DEARBORN, MI --- In an updated position statement on the repair and replacement of safety belt assemblies, Ford Motor Co. clearly comes out against the practice of collision repair shops re-installing seat belts taken from salvage or damaged vehicles. 

Ford warns that it "does not approve the use of used restraint system modules, safety belts, buckles or retractors from pre-owned, salvage or damaged vehicles. The use of such parts could lead to serious injury."

Also in the statement, Ford "recommends replacement of all safety belt assemblies in use at the time a vehicle is involved in an accident."

In the event of a minor collision, repair specialists need to conduct Ford-recommended functional testing procedures for both shoulder harnesses and lap belts and retractors, the company said. Those procedures are spelled out in Ford factory service manuals.

"If a qualified technician finds that safety belt assemblies do not show damage and continue to operate properly per these functional test procedures, they do not need to be replaced," Ford said. "Safety belt assemblies not in use during a collision should also be inspected and replaced if either damage or improper operation is noted."

Ford added that before installing a new safety belt assembly, the belt's attaching areas must be inspected for damage and distortion. If necessary, the sheet metal must be reworked to its original shape and structural integrity. Any new safety belt service parts needed must be intended specifically for the vehicle in which they are installed.

The statement was released in the automaker's On Target publication.