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Thread: Guide for replacing OEM cloth seat covers

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    ***** Abuser Feedback Score 0 Hannibalzero's Avatar
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    Guide for replacing OEM cloth seat covers

    I posted this on, er, another 3s site a while ago. But given some recent developments, I think placing it on this site might be helpful.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    First off, I purchased the seat covers through the leather seat group buy from the board member Tuner_D. The leather covers were very nice quality, and I am quite pleased with the way they look. The design took a little bit of modification in some areas, but overall they seem to fit really well. They look fantastic too.

    The seats I started with non-automatic seats out of a 1994 base 3000GT. There seem to be several different types of manual cloth seat covers (I do not know if that means the seats themselves are different) so you may notice yours are slightly different. Both of my seats had two zippers on the back of the cover. The driver's seat had adjustable lumbar support, and a dial to adjust the hight/angle of the bottom.

    I replaced my seats over the course of two evening. I'd say I probably spent about four hours apiece on them. Keep in mind that I have never done this type of conversion before, so I was really taking my time. Also, because of the differences between the two seats (namely the gearing for the adjustable hight/angle), the seat covers required some modification.

    Also I would Deft Spyder for the installation instructions he wrote. Leather Interior Installation Although the powered leather seats are different, I recommend reading his walkthrough as well.




    Before I get into the replacement process, let me put out this disclaimer: I am not a professional, I am merely chronicling what I did. If you follow my directions, you do so at your own risk. I am not responsible for any damage that may occur.



    And now without further ado, here is how I replaced my cloth seat covers...


    The Passenger's Seat:

    Start by pulling out the seats (four 14mm bolts a piece), unplug the harness for the seatbelt sensor, and find somewhere comfortable to work on them. You're going to be at it for a while, so a living room or TV room is ideal.

    As mentioned before, my seats have two zipper on each of the covers. Some seat covers may be different



    Familiarize yourself with how the covers are attached at the bottom. You will need to replace all of the rings after all. This is my passenger seat.






    The ends of the zippers are tucked into the cover. Fish them out and unzip them up to the leather. You won't be able to go too far because there is a wire there. Cut the five coper rings rings that are holding the two ends of the seat covers together.



    Now cut the two copper rings that hold the leather flap onto the bottom of the seat. You will notice that there are several wires that are zip-tied to spring frame of the seat. Those will need to be cut as well.



    Once the flap is free, remove the 12mm bolts that hold the bottom of the seat to the frame.


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  3. #2
    ***** Abuser Feedback Score 0 Hannibalzero's Avatar
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    Post 2
    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    With the bottom of the seat free, you can start clipping the copper rings that hold the cover in place. There are five or six rings per side. Get those off, then unhook the large plastic clip that holds on the rear of the cover.



    The cover also has two flaps that are pulled inside of the padding, and are clipped to the spring underbody of the seat. There should be four rings holding each side down. Remove those.



    Pull the flaps through and peel the sides of the cover back. You'll notice that the cover is still attached to the padding. The padding has a series of three wire veins that the copper rings fit around. Carefully clip the copper rings. There should be three rings per wire.




    Last row. (Front)



    Pry off the long plastic clip in the front and the padding is free.



    The seat cover will have three metal wires running through it. As you already know, these wires are used to attach the cover to the metal veins inside the padding. You will need to pull out each of these wires and transfer them to the new leather seat covers.



    Take the new leather cover and clip the front onto the frame of the seat. With the clop in place, try test fitting the seat (and pull the side flaps tightly through too). Make sure it looks good and sits well on the padding. Keep in mind, the leather is going to stretch a bit, so don't worry if it seems just a bit tight.

    Once you are satisfied, its time to take your hog rings and pliers and begin attaching the cover. Here, you can see that I clipped on the first row of wires. I recommend partially clamping each of the three hog rings around the wires. Leave yourself enough room so you can unhook them if you want to move the ring. you have the placement right, finish clamping the ring.



    Clamp each set of wires down using three hog rings a piece. When you are done, wrap the leather around the sides, then pull the inner flaps through the padding. Make sure they are very taught, and double-check the fit of the leather on top of the seat. You want to make sure the leather is pulled far enough towards the rear as well. Begin clamping with hog rings when you are ready.



    Again, I recommend partially clamping each row first. Make sure you are happy with the look of the leather before you fully clamp the rings.


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    ***** Abuser Feedback Score 0 Hannibalzero's Avatar
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    Post 3

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    With the two flaps done, its time to move on to the sides. One side will have plastic clips that just slide over a metal bar. The other side will need hog rings to hold it in place. Attach the plastic clips, then clamp the hog rings on the opposite side. (Use the same method: partial clamp, check leather, full clamp.)



    The bottom of the seat should be done now. Put it aside for later.




    Now it is time to start on the top seat cover.

    When we last left the top seat cover, it looked like this:



    Continue unzipping the the flap.



    You will see that there are five copper rings holding the bottom of the cover in place. Three of them attach around a thin metal bar. Clip all five rings.



    With those five coper rings removed, you should be able to pull the bottom of the cover away from the padding and around to the front of the seat.

    Once again, you will see that the seat cover has metal wires running through it, and that those metal wires are clipped on to wire veins running through the padding. This time, these metal wires are running length-wise through the seat.




    Clip the two copper rings. Pull the seat cover up until you encounter the next set of copper rings. Cut those as well.



    In this picture, you will see another set of copper rings along the wires. You will also a cloth flap in the center of the cover. The cloth flap is held by a coper ring to the spring frame. You want to cut the rings off both the wires and the flap.



    There is a cross wire that runs across the width of the seat, towards the top. This cross wire actually bolts to the spring frame through a series of holes in the padding. Cut the three rings. As you can see, it is easier to do so from behind.



    Keep in mind, we have been working on the passenger seat all this time. As you make you way up the bolsters, you notice that the seat release (facing the driver's side) is going to start hindering you from moving the fabric around. The seat release doesn't need to be removed, but the plastic frame needs to be unscrewed and popped outward. If you lift up on the lever you should be able to wiggle the plastic trim slightly free. You can then


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    Post 4

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    As you can see in the picture below, all you need to do is slip the cover around the lever/trim.



    As you start to peel more of the cover away, you'll notice that there is actually a flap of padding on the rear of the seat that can be pulled up. Underneath this flap you will find the bottom of the headrest clips. Squeeze those in and pop them up through the metal brace.



    So long headrest clips.



    Back to cutting rings! With the long, length-wise wires free of the padding, you will notice that there is another wire inside the seat cover that is in the shape of a fat upside-down "U". Unclip the rings that hold this in place. First the two on the bottom...



    Then the three that go across the top...



    The only thing holding the cover onto the seat at this point should be the guide for the seatbelt. I think I may have done this the wrong way. If anybody has a better suggestion, I'm all ears. I simply twisted the belt guide around until it came free of its post. Removing the inner post would definitely have been better, however, I saw no easy way to do this.

    Unfortunately, upon reassembly I learned that neither guide want to fit as far down as before (showing less than 1/4" in of the post). A day later, I am still looking for a way to fix both guides. If you use my method, you do so at your own risk.

    Since installing my seat covers, I received some sagely advice from another board member on how to better remove the seatbelt guides. If possible, I recommend following 3Sfever's method. Pictures and an explanation will follow in post #10.



    Finally, you can start to test fit your new seat cover. The first order of business: cut a whole so that the post for the seatbelt guide can fit through your new cover.

    Be extra, extra careful when cutting the whole. As my old man used to say: measure twice, cut once. You aren't going to need a very big hole either, as the leather will stretch. Start small and in the center of the post - you can always widen it as needed.



    Ah, there we go...



    Fit the cover around the padding and see how things look. Again, it will be tight, but the leather will stretch.

    You should notice a nice little bulge on the side facing the driver. We are going to need to cut a whole for the seat release. Again, be very careful when measuring where you want to put the hole. Pull the cover off when you are ready to cut.



    I made a single small slit, maybe 2 - 2.5 inches long. You can always make it larger, but you'll never make that hole smaller. For me, the first cut worked like a champ anyway.


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    Post 5

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    Slip the cover on and hope for the best.



    I recommend test-fitting the plastic trim, but don't screw it back on yet. You want to maintain a bit of slack while you install hog rings. But before we can begin clamping on rings, we need to transfer the wires from one seat cover to the other.

    Start by pulling out the fat upside-down U from the top of the seat cover. It will take a little bit of work to get it around the corners (unless you cut the cover).



    You'll notice that the Tuner_D leather seat covers do not have a hole to insert this wire into the cloth fold. Hold the wire up and simply cut a couple of slits in the flap where the wire ends.



    Insert the wire and work it around the cover into place.



    Break out the hog rings and pliers and start clamping on the fat upside-down U wire. Just like before, I recommend partially clamping the top three rings, making sure the placement is correct, then finish the clamp.



    Get the top three rings on, then finish off the lower two down the sides.

    Now transfer the cross wire from the old seat cover into your new leather one. This is the wire that gets clamped directly onto the spring frame. Check the fit of the leather cover, them clamp the hog rings down from behind.



    Next, find the strap on in the center the new seat cover. Use a hog ring to clamp this strap to the padding. As you can see, I gave myself a little under an inch of slack.



    Transfer the two lengthwise wires to the new covers and clamp them onto the padding. Again, check to see that the cover looks alright before finishing the clamp.

    At this point, the front side of the seat should be done! Wrap the cover around the bottom of the seat. Make sure the seat pulls tight. When you are satisifed with how the front/sides fit, pull the leather around and attach it to the metal bar in the rear. Three or four hog rings should do.



    You will notice that there are still two cloth flaps on the seat. The first is on the inside of the zipper flap on the rear. The second is on the outside of the bottom of the seat cover. Transfer the wires from your old seat cover into their respective flaps on the new cover. Use three hog rings to attach the wires.


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    Post 6

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    Reattach the bottom cushion to the frame of the seat. Hopefully, you didn't lose those 12mm bolts.



    The bottom part of the seat should have a long leather flap on it. The flap is going to wrap around the thick metal bar on the back of the seat, and then is clamped down to the spring frame underneath the seat. Use a couple of hog rings to attach this leather flap.



    Now it is time to reattach the plastic pieces. Fit the plastic trim around the release lever (on the side facing the driver). The small slit you made should give you plenty of room to move the lever. Screw the trim into place.

    The headrest holders are going to be a little bit more complicated. At this point, the cover does not yet have holes for these pieces. This was done intentionally in case the leather shifted slightly.

    I found that the best (safest) way to put holes into the seat is to actually unzip the leather flap on the rear, then reach up and find the location of the holes with your finger. Once you have found the exact location of the first hole, use a small pocket knife (or screw driver) to puncture a hole in the cover. Install the plastic headrest holder, then repeat the process for the second hole.

    In the picture, you can see my arm in the cover looking for the holes.



    Sweet! The only thing that is missing is the seatbelt guide. This can wait.




    I think it looks good.

    Evil cat is unimpressed.


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    Post 7

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    Up to this point, all work has been done on the passenger's side seat. Now it is time to start on the driver's side seat.


    The Driver's Seat:

    If you haven't already figured it out, the driver's seat is different. As I mentioned earlier, the driver's seat has 1) Lumbar support, 2) a dial to adjust seat height/angle, and 3) the gearing assembly that allows for height/angle adjustment. You also have the recline and back/forth adjustments like the passenger's seat.

    I am not going to go into a step-by-step explanation of how to replace the cloth cover. Instead, I am just going to highlight the differences between the driver's and passenger's seats. Most of the steps are going to be the same.

    The most significant difference between the two seats is the bottom cushion. Here is a picture of the seat removed from the frame:



    As you can see, the left side of the cushion is indented to allow for the adjusting dial. In addition, a portion of the seat is cut away. Although you cannot see it, the stock cover has a flat piece of plastic that is sewn to the inside. The plastic piece is held by three snaps into the frame of the lower seat.

    Here is a comparison of the two seat covers. You will see that the new leather seat is neither cut, nor has a plastic insert. We will need to modify this.



    Once you remove a few of the copper rings, you will be able to see the plastic insert inside of the cloth seat cover. Notice the three black snaps.



    This is a look at the bottom of the seat. It is dark but you will see that I have the new leather cover test mounted on the seat. On this side (furthest towards the driver's door), the leather cover is going to attach to the seat using two long plastic clips.

    At the top of the picture, you also see the metal shielding inside of the padding. This shielding protects the gear/chain assembly for the seat angle adjustment. Unfortunately, the new seat cover requires modification to accomodate the gear assembly.



    Both long plastic clips will need to be cut to match the metal shielding. I used tape to mark off where I will need to cut the clips. The front-most clip will need two sections cut out. The rear-most will need one long section cut.

    I should note that by the time I got to the point of actually cutting these plastic clips, I had already clamped on the new seat cover with hog rings. I advise you do this as well, so you can be sure to get a nice, taught fit.



    While cutting, the thread on my plastic clip began to unravel, and part of it had to be removed. No worries though, there should be enough to hold the seat.

    With the clip cut and snapped into place, you will notice that the leather will not sit tight against the metal. To fix this, I reused the black snaps that held the plastic insert into place. Push the leather flat against the metal and use a knife to poke three small holes for the snaps. The leather will stretch when you push the snaps through, so the really shouldn't be very large. Snap the leather into place.

    In this picture, only the first (rear-most) snap is in place:




    You will also need to cut a chunck of leather for the seat to fit around the gear assembly. Basically, just follow the contour of the metal. I advise you leave a little extra leather (maybe 1/4 inch) around the metal. Remember: you can always cut more off, but you can't add leather back. Test fit the cushion against the gear assembly as you go to be sure that you have enough.

    Here are some pictures of the finished modification:



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    Post 8
    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    The bottom of the seat is now done. You can put it aside and focus on the top.

    You will notice that the unlike the passenger's seat, the driver's has a lever for lumbar adjustment. To remove this, first unscrew the tiny screw that holds on the plastic lever. With that gone, you can unscrew the trim piece and slide it off.



    With that gone, you can proceed with the cover removal as normal. Install the new leather cover up to the point where the front is completely attached with hog rings. Time to address the lumbar lever.



    Zip up the rear of the cover to get a feel for how the seat will look when the leather is tight. Feel around for the opening of the lumbar lever. Try to find dead center of the hole, then puncture it with a knife.

    Carefully cut some of the leather out. Do not cut too much at one time. I cannnot stress that enough. Remember, when you install the trim it is going to pull on the leather somewhat - you don't want it to pull so much that the cut will show. Cut a little, test fit the trim, cut a little more, etc.

    When you are finished, the hole will look like this:



    Install the trim, screw in the lever, and proceed with the isntallation of the remaining hog rings. Finish the seat using the same methods as you did with the passenger's.


    By now, all of the hog rings are clamped and the seats covers are (hopefully) tight. Time to move on to the headrests.



    The Headrests:

    These are pretty self explanatory. On the bottom of the headrest, you will see a crease where the headrest gets opened up. There are essentally two plastic pieces that hold the front and back of the cover together. One side snaps in to the other (think tab A into slot B).

    To remove the cover, just stick your fingers into one side of the fold and start prying the two apart. Here is a comparison of the new and old covers.



    You can see that both use the plastic tab/slot design.



    Peel off the old cover and install the new one on the headrest. I won't lie, snapping the tab/slot isn't an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of patience. In my case, it also took a needle and thread, as part of plastic started to detach itself from the cover. Just keep at it and you will eventually get it.



    The Seatbelt Guides:

    As I mentioned ealier, my solution to removing the seatbelt guides was to twist the plastic until the finally pulled free. As I also mentioned, I thought this was a less than ideal method.



    I ended up having trouble getting the seatbelt guides back on. To be honest, the are still not 100% flush with the seat (although that may be a function of the padding being held tighter). I will likely revise them later. In the meantime, this my fix for securing the seatbelt guides:




    Since installing my seat covers, I received some sagely advice from another board member on how to better remove the seatbelt guides. If possible, I recommend following 3Sfever's method. Pictures and an explanation will follow in post #10.
    Last edited by Hannibalzero; 09-17-2010 at 09:45 AM.

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    Post 9


    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    Now that we finally have some sunny weather, I was able to snap a few pics of the installed seats. Please excuse all of the mess in the car.






    Last edited by Hannibalzero; 09-17-2010 at 09:42 AM.

  11. #10
    ***** Abuser Feedback Score 0 Hannibalzero's Avatar
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    Post 10

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibalzero View Post
    Addendum:

    I want to extend a big thank you to 3sfever for providing this information and the photos. He suggested a better (the proper) method to remove the seatbelt guides.

    The seatbelt guides are apparently held in place by a small clip on the inside of the seat. Before you can access this clip, be sure to snip all of the copper rings. The cover should be mostly free, except for the seatbelt guide.

    From the back, you will see a flap of padding at the top of the seat. If you open up the flap, you should see something that looks like this...



    And his is a better picture of the frame with the padding pulled away...


    Inside the seat at the base of the seatbelt guide, you will see the clip. Use a screw drive and pry the clip up. That will allow the seatbelt guide to slide outward.



    Now, removal should be a piece of cake.


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