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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all, I've been trying to research swapping the leather from one front seat to the other, and couldn't find anything promising. I've had my M3 for a little bit now, and with 100k miles, and several previous owners the front driver's seat is quite worn. Thankfully there are no tears in the leather, but there are some faded areas, scratches, and the cushioning is worn thin in the normal spots.

I've recently undergone this DIY with no prior guide, in hopes of good results, and its turned out to be a success. With the leather off, it was cleaned and re-conditioned. The passenger seat leather was near perfect and the cushioning was firm, so it all was a no brainer. For those who don't want to buy aftermarket seats, just yet, dive into this! Just restored my driver's seat to perfection.

I'm going to include a picture heavy detailed guide shortly. Let me know what you guys & gals think.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
As I've said before I was looking for a complete swap of the leather from pristine passenger seat to the driver seat; visa versa. I did cheat a bit, as it didn't matter to me. I completely removed the leather and cushioning from the bottom base, but only swapped the complete upper body, as is. The only "problem" with this is that you will not have the driver seat seat-belt-catch/rear passenger release lever. I'm sure its not hard to swap the levers out from the drivers to the passenger, but I just didn't see the point, as I could live with the existing levers.

***DIY done with manual, heated, front seats.
I should preface this by saying, before removing the seats if electric, raise the seat as high as possible, and tilting the lower part as high as possible. Manual seat people can do this during the disassembly.

TOOLS NEEDED:
Pliers
Flat Head Screwdrivers
Wire Cutter
Socket Wrenches and extensions
Sockets: 10mm, 16mm
Torx Sockets: 15, 20, 30, 40, 45mm


Finished!


Each seat has two plastic covers, at the sill, remove those to reach the bolts that secure the seat to the floor. Remove the two front nuts, and rear bolts with the 16mm. Remove the seats at a normal 90 degree position.

Remove the two plastic covers at the rear of the seat where the upper body meet the lower base.


Remove the two plastic covers that hide the hinge of the upper/lower. Take a slight tug outward left or right, the a hard wiggle downward towards the bottom of the seat.

The cover over the seat controls needs to be removed. It has three main tabs which you need to find underneath, pry with your finger. Once released, you can run your fingers along the border and release the mini tabs that pop out of the controls.

The next part is tricky, IF, you don't have a torx screw driver! There is a plastic cover just underneath the front seat thigh cushion lever. There are two screws, one on each side. The one screw at the seat controls, is behind the controls. I did this without taking the controls off, saved headache; I didn't have a screwdriver, only a torx socket.

The main screw you need to get to is behind the first control lever. To loosen the controls, find the two screws right next to the main screw, holding in the control unit. You only need to loosen these two screws, which will allow you space to get to the main screw. (Again, if you have a torx screwdriver, skip all this.)

With the controls loose you can squeeze a torx socket underneath the controls, connect a socket extension through the lever slot, and unscrew! Tricky and unnecessary, wish I had a screwdriver. The main screw on the opposite side is very easy to access.



There are two pegs that lock the cover to the metal base, wiggle the cover free.


At the seat hinge, remove the release cable x2; flat head screwdriver to pry.


There is a screw behind the upper leather just above the release cable bracket. Stretch the leather back and remove both from each side.


I raised the seat to help with taking the lower leather off.


***Before continuing! Disconnect the seat heating wiring. Underneath the seat, disconnect the brown/green wire connectors. This is connects the main control unit to the upper and lower seat heaters. Cut the zip ties holding ALL the wiring underneath. Fish the upper body heating wire towards the back. My fault was forgetting this step, ripping the heating wires in half, requiring me to solder them back together. I didn't take a dedicated picture of this, remember remove these wires before you separate the upper body from the lower.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Tug hard on the upper body to remove from the base, carefully fishing the heating wires through the base. Next, remove the four screws to the rear bracket of the lower seat.


Remove the seat belt, only one bolt at the base.

Fish the seat belt to the under side of the seat.

Next is to remove the leather bolsters, secured to the base by a long plastic clasp. Remove the side opposite the controls first. Either work the leather bolster downward, and pull the plastic clasp of the metal. Or use a pick to work the clasp off.


The control side is a bit harder. Start at the front first control pulling the clasp off. Do the same to the back part.


Either work a curved pick to release the middle part. Or use the extra slack you have from the opposite released side, to aggressively push the bolster downward.

Remove the seat spring from the front and rear, just pulling the prongs out.


Last part of the leather is the front thigh support. Pry the two metal wings, away from the leather.



From the middle lever, work the flat head underneath the leather, releasing the plastic piping. (*Re-assembly flip the corners in first, then push the rest of the tubing in place)



Last, the selt belts need to be swapped.

At the main wire loom connector, press at the tabs to slide the black cover off.

Remove the wires to the seat belt. Connector with the red/black wires just pulls out. When removing the second set, mark the two black/black wires "left & right" so you know which position they go on the opposite connector.


I followed a DIY I found years ago, for leather conditioning, specific for "Leatherique" brand re-conditioning. It's the only one I use anymore; very good!

Just re-assemble the seats the reverse fashion. Only tricky parts I ran into were attaching the bolster clasps on the control side, and that main screw to the front cover, behind the controls.

I've driven over 1,000 miles with the new seats already. Nothing but smiles from the driver is all I can say. The driver seat is once again firm and supportive, and the leather has been restored and looks gorgeous.

Yes, I did not completely swap the upper leather. Swapping the entire upper body without removing leather, gives you everything except the correct seat release levers at the top. If assembled correctly, the seats will work just as they were, the passenger seat will not have a release on the right side near the door, but only on the left. The driver seat will not have the seat belt catch lever, but instead a normal rounded lever.

***Remember to clear your codes for the seat belt controls.





 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Excellent post! Congratulations on the swap. I want to do this someday. How long did it take?
It's about four hours total for both seats, disassembly and assembly; though I was discovering how to do it on my own. With the guide it should be quicker than that. Just figure in time if you want to recondition the leather, and/or dive into the disassembly of the upper body. I did mine over two weeks, due to work schedule. So make sure to do the passenger seat first, so if need be you can swap it quickly to the driver seat, and still use the car while working on the passenger seat.
 

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By the way - I saw something somewhere about how you can get the orange/red inserts on the seat belts clasps/plugs/thingies (or whatever you call them) to look shiny and new again, too. It was long the lines of lightly sanding with super fine sandpaper, and then using a heat gun to heat the plastic to a point below melting, being careful not to burn it... Anyway, there'll be articles out there that discuss this. The seats look great after all you work!
 

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It's about four hours total for both seats, disassembly and assembly; though I was discovering how to do it on my own. With the guide it should be quicker than that. Just figure in time if you want to recondition the leather, and/or dive into the disassembly of the upper body. I did mine over two weeks, due to work schedule. So make sure to do the passenger seat first, so if need be you can swap it quickly to the driver seat, and still use the car while working on the passenger seat.
Great write up, man! Gonna need to do this soon as the driver's seat is getting bad. We'll just finish installing the railings and truck tonneau cover on the current Ram project and we'll clear the garage.
 
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