Dear Tom and Ray:
You guys are great, and my 6-year-old loves you, too. Please help me stay sane! I have a 14-year-old Honda Civic that runs great, even with 174,000 miles. My only problem is that the seat-belt warning light flashes and the warning noise beeps constantly. There is nothing wrong with the seat belt itself, but there obviously is a short somewhere. The cost to replace the entire seat-belt system is more than the car is worth at this point. But the cost of the therapy I'll need if I don't get this fixed or disconnected is even more! The mechanics say they wont touch it (i.e., disconnect the beep). I can't tell where it's coming from under the dash, or I'd yank it out myself. You have got to help me! Keep up the great work. -- Jane
TOM: I'm not sure why you'd have to replace the entire "seat-belt system," Jane. I agree with you that it's probably the fault of a disconnected wire or a 15-cent electrical switch somewhere.
RAY: It's going to take a little bit of investigation, though. It could be in the driver's seat latch, where you insert the buckle. There's a switch there that tells the light and bell to turn off once you've fastened the seat belt. But, unfortunately, that's not the only possibility.
TOM: Right. It could be that the weight sensor in the passenger's seat is bad, and the car thinks there's a passenger when there's not. That's easy enough to test, by fastening the passenger seat belt and seeing if the warnings stop.
RAY: But I agree with your mechanics -- I wouldn't just disconnect the warning system. It's there for a good reason. And if you think therapy is expensive, try orthopedic surgery!
TOM: So I'd take it to a Honda dealer. They're most likely to have seen this before, and may be able to home in on it quickly. Plus, it's likely to be covered by Honda's lifetime seat-belt warranty. Did you know Honda has one of those?
RAY: As long as the problem wasn't caused by an accident or by abuse (e.g., your kid pouring his juice box down there), it should be covered.
TOM: And even if it's not, fix it anyway. You'll be safer and saner. Poorer, yes. But safer and saner.