Hide-And-Seek With the Seatbelt Latch - 1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test

1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long Term Road Test

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1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Hide-And-Seek With the Seatbelt Latch

October 21, 2013

1997 Mazda MX-5 Miata

I recently did a story on the best vehicles for obese drivers. One of the things I learned while researching the story is that obese drivers are more likely to drive without wearing seatbelts. The reason is that the seatbelts on many vehicles are too short to accommodate their girth, making it difficult for larger drivers to fasten their seatbelts and wear them in comfort. There are solutions for this, of course, such as seatbelt extenders, but many of these drivers simply throw their hands up in the air and choose to go forth without being properly strapped in.

I'm not obese, but I had some seatbelt issues of my own during my first few days in our 1997 Mazda Miata project car. The problem concerns our aftermarket driver seat, which is positioned in a way that makes the seatbelt latch very difficult to reach. It's buried deep in a crevasse between the driver seat and the center console, in what I like to call the Land of Lost Things. Go rooting around down there and there's no telling what you could find. At nighttime, with no light to illuminate the process, the degree of difficulty associated with latching the seatbelt increases tenfold.

During my first couple of days in the vehicle, it would literally take me a good four minutes or so to get the seatbelt fastened. But eventually I learned to forget about those pesky bones in my hands and bend them in just the right way to quickly locate the latch. Muscle memory kicked in, and soon I was able to get the seatbelt on much more quickly.

With that hassle out of the way, I could get back to the fun of spending time in this thoroughly enjoyable little drop-top.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor


  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    Did you fix the air conditioning yet?

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    Does this have anything to do with the car being 17 years old? Things have a habit of "relaxing" over the course of nearly two decades.

  • banhugh banhugh Posts:

    Just get this and keep it handy in case of emergency. http://www.rescuetoolman.com/v/vspfiles/photos/SKU-97006-2T.jpg

  • farvy_ farvy_ Posts:

    Hey Warren, too bad you don't have a "drop-top" anymore since someone *cough Jay Kavanagh cough* decided to permanently install a hard top. Ah well, to each his own.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    @greenpony I think if the stock seat was there this wouldn't be an issue

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    This is firmly a aftermarket seat issue that I bet could be fixed safely with a bit of fabricating to make a new seat belt mount that is a few inches higher.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    Thanks noburgers. I'm not following Project Miata that closely and hadn't realized there was an aftermarket seat. I *do* remember someone carving out the padding...

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