A seat belt retractor contains a sprocket with teeth on it that grips the seat belt. A horizontal lock bar allows you to lean forward and gain extra shoulder harness while driving with the seat belt on. The force of pressing the brakes quickly or an impact causes the lock bar to rotate and press the seat belt into the sprocket teeth so it cannot move. This protects you from additional movement that would otherwise likely force you into the windshield or from side to side, resulting in potential injuries. When you remove your seat belt to exit the vehicle and the retractor does not pull the excess belt in, it is a sign that the retractor is faulty and needs replacement for your safety.
Remove the seat belt retractor mounting screws in the cover. The cover is directly below the shoulder mount of the seat belt and is a small door. Turn each screw counterclockwise to loosen them and pull them straight out. Pull the cover straight off and set it aside.
Place a pair of adjustable pliers on the retractor mounting bolt. Turn the pliers counterclockwise to loosen the bolt and pull it straight out. Pull the adjuster cover straight off. Remove the adjuster bolt with adjustable pliers in a clockwise direction. Pull the bolt straight out.
Remove the lower lap belt mounting bolt near the floor with adjustable pliers in a clockwise motion.
Grasp the retractor in one hand and pull the retractor down off the free end of the seat belt.
Insert the seat belt into a new retractor and slide it up towards its mounting point. Replace the bottom lap belt mounting bolt and tighten it clockwise with adjustable pliers.
Replace the retractor adjustment bolt and tighten it clockwise with adjustable pliers. Snap the cover on the retractor.
Align the retractor bolt-hole on the mounting bracket. Insert the mounting bolt and tighten it clockwise with adjustable pliers. Replace the cover, insert the mounting screws and tighten them clockwise with a screwdriver.
Some models of retractors may differ slightly in design, but all retractors remove from the bottom of the seat belt in the same manner.