Engineers, Lawyers, and Bureaucrats (no seat belt for you) | OVERLAND BOUND COMMUNITY

Engineers, Lawyers, and Bureaucrats (no seat belt for you)

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Vincent Keith

Rank III

Advocate II

Port Ludlow, WA
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Never mix the three of them together, or you'll get something that is designed to make you crazy.

[begin pathetic attempt at humorous rant]
There is a reasonably common problem with, at least, the 2nd gen Dodge (93-2001/2) and maybe Gen 3 as well. And by reasonably common I mean, I found information on a dozen forums and a couple of youtube videos on how to fix it - if, in fact, it was 'it.' I walked out to the truck this morning and headed off to do some errands, and get brunch. All was well, brunch was great, coffee was okay.

After brunch - okay it was breakfast in the afternoon, and there is no time of the day or night that breakfast isn't the right thing to eat. So there! Anyway, I returned to the truck only to find that I could not pull out the seat belt. It was fully retracted into the seat - and locked. Wouldn't budge. I drove home sans seatbelt.

Now, I've been a huge fan of seat belts ever since I worked as a volunteer fireman and EMT on Mercer Island way back when the Floating Bridge had the reversible lane. For those of you who can't imagine what I'm talking about - picture - every day, in the morning, the four lanes of freeway from the suburbs to Seattle would for a few hours become three lanes in - one lane out. In the evenings, it was three lanes out, one in. How did you know? The little Green Arrows and Red Xs over each lane. It was for years the deadliest ten miles of highway in the country. Bad idea, but a good tool to teach young idiots such as myself that seat belts were a good idea.
Where was I? Oh, right, no seat belt on the way home, short drive, no problem. Into the house, I go. I promptly pull up the handy dandy interwebz - WTH is wrong with my truck? I ask. Many answers, mostly confused, often with lots of unuseful advice interjected by people who didn't bother to read the original post. For example, I learned that my problem is that I don't have a diesel engine, and therefore I'm not actually driving a truck. Great, good to know.

I find that there is a weird little seat belt controller with what I assume is a bazaar attempt at an inertial trigger using a ball bearing. This device might be the problem - assuming both seatbelts are locked - Hmm, I don't know, I don't sit in the other seat - what else?

Oh, there is a tiny little solenoid inside the seat that is part of the seat belt retractor. When it get's told to by the seat belt controller, it locks. And sometimes it just locks all on its own. Why? No idea - no one seemed to have any idea why - although one guy with lots of shop manuals and many details did say they got rid of it in 2002. Which indicates to me, they finally figured out that it was not only not useful, but kind of annoying. So why was it there in the first place? Because some lawyer was looking to reduce liability associated with some decree by some bureaucrat and asked the engineer to fix a problem they didn't have. So the engineer came up with what I'm sure they thought was a stupid idea but would solve the stated problem.

So, I went outside to check the passenger side seat belt. No problem works fine. Tried drivers side - nope works fine. More research. The little control box has a timer - apparently, if it doesn't like something it puts you in the penalty box for a while, but it's not going to tell you what it was that you did wrong because that would be useful.
Now, I can either preemptively replace what may or may not be a failing seat belt control unit at approximately $130; or I can wait to see if it happens again. All because someone mixed a little engineering with a dash of lawyering and a pinch of bureaucrating.
Don't do it - please for the sake of the children - just don't do it.
[/end rant]
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Rank V

Member II

Pleasant Hill, CA
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Ham Callsign
Working on cars for a living I can tell you there has been a few times You just ask yourself...
why? Why did they do that? Wtf is wrong with you? Looked good on the CAD on your screen? Ever wonder what happens if it fails? Etc

Just give me 1 min with the team that design ______(fill in blank with part)

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