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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 07-13-2014, 05:09 PM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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Mein Auto: 98 528i 5-spd sport pkg
Question ? re: swap driver/passenger front seats

Car: 98 528i w/non-sport (heated) seats
Did some searching this forum but no luck.....does anyone have knowledge of swapping the front seats (driver to passenger side, etc.). Driver seat sagging, suggestions?
Thanks/Bill
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  #2  
Old 07-13-2014, 06:46 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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It's easy. Is there a problem with one of the seats?
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  #3  
Old 07-13-2014, 07:20 PM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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you just have to flip flop what side the contras are on.
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  #4  
Old 07-13-2014, 07:46 PM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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driver seat swap

Quote:
Originally Posted by jarhed1964 View Post
It's easy. Is there a problem with one of the seats?
the driver seat is sagging....car has 180K miles on the clock.
Thanks/ Bill

ps- have you actually done this job?
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  #5  
Old 07-13-2014, 08:19 PM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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i took mine apart to install a new butt piece of foam and repair the motor cable ends.

The foam was not worth the effort and hardly noticeable. It did nothing to tighten the leather.

I do agree that passenger seat does feel so much better.
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ESS Tuning m60 version software
m60 intake manifold
a.f.e. c.a.i.
3" obx catback
full powerflex urethane setup
545 ssk
cdv delete
m5 rear sway bar
M5 chassis rods
M5 3.15 lsd
Bc-r coilovers w/ swift springs
Akebono=suck
ss braided brake lines

coming soon:

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  #6  
Old 07-13-2014, 08:24 PM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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seat swap

....did you use factory BMW foam? The stuff is pricey (as usual) but I have to think it's pretty firm stuff, typically the Germans make it that way - so surprising you did not feel much difference.

How much time to do that job?....

Thanks/Bill
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  #7  
Old 07-13-2014, 09:05 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wgosma View Post
the driver seat is sagging....car has 180K miles on the clock.
Thanks/ Bill

ps- have you actually done this job?
Several times. What do you mean by sagging? Is the foam just dead? You can pull both seat bottoms and pull the leather and foam from both seats and swap them. That way you don't have to touch the harness at all.
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  #8  
Old 07-14-2014, 06:41 AM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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seat swap

Correct, the bottom foam is dead.

So, you have a good idea w/swapping the bottoms. Tell me, about how long to do that job? Presume you must pull seats, disassemble/re-assemble - do you have to deal with removing the seatbacks or can bottoms be done w/o that work?

Thanks / Bill
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  #9  
Old 07-14-2014, 12:50 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wgosma View Post
Correct, the bottom foam is dead.

So, you have a good idea w/swapping the bottoms. Tell me, about how long to do that job? Presume you must pull seats, disassemble/re-assemble - do you have to deal with removing the seatbacks or can bottoms be done w/o that work?

Thanks / Bill
Bottoms CAN be done without removing the backs, but you will save yourself a lot of sweat and profanity if you remove the backs.

Make sure the seat is raised up as far as possible from floor level before disconnecting the battery, disconnecting the whip and removing from the car. Remove the plastic covers and seatbelt tensioner.

Inside the lower seatback panel, there is a spring loaded clip on each side. I'll see if I can find a picture of it and post later. Compress those and take the back off (slide downward once the springs are both out).

You will see two green clips, remove them. Disconnect and pull the wire out of the seat back and down through the back. This connects to the harness underneath the seat. (DO NOT CUT). Put a screwdriver in BOTH of the slots that you got the green clips from, and bend the lever down towards the seat bottom, while someone (or your knee) is pushing the seat back up.

You will see that the seat leather is held onto the seat from with little metal clips that thread through the holes in the leather. Grab some needle nosed pliers and bend them open, stretching the leather over and off of them as you go. Once you get all of these off, you are pretty much free to remove the leather/foam combination.

The seat leather/foam goes back onto the opposite seat frame exactly like they came off. Remember to close the holding clips around the leather.

Once they are both on, put your seat back on the two upright posts and push in. You will hear a click when it is securely back on. Replace the green clips. Run the wire up into the back and reconnect. Might want to tie them off with some new zip ties.

Put the seat back on. You'll notice a clip at the top of the seat back. Hook this underneath the top lip of the seat front and gently snap the spring clips back into their holes in the seat.

Grab a pilsner beverage of your choice.

Reinstall and bold down the exposed seat rail of BOTH seats onto the floor.

Connect the harness to the floor whip, reconnect the battery, move the seat backward so you can bolt down the front of the seat rail to the floor.

Grab another fine pilsner beverage of your choice, or a good 12 year old single malt scotch if you're nasty.

You're done.
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  #10  
Old 07-14-2014, 12:52 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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Depending on how hot it is, whether or not you have enough light, and long enough flat head screwdriver to compress the spring to release the spring back, should really take no longer than a couple hours for the full switch (not including beverage time, and time spent arguing with the wife/girlfriend about how much time you spend on the car and not holding her purse at the mall).

BTW, you may find my name carved into a bar table at any random dive bar there in Oceanside. Remnants of my days as a young Lance Criminal in the Marine Corps.

Last edited by jarhed1964; 07-14-2014 at 12:54 PM.
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  #11  
Old 07-14-2014, 02:57 PM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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seat swap

Ok, I think what I need to do is leave the torx driver in the toolbox and find a couple of local young Marines who will just yank the seats out of the car, and go from there. Then again, maybe not such a good idea?

Thanks for taking time to post some details. 2 hours seems like pretty darn fast to do the complete job. I'll look this over in a bit of detail along with some pic's I saw of a guy who added heating to his seats, he had the thing completely apart for that work.

If you have any other info/advice or pic's do post them, would be useful. I do have heated seats but I expect that is a non-issue after I unplug the cables to the heating elements then just same as non-heated seats.

Thanks / Bill in O'side
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  #12  
Old 07-14-2014, 03:05 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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As long as you don't forget the beverage, it's really easy. Might be longer than two hours if you have never pulled a seat before, but it's pretty straightforward. If a rock-ape like me can figure it out, anyone can.
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  #13  
Old 07-14-2014, 05:46 PM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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seat swap

....so, let me double check one item: is it best to completely remove the seatback when just removing/swapping the seat bottom leather/cushion unit?

I have heated seats, any comments about that aspect? I presume it just means I've on additional electrical connector to deal with.

Thanks/Bill
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  #14  
Old 07-14-2014, 06:30 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wgosma View Post
....so, let me double check one item: is it best to completely remove the seatback when just removing/swapping the seat bottom leather/cushion unit?

I have heated seats, any comments about that aspect? I presume it just means I've on additional electrical connector to deal with.

Thanks/Bill
Yeah, just one wire if I remember correctly. Those of us without heated seats have an extra wire underneath the seat or up into the seat back with nowhere to plug it in.

I do recommend pulling the seat back. You almost have to. I wouldn't even consider trying to pull the seat skin off and put a different one on with the seat back in place. It's just too tight between the back and the seat to maneuver that leather into place.

Get yourself a good sturdy set of needle nose pliers to pull the leather into place with, as well as bend the clips straight, and back into place..... and don't forget the beverage.

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  #15  
Old 07-14-2014, 08:02 PM
fmzip fmzip is offline
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I'd like to see a DIY!

How about some pics??
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  #16  
Old 07-14-2014, 08:10 PM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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Mein Auto: 98 528i 5-spd sport pkg
seat swap

http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...ots-o-pictures)

I located the above link; a pretty darn good DIY sequence outlined with many photos. A bit more than I'm planning to do as this person replaced seat foam and installed heater elements.

Bill
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  #17  
Old 07-14-2014, 08:38 PM
fmzip fmzip is offline
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nice link!

I was thinking of simply swapping my drivers seat to the passenger side. Can I do that? Is it as simple as changing the side panel controls?
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  #18  
Old 07-14-2014, 08:54 PM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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seat swap

Quote:
Originally Posted by fmzip View Post
nice link!

I was thinking of simply swapping my drivers seat to the passenger side. Can I do that? Is it as simple as changing the side panel controls?
Not certain, a guy I know who used to work on Bimmers told me something about the sliding track mechanism not being symmetrical or the like prevented doing a swap on the E39's but I have to wonder on that comment. This is really all I need to do also, so some add'l research is needed. Maybe the Real OEM parts diagrams will give details? I've got a phone call into my local independant shop on this so if I get firm info I'll post it here.

Bill
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  #19  
Old 07-15-2014, 05:35 AM
fmzip fmzip is offline
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Seat base/tracks are indeed different

http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...44&hg=52&fg=10
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  #20  
Old 07-15-2014, 07:19 AM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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Swapping seats requires a base change, as noted above. You can unbolt the seats from the base and do so, but then you have to flip it over and swap the controller over from one side to the other, and remember that the controllers are specific to the seat. In other words, the drivers seat controller will be backwards on the passenger seat, and vice versa. I still think just swapping the "seat meat" would be much easier. Or better yet, go to a yard or craigslist and find a seat leather and foam combination from a junked car to replace the bad one, then you are only pulling one seat rather than two.

What color are your seats? I might be able to help you.

Last edited by jarhed1964; 07-15-2014 at 07:23 AM.
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  #21  
Old 07-15-2014, 11:17 AM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarhed1964 View Post
Swapping seats requires a base change, as noted above. You can unbolt the seats from the base and do so, but then you have to flip it over and swap the controller over from one side to the other, and remember that the controllers are specific to the seat. In other words, the drivers seat controller will be backwards on the passenger seat, and vice versa. I still think just swapping the "seat meat" would be much easier. Or better yet, go to a yard or craigslist and find a seat leather and foam combination from a junked car to replace the bad one, then you are only pulling one seat rather than two.

What color are your seats? I might be able to help you.
I think you are correct, lots of work/time to swap bases, etc. Swapping seat bottoms makes sense, not sure about the used/salvage seat bottom idea but worth looking into - maybe locating a used PASSENGER seat bottom would make sense as I expect most driver seats even if the car is a 2003 model have fairly compressed foam.

If you look at that DIY link I posted in this thread it appears the guy did pull the bottom cushion w/o removing the seatback, but I hear you it does seem like a squeeze - and you've done the actual work so you know best.

Thanks / Bill
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  #22  
Old 07-16-2014, 02:20 PM
Wgosma Wgosma is offline
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Mein Auto: 98 528i 5-spd sport pkg
seat swap

Quote:
Originally Posted by fmzip View Post
Seat base/tracks are indeed different

http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...44&hg=52&fg=10
I've decided to buy the BMW foam and just pull the driver seat and do it. A local upholstery shop will hog tie the leather to the new foam cushion for $25 and do it same day - can't beat that. I think I'll see if I can do this job w/o removing the entire seatback, removal of the seat bottom should be easy, re-installation perhaps a bit more difficult to pull the rear-facing bottom seat leather thru and re-secure to the metal tabs. At worst I just pull the seatback.

Bill in O'side
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  #23  
Old 07-16-2014, 06:02 PM
fmzip fmzip is offline
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I have black M5 seats in mine
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  #24  
Old 07-16-2014, 07:32 PM
jarhed1964 jarhed1964 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wgosma View Post
I've decided to buy the BMW foam and just pull the driver seat and do it. A local upholstery shop will hog tie the leather to the new foam cushion for $25 and do it same day - can't beat that. I think I'll see if I can do this job w/o removing the entire seatback, removal of the seat bottom should be easy, re-installation perhaps a bit more difficult to pull the rear-facing bottom seat leather thru and re-secure to the metal tabs. At worst I just pull the seatback.

Bill in O'side
Very good point. Always have an out. For me, it was just quickly pull the back, or spend the afternoon in the sun creating new profanity out of thin air.

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