Seat Belts, Harnesses & Safety Restraints

A guide to inspecting seat belts to ensure effective performance & compliance with 'MoT' test standards.
Seat Belts save lives - If they are in good condition!

In an accident a seat belt becomes a life saver. But wear & tear and abuse all cause the seat belt to deteriorate.
Holes, cuts, fraying or fluffing weaken the belt (see image) , can obstruct its operation, and/or cause slackness.

Loads in an accident can reduce the effectiveness of the belt.

In a severe impact the seat belt loading is approximately equal to the weight of a three tonne elephant! After an accident, in all cases, the complete seat belt should be replaced.

A passengers weight becomes equivalent to that of an elephant on impact in an accident!

Finding out that your seat belt does not protect you when you have an accident is too late!

IT'S COMMON SENSE: Regular checks are vital on the safety-related parts of a vehicle like brakes and tyres - SEAT BELTS ARE NO DIFFERENT.
The following check list was devised by vehicle safety specialists at RoSPA, and by Securon, for guidance.


Check webbing and stitching for deterioration, especially:

  • Nicks, cuts or holes
  • Frayed of fluffed webbing
  • Frayed, insecure, incomplete or repaired stitching

Check buckle is not damaged. Test security and operation by connecting the buckle and tongue, then try to pull apart; while pulling, press button to ensure release. Check for weakness in connection to vehicle. Waggle flexible stalks and listen for clicking sounds which indicate broken cable strands.

With seat belt fastened, and unoccupied seat in rearmost position, all webbing must retract fully.
The belt should lock under hard braking at 5mph and when the webbing is snatched from the retractor.

Check condition, especially for fractures and deterioration, and operation.

Look for the 'E' (Economic Commission for Europe) approval symbol.

Typical signs of wear & tear and abuse
Fraying & Fluffing

Fluffing and Fraying


Cuts or Nicks

Cuts or Nicks

Damaged Buckles

Damaged Buckles
Weak Connections

Weak Connections
Poor Retraction or Locking

Poor Retraction

Users and Maintenance Instructions
  • These instructions should be passed to the owner/driver.
  • The belt is designed for use by one person and must not be put around a child seated on a persons lap.
  • It is important to wear the belt on each journey.
  • The belt is suitable for restraining most child seats and boosters.
  • It is not intended for children under 6 years of age unless used with other approved restraints.
  • The belt should at all times be adjusted and used in accordance with the instructions. No excessive slackness should be present.
  • Once installed the diagonal should pass across the centre of the shoulder and the buckle should lie just on or below the hip.
  • Avoid twisting the webbing during use. Webbing must not be allowed to chafe, i.e. against sharp edges.
  • Do not make alterations or additions to the belt. If in doubt, consult the manufacturer.
  • Belts that have been cut, frayed, damaged or stressed through impact should be replaced. After impact, the car anchorage points should also be checked.
  • To clean use warm soapy water only. Do not use chemical cleaners, bleach or dye. Contamination with petrol, grease and acid will be detrimental.
  • Periodic inspection of the seat belt and installation is recommended.
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    SECURON 2019