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Old Car Needs Replacement? or New? Seatbelts

My teenage daughters were “given” an old car, 1988 Plymouth Sundance 4 door, by a friend who had inherited it from their elderly mother. The car was hardly driven, less than 50,000 miles, very well cared for, but the problem is it doesn’t have the front seat shoulder belts. The friends Brother In-law was using the car when they periodically visited from Alaska to get around town and somehow decided the shoulder belts were broken, so they cut them off from the mechanism that slides them up and down the door frame when you turn the car on.

I’ve been trying to find a wrecking yard that has a car we can get replacements from, but so far no luck.

So my question is? should we keep trying wrecking yards across the country, or can we get new style seatbelts installed instead? I think this would be safer than the old style ones, but not sure it?s possible to do and make secure/safe? Or, if it is possible how expensive is that to do?

I’ve Got Kids And I’ve Had Nice Old Cars, But That Was Then And This Is Now.
Seat Belts Aren’t The Only Thing Missing From That Plymouth.

You’re missing air bags, ABS brakes, and better crash protection designed into newer cars.

Do what you like, but I’d get something newer (more modern) for my kids to drive. Sell the Plymouth if possible and use the money toward a safe car.


That’s nice, but I need an answer to my actual question, should we keep trying wrecking yards across the country, or can we get new style seatbelts installed instead?

The motorized seat belts in that car are subject to a recall that came out in 1992. Being that long ago the parts may no longer be available but you sould check with a dealer.

Yes, we’ve checked and they are not available. I’ve been told my only chance is wrecking yards. However, in my searching I’ve seen ads for seatbelt kits, so I’m wondering if that is a safe and economical alternative for us.

If there was a recall, would we be able to get something from the recall? I don’t know how those work, probably a time limit?

Adding Non-Factory, Non-Original Seat Belts Or Shoulder Harnesses As A DIY Project Does Not Sound Like A Good Idea.

Probably, your only chance would be finding factory parts from an old plymouth located in its final resting place. I’d keep trying wrecking yards. Most any yard should be able to locate an 88 Sundance for you by using their computer resources.


Recalls don’t expire, if the parts are not avialable they may have to give you fair market value for the car, which may almost pay for a taxi ride home.
The part number for the recall parts are diferent than the normal replacement part so you must be clear when asking at the dealer.
Click on the link, on the left you can enter the VIN and check for incomplete recalls. If there is a recall that appies note the number for dealer reference.

Your title did ask “Old Car Needs Replacement?”, you know.

I checked the recall part numbers and they too are discontinued. The next step I would take is to remove the B-pillar interior trim panel and look for a shoulder turn loop mounting hole. This is about a half inch threaded hole. I don’t remember if drive rail used the same hole but if it is there I would use the conventional seatbelts, buckles and trim panels from a 1990-1993 Sundance/Shadow. The seat belt retractor should fit in the bottom of the B-piller where the drive motor is, however you should check to see if the anchor point is reinforced. The car will need to have those two anchor points if you choose to install a aftermarket seatbelt kit.

I had the seat belt harness on my 1978 Oldsmobile show signs of wear–in fact it even had a cut. I found a universal seat belt and harness at J.C. Whitney that I was able to adapt to the car. It doesn’t retract as the original did, but I was able to bolt it to the attachment points.
Visit the J.C. Whitney website and you might find something that will work. They still list seat belts and shoulder harnesses.

The most reasonable improvement I saw growing up was padded dashboards, they used to be steel. I just have to wonder sometimes at the rate things are going that children will only be able to grow up in a padded germ free room.

Keep searching salvage yards, but understand that when a car gets really old (ala '88) the salvage yards have long ago crushed these cars. Therefore parts for your old car are very unlikely to be available. There just aren’t many (if any) '88 Plymouth Sundances on the road anymore. It is more likely these belts were used on several Chrysler cars of that era and hopefully you’ll find something that works. Forget matching colors, that would be too much to ask at this point.

I found this using

Seat Belts
Plymouth Sundance 4SD LH GRY 090227 $Call Trade Auto Wreckers USA-NY(Medford) E-mail 631-654-5172 / 631-654-5190

  1. Those “automatic seat belts” were a stopgap measure before airbags became mandatory. At the time, cars had to have either (a)airbags, or (b)some sort of restraint that operated without action on the part of the occupant.

  2. This style of belt was less effective than a standard 3-point belt (assuming the belt was in use).

  3. One of the main reasons cars wind up in junkyards is from massive collisions, meaning a “junker” seatbelt might have already been subject to extreme stresses.

Given 1,2,3, I think the best bet would be a retrofit* of a standard 3-point belt to the car. If you can trust your daughters to buckle up, you will be providing a more effective restraint system than this car had new.

*If this is legal. For all I know, retrofitting a more effective restraint system may well be outlawed by some gov’t agency. I can’t recommend you break the law, even in the interests of safety.