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 seatbelt 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.
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Why do unmitigated cheapskates like Tom continue to buy nothing but old clunkers? Find out by ordering Tom and Ray’s guide “How to Buy a Great Used Car: Secrets Only Your Mechanic Knows.” Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Used Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853-6475.
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Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or e-mail them by visiting the Car Talk Web site at www.cartalk.com.
(c) 2007 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi
and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features