Ever go to grab your seat belt only to have it yank back from you so you can't put it on? Popular Mechanics suggests the reason isn't the seat belt itself — it's where you parked the car.
Photo by Drew Howell.
In older cars, the seat belt often uses a system to detect a hard stop that's sensitive to how the car is parked. Popular Mechanics explains:
[The] belt-locking mechanism relies on the inertia of a ball bearing in a shallow plastic cup to move a small plastic lever. In a fast stop, that bearing rides up in the cup and raises the lever, engaging a ratchet mechanism and locking the belt. This system is very sensitive to the attitude of the car, so if you park the car facing downhill or uphill or tilted sideways, the lever will engage the belt lock.
Essentially, when you're parked on a hill, the seat belt might think you're making a stop, so it won't extend out. All you have to do to remedy this is get the car on a little more level ground. This isn't the only problem that can plague seat belts though — head over to Popular Mechanics to see the other issues.
How to Fix a Sticky Seatbelt [Popular Mechanics]