Does the law require that an entire seat belt be replaced rather than just the defective part?

regulation, safety features, safety
Dear Tom and Ray:

The spring broke inside the clasp on the driver's side seat belt on my 1986 Bronco II. The spring is for the button you push to release the belt. A Ford dealer told me that I would need to purchase an entire seat belt mechanism and have the whole thing replaced for $145. He said repairing a seat belt is illegal. Then I went to a junk yard, and found somebody who was willing to take a spring out of a wrecked Bronco for me, and install it in my seat belt. The total cost, including labor, was $15. Does the law require that an entire seat belt be replaced rather than just the defective part?

TOM: Our pals at NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) tell us that there's no law that prevents a repair shop from fixing a broken seat belt. It IS illegal to render any piece of safety equipment inoperative...or take it out and throw it in the nearest dumpster. But fixing it is not against the law.

RAY: My guess is that the dealer may have a policy against fixing seat belts because of the potential legal liability. He's afraid that if you have an accident, and get hurt, you'll find some ambulance- chasing lawyer to say that it's because his dealership worked on the seatbelt.

TOM: The guy who owns the junkyard, on the other hand, doesn't really care. He figures; even if you sue him for all he's got, all he's got is a pile of junk, so what does he care?

RAY: Needless to say, when you repair something as important to your safety as your seat belt, make sure it's done correctly. And by the way, NHTSA recommends that seat belts that are damaged in accidents SHOULD be replaced rather than repaired due to the severe stresses accidents place on them.
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regulation, safety features, safety

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