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Jeep Wrangler (TJ) Seat Replacement

Author: Code3TJ

Click on photos to enlarge
Broken Seat Springs
The springs were breaking on the old seat

OEM Seat Bracket
The Jeep OEM Slider

The floor beneath the seat
The four mounting points for the seat slider

the bottom of the new seat
The new seat prior to installing the adapter

Bestop Seat with adapters installed
The Bestop seat with the adapters installed

The adapter attached to the seat and slider
This is the small boxed area that the studs attach to the adapter

Installed seat
The installed seats

The seats on my Jeep were slowly disintegrating - the seat springs broke, the vinyl split and the foam padding was slowly blowing away. So it was time to get some replacements. I really like the Mastercraft seats, but finances dictated otherwise. I attempted to install cheap plastic molded racing seats. I built an adapter for the existing TJ brackets, however the seats were too wide.

So, I finally broke down and bought a set of Bestop TrailMax Sports seats from Summit Racing. While I was there, I purchased the Bestop adapter brackets. They made my life much more simple. Aside from my failed experiment installing the molded seats, this swap can be done in about an hour.

I had removed the OEM slider from the passenger side when I attempted to install the molded seat. I later found that this wasn't necessary, but I wasn't exactly sure how the seat was attached to the slider. Basically, there are four studs on the slider which attach to the underside of the seat. If you're going to build your own adapter, the studs are 14" apart front-to-back and 12" apart side-to-side. I found that the frame was quite rusty and the nuts and bolts were quite stubborn. I used plenty of PB Blaster to get them loose.

I have an early 97 and I'm not sure what was going on at the factory, but I had a mixture of different sized bolts including Torx® bolts. The FSM only mentions removing the nuts to get the frames out, however on mine, that wasn't the case. Whatever the case with your Jeep, there should be four attaching points. You'll need to fold the passenger seat all the way forward to access the two rear bolts. On mine, the nuts were welded to the underside of the body. I also found that one of the bolts in turn was welded to the nut. Of course I broke the weld on the body and ended up having to cut the bolt to get it out.

If you do build your own adapter, it's very important that you use a material that is strong enough to hold the seat in a collision. You don't want your seat flying out (with you in it) in the event you get into an accident.

The Bestop directions are pretty straight forward. According to them, you don't need to remove the slider from the Jeep to remove the seat. Having already removed one seat, I knew what to expect as far as removing the second seat. Even so, it was still difficult to remove the seat. You need to stand on your head and be a contortionist to unbolt the seat while it's still in the Jeep. Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but not by much. The passenger seat has a cable and two springs that you'll need to remove to get the seat off the frame. These springs allow the seat to tumble foward. Again, pretty straight forward.

Once the old seats are removed, bolt the adapters to the new seats. Next, bolt each seat to the appropriate frame. That's it. I told you it was pretty easy. The biggest problem I found was the tight quarters you're working in. The adapters are boxed and you have limited space when you start the nut on the slider's studs. I found it easiest to feel around until you get it started then use a box wrench to tighten them.

While you have the seat off, it's probably a good time to vacuum out all the rocks, mud, dirt, leaves and small children who seem to accumulate under the seat. Also, it's probably a good idea to torque down the bolts (mine were loose and causing a horrible squeak.) On the 1997 TJ, the rear outboard bolts are torqued to 25 ft/lbs, the inboard rear bolts to 35 ft/lbs and both front bolts to 25 ft/lbs. As I said, this is for a 1997 TJ (1998's also have the same seat torque requirements) so check your appropriate FSM. If you've disconnected the electrical connection, reconnect it and you're ready to roll. The passenger seat still folds forward to allow access to the backseat, but you'll need to manually reach under the seat and push the lever along the inner slider.

The seats are incredible compared to my old worn out OEM seats. Thought I didn't measure before removing the old seats, I feel like I sit about an inch higher in the new seat. I'm very happy with them and wish I'd replaced my old seats long ago.

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