TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Next Gen Seats - DIY Retrofit

Discussion in 'Model S' started by drewfaulk, Jul 30, 2016.

  1. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA
    #1 drewfaulk, Jul 30, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
    I'm not sure if anyone else will find this info useful, but I know I would have liked to have had it before retrofitting next gen seats into my Model S as a DIY project. All the info I could find on the subject effectively said to not attempt it. The service bulletin on the subject makes it clear that it is more involved than just removing the old seats and bolting in the new ones, which is a simple, straightforward process. The difficulty is in updating the PSRCM (airbag control module) and build options as outlined in the service bulletin, as well as installing "tethers" between the front door panels and the door itself (presumably to keep the panel from coming loose if the seat airbags deploy). None of the preceding was insurmountable, but it was a bit of a pain to accomplish. So, I'll outline the process I used below in the hopes it helps someone. I know this is not for everyone, and undoubtedly there are those who will think it is irresponsible to undertake something like this. I'm addressing the ones who are like me and couldn't psychologically overcome the $7k price tag to upgrade two seats and who are willing to undertake the retrofit themselves and accept the responsibility for doing so. After all, Elon himself told @wk047 that hacking for good is a gift....

    So, with that, I've outlined my experience in performing the retrofit myself below:

    1) Sourced two next gen seats from a low mileage Model S that had light enough damage that the seat airbags did not deploy and swapped them out.

    2) I bought the seats from "the rails up" so I wouldn't have to bother swapping over the seat memory module, power motors, etc. This made installation very easy, as it is a simple matter of removing and replacing 4 torx bolts and a couple of plugs per side. Swapping seats took less than an hour (I made sure power to the car was off, as I was unplugging the old seats and plugging in new ones).

    3) Seats memory and power adjustments worked fine immediately without any error codes (notably, no SRS error codes).

    4) As predicted by nearly every post I could find on the subject, Tesla was unwilling to install door tethers or reprogram the PSRCM / update build options.

    5) I don't know if Tesla would sell the door "tethers" (and the associated rivets) or the template to an individual because I didn't try, but this process should be pretty easy and straightforward. I chose to take my car to a Tesla-approved body shop to have this part of the retrofit completed. I paid for one hour of labor plus the cost of the parts (total was less than $125).

    6) Because Tesla would not reprogram the PSRCM to match the new seat type, I reached out to @Ingineer to reprogram mine. I had the older "F" model PSRCM, which, at the time, @Ingineer did not have the Recaro tables for, so I bought a newer "A" model PSRCM (for $125) out of the same car my seats came out of. He was able to program it for me so it matches my vehicle build options and my new Recaro seats. Removing the PSRCM is not hard, but takes a little patience. @Ingineer has a write-up on how to to do it, which I won't link to since it's not mine to do, but I found it helpful to use a Dewalt DWARAFS Right Angle Shaft (check Amazon and eBay) with a T30 bit (I think I used a 2" long but to get the clearance I needed) to remove/reinstall it. I also used a cheap nylon interior panel removal kit to keep from tearing up my interior (also on Amazon and eBay for less than $6). After doing this once, I could do it in less than 15 minutes now.

    7) I could have probably just quit at this point, but it bothered me that the graphic on the MCU under the "cold weather" and "sunroof" tabs displayed the old seat type, so I again reached out to @Ingineer to help me perform this last step and to update the car's build options, so it would display the new Recaro seats under these tabs.


    After it was all said and done, including the cost of the seats, outside labor and parts, and PSRCM programming, my total cost to upgrade to the next gen seats was less than $1,000 when you factor in what I was able to sell my old seats for. I understand this isn't for everybody, and don't even recommend anyone undertake performing this upgrade themselves, but it can be done with a bit of patience.

    In any case, I thought I'd share my experience, as I would have loved to read a write-up like this before taking this on. To those who advise against it, you're right: no one should do this. However, as I said in the beginning, I am addressing those to whom this appeals, and am hopeful the thread doesn't devolve into a series of cautionary tales and armchair legal advice (or even legal-legal advice).

    Thanks for reading.
     
    • Like x 7
    • Informative x 6
    • Helpful x 1
    • Love x 1
  2. green1

    green1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2014
    Messages:
    4,105
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Great write up, and such a shame that Tesla continues their customer hostile stance. I've said it before, and I'll repeat it now. Tesla is lucky they have no competition, because if anyone else made a similar vehicle there isn't anyone out there who would willingly subject themselves to tesla's consumer hostile behaviours.

    Was Ingineer able to help you remotely? Or did you have to get your car (or parts) to him?

    And a big thanks to Ingineer for doing the right thing when tesla refused!
     
    • Like x 1
  3. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA

    I mailed the RCM to Ingineer. I was discouraged with Tesla, too, but have since made peace with it. I'm resigned to not getting support from them, and believe we will have more support options in the future as early model S's come off warranty; I think Tesla will eventually loosen up their hold on service to allow independent repair shops help keep up with demand.
     
    • Informative x 1
    • Like x 1
  4. green1

    green1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2014
    Messages:
    4,105
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    What about the image on the MCU?

    The worst part about tesla's stance on this, is that their refusal to do the work left a safety hazard. They say the safety strap and RCM have to be programmed properly for the airbags to function as intended. Their refusal to fix it, and their refusal to let any third party do the work, is completely unacceptable. How long before someone else does the simple seat swap, gets told no by tesla, and never bothers with the safety stuff. If they get injured or killed due to the airbags not functioning properly after tesla refused to configure them correctly. ....
     
    • Informative x 1
  5. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA
    #5 drewfaulk, Jul 31, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2016
    I agree they should have allowed me to pay them to perform the work. After all, for $2,500 they will inspect a salvage car that has been rebuilt by an individual (at least I think I read that somewhere), and if it has been repaired competently, they will agree to work on it again. They could have done something similar with me: they could have charged me for a "roadworthy inspection" and verified the airbags in the seats were intact and that I torqued the seat bolts properly, and then they could have installed the door panel strap and reprogrammed the RCM for me, and made a good profit doing it (I actually suggested this to them, to no avail). Now, I acknowledge that I did this knowing they probably wouldn't help, so I am the one who created the unsafe situation for myself. That is on me and not Tesla. I guess what bothered me the most was that they could have helped me so easily, but that they seemed more intent on teaching me a lesson; it's like their response was punitive (kind of like the guy who criticized the company, only to have his Model X reservation canceled). I asked the Tesla-approved body shop if they could reprogram the RCM and MCU at the same time they installed the door straps (they have version 2.0 of Tesla's Toolbox software), and they called Tesla and were told not to do it. I fully expected to be blocked from future updates like they did to @wk057. That really isn't the sentiment Tesla should want someone who is an evangelist for their product to carry around. Don't get me wrong, some of the guys at the service center are the nicest I've ever dealt with. It's the customer-unfriendly policies from the higher-ups that sometimes turn me off. As I said, however, I've made peace with it and the fact that I love the product but not the company. Before this, I was going to buy a Powerwall, which serves me no practical purpose, as I have cheap electricity available to me, and I don't have solar (Wk057 has shown how overpriced the system is for what you get, no less). I was going to buy one just to show my support of a company that is trying so hard to advance technology, and I figured it might come in handy the once or twice a year that we have a power outage for 5 minutes or so. I've since decided against that, and figure I'll just enjoy my car and be grateful that guys like @Ingineer and @wk057 are out there figuring out how the car works and sharing some of their understanding. Working on my cars has always been my hobby, and they make it possible to still do this, even when there is no manufacturer support. As for updating the graphic on the MCU, I can't say exactly how it was done, simply so Ingineer doesn't get a flood of requests asking for him for the "secret" process, but I can say that among the options we explored were me driving to him, him flying to me, and me mailing him the gateway off the back of the MCU. None of the preceding would be simple, so for those hoping there is a magic way to get access to all the neat, service-only screens, there isn't :) He simply changed the graphic for me (however he does it), and restored the MCU to just as it was before otherwise.
     
    • Love x 1
  6. Jasencio

    Jasencio Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2016
    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Great info... As I just purchased a pair of next gen seats for my 2013...
     
    • Like x 1
  7. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA
    Good luck, Jasencio. Please be sure you do all the safety updates as well. You will likely need to get a newer PSRCM like I did unless Ingineer has the tables for the older unit now.
     
    • Informative x 1
  8. santana338

    santana338 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    Messages:
    333
    Location:
    Manchester, NH
    I support hacking for good! I would like to think Tesla is not being punitive in not upgrading seats; just trying to wisely use their limited resources. If they opened the floodgates to this type of upgrade, their service centers would be slammed with seat upgrades, parking sensor upgrades, autopilot upgrades, battery pack upgrades, etc. They know they have a lot of work getting new cars out and normal maintenance taken care of. I also hope they open up and eventually not just allow these types of upgrades but encourage and support us. As more salvage cars become available I would think it would be in Tesla's interest to allow those of us with older cars to upgrade in a safe way to show that the cars are a reliable investment for the long term.
     
    • Like x 1
  9. Max*

    Max* Autopilot != Autonomous

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    4,866
    Location:
    NoVa
    Wait, what? When did that happen? On his car or his wife's car?
     
  10. Jasencio

    Jasencio Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2016
    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Thanks Drewfaulk....

    I was just told by the service center that the seats are not a direct swap on my car. Has anyone done this on a 2013?
     
  11. raysspl

    raysspl Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2016
    Messages:
    132
    Very awesome DIY & glad to know it turned out great for ya
     
  12. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA
    I can't say if they will bolt up directly, though I imagine they would. I'm sure they mean it's not a direct swap in the sense that there are other steps involved (programming the RCM and installing door panel tethers). I'm fairly confident I've heard of at least one 2013 being retrofitted, and I don't remember hearing about any compatibility issues. For what it's worth, mine is a 2014.
     
  13. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA
    Thanks, raysspl!
     
  14. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA
    I believe when he tweeted about the upcoming P100D (hashed) info he found buried in the car's firmware, Tesla cut him off. There are a few threads here about it, and the mainstream media even picked it up.
     
  15. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA
    I sure hope you're right about this. I used to be so excited about the company, but I'm a little disenchanted these days.
     
  16. HankLloydRight

    HankLloydRight Fluxing

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Messages:
    5,749
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Thanks for the post, as I plan to do the same thing myself soon. A few questions:

    -- What is the going rate for salvaged NG seats in good condition?
    -- What involved in crating them up and shipping them? Costs?
    -- Who is buying the first gen seats and at what pricing? (I didn't think there was a market for them).
    -- What service center denied installing the tethers and reprogramming the RCM? Might other SCs respond differently?

    thanks.
     
    • Like x 1
  17. Max*

    Max* Autopilot != Autonomous

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    4,866
    Location:
    NoVa
    I thought Elon replied that good hacking is a gift, and it didn't come from him. And then everything was resolved. Dunno...
     
  18. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA
    He did, but then Jason had updates to his car cut off, which persists (I believe) to this day....
     
    • Informative x 1
  19. drewfaulk

    drewfaulk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2016
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    USA
    I'm sure pricing varies wildly, but I got my NG seats for $1,000 and sold my old ones for $800. Shipping was around $275-300 in both instances (paying to have the NG seats shipped to me, and my buyer paying to have my old ones shipped to him). I used Roadie (app available for iPhone and Android) to have mine shipped to me, and because they were riding inside an enclosed van, all that was required was covering them with a towel (or moving blanket) and then wrapping them with shrink wrap/packing wrap. The buyer of my old seats used uShip, and I don't know what they did to protect them, but I assume it was a similar process, as they loaded them into an enclosed trailer that they pulled behind a pickup (not a 53' tractor-trailer). For what it's worth, I also used Roadie to ship a set of wheels and tires, and the price was around $275. I don't know if that is a lot or not, but they drove them over halfway across the country and delivered them the day after they picked them up. I'm still not sure how they did that, but next-day service with UPS would have been in the thousands, I would think.
    As to what SC I used, I was told that my case was elevated to the a director over all the service centers and that they would't allow them to assist me with the PSRCM programming or tethers, but I would certainly encourage anyone to try their SC first. Good luck!
     
    • Helpful x 1
    • Like x 1
  20. HankLloydRight

    HankLloydRight Fluxing

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Messages:
    5,749
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Great, thanks for the detail. I was wondering if there was a company like the one Bjorn uses, but in the US. I knew it had to exist, but didn't know their actual names.

    What do you think the "worst case scenario" is if one doesn't do the tethers or the RCM re-programming?
     

Share This Page