CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

When to replace seat belts

Three questions, actually.
(1) When should seat belts be replaced? I have a '95 Miata (original owner). The belts are frayed (not just fuzzy, but with actual strings coming off) and discolored from the sun. I assume I need new ones, but I wanted to check…
(2) Can just the belt be replaced or do I have to replace the whole system, e.g. retractors, etc. How difficult would it be to replace only the belt?
(3) If I bought a belt kit from a cheap online outfit, is there any chance in hell that it would work properly and save my life?
Thanks!

I would just pick up a set at an auto recycler (junk yard). It’s a lot easier to replace the whole seatbelt assembly since they just bolt on. The bolts are sometimes difficult to remove so you may need to use a 1/2 inch impact wrench on them. I would forget about replacing the belt by itself as well as ordering them online.

I’d have to agree with missileman, and would also point out that to “replace only the belt” would require the stitching, dis-assembly and reassembly of the whole unit. I don’t think very many shops, let alone people, have that capability at home.

I don’t think I’d bother with any kind of “belt kit”, either. Although I don’t know which “cheap online outfit” you’re talking about. Sounds interesting, and I’d like to check them out. Post the URL, please.

Chase

Belts that are in the condition described by the OP are definitely due for replacement.
However, before doing anything in regard to buying replacement equipment, I would suggest checking the warranty booklet that came with the car.

I suggest this because some car manufacturers–Subaru comes to mind–give a lifetime warranty on seat belts and related hardware. Just on the chance that Mazda has similar warranty coverage, I think that it would really be worth your while to check into the warranty coverage on this car.

Thanks for the info. I called Mazda, and they refuse to replace them even after I tried to shame them by asking, “If Honda does, why not you?” They never answered that question – just said, “no, out of warranty.”

Well, it was worth a try.