Jeep Wagoneer Seat Back Repair

The more I drove my ’77 Jeep Wagoneer, the more I noticed that the right shoulder of the driver seat reclined more than the left shoulder. It got worse as time went on, and started to bother my back on longer trips. This is a common problem with FSJ’s, I’ve found.

Since I didn’t feel like paying money to swap in new seats just yet, I decided to fix the seat I had. I assumed the problem was with a broken or bent seat frame, so I set about to remove the upholstery cover from the seat back.

The first step is to remove the seat from the vehicle. I found it easiest to leave the brackets in the truck and disconnect the sliders from the brackets. The sliders connect to the brackets with 1/2″ nuts below each slider (on the inboard side of each bracket). There’s also a spring (to assist the sliders) that you should disconnect from the rear of the seat after the seat has been unbolted and moved forward to relieve tension from the spring. I removed the seat and sliders as a unit, and unbolted the sliders from the seat once it was on a bench. The sliders on my ’77 Wag are held on by bolts with inverted Torx heads. Since the bolts aren’t very tight, I was able to use a 5/16″ hex head socket. There are two bolts per slider, and you’ll have to move the slider fore and aft to expose the bolts. On newer FSJ’s with power seat adjusters, the seats are attached to the power brackets with bolts (not studs and nuts) using the same threaded holes in the seat frame through which the sliders attach to older seats. The bolt pattern is identical on older and newer seats, which is convenient. This makes it possible to put newer, high-back seats into an older FSJ if you want to. I think it’s even the same pattern used on CJ’s an YJ’s.

Once the seat is free, I next removed the cover from the seat back. The seat cover is held on by a bunch of “hog rings,” which are rings of maybe 14 awg wire that connect the edges of the upholstery to parts of the frame or other upholstery in order to keep the cover on tight. I used wire cutters to cut the hog rings to release the cover. The back portion of the lower seat cushion’s cover needs to be cut free and pulled down under the seat to free up the seat back cover. There’s a couple of rings under each rear corner and a series of rings under a flap along the back bottom edge of the seat back. Once you pull the lower seat cover down under the rear corners (no need to touch the rest of the lower seat cover), you can cut away some more rings under that same flap. These rings connect the front of the seat back cover to the rear of the cover. With those rings cut, you can pull the bottom edge of the front of the cover forward through the crack between the seat halves.

Next, I pulled the seat cover up off the cushion. This part through me for a loop. The vertical seems in the seat back are each held back into the cushion with an arrow-shaped plastic piece that fits into a plastic groove which is sewn into the foam cushion. The grooves run the full height of the seat back. The seat cover fits a little tight, but it does slide up if you pull gently and evenly.

Then came the disheartening part. It appears that the foam cushion is formed around and permanently attached to the frame. So much for being able to see what exactly was wrong with the frame or being able to fix it with my welder. I resorted to just muscling the seat back to its proper, upright position. While I had the cover off, I took the opportunity to shampoo it. At least now I know how to swap seat covers if I never need to.

Replacing the cover is just the reverse of removing it. Line up the plastic inserts into the grooves and pull the cover back into position. Tuck the lower edge of the front of the cover through the crack and out the back side. Then attach the lower edges of the front & back covers. You could do this with real hog rings using special pliers that you can get at a chain link fencing supply store. The alternative, which I chose, is to use nylon zip ties instead of hog rings. I bought a box of 1200 of those things from J.C. Whitney for $5 recently, so I had plenty of them on hand. They also don’t require any special tools. It worked great.

Finish up by bolting the sliders to the seat frame, the spring to the seat, and the sliders to the seat brackets.

The next time the seat leans back, which it inevitably will do eventually, I’ll just muscle the thing back into position while it sits in the vehicle. Live and learn.

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