How to Replace a Car Spring Loaded Seat Belt Retractor

Automobiles these days are equipped with a standard three-point shoulder/lap belt. These belts are made of materials or mechanical parts that can become worn. Normal wear and tear through everyday use or exposure to extreme temperatures can cause seat belt damage. If your seat belt is not operating correctly, it could be something as simple as a twist in the belt or the belt itself may be dirty. If, upon inspection, you find neither of these issues to be the case, the seat belt retractor could be broken and should be replaced. Read on to learn more.

Extend the seat belt to check for twists or kinks.

Remove the bolts holding the seat and the seat itself for easier access to inspect the seat belt, if you need to.

Remove the interior panels.

Remove the bolt from beneath the retractor.

Pull the seat belt all the way out; hold the retractor straight up to move the belt out.

Push some of the belt out of the other side; use a screwdriver to pull out the loop, if one is present.

Remove the bar, if present, to release the seat belt from the retractor.

Thread the seat belt into the new retractor.

Reinstall the bar, if necessary; test the seat belt for correct operation.

Retract the belt fully if everything is working properly.

Reattach the panels and the bolts.

Replace any mounting bolts or other worn out parts that may be present.

Reinstall the seat, if necessary.


Make sure the seat belt is always connected to the anchor points. Torque all bolts back to factory specifications. Keep the belt itself clean. To do so, simply extend the belt and wash it with a mild detergent and soft brush.


Always try to find a factory replacement, but if one is not available, a universal replacement should work fine. It should also be noted that certain makes and models may extend the warranty to such small parts no matter the age of or mileage on the car. Check with your dealer before attempting to replace a seat belt retractor on your own.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Ratchets and sockets
  • New retractor
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