I just got home with the beater I hope will get me through the next year or so–a 1993 Mercury Villager minivan. Previous owner disabled the automatic shoulder belts (fortunately, they’re locked at the rear of the door, so I can use the shoulder belt by just clicking it into the belt mount). Any idea how I might go about re-enabling the automatic doodad, or, considering what a general pain automatic shoulderbelts are, should I just leave well enough alone?
I can think of 2 or 3 simple ways this might have been done. First, look for a pulled fuse. That would be simplest if nothing else is on the circuit. Next he might have disconnected either the motors or the door switches. You’d need a service manual to figure out where/how that might be done. I hope the PO didn’t cut wires.
I’ve had a couple different cars with automatic belts and I have not found them to be a problem.
The whole purpose of the automatic belt thing was to have an involuntary restraint system so they could go on not putting airbags in for a couple more years. If you/your passengers/whoever you may lend the car to are the sorts of people who always wear your seatbelts anyways, I wouldn’t worry about it.
I could see how he would want them to work again, though, because it is a pain in the neck to have to buckle two belts (the shoulder and lap) when you get in the car, and it’s hard to reach all the way back to the B pillar buckle.
Are you sure they were intentionally disabled? Are you sure that they didn’t just stop working? There should be an access panel in the B pillars, in which the motors live. You might check to make sure they’re plugged in. FWIW, the belts in my '90 Thunderbird still work quite well. The thing is, though, if you don’t wear your lap belt, they’re not going to help you much.