Chrysler weighs in on the safety of seat belt extenders.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

Chrysler corporation does not recommend the use of seat belt extenders to resolve the situation of a shoulder belt rubbing against one's neck. Seat belt extenders are designed to accomodate those vehicle occupants whose torso size requires additional seat belt length. Using an extender to relieve neck contact may result in moving the shoulder portion of the belt sufficiently outboard that it diminishes its effectiveness.
When we receive a complaint regarding a shoulder belt rubbing against a neck for a child who has outgrown car seats or boosters or for a short adult, we direct them to a completely independent company, Redlog Products, Inc., which sells SafeFit, a shoulder belt repositioner designed for exactly this condition, for approximately $15. Their telephone number is 1-800-369-6141.
Finally, in response to consumer feedback, the 1993 Chrysler Concorde, Dodge Intrepid, Eagle Vision, all Chrysler minivans, and all future newly developed Chrysler Corporation passenger cars will provide standard height adjustable front shoulder belts.
Sincerely yours,
Ronald S. Zarowitz
Manager, Car and Truck Safety
Chrysler Corporation

TOM: We've examinend the SafeFit product Chrysler recommends, and it's certainly the best "seat belt repositioner" we've seen so far. It used to be called "KidGard," but they discovered that people like my 80 year old mother were kind of embarrased to wear a thing that says "KidGard" in huge letters, so they changed the name to SafeFit.

RAY: SafeFit is also the only seat belt repositioner we're aware of that has been successfully crash-tested by a certified testing firm. In the tests, SafeFit kept the lap and shoulder portions of the belt correctly positioned in crashes involving both child and small adult dummies.

TOM: How do I volunteer for those tests?

RAY: So here are our recommendations. If you're buying a new car, buy one with adjustable height shoulder belts and an air bag. That's by far the best solution.

TOM: But if you have an older car, and your belt is uncomfortable, do something to make it more comfortable. Too many people just decide not to wear the belt, or wear it incorrectly (by putting the shoulder belt under their arm pit, for example). And so far, SafeFit is the best such product we've seen.

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