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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-26-2008, 09:32 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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DRIVERíS Seat Belt Replacement DIY

The Driver's and Passenger's FRONT Seat Belts are slow to retract. See this thread:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho....php?t=254239&

I decided to tackle this project (replacing the driver's seat belt) and did a write-up. The bottom line is that: The Brand New Drive's Seat Belt makes little difference, still slow to retract. The Spring inside the tensioner is not strong enough to retract the seat belt faster. It came from factory like this. LIVE WITH IT!

But if you decide to change the driver's seat belt, then here is the DIY:

PN:
72-11-8-198-567: Sandbeige
72-11-8-198-569: Grey
72-11-8-198-571: Black
Approx. $126 at dealer. Do NOT use aftermarket part.

STEPS:

PLEASE NOTE:
* Raise Driver Seat UP and FORWARD as much as possible, so the bolt (Torx 50) holding the seat belt is accessible.

* Disconnect battery ground cable. Why? I forgot to do this, and spent 2h playing with the seat belt, taking pics, when done, the battery is dead from door lights being on. The battery was probably weak to start with, so I ended up with a new battery!!!

Figure 1: Loosen the Driver Side REAR Door Plastic Sill, held by at least 2 clips.

Figure 2: Using Flat Screw Driver, Pry the BOTTOM of LOWER Trim (held by 3 clips). Slide the LOWER Trim DOWN from UPPER Trim, then pull it out.

Figure 3: Remove UPPER Trim by prying the 2 plastic clips, then pull the trim DOWN and OUT. When re-installing, do NOT forget to pass the belt buckle through the UPPER Trim opening.

Figure 4: Most of the friction is caused by the seat belt rubbing against the Plastic Anchor. Nothing you can do about it. The bottom line is that the seat belt tensioner comes from factory with weak spring, so it takes a long time to retract the belt.
(In contrast, my 1998 Volvo V70 seat belt works great from day one, the spring is stronger and pulls the seat belt back nicely when getting out of the car).

Figure 5: The Seat Belt Tensioner is held by a single 17-mm Bolt. When re-installing, make sure the small tab on the new Seat Belt goes in the same hole.

Figure 6: Remove the middle bar (8-mm screws), and the 17-mm Nut holding the UPPER Anchor.

Figure 7-8: This is optional. You may bypass this step. But I did it so pic is included for completeness: The Plastic Cover on the side of the Driver's Seat: held by plastic clip and Torx 30 bolt. But when trying to remove it, I broke the little plastic tab in the middle (Fig 8). Then I found out I did not need to do this as the seat belt passes right through the slit in the Plastic Cover on the side of the Driver's Seat.

Figure 9: The END of the Seat Belt is anchored by a Torx 50 bolt (at the bottom of the Driver's Seat Track). Remove this bolt, and pull the seat belt up through the slit.

Figure 10: Anatomy of a Seat Belt, when you open it, the Spring came out like a Pandora Box, impossible to put it back in. So do NOT try to service or adjust the seat belt, if your seat belt is bad, get a new one from dealer.
-----------------
SoÖ.The morale of my story is that:

1. If you seat belt works fine and slow to retract, LIVE WITH IT! Getting a new seat belt will NOT solve the problem.

2. If you decide to change the seat belt, then disconnect the battery, otherwise, you may end up with a new battery like me.....

3. Teach yourself a new habit: when getting out the car, unbuckle your seat belt, hold the seat belt metal buckle with your LEFT hand, get out of the car, then throw the seat belt metal buckle on your seat to prevent the door banging against it and the door sill (damaging paint work), the seat belt will eventually retract, but it will take up to 30 seconds or 60 seconds.

4. Anyway, I am back to square one, the seat belt still slow to retract......but I have new seat belt and new battery.......Oh and a write-up for you guys.....


cn90
1998 528i 5sp 99K miles
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Last edited by cn90; 01-26-2008 at 09:35 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-27-2008, 10:33 AM
sidneyj sidneyj is offline
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Good write up. One thing: You really don't need to disconnect the battery. Just turn off the interior dome lights at the main switch by the sunroof open/close switch. Also, as you indicated on #7 and 8 you do not need to remove the lower seat trim so I wouldn't even list it as an option. The key is to have the seat all the way forward and all the way up as far as it will go and then you can access the lower seat belt bolt more easily.

At least you only broke one tab. I broke a few tabs on the upper and lower B pillars.

Nice job......I think we both learned the hard way.

Last edited by sidneyj; 01-27-2008 at 10:42 AM.
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  #3  
Old 01-27-2008, 10:43 AM
PJB. PJB. is offline
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Thanks for your writeup. I remember your original thread, sorry it didn't help. Maybe an alternative solution will present itself in the future.
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  #4  
Old 01-27-2008, 11:52 AM
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tedm tedm is offline
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I'm really glad you did this writeup, but feel bad for you going through the work and frustration for nothing (aside from learning some things about the car). Thanks for taking one for the team! My first car (a 68 Ghia) had the same issue. My granddad was visiting us and wanted to drive it and noticed the problem. He said, "WD40 is the only tool I own (he was serious) and it'll fix anything!" Anyway, he fixed my seatbelts. I haven't found the guts to do it to the 540. The interior is a wee bit nicer than the Ghia's was then. Thanks again, cn90!
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  #5  
Old 01-28-2008, 08:32 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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I am very convinced that the BMW Tensioner comes from the factory with weak spring in the tensioner.

My 98 Volvo V70 never needs any WD-40 (this stuff smells in the car) or lube, and 10y later the belt works flawlessly.
My Honda Odyssey Van seat belt works great.
This is where Swedish and Japanese engineers are better than German engineers.

But the overall build quality of an E39 surely beats the Swedes and Japs, so I love my E39, but the seat belt is one 'great' feature that I (and all of us) have to live with.

Just teach your LEFT hand the 'new' trick: when getting out of the car, LEFT hand holds the buckle and throws the seat belt on the seat......
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  #6  
Old 01-28-2008, 12:30 PM
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e39dream e39dream is offline
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check where the belt enters the pillar. Be sure that the beauty cover has not dropped slightly down and is not pinching the belt. I've had this problem after an interior swap and it can be hard to notice and very frustrating.



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  #7  
Old 01-28-2008, 12:53 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Yep,

Checked that too during install. I installed the seat belt on purpose WITHOUT the UPPER Trim.
Same problem: slow to retract.
Again, I am very convinced it was poor design from factory.
All they need to do is increase the spring tension a bit and you are good.
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  #8  
Old 01-28-2008, 02:14 PM
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THANKS for the write up
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  #9  
Old 01-28-2008, 02:35 PM
Lunker325 Lunker325 is offline
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Thanks for taking the bullet on this "fix". I am really surprised that the new belt still retracts slow!

Its madness that a $60,000 car has a lazy seat belt retractor!
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  #10  
Old 01-29-2008, 12:09 AM
Freestyler Freestyler is offline
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I know it doesn't help you a bit. But my retractor is spooling that belt up so fast, the buckle will bang against the window if i don't hold on to it.
And that is in a '97 with 230k miles on the clock.

Maybe that's why the newer models have a weaker retractor spring? So the buckle won't smash the window on the way up..?
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  #11  
Old 01-29-2008, 05:06 PM
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devroots devroots is offline
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Thx for the diy.
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  #12  
Old 07-21-2008, 07:27 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Six-Months FOLLOW-UP.

I repaced the seat belt in January which did not change much because it was approx. 30F outside.

Interestingly, now it is 80-100F, the seta belt retracts in 3-4 seconds.

So I guess the seat belt in E39 is Temp Sensitive!!!

In contrast, my 98 Volvo V70 seat belt retracts nicely regardless of outside temp!
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  #13  
Old 03-15-2009, 03:45 PM
RedExX5 RedExX5 is offline
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Sent you a PM on this with a couple questions!
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  #14  
Old 11-12-2012, 04:43 PM
Guam135i Guam135i is offline
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Nice write uop I will attempt to release my stuck seat belt and post pictures if I am successful or not.
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  #15  
Old 02-27-2013, 06:35 AM
jygesq jygesq is offline
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try releasing pressure by unbolting end of belt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guam135i View Post
Nice write uop I will attempt to release my stuck seat belt and post pictures if I am successful or not.
than connects to the seat.
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  #16  
Old 01-01-2014, 02:39 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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Trying something a little different:

I pulled the passenger side front belt from my 99, hit the mechanism at the joint of the roller with a little WD40 and let it seep into the black plastic spring housings on each side. Hopefully I got enough in there to coat the springs and any other moving parts.

Pulled the belt completely out of the retractor and tied it off so it wouldn't go back in. I scrubbed down the guide and the belt in the bath tub while laying it flat and scrubbing with a brush and some liquid laundry detergent. I cannot believe how much mud and dirt came out of that belt. It literally made a puddle of soapy mud in the tub. It was much filthier than it looked. Yuk. The drivers side looks much worse. I'll probably take pictures of that one.

It is drying now, and when I get a chance, I'll untie the knot and see how it retracts, then reinstall and see if it's any better in the car. At very least, it looks much cleaner and even shinier. It is also much more slippery to the touch. That nylon was designed to slide easily it seems. Hopefully, this does the trick.

Last edited by jarhed1964; 01-01-2014 at 02:41 PM.
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  #17  
Old 01-02-2014, 06:11 AM
jygesq jygesq is offline
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I used silicon spray on my sluggish driver's side belt

Quote:
Originally Posted by jarhed1964 View Post
Trying something a little different:

I pulled the passenger side front belt from my 99, hit the mechanism at the joint of the roller with a little WD40 and let it seep into the black plastic spring housings on each side. Hopefully I got enough in there to coat the springs and any other moving parts.

Pulled the belt completely out of the retractor and tied it off so it wouldn't go back in. I scrubbed down the guide and the belt in the bath tub while laying it flat and scrubbing with a brush and some liquid laundry detergent. I cannot believe how much mud and dirt came out of that belt. It literally made a puddle of soapy mud in the tub. It was much filthier than it looked. Yuk. The drivers side looks much worse. I'll probably take pictures of that one.

It is drying now, and when I get a chance, I'll untie the knot and see how it retracts, then reinstall and see if it's any better in the car. At very least, it looks much cleaner and even shinier. It is also much more slippery to the touch. That nylon was designed to slide easily it seems. Hopefully, this does the trick.
just on the area of the belt where it contacts the black plastic piece you see in opening of trim piece. Belt now retracts much better. I also sprayed the plastic piece were it contacts the belt. Product is dupont TEFLON spray.

Last edited by jygesq; 01-02-2014 at 11:15 AM.
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2014, 08:33 AM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jygesq View Post
just on the area of the belt where it contacts the black plastic piece you see in opening of trim piece. Belt now retracts much better. I also sprayed the plastic piece were it contacts the belt.
What did you spray it with? Mine now retracts much better just from a scrubbing. I did hit the plastic guide with soap and water too. Figured any filth buildup there would also cause resistance.
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  #19  
Old 01-02-2014, 11:12 AM
jygesq jygesq is offline
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dupont silicon spray

Quote:
Originally Posted by jarhed1964 View Post
What did you spray it with? Mine now retracts much better just from a scrubbing. I did hit the plastic guide with soap and water too. Figured any filth buildup there would also cause resistance.
works wonders on our cars. Another use is to spray the rubber gaskets on the front passenger side door,which can be subject to rattles on bumps. Works like a charm. Available at Lowes. It is DUPONT TEFLON SPRAY not silicon spray.

Last edited by jygesq; 01-02-2014 at 11:16 AM.
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  #20  
Old 01-02-2014, 09:51 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jygesq View Post
works wonders on our cars. Another use is to spray the rubber gaskets on the front passenger side door,which can be subject to rattles on bumps. Works like a charm. Available at Lowes. It is DUPONT TEFLON SPRAY not silicon spray.
Kewl, gonna give that a try.
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  #21  
Old 01-13-2014, 05:24 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Nice thread today:
> E39 (1997 - 2003) > Seatbelt Height Adjustment Fix
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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