Introduction: Disable an Automatic Seatbelt With Kung Fu

About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific I…

My 1996 Ford Escort has an automatic seatbelt. Here's how to disconnect it with Kung Fu.

After doing this the seatbelts still work fine in "manual mode", just like in regular cars designed by nature and God's true servants.

This seatbelt bad idea thing is a robot that slides back and forth in a track up and over the door. It's a big pain in the neck. Literally and figuratively. In a horror movie it would strangle someone. When I tie things to the roof with a rope, I have to untie it from the inside before getting out or the damn slider thing runs up against it and makes breaking sounds.

The one on my passenger side was already broken on my car. That one is fine for the passengers, but the mechanism makes clicking sounds so I went looking for the source.

Step 1: What If the Seatbelt Is Jammed?

So your old Ford Escort has a seatbelt track that's jammed in the wrong position?

Look to the right of the doorjamb. Pull off the little round cap. There's a hex socket there. Turn that with an allen wrench to manually reel the seatbelt slider to the correct position.

What if the garbage disposal unit that feeds your biogas digester is jammed?
There's a similar looking hex socket on the bottom of that. Turn it to unjam the unit.

The path to righteousness cannot be traveled in cars.
If you must get one it should be as small as possible. And don't get a new car.
That causes new production which cooks baby angels with napalm.
Your car should dine as low on the foodchain as possible.
Get a diesel to run on Waste veggie oil or biodiesel made from it, for example.
If you can't find one of those, get an old economy car in the meantime.

Step 2: Pry the Wall Skin Off

Grab the lip of the plastic wall skin by the doorjam and below the side window. Pull hard.
It will pry off and look like this. You don't have to completely remove it, just to get under it.

This is the jammed passenger side unit. The black thing is a DC brushmotor. Mine is hot because it's struggling to move. If you need a motor for something, this is a good place to get one.

Step 3: Pull the Plug

Look carefully at the plastic electrical connector.
The manufacturer's spec says it's "natural nylon color".
There's a little latch button on the side.
Push that and pull the plug out of the socket.
Tuck it out of the way where it won't short on anything.

After I did this the clicking stopped and the motor cooled off.

Step 4: Replace the Wall Skin

Push the wall skin back into place.
Make sure the little plastic rods and hooks go into the proper holes.
Bang on it along the edge til they all click into place.
You've just experienced one of the jobs in a car factory.

Step 5: Straighten the Weatherstripping

Pull the weatherstripping away from the edge of the doorjamb.
Re-insert it in the track in the side of the wall skin.

If you're car has a seatbelt alarm you might have to hunt that down and disconnect it also, but this car doesn't have one.

You're done!
Your kung fu has defeated the robot seatbelt!
You've modified the car and made it better than when it left the factory.
All with no tools or weapons but the mighty force of your skillful hands!

Spread the good news!