PhD in NC IIRC, rebuilds these and is very knowledgeable.
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Last edited by TimeMachinE30; 01-10-2017 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 01-10-2017, 12:03 PM   #6
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another tip is to rub the belt (when its dry)with fabric softener to get rid of the smells
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Old 01-10-2017, 01:29 PM   #7
gath
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Star View Post
No seriously, it helps to fix the slow retract issue. I should have taken pics, but failed. Here are the steps though:
  1. Pull seat belt all the way out
  2. Use a clamp to prevent it from retracting
  3. 5 gallon bucket with hot soapy (I used dish soap) water
  4. Put as much as you can into the bucket
  5. Use a rag and wipe up and down the entire length of the belt
  6. Be grossed out by how dirty the water is
  7. Allow the belts to dry completely before pulling the clamp off and letting them retract
  8. BAM! Enjoy belts that retract again
This is something that may need to be done for the general wellness and hygienic purposes, but I thought, for the most part the retractor mechanism is what gets gummed up and it is the main culprit for the seat belt not fully retracting. I could be wrong though, just a thought.

Last edited by gath; 01-10-2017 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 01-10-2017, 02:42 PM   #8
TimeMachinE30
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Over on the 2002 forums,member BlueDevils. He is the Duke U professor who has a thing for seatbelts.

I will try and find the professional article on seatbelt degradation.
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Old 01-10-2017, 06:26 PM   #9
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I can't see water hurting the belt material as they are synthetic and don't absorb moisture
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:13 PM   #10
TimeMachinE30
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I would say that claim is unequivocally untrue.
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Old 01-11-2017, 12:30 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeMachinE30 View Post
I would say that claim is unequivocally untrue.
The webbing will physically trap water which could cause mold and weaken the fibers but I'm quite confident that the fibers are not absorbent. We can agree to disagree.

Either way they do age and have a life expectancy although I think the motion locks are more likely to fail than the belt and if you get rear ended hard enough the seat back will be the first thing to break.
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:15 AM   #12
Michael Star
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeMachinE30 View Post
I am trying to find the details on seatbelt care, inspection and the need for it to be replaced. Soaking the fabric, I worry the affects.

It stems from something I read that the material ages, obviously accelerated by UV exposure, and renders them less than optimal for safety performance.

It is a topic which I would love to now more about.. any automotive safety engineers who can address this?

lAso, it usually is the retractor that needs cleaning. Though I am sure any of lur E30s would ebenfit from a cleaming after 30 years of even the most judicious use, i still do not like the idea of saturating the fabric of the belt. A 2002 guy, a PhD in NC IIRC, rebuilds these and is very knowledgeable.

My only counter to this (as I am not an engineer, nor a designer of seatbelts) is that if water affected the material that much, it seems that it would have been addressed at some point. Due to the location of the belt, and the exposure to rain, and maybe the occasional spill. If I do get into a car crash and my belt fails, I will make sure to report back with my findings here.



With that said, it did help my belt to full retract without help from me now.
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Old 01-11-2017, 10:43 AM   #13
TimeMachinE30
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Sure.

Retractors are the biggest thing to prevent full, quick retraction..and it tends to be simply from grime. Nice to see you fixed your issue so easily.

My post is not an attack on your method but an interest I have had in seatbelts for a while. There is not much which addresses their life expectancy with any authoritative appeal.


@jeffnhiscars, nylon will certainly absorb water. It may not wick and absorb like cotton... but it does. It is not a personal belief but understood universally. Science is there to support this. Examine seat belts at the JY... those which have been exposed to the enviroment. Now a cleaning here and there may be just fine...thing is our belts are already some 30 years old.

Now, I have never seen a seatbelt fail. I have heard the same from firefighters. Seatbelts are incredibly strong. They are great for engine hoisting, emo kid trouser keepers and more.

Still nothing I can find evaluates their life expectancy and offers scientifically principled findings. Racing organizations have a few years before they retire a seatbelt, yes?
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Old 01-12-2017, 06:36 AM   #14
Michael Star
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Ah ok! It is always hard to tell how someone is coming across online

Also, I did spend a year as a full time firefighter and never once saw a seatbelt fail (granted a year might not be enough time). Even on cars that were 40+ years old with original lap belts held.

I found this one a site, but who knows how much validity it holds

Quote:
What is the reason that SFI requires belts to expire every 2 years? Does one color stand up better than others to UV? Are recerts really necessary or is it overkill?

The general public sees it as overkill since our daily drivers go for years with the same belts. I think that the general public is in some cases being misled. We have the factory test results on the webbing and so do the car manufacturers, so I assume that they feel it is cheaper to play the odds that nothing bad happens than to fix the problem in the first place. Makes you wonder.

Restraints are made from either nylon (most) or polyester (some) Both materials are susceptible to Ultra Violet light damage. After exposure to UV light, both materials begin to weaken and loose strength. The color of the webbing doesn't matter. If you don't believe me, take a look at some of the open cars. Look at the shoulder harnesses and compare the outside color with the color on the underneath side of the webbing. If it is faded, it is damaged. After looking at DuPonts test results on Nylon 66, there was a noticeable drop in strength after ONE WEEK!
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Old 01-12-2017, 07:10 AM   #15
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And that is a great reason I consider swapping mine for new or stringing them. A 28 year old convertible with 150k.

I too see a few crashes. Never yet did I see a seatbelt failure. The failure is when occupants choose not to wear one.
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