Car Power Seat Problems

Repairing car power seat problems can sometimes be as simple as removing a penny from the seat track. Or they can be as complicated as having to test switches, relays and motors. Most power seats are not protected by a fuse but instead use a circuit breaker.
Before we get into what to look for when your power seat is not working let’s talk about why this issue is more common. Vehicles that are equipped with a power seat option are becoming much more common than they were just a few years ago. Where as they use to be exclusively deployed on luxury cars you can now find this popular option on even the most basic models.

Picture of power seat switch

power seat switch

Types of Power Seats

The power seat option generally comes in two different configurations. The most popular is the four way power seat. But many models still use a six way adjustable power seat. In the simpler four way system the seat bottom moves up or down and backwards and forwards.

In a six way power adjustable seat they include those movements but with the addition of having the ability to control the seat back that in many cases this includes a lumbar support function as well as being able to tip the seat bottom by adjusting the front higher or lower separate from the back adjustment.

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Diagnosing Power Seat Problems

Picture of circuit breaker

circuit breaker image

Often when I find power seat problems where it is not working in any direction at all, I find in many cases that the power harness or wiring has become disconnected.

Although this wiring is tucked away sometimes passengers or children can accidentally dislodge it and inadvertently disconnect the connector. If this is not the case the next thing to check is the circuit breaker. This is usually located in the main fuse panel.

Circuit breakers are easy to test with an inexpensive automotive meter. The circuit breaker when removed should be in the closed position and you can do a simple continuity test to confirm that it flows current. If the circuit breaker is open then it will have to be replaced and the system further tested.

If the circuit breaker continues to overheat and open the circuit your attention should be turned to inspecting the seat tracks for debris or binding. Even if a soda is spilled in the vehicle it is possible for the track to become sticky enough to overheat the power seat motor.

Picture of power seat motor

power seat motor

If the power seat was fine in some directions and will not move in other directions from a particular control that switch should be removed and tested. You may need a wiring diagram to find out which terminals on the switch are connected to operate specific functions. It may be worth the time to get this wiring diagram and properly test the switch instead of just replacing it because they can be expensive on some models.

On older vehicles in some cases corrosion can build up on power seat switch contacts. On some models these switches can be disassembled and the contacts cleaned with either electrical cleaner or even a small piece of sandpaper.

You may not be able to solve all of your vehicle’s problems in your driveway. But many problems such as a penny causing power seat problems can be solved by most motorists. It is at least worth taking the first few steps of diagnosis to see if the problem is easily solved. Visit this next link for more of the latest posts to this blog about auto repair.