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I've seen lots of posts here and elsewhere on the following problem: Your power seat won't move front <-> back. So you want to take out the seat to get to the mechanism. Removing the seat, as described in shop manual (and there does not really seem to be a way around it other than cutting through metal), requires moving the seat all the way back to get to the front screws and all the way forward to get to the rear screws. But you can't move it!:surprise:

Here is the solution that worked for me: (I took some pictures and will post something at my home page, with a link here, when I get a chance.)
But for now...


At least for "Series 2", such as my 2002 OB, the motor that drives the front <-> back motion is in the front corner on the side toward the door. (All of the diagrams I have seen online for other years look similar.) Through some gears it drives a long screw on that side that moves that side frontward or backward depending on which way it turns, and it has a somewhat flexible shaft (maybe 9" long) going across (just inside the front edge of the seat) to gears on the other side that do the same for the screw on that side. The flex shaft comes loose easily: It is very much like a speedometer cable (from before electronic speedometers) with a knurled ring you unscrew (maybe need pliers to get it started, turn with fingers after that) that lets you pull the cable with its housing out of the gear box. (You will probably want to remove the hog rings holding the lower front edge of the upholstery down.) There is no reason to take the inside flex shaft out of the black housing made of metal and plastic.) The inside cable is round through most of its length, but some powerful press squeezed it square at the ends. That square section at one end gets turned by the motor and its gears, and at the other end that square section turns the gears for the other side of the seat. (I'm pretty sure a non-Outback Legacy would be the same, and very probably a Forester or other Impreza-derived version also.)



To move the seat all the way back to allow removing the screws at the front, and all the way forward to let you get to the rear screws, without power: There are ways to fancy this up, but you can do it without much in the way of special tools: Loosen the knurled ring at one end of the shaft, and pull that end out of its gears. Use a small cordless drill, turning somewhat slowly, to turn the flex shaft that sticks out where you unscrewed the knurled ring, and the seat will move on the side where you left the cable still connected. Reverse the drill if needed to move the seat the right way. Move that side of the seat an inch or so. Now switch the flex shaft to the gearing on the other side, and use the drill (turning the opposite way this time) to move the other side of the seat to where it is ahead of the first one by an inch or so. Then go back to the first side, etc. Don't try to move the seat all the way at once: Since you are only moving one side, the seat will bind when it gets to be too crooked


Do be careful not to mess up the square part of the shaft while you are turning it, e.g. by tightening a drill chuck too tightly! I set the torque (how hard it would drive a screw) on the cordless drill to a low value, so that would go into ratcheting mode rather than mess up the flex shaft, if something bound up.


I had bought a used seat on eBay, so I had two shafts: That let me just move the drill from one side to the other, leaving a shaft connected at its other end. I had planned to use two shafts and two drills to simplify things, but it went so smoothly I just kept going back and forth, after trying out the scheme. It took me maybe half an hour to move the seat all the way from full back to full front, so it just was not worth much effort to improve on the scheme. If I were doing it again of course it would go faster. If you foresee doing it frequently of course that changes things, possibly to where making a more elaborate tool would be worth it..


The square part of the flex shaft is a bit thicker than a number 2 Robinson screw driving bit, the closest square driving thing I had handy other than using the shaft itself. So the #2 Robinson just spins, not turning the gears. I had thought of milling a special tool. But since I don't expect to do this frequently I just went with what I had, and it worked very well.


Once you get the seat forward you need to remove the plastic trim pieces that cover the rear bolts. You might be celebrating so hard at finally getting the seat moved that you forget them... They have plastic "arrow heads" latching into holes on the rear ends of the seat tracks. The "arrow head" on the door side of mine broke, I might add a screw into a threaded hole to hold it back in place, since it would surely be hard to find a replacement except by getting into a junk yard yourself, and even then it might well break when you try to remove it. Also: the screw holding the rear end of the track on the side away from the door may be harder to unscrew, it goes through to underneath the car so it gets splashed and will rust at the end of the screw.



Good luck,
ProfBob
 

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Thanks for your information. Would you know a source for the flexible shaft? Mine got chewed up and rounded on the end and the left side seat will no longer move with the right side. I’ve been trying to find one for a few years now and even the dealers cannot find the part. Thanks for any help you can lend.
Mark
 

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Markoc,

Any wrecking yard with the same generation OBW you have that has power seats will have what you need. It might cost you $50 or so, but that's the solution.
 
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