Why Keep Your Classic Car Seatbelts in Good Shape?
There are lots of reasons to make sure that every component of your classic car is in good shape.
There are Legal Reasons to Keep Your Seatbelts Working
As we mentioned earlier, one of the primary reasons to keep seat belts in proper functioning order is the legal responsibility you as an owner and driver have for those traveling with you. Many states have primary seat belt laws that mandate occupants to buckle up when traveling in a private motor vehicle. While every state has its statutes and ordinances, and some states exempt certain pre-1966 vehicles from installing seat belts, some states allow law enforcement officers to issue tickets to drivers whose occupants are not wearing proper restraints. The last thing you want to do is argue with an officer or even another driver as to whether your car needs to be equipped with the proper safety equipment.
There are Financial Reasons to Keep Your Seatbelts Working
While your insurance company will likely handle the expenses incurred with an accident, you could be subject to fines and potential court costs if an accident is determined to be your fault. These expenses can sometimes be very hefty and are never easy to pay.
Often, in serious accidents, there are medical costs associated with recovery. States often have “at fault” laws determining who was to blame for causing the accident. For example, if you were determined to be 100% at fault, then the entire financial amount of repair and recovery will fall on you. If the fault was only partially yours, then both parties are held accountable depending on who determines the percentage of the blame. While both drivers might end up pointing fingers at each other, the police report, insurance company, or even a jury, may have to determine the outcome. The longer the back and forth goes, the more money lawyers rack up and the higher the costs will likely be.
There are Moral Reasons To Keep Your Seatbelts Working
Keeping your seatbelts safe and in proper working order is just the right thing to do. Seatbelts save lives. There isn’t any valid reason not to protect the people you love if you can do so. While it may not be a part of the original manufacture of your vehicle, particularly for those made before the mid-sixties, it is worth losing a point or two off of the judging platform just to know that anyone who rides in the car you drive stays safe. Most states have laws regarding children being transported in car seats or buckled up in the back regardless of whether your car is vintage or not. So, if there is even a remote chance you might be hauling some grandkids around, it is better to have the belts installed.
There are Scientific Reasons to Keep Your Seatbelts Working
The NHTSA has proven that effective seatbelt use significantly contributes to the ability of occupants to survive vehicular incidents. Many classic cars are not built with the kinds of redundant safety features present vehicles have. They simply do not hold up under the impacts of a crash nearly as well as current models. Because a lot of older model cars are heavier and more brittle, with parts that can go flying around everywhere - not to mention windshields that are not made of safety glass, it is a much better idea to ensure that older classic cars are equipped with seat belts at the very least.
What is the Best Way to Keep Classic Cars Seatbelts in Good Shape?
You can do several things to ensure that any seatbelts you have installed (or the ones that came with your classic car) are in proper working order.
Regular Inspection is Important
Take the time to look over the seatbelts to ensure the mechanisms are working correctly when debris or small coins can get into the buckle mechanism and keep them from securing properly. Clean out any debris or foreign material that might be hindering the effective locking of the mechanism.
In addition to the buckle mechanism, inspect the actual belt. Look for frayed or worn areas that might have weakened during their time in the vehicle. Seat belts are made of fabric and can wear over time. If you notice any tears or fraying, replace the belt immediately.
Give the seatbelts a firm tug to ensure they are adequately secured to the car frame. You don’t have to tear them out of the seat, but they must pass the pull test. The idea of seatbelts is to restrain forward movement so that a body doesn’t fly forward or get ejected from a car crash. A quick pull test can reassure you that the belt has enough hold.
Regular Cleaning is Important
If your classic car is in storage, dirt and dust can build up on the belt and cause deterioration. While it might take years of exposure to the elements, any moisture or dampness can contribute to a weakening of the fabric. Regular cleaning with upholstery or gentle fabric cleaners can help keep the belt fresh and free of dirt and grime. Just like grime eats away at the fabric of seats or carpets, seat belts are not immune to the same influences.
Seat belts can also dry out if exposed and fade in response to heat or direct sunlight. If you notice a dryness to the fabric or the belt appears faded in places, this could be a sign of weakness. You should consider replacing the worn belt not just for functional reasons but for the suitable aesthetic belts that can give to the look of your car.
What Should I do If I Need to Install Seat Belts in My Classic Car?
The best thing you can do is take it to a car restorer who can ensure that the belts are installed correctly and take the pains necessary to make them attractive. While you might feel that it is a job you can perform yourself, it is always better to let a professional shop perform the repair. (This can help you, later on, minimize responsibility should the car get into an accident and the belts fail to do their job).