Q: I drive a 1998 Dodge Ram 1500 crew cab with the 318-cubic-inch engine. Both driver and passenger seatbelts have locked in the retracted position, and I can't pull them out. Has anyone else had a problem with the belts locking?
A: The seatbelt retractors are controlled electronically by a seatbelt control module. This module normally sends battery voltage to solenoids within the retractors to keep them released under normal conditions. When braking, a g-sensor (part of the control module) instructs the controller to stop sending voltage to the seatbelt retractor solenoids, therefore locking the retractors and holding you securely to the seat. The g-sensor monitors gravity force and horizontal attitude of the vehicle. When gravity force reaches about 0.7 g (accelerating or decelerating) or the vehicle is tilted in any direction at an angle of more than 45 degrees, voltage to the solenoids is removed and the retractors lock. You may have lost voltage (or ground) to both retractor solenoids. The voltage actually comes from fuses #16 and #12 in the junction block on the left side of the dash. It's then applied to the solenoids by the control module, so after checking the fuses, check for voltage and good ground circuits at each solenoid. The problem could also be from a faulty seatbelt control module itself, a wiring break or poor connection in one of the involved circuits, or an incorrect sensor input to the module (such as sending the message that a door is open when it's actually closed). There's also a test-mode feature described in the service manual that overrides the seatbelt control module to aid in diagnosis.
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