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My Model S has seat belts for skin(nier) drivers (and no tow hook).

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by jkliu47, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. jkliu47

    jkliu47 Member

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    Of the niggles my wife had with the Model S after we took delivery (no visor lights, cup holder position, no grab handles), the only one that remained a complaint after 8 months of blissful driving is the fact that the rear seat belts seem to grab excessively. So much so, she refuses to sit in the back at all times.

    And the fact that several of our friends who took test rides also notice this while riding in the back bothered me. So I included it in items to be checked in my first service visit. But the SC checked and said the seat belts were working normally.

    So I decided to examine this issue more closely myself. And here is what I found.

    AFAIK all seat belts except for the driver's has a point at which the 'ratchet' function triggers when extended beyond a certain amount. At that point the only movement allowed is for the belt to retract, not to extend. We are all familiar with this action - upon which the usual solution is to unbuckle, let the seat belt retract almost completely to release the ratchet, then re-buckle. Since all belts lock when subject to sudden movements (as in panic stops, accidents), I think the only reason for this ratcheting action under normal circumstances is so the belts can be used to anchor child seats.

    Measuring the maximum amount of seat belt slack in my Model S, I find that all are 59 to 60 inches; with the exception of the center rear belt at 67 inches.

    Comparing to my BMW 5 series sedan, the same numbers are respectively 65-66" and 77". A full 6 to 10 inches extra.

    I didn't know what to think of this, comparing between different manufacturers, but was a bit annoyed because the BMW actually had less rear seat legroom and space. I could definitely belt-in sitting within the limited confines at the back seat of the BMW and move around without getting 'ratcheted'.

    Then last week I had a chance to check my friend's newly delivered Model S - also a S85, and his rear belts had 67-68" and 72" slack!

    Also on whim, I decided to look under his frunk carpet - and lo and behold there is a tow hook neatly occupying the depression made for it! I asked my SC, and they claimed that tow hooks in their showroom demo cars are added only because they are demo cars.

    So is my Model S made for skinnier people? And is it tow hook-less... for a reason?
     
  2. romac

    romac Member

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    The last time I was in the Tesla Gallery here in Scottsdale, the product specialist opened the frunk, pulled up the carpet and there was the tow hook. Looks like you just screw it in somewhere in the underbody. (he was really looking for a jack) :biggrin:
     
  3. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    I asked Tesla about the lack of tow hook in my frunk, and they said they'd order me one (my car was built after the frame was updated to support it, but I didn't get one for some reason). I was hoping to have it before the trip down to Monterey this weekend, but looks like that's not going to happen.

    Regarding the belts, my wife also hates sitting in the back. They lock frequently, and refuse to unlock until you unbuckle. We're expecting a son in a few months, and the belts seem to lock more frequently for her, and they make her quite angry. So she always sits in the front now. :biggrin: I just had the car in, but there were so many other things to fix I left that for the next time.
     
  4. jkliu47

    jkliu47 Member

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    #4 jkliu47, Jul 14, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
    @romac - I believe the tow hook is screwed in somewhere in the front behind the front 'nose'. Approximately where the 12V battery jump terminals are located.

    @gizmo - when did you get your P85? Mine was picked up in Oct 2013. I wonder if the more recent cars have different seat belts installed.

    I thought about the problem a bit more. The reason there is no ratchet lockup problem sitting in the front passenger seat (even with same belt slack length) is probably because forward movement is restricted anyway because of the windshield. Whereas rear seat passengers can move more, especially interacting with the other passengers (and children).

    So an extra 6 inches in belt movement would reduce/remove this problem, especially with adults and those of 'wider' girths (or a baby on the way :tongue:).
     
  5. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    Early Model S builds do not have the threaded receptacle for the tow hook, and thus do not have a tow hook. Later builds do have the receptacle, but some did not come with the tow hooks. AFAIK all EU deliveries do have tow hooks. Ask your service center to check your build.
     
  6. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    Mine's been in for the rear belt issue. I believe something was done, but I so rarely have anyone back there that I wasn't sure... until today when I took a party of co-workers for lunch and it happened again. My wife refuses to sit in the back, but my 86 year old mother doesn't seem to have any problems with the seatbelts back there.
     
  7. Zextraterrestrial

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    they changed the rear slots in my car. I think newer cars might have changed again. The 'newer' slots made the belts able to pull out but they still lock on people. Before the new slots it was really hard to even get the belts to come out.

    the buckle areas are pretty hard to get the belts into
     
  8. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    My wife's issue was that the belt would lock as she tried to pull it out and around her before it was extended enough to reach the buckle. Then, if she did get it on, it would lock up at the first bump in the road and just about strangle her. This was supposedly fixed, but she still won't sit back there. As far as I can tell from those who DO sit back there, the problem of locking up as it's being pulled out is resolved, but it still seems to sometimes lock up tight causing the passenger to have to unbuckle and re-extend the belt. I don't believe the slots were modified.

    So far, the fixed buckles seem to work okay for my passengers. They seem to prefer it over the type that flops around on a short piece of seatbelt webbing.
     
  9. austinEV

    austinEV Active Member

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    I haven't studied it, but I think it clearly relates to if you are 'round'. I have no problem in the driver or passenger seat, but if you are round it is in the locking zone by the time you buckle in and then it's insta-lock time and frustration. Tesla's are definitely biased.

    Child booster seats also simulate this but it's way more frustrating. My daughter has a booster seat with a back, which means she uses the regular seatbelt over the seat. It has the same problem, by the time she has it around her chair it might be in the lock zone. And if she doesn't thread it around the booster seat arm right, it will be locked and literally impossible to retract enough to disengage the ratchet. I have had to curse and pull out the seat entirely to free the belt, re install the seat, child and start over.
     
  10. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    Mine's late November.

    I'm not sure that's it. My step-mother is tiny, and it happened to her 3-4 times on a trip up to Napa and then down the 1 (maybe 4 hours of drive time). It also happened to my wife a few times, though, as mentioned, she's pregnant.
     
  11. jkliu47

    jkliu47 Member

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    I re-checked my belts, and the more precise measurements are - 62.5" deployment for back L and R seats, 68" back center, and 60" for front driver and passenger seats.

    Examining the belts, the ratcheting action starts towards the end of travel of the belts. And as can be inferred from the experiences of several respondents, this limit can be reached in depending on how individuals pull out the belts to buckle in. Some use one hand to extend the belt, and then use the other to buckle in. Others will use just one hand and in one motion draw out the belt and buckle in. Also, securing child seats requires full extension of the belts to buckle in. I suspect there will be less complaints of ratcheting with those who belt in with one hand, because the belts wouldn't be fully extended beyond what's needed to buckle in.

    Still even after buckling in successfully without ratcheting, the opportunity still arises because there is much more room to move around (ie leaning forward) in the back seats - meaning the chances of pulling belt out to end of travel is increased.

    The reason there aren't many instances of this happening to front seat passenger or driver is because the driver's seat belt DOESN'T have a ratcheting action; and front passengers cannot lean forward as much because of the windshield and dash. And chances are they move the seats back for more legroom and thus reduce the seat belt draw.

    In summary I think the easy solution to this issue is to install seat belts with longer travel (67" +?) And as I found out recently - this may have already happened in recent (2014+) Model S's.

    Can those who are lucky to have no seat belt issues, confirm this? What's the length of belt play and what year is your Model S?
     
  12. jkliu47

    jkliu47 Member

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    #12 jkliu47, Sep 18, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2014
    UPDATE:

    1) Part department got me a tow hook.

    2) My rear seat belts have been replaced by the Service Center.

    Here is SC description of issue and resolution.

    Concern: Customer states Rear Seat belts are too short for comfort....etc.
    Corrections: 2nd row seat belts general diagnosis. Inspected rear seat belts for being too short. Confirmed seat belts were an older revision which are in fact shorter. Replacement required.


    For those with earlier Model S's that have experience similar problems - you should bring it up at your next Service call.

    PS For the record my new rear seat belts now measure 74" deployment (vs 62.5" older belts).

    PPS Replacement done at no cost.
     
  13. invisik

    invisik Member

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    Do you just release the buckle and then push it in again to release the belt? Mercedes seat belts frequently get un a scenario where they won't tighten anymore until you unbuckle and rebuckle it, which sounds kinda similar.Sorry I haven't experienced tho yet on the Tesla.
     
  14. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    There is a $20 fix for this...

    Search Amazon for a E4 certified type A seatbelt extender.
     

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