Sunday, April 5, 2009

Prius Repair #1

I’m aborting for now. I think I could replace the seat belts, but I don’t have the right part at this time, so I’m going to stop and not do this halfway.

After our incident with Deuce, I called a couple dealers this week to get an estimate. One didn’t bother to call back, and one told me it was $226 a seat belt and then $200 install for each one.


Apparently these seat belts have some electronic integration and an explosive charge that goes off when an accident occurs. And then they have to be replaced. I wasn’t sure I believed him completely, sounded like large-car-manufacturer FUD to me.  I’m sure there is some charge in there, but I’m not sure it’s needed or that it works substantially better than older seat belt technology. Maybe, but I’m not convinced.

We decided to try it ourselves. After all, we’re engineers, geeks, we can do-it-ourselves!

So today, after a lazy morning, doing some playing with Kendall, I went out to try and open up the old seat belts and see what I was dealing with. I started on the back, thinking those were simpler, but the trim was a bigger pain, so I moved to working on the front driver one. After wrestling with trim for about 30 minutes, I figured out how to get it loose. Actually I could have done it sooner, but I was tentative about breaking things. Once I pried a little and could see around the edge, I realized what I needed to do and applied a touch more elbow grease to get it loose. Once I did that, I saw this:


Once inside, I could see a seat belt integration mechanism, and sure enough there’s an electronic connection. My guess is this works something like the Saw-stop wood saws. However it’s still about 4 bolts that need to be removed and replaced. I called Tia out to look since I didn’t think the generic replacement belts we’d gotten would work and she agreed. Likely they wouldn’t fit in the space and allow the trim to close.


I couldn’t get the electrical connection to come off, and wasn’t even sure how to get it. Since I didn’t want to a) break it or b) leave it hanging loose), I bolted the belt mechanism back in and decided to leave it for now.

Tia’s going to call the insurance agent and discuss the impact to our policy if we just have someone fix it. If that doesn’t sound like a good idea, I think I’ll order the $226 parts myself and just bolt the belts in.

We did debate having someone sew up the belts. I didn’t think anyone would do it because of liability, but it’s something to ask about. Looking at how the belts are put together, they’re sewn anyway at the connection point, so maybe someone would do it. Or at least do the middle one in the back.

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