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Previous in Blog: Saga of the Unsafe Seatbelt – Part 1   Next in Blog: Saga of the Unsafe Seatbelt – Part 3

Saga of the Unsafe Seatbelt – Part 2

Posted January 25, 2011 8:00 AM by WadeAbbott

This is part 2 of a multiple-part series. Click here to read part 1.

How did it happen? Our best guess is that the driver's seat was removed when Saturn of Albany, my local dealership, was repairing the leak, mentioned previously, in 2008. I can remember being told that they removed one of the seats in the second row in order to pull up the carpet and find the leak. I cannot recall being told that the driver's seat was removed. However, based on the wear marks on the seat belt bracket, it appears that the bracket was properly bolted at one point in time. Additionally, there is a plastic "boot," normally located at the base of the seat belt, which is missing. That's only apparent after looking at the seat belt on the passenger side.

Since Saturn of Albany no longer exists, my next step was to call GM customer service. I did so on Oct. 14th, and they expressed the requisite concern that it was a serious situation. When I asked what could be done to rebuild my trust, the answer was to take the vehicle to a nearby GM dealership for a safety inspection.

That led to a discussion of cost. I was told that there would be a diagnostic fee, probably in the neighborhood of $100. If further safety problems were found, GM customer service said they might be able to work out some cost reductions. I was reminded that the Relay is out of warranty. Never mind the fact that the vehicle was under warranty when the seat belt was installed incorrectly. Upon my request, I spoke to a second individual, supposedly a supervisor, but the answer remained the same. The supervisor told me that he could not kick my complaint up another level. Wow! That's customer service, huh?

I was not content to leave it there. It's a critical issue. Not a mere annoyance like some of the electrical problems in the vehicle. So, I posted some Facebook messages. I tweeted about it: here and here. But I had no intention to blog about it until later.

No intention, that was, until I heard the news on Friday, Oct. 15th. GM recalled over 300,000 Chevrolet Impalas. Why, you might ask? I'll let GM's press release do the talking:

"General Motors is recalling 322.409 Chevrolet Impalas from the 2009 and 2010 model years to inspect for a small number of vehicles whose front seat belt webbing may not have been properly secured to the lap belt anchor pretensioner mounted to the side of the seat nearest the door.

Vehicles with this condition may have an anchor that can separate in a crash, and therefore may not meet the anchor strength requirements of the U.S. and Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that covers seat belt assembly anchorages."

Yup, seat belts that may have been improperly installed. I'll grant you, the problem is not identical. But it is eerie. In the Impala recall, customers do not have to pay for the inspection or repair. Not the case for me.

Editor's Note: Read the conclusion of this three-part series tomorrow on CR4!

Photo courtesy of Hans Drews, used with permission.

This post is a consolidation of various posts found on the author's personal blog at The author is grateful to CR4 for graciously providing the opportunity to share this story on their website.


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Re: Saga of the Unsafe Seatbelt – Part 2

01/26/2011 9:34 AM

Contact the regional manager for GM Service. Take the decision OUT of the local dealership's hands and put it in the corporate management's.

I made the mistake of owning a saturn once. Won't do it again it spent all of it's time in the shop. Same with Chevy. Owned one that spent at least as much time in the shop as in my driveway. won't own another GM vehicle EVER. They are dead to me. Won't do you any good to sue them, they are government/union owned and probably have sovereign immunity.

I drive Toyotas exclusively now. Yes they have had problems, all automakers have, but both of my vehicles have a lot of miles on them and still run reliably.

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Re: Saga of the Unsafe Seatbelt – Part 2

01/26/2011 3:41 PM

I appreciate the advice. And I, too, will not buy a GM product again. If they had shown the proper concern for the safety problem I might not feel that way. For the future it'll be another manufacturer for me.

Anonymous Poster
In reply to #2

Re: Saga of the Unsafe Seatbelt – Part 2

01/27/2011 7:50 AM

Ditto got rid of my last Chevy years ago.......

Dodge trucks now. 300k on my 94 diesel. Luvn it.

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