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Tuesday 17 January 2017

Re-trim Defender seats

We bought a kit from Exmoor trim along with some heating pads to fit at the same time.

The end result

It was a fairly fiddly job. Not small bits fiddly but the sort of job where a bit of experience to know where to apply glue and where to tease the foam, would have made it easier.

To start we had to remove the seats from the car.

There are 4 bolts per seat that hold them in. It is necessary to move the seat forward to access the rear bolts. Unusually for Land Rover bolts they were not corroded in place and came out fairly easily.

I took the opportunity to tart up the framework while they were off. Nothing clever, just sand to key the frame and a couple of layers of gloss black paint from a rattle can sprayed over the top of the metalwork. I concentrated on the areas that show. I wasn't aiming for perfect just better than they started.

Once the paint had dried enough to handle it was time to get on with replacing the covers. The instructions for the seat base were clear however they do not give you all of the information.


If you watch the videos, the one bit of advice that we would ignore is that when fitting the corners the video suggests spraying glue to help fit it. We think they are using a different glue in the video and we found that the contact adhesive supplied with the kit made it hard to fit the edges of the covers. The foam and the fabric distorted when we used the glue on the edges of the seat bases. We had a better result on the second one where we didn't use glue on the edge sections.

Unlike the seat covers the instructions provided for the heating pad were very inadequate. 

There were no written instructions, just written warnings of what not to do then some pictures that started at illustration 8. Based on the printed page numbers, all the pages were present, so I'm not sure what was going on

The only way you know the pads are stuck down is because the web site mentions that the pads come with sticky tape. The web site also says clear instructions. I would dispute that! It also says there is an online video but I could not find it on their site or by searching! I watched a few universal videos to get an idea.

* Update: November 2017: The product page for the heater pads on the Exmoor Trim web site now states that the small pad goes on the seat base and the larger pad goes on the back. This would have saved some doubt at the time. I guess they also realised that the instructions supplied were inadequate. *

It needs a cutout in the foam for the thermostat. The instructions have a picture but do not explain why it is there. According to other web sites the hole is not for our comfort but to ensure the thermostat works!

We decided not to put any glue on the top surface of the heating pads. We just put some at either end.

When it came to removing the old covers from the back section, the instructions that came from Exmoor trim simply said 'Remove the headrests.' They failed to give any indication as to how that is achieved.

Reading the forums, lots of people use brute force and just hammer up until they pop out. A few mention part removing the cover to get to a retaining clip within the tube supporting the headrest.

The video showed another method to remove the headrest also when the cover was part removed. That also shows using a hammer.

I preferred to use pointed nose pliers to push the spring clip up the tube so it no longer protruded. With the clip out the way the headrest just lifts out with minimal effort.

The old cover unzips from the bottom and then lifts off and at about a third from the top there are some clips to remove. At least there should be.  On one of our seats the retaining rod in the back was missing. That is one of the components that needs to be reused so I found a bit of thin bar in the shed and cut it to length.

With the old cover removed the foam can be pulled away easily. It's only glued in a few places. The new foam glued up in the same places and stuck on the frame.

At this point we had to attach the heating pad. It should have been to size but I would have said it was too long and curved under at the bottom. Having said that the foam and the cover also curves under at the bottom so perhaps that was how it was intended.

It needs a hole cut in the foam for the thermostat. Just a knife for the shape and pull out the foam to about a 1cm depth. Peel off the protective layer from the double sided sticky tape and push on to the foam. Making sure there are no kinks and it is square to the foam.

With the heating pad in place we started on the cover. The fabric slipped over the top for about a third. At that point it is necessary to attach the retaining bar that pulls the fabric from the front to the hold it tight with the back. The new one came with cable ties instead of metal clips to hold it in place.

When we pulled the cover down there are some flaps that need to be tucked under. It was not obvious and we had to do that bit again.

On the seat base I was able to have the cable for the heating pad come out of the middle at the back. On the backs the lower joint is like a zip lock bag so the cable could not come out the middle. I had it come out towards the centre of the car on each seat.

That's it. Bolt back in the way it came out.

It was a good days work but now very much nicer looking seats.

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