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Old 03-14-2009, 01:14 AM   #1
GoingNuts
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DIY Front seat removal and seat switch box disassembly E46 Coupe

Having eliminated various rattles in my car, my front passenger seat rose to become the most prominent source of plastic rattles and creaking. Of course there were leather squeaks too. But I found those less annoying. So I did nothing about those.

The seat was moved back. The plastic caps for the front rail nuts were unclipped.



The two front nuts were removed. The installation torque for these was 45Nm plus an additional quarter turn (I could only make 1/8 turn and gave up. Not sure I understood TIS correctly when it stated 45Nm and 90 degrees).



The seat was moved forward and the two rear bolts were removed. The installation torque for these was 45Nm plus an additional quarter turn (I could only make 1/8 turn and gave up. Not sure I understood TIS correctly when it stated 45Nm and 90 degrees).



The seat was moved so that the seat rails were centered relative to the seat base. This reduced the risk of the rails scraping anything as the seat was taken out. The seat was also lowered to the lowest point.



The battery was disconnected at this point. If this was not done and the car was used while the seat was out, an airbag light would show, and only the dealer or a specially purchased tool could reset it.
The front of the seat was lifted so that the seat back leaned on the rear seat.



Under the seat, a large cable connector was disconnected.



After laying down a thick layer of padding on the door sill, the seat back was pushed forward, and the seat was rolled sideways on the padding, in a summersault fashion, out of the car. When the seat was out, I was holding it bottom up. I did not need to take off the head rest.



With the seat out, the car probably lost 50 pounds in weight. I attributed a traffic light race win later in the day to the lighter car. Maybe the missing seat produced +10hp.



The normally hidden side of the seat. The explosive seat belt tensioner was what would cause an airbag light if the battery was not disconnected while the seat was disconnected, and an engine start was attempted.



The familiar side of the seat, and the source of rattles and creaks. Just a quick grab on the plastic trim was enough to produce all kind of cheap plastic noises. On hindsight, the plastic seat trim could be dismounted without removing the seat from the car. But TIS gave false information. So I had to take out the seat to work out how the trim could be dismounted.



Underside of the seat. Plenty of stuff down there. But none of that produced unwanted noises, with a possible exception for the springs. As my passenger seat was mostly unoccupied, spring noise wasn't a problem. So I didn't do anything with them.
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Last edited by GoingNuts; 03-15-2009 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:29 AM   #2
Len013091
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So, what are you doing to solve the rattles?
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:36 AM   #3
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+1
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:38 AM   #4
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Patience, young jedi. I don't have the dark side powers of Darth Vader to be able to conquer the rebel base in 5 minutes.
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Old 03-14-2009, 01:46 AM   #5
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Lol, you gonna use dynamat or something like that?
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Old 03-14-2009, 03:09 AM   #6
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To begin dismounting the seat side trim and seat switch box. A very short torx screw was removed from the back of the seat.



The rear inside clip (at the base of the left arrow) of the trim was pushed towards the seat floor to unclip. The rear outside clip (circle) was lifted towards seat floor to unclip. Then the rear of the trim could pulled away from the seat in the direction indicated (right arrow).



The clip on the under side of the trim at the front where circled was then unclipped. Correct unclipping of this was essential or unclipping of remaining clips at the front would be impossible. The second picture below showed the clip was unclipped.




Finger was inserted between trim and seat side to feel for the front inside clip. Its approximate location was indicated by the red bar. The clip must be pushed down towards seat floor to unclip. The afore-mentioned rear inside clip could also be unclipped in this way once the clip location was known.



The front outside clip was then unclipped. This finally allowed the trim to come off.



On the inner side of the trim was mounted the seat switch box. The box was attached to the trim by a couple of flimsy clips on the one side as circled, and by simple hooks on the other side. The switch box and the trim accounted for all of the plastic rattling and creaking on the seat. The box was weighty. So on rough roads it just rattled as those clips were not tight fitting, nor were they substantial to prevent bouncing of the box.



With the switch box detached from the trim, it could then be disconnected from the cables.



With the trim and switch box removed, no other plastic parts on the seat rattled or creaked.



The switch box creaked like there was no tomorrow. So it was disassembled for analysis using a miniature torx T6 screw driver (T7 on the driver side switch box). Inside the box, it was just a large PCB with 3 switches mounted on the board. The creaking was caused by small tabs on the box cover rubbing on the box. My improvised solution was to put a layer of finely cut small pieces of duct tape on all rubbing/contacting surfaces. The same was also applied on the external of the box where it contacted the trim. The mounting clips and hooks on the trim for the box were also taped up. This gave them a tight fit. The end result was complete removal of creaking and rattling. It took some effort to cut duct tape and stick it all over the place. But it served my purpose. This was another going nuts production. The END.
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Last edited by GoingNuts; 03-15-2009 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 03-14-2009, 04:47 AM   #7
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Goingnuts, you are seriously going nuts over your obsession with eliminating squeaks in your car.

But nice pictures and walk through. And props on the very clean car.
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:39 AM   #8
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wished you were on the w203 forums lol. there's this crappy rattling/squeaking noise coming from the headrests. except we can't figure out how to take it out without breaking anything lol
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:25 PM   #9
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Having worked out how to undo the trim and switch box on the passenger seat, I was able to take these parts off the driver seat without taking the seat out. Stopping the seats from making plasticky noises made them felt significantly higher quality. The seats felt solid and substantial. The side of the seat felt like it was made from a solid and heavy lump of plastic, rather than from a hollow piece. The funny things was that all it took to give these impressions was little pieces of duct tape.

So here's the final piece of the puzzle in disassembling the trim. The rear inside clip could be unclipped by poking a finger in at the position shown. The red bar marked the rough position of the clip that should be pushed downwards.



Whilst I had the seat out, I thought I'd examine how the back cover for the seat worked. There appeared to be just two rivets at the bottom securing it in place, along with any internal clips. These rivets could be accessed inside the car by placing the seat back in the forward-most position. The rivets were barbed and would most likely to be damaged when taken out. These rivets were not designed to be taken out easily. The best way to deal with them was probably to cut their heads off and pull their bodies out from the other side once the back cover was off.
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Last edited by GoingNuts; 03-15-2009 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 03-15-2009, 09:09 PM   #10
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On my M3 seats, the rear backrest panel was making a lot of noise. I had to replace those two plastic rivots on the bottom.
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:02 PM   #11
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Great write up!

Is it doable to switch the seat cushions between the driver and front passenger? My driver side cushion is showing wear especially on seat ledge closest to the door.
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:28 PM   #12
GoingNuts
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If you look at the seat covers on realoem, they are not side-bound. Although the installed covers for the back rests are not interchangeable because there are 2 back rest release levers on the passenger seat but only one on the driver seat.
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Old 03-19-2009, 11:42 PM   #13
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GoingNuts, thank you for information.
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Old 08-09-2009, 06:27 PM   #14
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I had a hard time getting it out the first time, until i busted out a mirror and saw you really had to PULL out on the front tab of the side piece...after i got the whole thing apart, i just ripped duct tape into 1/3rd width and did an entire ring around the panel. Holy cow, I'm AMAZED at the difference!!!
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:18 PM   #15
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GoingNuts:

My d/s seat has been creaking since I got the car a year ago. I was worried that it was some sort of metal fatigue problem at the hinge point. So I followed your trim removal instructions (with the seat in the car) and--whaddayaknow--as soon as the trim was gone, all the flexing/groaning sounds were gone with it. Now I just need to spend the night with tiny pieces of duct tape to shore everything up.

Thanks so much for this write up. It saved me HOURS of work and frustration.
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Old 09-14-2009, 09:42 PM   #16
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Dang! Was wrong! I drove the car this morning with the d/s seat trim and switch module removed and the seat flex/creak sound is STILL there (of course it only makes this sound when the car is moving; I can't summon it when the car is parked).

Argh! Thought I had the problem solved! I'm stumped. If you have any other recommendations, please post them!
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Old 09-14-2009, 10:14 PM   #17
GoingNuts
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Finding seat noise is quite simple. Although it took me 3 months to develop/discover the technique. Basically you open the door for the seat, get into a karate stance in front of the seat as if you were going to chop some bricks. Now, go right ahead and pound the crap out of the seat. Any noise the seat would normally make on the road can be reproduced this way.

My neighbours thought I went nuts when I was interrogating my chair for a very annoying noise that bothered me almost forever. After some beating, the chair finally revealed the passenger seat tensioner was responsible. It squeaked against the leather on one side and banged against the central console on the other side. Even though the tensioner was right next to me, the noise it produced sounded like it was in the trunk or on the other side of the chair. As it turned out, that was the final rattle in my cabin. Now when I hear the noise, I just move the tensioner away from the console and all is peaceful. Of course, your noise could be something else. Just show no mercy for your chair, and eventually it will cough up what you want to know.

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Old 09-14-2009, 11:07 PM   #18
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Love the imagery!

Unfortunately for me, it's not so much a sound as a feeling. When pulling away from a stop, I can feel something shift or flex in/around the area of my left butt cheek. And it ONLY happens when pulling away from a stop. Makes me a-crazy.

Don't suppose you know the torque setting for the seat rail bolts? The rest of the car is as tight as a drum, but maybe they've loosened (wishful thinking)...
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Old 09-14-2009, 11:12 PM   #19
GoingNuts
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45nm as stated in the initial posts.
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Old 09-23-2009, 01:37 PM   #20
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hey there, great post.

my passenger side seat doesn't move forward or backwards.. but the power alignment works. any idea what the problem could be?

thanks
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