Seat Belt Extenders: Not just for airplanes

You know how you get used to your life and forget things other people take for granted?


Listening to Lesley & Marianne’s Fatcast I started thinking about how life is different for superfat folks than it is for those size 24 and below.  I shop in different catalogs, I have a seat belt extender for my car … wait, did I ever blog about my car’s seat belt extender?

Seat belt extender, detached.

I didn’t.  Oh.  Okay.  Well then.  I have a seat belt extender for my car – two, in fact.  I’m not sure everyone my weight would NEED one.  In my case, with my body shape, I need it.  I got them with the car, which was purchased new from Toyota* at the end of 2001.  Toyota provided them free of charge, but did insist on measuring me and the man of the house to make sure we a) needed them and b) got the “correct” size.

This extender is rather like the extenders on airplanes**, in that it buckles right onto the “normal” buckle.  As a result it’s removable (and in fact it’s recommended that we remove it for people who don’t need it.)  It ends up not just extending the reach of my seat belt, it also moves the “pivot point” for the shoulder belt over about 10″, which makes it fit better across my torso.

Seat belt extender, attached

Manufacturers vary in terms of how they handle seat belts that don’t fit their customers. Some will provide or sell extenders, others install longer seat belts.***  There are also aftermarket solutions, such as extra-long seat belts and the “universal seat belt extender“.

What I do without an extender?  It partly depends on the car.  In most cars I can just use the belt as a lap belt only, and put the shoulder portion behind me.  Yes, this is less safe.  It also is often the only way to make it fit, and I’m not willing to ride in a car without a seat belt fastened.

I have demanded larger rental cars when the first one’s seat belt didn’t fit at all.

Update:Amazon sells seatbelt extenders too.


*Yes, a Toyota Prius.  No, I’ve had no problems with the gas pedal.

** Living XL and Amplestuff both sell multiple types of airline seat belt extenders.  Different airlines standardize on different types.

***The site maintains information on getting extenders or longer seat belts for many types of cars.  Honda is the most notable manufacturer that doesn’t provide extenders.  The group FAQ includes some information about this and also on cars in general, but it is possibly out of date at this point.



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14 responses to “Seat Belt Extenders: Not just for airplanes”

  1. ladyjaye Avatar

    What I need is not so much a belt extender as one of those gizmos that make the over-the-chest part of the belt sit properly. Whenever I wear a full seat belt (ie. not just at the stomach level), that strip rubs into the side of my neck, which probably isn’t safe in case of an accident. I wonder if the apparatus I’m looking for exists in a portable way to be used in other people’s cars?

    1. Persephone Hazard Avatar

      I have this too, though I suspect it’s because I’m short rather than because I’m fat. I just put my arm through the gap, so that instead of rubbing against my neck it’s underneath my armpit, if that makes sense.

    2. living400lbs Avatar

      Between the extender moving the lower anchor point of the shoulder belt more toward the middle of my body and lowering the top point (it’s adjustable on my car) I can usually control this. In other people’s cars, well, this is why the shoulder belt is often BEHIND me.

  2. notblueatall Avatar

    Oh nice! I had no idea they actually had something specifically for cars. Rad! I’m wondering, do you just snag these up when you fly? I’d been considering buying my own for airplane usage back when I was a corporate traveler, but now? I’d rather not fly anytime soon anyway.

    1. living400lbs Avatar

      Turns out there are multiple types of latches for seat belt extenders. My car’s extenders don’t fit my husband’s Toyota much less airlines. This site has more information on seat belt extenders for cars:

      There are companies that sell airline seat belt extenders so you don’t have to ask for one or worry about them running out, and they note that you need different models depending on the airline. I don’t have an airline one, but I also go years between flights, so ;)

  3. Erin S. Avatar
    Erin S.

    I’ve never needed a seat belt extender (which is odd, you’d think a size 26/28 would need one… but then, thats what we’re trying to get through societies head after all isn’t it, that not everyone who meets one given measurement will have the same issues or needs as everyone else who meets that same measurement… so not odd at all really…) but due to my height the seat belt totally rubs on my neck in our current car. Never had that problem before either! heh.

    Anyway… Walmart sells a perfectly serviceable “sleeve” you can wrap around the belt and it works wonderfully for me, so many those of you with that issue might want to consider looking there. If I remember right it was under $10, and mine is like 2 years old so it’s pretty sturdy. And it doesn’t seem to change the angle of the belt or how well it works during sudden stops. Although mine has never been tested in an actual accident, as we haven’t HAD one lol

  4. vesta44 Avatar

    Kia also doesn’t have extenders for their vehicles’ seat belts. I had to hunt for mine online, and I had 2 options, 5″ or 15″, either were $35 each. I got the 15″ one, the 5″ would have been too short. It works on the front seat belts but won’t work with the back ones. My DIL needs an extender when she sits in the middle row bucket seat in my Kia minivan, so I’m going to have to see if my extenders from my old Windstar will work.
    As for changing where the belt hits you, there is a device that holds the shoulder harness to the seat belt and keeps the harness from hitting your neck. This one,, is used for locking in baby carseats, but I had one in my 1992 New Yorker and it worked great for locking the shoulder harness and seat belt together. This page on has several different types of locking clips for seat belt/shoulder harnesses –

  5. Tehomet Avatar

    Fortunately I’ve not had this problem in cars. I do have the problem with the cross-body part of the seat belt digging into the side of my neck; I tie it back with a bandanna. I always ask for an extender on airline flights, though. On some flights in Nepal and Laos, the stewardesses or stewards didn’t have extenders, and they were perfectly sanguine about letting me fly without a seat belt on! Which was a bit nerve-racking.

  6. Paper Plane Pilot Avatar

    Ah yes, the seat belt extender. My mother-in-law goes to church with us on Sunday’s and at 86 has a hard time with seat belts. Got her one and now it is easy for her to hook up and keep her safe at the same time.

    The only problem is I take the grand kids out to the fly field to fly their rubber band powered airplanes and they invariably disconnect the seat belt extender and hide it in some nook or crany, requiring me to hunt for it on Sunday mornings.

  7. Jay Avatar

    I don’t mean to come on here and start pitching products, but I did want to let everyone know that we sell these buckle-in Click-and-Go Car Seat Belt Extenders at More of Me to Love.

    They’re largely universal, and we’re always happy to help people find the right fit for their vehicles. These work just like the one pictured above for the Toyota.

    We also have a number of seat belt adjusters (we call them the Frankie and the Loopo) that keep seat belts from hurting your neck.

    For being a Living400lb reader, we also want to give you 20% off anything you get from the Seat Belt Extenders and Car sections of our website. On the shopping cart page just enter Living400lb in the Discount Code field.

    If you have any questions, please let us know.

  8. Fat chick Avatar
    Fat chick

    I’ve got extenders for all the family vechiles ( the manufactures charged us over $30 each) but in one of the cars the extender only works in the front seat and on long family trips I tend to ride in the back. The company doesn’t even make em for the back seat. I’ll have to look in to the universal extenders. plus when I ride in someone else’s car or a rental I wouldn’t have to worry about fitting comfortably.

    1. Jay Avatar

      @FatChick – If you write me at jay [at] momtl [dot] com I will do my best to help you find something that will fit in the back seat of that vehicle. Since our extenders are already less than $30 (and include free shipping) and you’re a reader of Living400lb you get a 20% discount, I’m sure we can find you a great solution at a better price. I look forward to hearing from you!

  9. […] mentioned before that I have a seat belt extender for my car (provided by Toyota). In other cars I often use a shoulder/lap belt as a lap belt only, which is less safe, but the only […]

  10. […] had better luck with car manufacturers & Amazon, […]

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