How to Replace Car Seat Upholstery

  • 4-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-250
What You'll Need
Replacement upholstery kit
Flat head screwdriver
Phillips head screwdriver
Ratchet wrench and sockets
Adhesive spray
Razor blade or paint scraper (optional)

Replacing car seat upholstery is not a job for everyone but with the right tools and some hard work, you can get your car's interior looking like new in no time. Most automobile aftermarket companies sell kits to replace or upgrade your car seat upholstery. If your car needs custom upholstery work, then taking it to a professional might be a better option. This article will describe the steps needed to do it yourself.

Step 1 – Preparation

Begin this restoration project by removing the driver's seat. Slide the seat as far back as it will go. This will allow easier access to the underside. There should be two metal supports on the floor of the vehicle that the seat bolts onto. Remove the bolts that hold the seat in place and gently tip the seat forward. If there is a power harness, unplug it and carefully remove the seat from the vehicle. Place the seat face down on a sturdy work surface and prepare to disassemble it.

Step 2 - Removing the Upholstery

The backrest and bottom cushion should separate from each other. Find the attachment screws and remove them. Now the seat should be in two pieces. Also remove any arm rests or head rests that are included with the seats. At this point you can use the scissors to cut away the old car seat upholstery. You won't be using it again, so you don't have to worry about ruining it. Remove any foam rubber padding and backing from the seat frame. You won’t be saving this either so just start pulling it apart from the seat frame. Remove as much as you can. Use a paint scraper or razor blade to get off all the excess foam. You want a clean frame for the next step.

Step 3 - Installing the New Upholstery

Your new car seat upholstery kit should have come with new foam rubber for the seat and back rest. If not, you will need to order that separately. Apply the adhesive spray to the foam rubber padding according the manufacturer's directions and place the foam rubber on the seat and back rest frames. Make sure that the foam rubber pads are seated exactly where they need to be or your upholstery will not fit properly.

With the foam rubber in place, slide the new upholstery over the top of the backrest and pull it into place. You may need to use quite a bit of muscle at this point. The upholstery is meant to be tight fitting and pulling it into shape over the foam padding may be a bit taxing. Put the new upholstery on the seat frame and reattach the seat and back rest.

Step 4 - Finishing the Installation

Reattach any head rest and arm rests that you removed and carefully put the seat back into the vehicle. Reattach the wiring harness if necessary and set the driver's seat back onto the metal tracks. Tighten the bolts to secure the seat in place and you are finished with that seat.

Repeat the above steps for the passenger seat and any other seats in your vehicle that need new car seat upholstery.