My seat belt is forever locked?

Hey everybody, I got a strange question today.

So, my seat belt is stuck in the “lock” position. You know when you pull too much of that belt out, and every time it gains 1cm of room back, it locks?

Well my seat belt is like that at any length, and I have to fight it for every 3cm, while losing 1cm. (So it takes me 5-10 minutes to put my seat belt on)

Anyone have any bright ideas?

Car: 1997 Toyota Corolla DX, 129k mi / 1.8L

The belt should only lock if you pull it too fast, or if the sensors detect rapid deceleration or high centrifugal force, such as heavy braking or cornering forces.

Could the belt be twisted somewhere, especially somewhere you can’t see, like down inside the plastic housing?

Can you, given enough time, pull the seat belt ALL the way out? Try it and see if the belt is twisted, or if reaching the limit resets the retractor.

If the situation doesn’t improve I’d think about replacing the seat belt or having the retractors tested to see if they meet factory specs.

This is not “normal” and seat belts should always function normally.

I’ll bet an 11-year old retractor unit is maybe gummed up with dried out grease and debris, making the lock-up mechanism stick on when it should stay loose. Of ourse, I’ll bet the retractor is hidden behind some interior panels, and therefor hard to get to. But, it will need to be exposed, cleaned, and greased. Hopefully the springs are still good, and not weak. if the springs are weak, a new retractor is the only solution.