Too short for your seatbelt? One reader has discovered a solution!

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I've seen several letters in your column recently from people whose shoulder belts cut across their necks. When I bought my Ford pickup three years ago, I had to figure out a way to strap in my five year old without cutting off her oxygen supply. I went to my local Ford dealer and asked if there was anything that would help me. The service rep told me that due to many complaints regarding this problem, they developed a "seat belt extender." I was told that they never planned to advertise the extender, yet when a customer inquired about one, they were required to give them away. I told my parents, who own a Chrysler about this, and they asked their Chrysler dealer and got one free, too. Thought you'd want to know.

RAY: Thanks, Cindy. The seat belt extender works kind of like an "extension cord." If you think of a normal seat belt, it's shaped like a sideways "V," with the shoulder harness comprising the top part of the "V," and the lap belt being the bottom.

TOM: The problem that most "altitudinally challenged" (i.e. short) people have is that the shoulder harness cuts across their throats. In my brother's case, it cuts across his mouth, which I always thought was a great benefit of existing seat belt technology.

RAY: Anyway, this sideways "V" connects to the seat belt buckle, which is normally near your right hip if you're the driver. What the seat belt extender does is move that buckle to the left, so that the sideways "V" connects to the buckle around your bellybutton.

TOM: Which means the shoulder harness is more likely to cross your shoulder than your neck. It's a very simple solution to common problem.

RAY: And the good news is that Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors are all providing these seat belt extenders to their dealers free of charge, so that they can give them to you for free.

TOM: So if your shoulder belt cuts across your mouth, don't suffer in silence any longer! Go ask your dealer for a seat belt extender today.N.B. Sandy...this column needs a bit of French. Can you help?

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