Do You Have to Replace Seat Belts After an Accident?

Welcome to the ultimate guide on replacing seat belts after a car accident.

After a car crash, it’s crucial to check on your vehicle for any damages, cracks, or dislodged parts. But what about the seat belts? Do you have to replace seat belts after an accident?


We all understand the significance of seat belts for our safety, as they can reduce your chance of injury by at least 45%. After an accident, seat belts might get damaged or dislodged, which requires repair or replacement.

What if you don’t notice any signs of damage on the seat belts, though? Should you replace them or save up for other repairs?

Just show me already!

What Happens to Seat Belts After a Car Crash?

In a car crash, a gas charge ignites to lock the seat belts in position. This charge ignites when the sensors detect sudden deceleration, which results in the seat belts locking in place.

The seat belts are secured in position with retractors. These retractors are controlled by the explosion of the pretension.

As a result, if your pretensioner is activated during a car crash, it won’t function again. In that case, you need to replace it.

Besides, the seat belt fabric usually stretches to some extent after a car crash, and as a result, the seat belt might not work properly after that.

Should I Replace Seat Belts After an Accident?

The answer is not always a simple yes or no. That’s because the damage depends on a few factors.

Seat belts are made out of woven polyester fibers and steel wire. In a crash, these materials will stretch and absorb energy to protect you, but if they stretch beyond their limit, they can be permanently damaged.

While some car manufacturers recommend changing all the seat belts after even minor crashes, we think it would be best to check on your car first. An expert technician should check the safety system codes and determine what should be done.

He should also check the integrity of the webbing and hardware and determine whether they need replacing or just re-tensioning. He may require replacing the sensor, inflator, igniter, or the whole seat belt.

After the technician finishes the repairs, he would carry out a complete recalibration of the seat belts and airbag system to ensure everything is working properly.

How Can I Reset Seat Belts After a Car Crash?

If you’ve never been in a car accident before, you should learn how to reset the seat belts after they lock. That’s because many people panic during car crashes, and if they don’t know the exact mechanism to unlock the seat belts, things might get worse.

The first thing to do is to try to unbuckle and then re-buckle the seat belt. This resets the mechanism of the seat belt, and it should work fine again. What if that doesn’t work?

Then, you might need to find the emergency release button. It’s usually near the seat belt buckles. When you hit that button, the lock should be released, allowing you to unbuckle the seat belt.

How to Fix a Stuck Seat Belt After a Car Accident?

It’s not uncommon for seat belts to become jammed after a car accident. This happens for two reasons.

One reason is when dirt and debris accumulate on the seat belt’s webbing, which hinders smooth refraction. The other reason is when the seat belt retractor locks.

To unlock the seat belt, try to remove the webbing from the buckle by tugging it. If it doesn’t work, you might need to pull the retractor out of the car and then spin the spool manually using a screwdriver.

That way, the seat belt’s webbing will retract into the system. If all else fails, you should contact a professional for help.

If there’s a lot of dirt and grime on the seat belt, you should clean it first before trying to remove it from the buckle.

Start by retracting the seat belt until there’s no slack. Then, place a clamp near the retractor to ensure the seat belt doesn’t retract back in.

After that, use a cleaning solution (such as water and vinegar) to spray the seat belt and remove the debris. You can also soak the webbing into the cleaning solution to loosen any dirt or grime.

Finally, let the seat belt and webbing dry before trying to retract it back into the system.

Conclusion: Should You Replace Seat Belts After an Accident?

Most seat belts become useless after car crashes, especially severe ones that entail activating the retractor or pretensioner. In these scenarios, it’s mandatory to replace seat belts.

After minor accidents, seat belts might still work fine. However, I still recommend that you take your vehicle to a car-repair service so they can check the seat belts for you.

Stay safe, and don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family!


Can I unbuckle the seat belt underwater?

Yes, you can. Panic is the main reason people struggle to unbuckle their seat belts in these situations. That’s why some drivers believe the myth that they wouldn’t be able to unbuckle their seat belts in such accidents.

Wearing a seat belt on such occasions is beneficial as it helps protect you from hitting your head and becoming disoriented in such a difficult situation.

How do I unlock the seat belt if the airbags deploy?

Airbags deploy in severe car crashes where different car components become dislodged. On top of that, some seat belts are designed to be open at a special angle.

All you have to do is hold the seat belt up to a 90-degree angle and then try to pull it slowly.

Though, some seat belts require different angles. So you might need to try the same method at different angles to unlock your seat belt.

What’s more important, seat belts or airbags?

Seat belts and airbags work simultaneously to prevent injuries in car accidents.

That being said, if the airbags deploy while you’re not wearing a seat belt, you might end up with serious injuries. That’s why wearing seat belts at all times is mandatory.

Why do seat belts lock after car crashes?

Seat belts contain an explosive charge that detonates during car crashes. This charge locks the seat belt in position firmly to keep the passenger safe from any damage. The explosion happens rapidly to allow the seat belt to lock in time.

Once the retractor or pretensioner is activated, the seat belt won’t function again, and it must be replaced.

Last Updated on March 26, 2023 by Danny Reid

Written by Linda Reid

Hey there, I'm Linda, a mom of three cool kids. I've tried so many car seats, you could call me a "Car Seat Detective." Searching for the perfect car seat can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, but don't worry! I've committed to researching and reviewing car seats that are super safe, cozy, and great for growing kids. Together, we'll find the perfect car seat that keeps your child safe and cozy, and makes you feel like a super-parent!