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Old 12-31-2010, 05:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default After market solutions for uncomfortable front passenger seat?

Hello,

My husband and I just traded in our 2005 Forester for a 2008 Outback. We had had it with rattles, creaks and wind noise on our Forester and yet there were things we really liked about Subarus. So logically, we thought moving up a tick on the ladder to an Outback made sense. Overall we are pleased and feel like we solved all the things we hated about our Forester. However, while the drivers seat can be made comfortable for me with height adjustment the front passenger is another matter altogether. We just drove back to NYC from the Catskills and I have never been more uncomfortable in a car. (These things don't always reveal themselves in test drives.) My legs have to be out stretched or my knees are way too high over my hips. My back still hurts and I am trying not to panic at my bad decision - the weeping stopped, but the panic is still there.

1) Can a height adjustable seat be added?

2) Or anyone out there have success with cushions? I hate to add some crappy cushion after having just paid all this freaking money, but otherwise I may have to turn around and buy another car in six months.

Thank you for your consideration,
Panic Attack in New York
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Old 12-31-2010, 08:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It's a common issue here and on other Subaru boards. Even without adjustable height, the passenger seat in the Forester is higher by several inches. We faced the same thing when we decided on an OB over a Forester and concluded the OB still was better for us. The seat height issue has become a non-issue over time.

We initially tried various "wedge" cushions, but found they didn't fit well between the side bolsters, and tended to slip around. They also interfere with the seat heaters, if so equipped.

As far as I know, Subaru has not made height adjustable front passenger seats available, at least not in it's left hand drive North American market models. (Even the powered passenger seat did not include height, at least when I was buying.)

Others have suggested the possibility of installing a manual height-adjustable driver's seat from a right hand drive Outback or Legacy, such as from the U.K. or Japan. Physically it should be a direct fit. I'm not sure if the same side airbag system is used (the one contained in the seat back that comes out the outer edge of the seat) and would be a straightforward "plug and play". It also might not be worthwhile if there isn't the same color and upholstery. This needs more research.
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Oh, I was afraid that would be the answer.

Thank you, Plain OM! What a generous response. I am hoping I get used to it. I have a very hard vintage kilm pillow that may do just the trick - I'll try to stay open to it. There are so many other things to love about the vehicle. I see there are many on his board who sort of "upgraded" to the Outback. (Funny, I passed on a 2010 Ford Escape -- which they let us use for a weekend -- because, among other things, the passenger seat was uncomfortable for me.

Replacing the seat would be ideal, but it sounds like a long shot.

Best,
Gail
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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My wife (being a rather "long-legged-lady") has had this issue with several vehicles I have owned and I have had to raise the seat tracks on those vehicles significantly for her comfort. However, she has been quite comfortable in and on the cloth seats of our 2008 2.5i even on very long (1K+) trips. I will have to take a look at the seat track anchors on the passenger seat of my car (the driver's seat is power height adjustable)to determine if shims under the seat tracks can be safely installed. Unfortunately, I am currently traveling and won't be back to my vehicle until after Jan 12 to check that out. Maybe a member here can check that out sooner.
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I believe the outer side bolts and the front bolt on the inner side that hold the front seats to the floor go more or less down into the floor at a small angle, while the inner side rear bolt (left rear on the passenger seat and right rear on the driver) goes into the side of the propeller shaft tunnel, not down into the floor. It might be possible to shim the first three with washers or spacers (using longer bolts), but the inner side rear would require some sort of adapter plate because the bolt hole on the seat frame would end up higher up on the side of the tunnel.

A year or so ago I helped a friend swap leather seats from a '99 into a '98. It all went well except the bolts going into the floor were rusted into the nuts welded on the underside of the floor panel. Despite generous soakings of rust busters, we ended up with some nuts breaking off, then having to cut the bolts and replacing with new bolt and nut sets, with one person underneath to hold the nut while tightening. On a newer car this might not be a problem, but it's another thing to consider if raising or swapping seats is being considered.

I wonder if anyone has actually raised the seats in this way. As I recall, the Forester seat bottom was at least 2 inches higher. That's quite a difference, for example, in relation to the length of the bolts. Would using spacers that high compromise safety?
Yet something else to consider.

For the driver, the height of the seat might also cause interference with the steering wheel, which on the Forester is higher relative to the floor pan.

Just a few thoughts . . .
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plain OM View Post
I believe the outer side bolts and the front bolt on the inner side that hold the front seats to the floor go more or less down into the floor at a small angle, while the inner side rear bolt (left rear on the passenger seat and right rear on the driver) goes into the side of the propeller shaft tunnel, not down into the floor. It might be possible to shim the first three with washers or spacers (using longer bolts), but the inner side rear would require some sort of adapter plate because the bolt hole on the seat frame would end up higher up on the side of the tunnel.

A year or so ago I helped a friend swap leather seats from a '99 into a '98. It all went well except the bolts going into the floor were rusted into the nuts welded on the underside of the floor panel. Despite generous soakings of rust busters, we ended up with some nuts breaking off, then having to cut the bolts and replacing with new bolt and nut sets, with one person underneath to hold the nut while tightening. On a newer car this might not be a problem, but it's another thing to consider if raising or swapping seats is being considered.

I wonder if anyone has actually raised the seats in this way. As I recall, the Forester seat bottom was at least 2 inches higher. That's quite a difference, for example, in relation to the length of the bolts. Would using spacers that high compromise safety?
Yet something else to consider.

For the driver, the height of the seat might also cause interference with the steering wheel, which on the Forester is higher relative to the floor pan.

Just a few thoughts . . .
Without access to my vehicle, I obviously can't look to see what is needed in terms of fabricating an adaptor plate for the bolts. However, using sufficiently thick mild steel plate, and hardened bolts, I'm sure this could be accomplished fairly easily. I have a pretty complete shop so fabrication is easy for me. It all depends on access to either tools or someone who has what is needed. An additional issue to consider is headroom. How high could you set the seat and still not hit the headliner, or the door frame when entering the vehicle? Good Luck
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Old 01-01-2011, 05:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I am short, but with long legs. I'm also without any handy people in my life (if you're reading this honey, I love you just the same!) -- I just don't know if I should try to rectify the problem with cushions. Or call the dealer and see if there is anyway I make arrangements for quick turn around and deal on another car. Raising the seat does sound like a great solution, but I don't have a body shop I trust to do it right and do it safe.

I thank you all for your time and thoughtful replies.
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Old 01-08-2011, 05:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Uncomfortable front passenger seat = FAIL FOR SUBARU

Well, after spending three hours in the car I am sad to say, I think we have to take a loss on this car and flip it. The whole thing will probably cost me about $6000 - the dealer is not interested in trying to make the flip less painful for us - they offer no incentive except to say, since they are a Subaru dealer they will try to offer a fair price for the car.

For an hour and a half I sat on a wedge, but the raised height make the headrest hit me in the wrong place and push my head forward - I have neck problems already, so that is position is entirely unacceptable. (I swear, the headrest was designed for someone with more back fat than me.) For the hour and half return trip I sat in the car as intended - no cushion - after an hour I had sciatic pains down my left leg - and I don't even have sciatic problems normally!

The whole thing is very upsetting. I am not rich, but I am also not going to sit in a car for two hours at a stretch that causes me pain. This car is better than every other car I have ever had, except for this one thing and this one thing is, to me, un-fixable.

And the drivers side is fantastic!
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Old 01-08-2011, 09:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Wonder if you could import a drivers seat from somewhere where they drive on the wrong side of the road since you seem to like the drivers seat. I forget if power passengers seat was an option in the previous gen (I know we now get it in the last gen on some models or if you are going to have to tap power for it? Before losing 6K on a car that you otherwise like, especially since the driver's seat is fine as per you, I would investigate this seriously. **** even if you pay a local shop to do the work, it still has to be cheaper than taking a 6K loss!
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Maven, forgive me for asking a stupid question, but why does it have to be from a country where they drive on the right? Why can't it be a left-driver seat exactly?

My husband thinks our loss will not be as high at 6K - he's thinking 2K+ - which won't be as bad.
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