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Wearing your seat belt is one of the best ways to stay protected when driving or riding in a car. In fact, it’s required by law that you should wear one. However, your car’s seatbelt can sometimes get stuck or malfunction, which could be a large safety hazard. Here is how to fix a stuck seat belt.

Fixing a seat belt that won’t retract

Woman In Car Seat Belt Safety.
Woman In Car Seat Belt Safety. | via Getty Images

A common issue is having a seat belt that won’t retract back into its retractor housing or lock under deceleration, which can render it useless in an accident. Your car’s seat belts are made of polyester, and that fabric can easily get gunked up with dirt, debris, and oil from your skin over time. It’s kind of a gross thought, but think of what your shirt would look like if you didn’t wash it for years. Yes, that’s what is on your seatbelt.

Fortunately, the fix for this issue is rather easy, as you’ll need a small tub of soapy water, a clip, and a towel. Here are the simple steps from RX Mechanic:

  • Fill the small tub with water and some laundry detergent
  • Put the tub of soapy water on the driver’s seat and pull the seat belt out of its housing completely
  • Attach the clip to the very top of the seat belt so that it doesn’t retract into the housing
  • Take the rest of the seat belt and dip it into the soapy to clean it up
  • After cleaning the belt, dry it with a towel and let it dry in the sun completely. The drying process could take up to 12 hours

After completing those steps, your car’s seat belt should be clean and dry enough to retract completely into the housing.

Fixing a seat belt that is jammed

If your car’s seat belt auto-locks when you pull on it, just like it would lock in the event of an accident, then it’s likely jammed. According to Bumper, the best fix for this issue would be to slowly pull on the belt or let it in a little until it resets back into the housing. By slowly pulling on the belt a few inches, the auto-lock should reset on its own.

Fixing a seat belt buckle that’s stuck

A belt buckle is seen in a car.
A belt buckle is seen in a car. | Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

If the female end of the seat belt assembly – the buckle – is stuck, then one easy way to fix it is to stick a butter knife in it and clean it out. Like the seat belt itself, the buckle end is prone to having food, dirt, and other gunk stuck in it over time. Typically, cleaning this part of the mechanism will work just fine. But if it doesn’t, then the buckle may need to be taken apart or replaced.

If all else fails, have a mechanic fix it

A seat belt latch in a car.
A seat belt latch in a car. | Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

If the aforementioned remedies don’t work, you can always take the car to a mechanic. They will have the tools to fix it and if needed, they can order the parts to replace the mechanism. After all, a car’s seat belts are the first line of defense when you get into an accident, so they’re super important. As always, remember to buckle up when driving your car, even for shorter drives.


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