Seat heater quit--is there a common cause?

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  #1  
Old 01-26-15, 06:52 AM
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Seat heater quit--is there a common cause?

Specifically this is on a 2004 Ford Explorer but my question is general. When I push the seat button the indicator lights up on my climate control panel as it should--but the seat doesn't heat. I'm not sure if there's a butt sensor in the seat of my truck. I also have one dead in my 2005 Impala.
Generally-speaking what usually goes first when the "bun warmer" quits?
 
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Old 01-26-15, 07:21 AM
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Have you checked the fuse?
 
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Old 01-26-15, 09:22 AM
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Yes--fuse is good.

.
 
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Old 01-26-15, 09:29 AM
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There could be two fuses. One would be smaller, like a 10A, for control and the actual heater fuse could be 30+A. The large fuse for the heater, if there were two, would be out under the hood. It's also possible they may use a circuit breaker instead of a fuse.

If not a fuse problem then you need to check at the seat wiring.
 
  #5  
Old 01-26-15, 10:49 AM
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can you check for continuity (open circuit) where the wires come into the seat? I would think there would be a wire connector below the seat that you could open and test for resistance to make sure there is no break in the heating element?

peter
 
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Old 01-27-15, 08:54 AM
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These sound like guesses. Nobody here has ever had a seat heater go out and repaired it?

Edit--the view counts are very low in this section so it's quite likely no one who's viewed my question has ever had a seat heater go bad...
 
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Old 01-27-15, 09:10 AM
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You asked for advice about fixing your seat heater and you got it. Now you're not happy??? Have you checked for continuity through the heater like pjaffe asked?
 
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Old 01-27-15, 09:16 AM
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There is no magic answer to the question. There are many things that can cause the heat to stop working. Like any other repair.... you have to approach the problem logically.

In researching your particular vehicle it appears that the switches have a high failure rate.
 
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Old 01-27-15, 03:46 PM
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Sometimes I post looking for ideas to try and sometimes I'm looking for experience.
In the absence of actual experience I do appreciate the educated guesses.

I'll post what I find out, for the next guy.
 
  #10  
Old 01-27-15, 05:22 PM
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Mid-winter and I'm working on a broken heating pad in the driver's seat of my Volvo S60.

Suggestion is that my wallet routinely pressed the coil in the same place and eventually, it fatigued and broke (after creating a hot spot for a week or so).

It didn't blow the 15Amp fuses . . . . it just stopped providing heat. New heating pad will be about $75.00. Some people say the original coil can be soldered; while others say it won't last. It's a lot of work to remove the seat and pull the leather skin back; I'll do it just once.

Different vehicles present varying wear patterns, and sometimes just a knee routinely placed in a certain place can break the coil . . . . or an odd piece of luggage. Kids standing or jumping on such seats can probably do them in too.

My mechanic just had a death in the family so I'm suffering this winter; I'll post back when I finish this repair.
 

Last edited by Vermont; 01-27-15 at 05:41 PM.
  #11  
Old 01-27-15, 09:13 PM
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Vermont.... did you check the heating pad with an ohmmeter to make sure it was actually open ?
 
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Old 01-28-15, 03:45 AM
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Guy48065, you know, I just have to pile on with the rest of the posters. Gee, if there were a magic pill, we would all take it. A specific problem with a specific car, and you expect us to be experts?? C'mon, now. The advice about testing continuity was the way your mechanic would approach it, so why do you have to diss us? A little courtesy goes a long way. Sharp, critical comments may get you nothing. Just sayin'.
 
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Old 01-29-15, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by PJmax
Vermont.... did you check the heating pad with an ohmmeter to make sure it was actually open ?
I'm afraid that in my case, we have to pull the seat out in order to see that specific connector clearly. Luckily, the heat pad is the only connection t our lower cushion . . . . everything else for up, down, forward, back, lumbar, and back rest angle (all those servos) are connected separately below the frame.

Removing the seat also involves deactivating the Safety Restraint System and the Seat Belt to get a clear view. I won't be ordering the new Heating Pad until I'm sure the old one is actually burned out (and not patchable with solder) . . . . so I've prepared myself psychologically to have a cold rear end for the rest of this winter. I've endured worse situations !

Both my Wife and I recall the location of that "hot spot" before the heat stopped.

There's been a few news items in the press recently regarding passenger compartment fires in Volvos due to malfunctioning heated seats. My mechanic commented that you really need to know what you're doing when you start messing around with them . . . . so I'm letting caution serve as his guide.
 
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Old 01-29-15, 09:33 AM
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Same situation here. Connector unreachable with seat installed. By the time I get home from work it's cold and dark and removing the seat to test it aint in the cards when it's 10 out. Especially if the seat also has a butt switch requiring a helper to actually sit in it to test continuity.
 
  #15  
Old 03-06-15, 01:17 PM
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So I can now report that I once again have heated seats (the Passenger's Seat has always been functioning); so I can finish out this winter with a warm back side.

Here's a picture of my driver's seat cushion with the leather skin intact:


Looking at the leather, you wouldn't know that the heating coil had burned out. Let me remind you that neither of the two 15 Amp Fuses had failed. Here's a photo of the foam cushion after removing the leather . . . . you can see the heating coil barely visible through the pad that's glued to the cushion:

You'll note the little brown burned area in the lower right . . . . which resides right below the Driver's left thigh, a few inches above the knee. This is not an area where we recall there ever having been any mis-treatment of the seat; neither when it was being actively heated nor during the majority of the year when the heating unit is just resting . . . . but still vulnerable. My burned filament is in a position where it almost looks like someone stepped on the seat in that spot.

Here's a closer look at that burned area:


Some folks say that you might be able to repair such a break/burn by soldering the filament . . . . but that's not in the cards for me. Maybe I should practice with the heating pad I just removed ?



I was prepared to buy a new heating pad; but my Mechanic drew my attention to a used cushion off a donor vehicle with a mere 120,000 miles on it (my Volvo has 253,000 miles, so 120,000 is hardly broken in.

I also took the opportunity to reinforce some stitching in that leather which needed attention, and the skin was re-installed over the replacement cushion and all is well now. I've retained my original foam rubber cushion. Just in case I need to replace the newer (but still used) heating coil, I'll buy one and glue it onto my old cushion in preparation for the physical activity involved in removing the seat and swapping out the cushions. I'm not too worried about it; but my Mechanic is now pretty skilled in removing and re-installing these seats !

In my case with the Volvo S-60, the cushions and heating pads are interchangeable between the Driver's side and the Passenger's side . . . . but it's always the Driver's side that get's the most wear/usage, whether it's being heated or not.
 

Last edited by Vermont; 03-06-15 at 01:47 PM.
  #16  
Old 03-06-15, 04:36 PM
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I've never had the opportunity to fix one of those heating elements but I'd imagine it to be some type of nichrome wire which could be a dog to solder to.
 
  #17  
Old 03-06-15, 05:51 PM
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To my untrained touch, the filament feels very pliable . . . . not even metallic, like the wick of a candle. Actually, it's like the heating element of an electric blanket, and somewhat flexible. I can't imagine soldering it and still retaining that required flexibility.

One additional thought . . . . when I had difficulty finding a seamstress to reinforce my stitching, I was told that leather could be glued with Crazy Glue. That's true; but when you subsequently get around to trying to stitch using the original holes, you discover that they have been filled with rigid impenetrable Crazy Glue, and so the difficulty of any leather stitching is multiplied several times.
 
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