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E36 /7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 roadster and coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 11-08-2012, 10:39 AM
Maxxrox Maxxrox is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2009
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Mein Auto: 1996 BMW Z3/2001 GSX600F
Arrow Z3 - Replacing Heated Seat Element (Aftermarket?)

Hi all,

Having some serious hot spots on the driver's side seat (lower) when the heater is set to high (passenger's fine; I swapped the switches to eliminate that as a problem); my guess is that there's a broken wire or two within the element, causing extra voltage to route through another area. Just a guess. Regardless, it's hot (very..) and less than comfortable.

I'm quite proficient with DIY work (electronic and mechanical); I do my own wrenching, pulled Z3 (not mine) seats before, and have all my own soldering and heat-shrink equipment. My question is this:

Can I replace the faulty seat element with an aftermarket element, leaving the rest of the setup as stock? Assuming the Z3 heated seat switches simply regulate voltage and control timing independently of the seats themselves, this shouldn't be an issue. However, I don't know the output voltage from the switch, or the temp/timing control mechanisms involved (I've searched this forum and the web at large, nothing concrete). Not trying to burn out my stock wiring.

Push comes to shove, I'll simply buy OEM and slap it back together ($90-something for the bottom element), but looking at photos of the heaters, the construction seems a little dodgy and failure-prone. I'd prefer something with a redundant heating grid that provides both better heating coverage and less chance of complete failure.


Thanks!


--B


'98 2.8 Z3 Roadster
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2012, 03:54 PM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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Location: Springfield, Ohio, USA
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
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Mein Auto: 1998 Z3 Roadster
I don't think there is anything special about the BMW seat heaters; I know others who have replaced them (or installed new ones) with aftermarket heaters.

A few things to note: the Z3 heaters are one piece that folds between the seat and back. You can't replace one or the other. Also, disassembling and re-assembling the seats is a big job and even worse if you have sport seats. I recommend taking lots of pictures as you go since lots of pieces fit into other pieces but not before other pieces, etc. I also recommend replacing the hog rings with zip ties.
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  #3  
Old 11-14-2012, 09:28 AM
Maxxrox Maxxrox is offline
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Location: USA
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 6
Mein Auto: 1996 BMW Z3/2001 GSX600F
Thanks for the tips, Blacklane!

However, when checking RealOEM.com, it's listing my seat heaters in two parts, upper and lower [http://realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?...52&hg=52&fg=65 - Parts 1 and 2, respectively]. Is this a change that was affected in certain model years? My current Zed is a '98 2.8l.


--B
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:46 AM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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Location: Springfield, Ohio, USA
 
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Mein Auto: 1998 Z3 Roadster
I was mistaken. I indeed have two different heaters.

I have the same car, however I have the Sport Seats. I suspect those heaters are different from the non-sport seats, due to the multiple sections being hog-ringed to the frame. I think the heater on the seat has two "zones" while the one on the back has three "zones". The metal wires with hog rings between the sections make a pretty severe kink in the heater fabric.
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