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CarJunky AutoAdvice

Seat Belt Retractor not locking on 96 Firebird

Showing 2 out of 5 Posts | Show 3 Hidden Posts
Question From Guest on Seat Belt Retractor not locking on 96 Firebird

Hello, I have been having enormous trouble with a 96 Firebird i recently bought from a dealer who i can only describe as an absolute ^%%$£%&^%$(**^*&&%$!!!!!! The most recent problem is now with the seat belts. On all four seat belts (and this seems to be very recent) when the belt is pulled quickly, none of them now lock. Obviously this is worrying, because thats the whole point about seat belts, they lock and stop you going through the window. Does anyone have any idea as to what this could be????? can i fix it myself??? i honestly have no more money i can spend on the car, im broke.

Also, I have been told by mechanics that the car has been wrecked before, though this was NEVER brought to my attention by the dealer. Legally, can i get him for this? I'm literally at the end of my rope, if anyone has any advice it would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks, Tom

Response From DanD

I’m not sure what would be going on with the seat belt(s) without having a look at them?
Now if this car was in an accident and the air bags have deployed, any of the seat belts that were in use during the accident, need to be replace.
This car has what is called, seat belt pretensioner; when there’s a collision that the air bags go off; this pretensioner is also set off. It pulls the seat belt back against you; too hopefully hold you firmly in your seat. They are a one time use and after they go off you can’t feel the difference in the use of the belt; until the next time the pretensioner needs to work.
Here in Ontario every vehicle must pass a government regulated safety inspection before a vehicle’s ownership can be transferred to a new owner or the vehicle is allowed to be driven legally on the roads.
My garage is an accredited safety inspection station and I cannot issue a safety certificate with a known defective seat belt.
I don’t know what the law is where you live but here, I would be held responsible for issuing a safety certificate on a “defective” vehicle. Not the person doing the selling; even if they knew or hid the fact that there was a defect and didn’t tell me or the new owner. Buyer/repairer beware!

Response From Tom Greenleaf

Guest:(Tom) You used the symbol for the Brittish pound "£" - - are you from and is this car exported to the U.K.? Dan and Guest: Does anyone know if this car was made for export at all? That could change a lot of specs that are in place for the US and Canada that I know of. That car would be tagged here if its airbags went off until they were certified fixed and the car would still have to pass a state inspection at least in many in the US. Pretty much 96 and up will get marked so a search of the VIN would tell if this was in a collision beyond just a dent. It might be too clever to export a car to the U.K. with a troubled VIN.

There's a thing called "car-fax" here that tell lots about a car/vehicle including anything that might have been needed to pass an inspection here or that it didn't and wouldn't show that it was resolved.

You might get some info at perhaps www.DMV.org on anything known if that car was registered in the US,


Ps: I knew of and worked on a 1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham that was unique - metric gauges. speed/odo and amber rear directional required for the Phillipines where the car was exported to so GM has been up to this before.

Response From Guest Top Rated Answer

hi again, haha yeah i am originally british, but i'm currently in south carolina and have the car registered here now. My problems have been, well, im young, and i dont know anything about cars and i saw this firebird and instantly wanted it. The dealer said he would fix it up to, i quote, "an execelent condition" and then sell it to me for $3000, which is the cheapest id come across for a car like that. When he finally called me to say that it was ready I went along to see for myself and was pretty dissapointed overall, but went ahead because i still loved the look of it and it seemed to drive ok (to put this into some context, my last car in the UK was a 1.2 Renault, never again....) so after telling him and his 'mechanics' that i thought the engine wasnt quite right (i've been driving my girlfriends v6 firebird alot and i felt it was different, not quite as quick) the dealer gave me a warranty on the engine and tried to convince me it was fine.

So far, the engine has not been the problem, however i've had to have the bearings in the rear differential replaced, the front wheels aligned, new front tires, new window motors... and now, this thing with the seat belts and i honestly have nothing more i can spend on it. I havent tried driving and then braking hard to see if they lock, im going to do that in abit and ill see if it does, its just that im always used to the seat belt locking if you pull it too hard, and the fact that it doesnt worries me.

As i mentioned before, the mechanics that have worked on it say that its been wrecked before, i tired the DMV website, but from what i could see i would have to pay to do a search, and i cant be &^%&^* with that right now. I will do eventually, but im just wondering, say it had been wrecked, and the dealer didnt mention it, is that illegal??? because i would have thought that he'd have to know about all the cars he was selling.

Thanks for all your answers though, theyre all very much appreciated.


Response From Tom Greenleaf

Check with your insurance or an inspection station as to what the laws are for SC. That would be illegal for "dealer" to sell here without stating in writing what was wrong. Lots of cars get some body work and there is a line where the car gets it's VIN pulled and the title will be tatoed "Salvage" and you would have known that if you bought it here, MA. Salvage cars can be a great deal but even they need to pass inspection or you don't use public roads with it!

This is almost certainly a car made for the US and I think by model year 96 changes about the enertia belt system that once was non electrical - just a weight with barbs that grabbed the belt when the car slowed down quickly or of course a collision. DanD knew more about what that car should be like than I do. They may be fine and I simply don't know how they should behave in that car With all four doing the same thing they are either all broken or all well??