car seat wont move forward or back

Is your seat stuck in one position, legs cramped with no way to move forward and back? That can really dampen your riding experience. Something as small as a seat lever can make even luxury cars uncomfortable. What do you do about that seat that seems to be stuck? Read on to find out how to get that car seat moving.

Car Seat Motion

The older vehicles were made up of manual features. You had to crank the window up and down. You also had to pull a small lever and give it a jerk or two in order to push your seat backwards or forward.

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Then the power assist technology made it to the automotive industry. Toggle switches now allow the power seats to move forward and back, among other motions, in the same way the windows and door locks are controlled.

Power versus Manual Car Seats

Adjustable seats have been around for a long time. However, power regulators used to be a luxury found only in high end cars. The early designs require a lever or crank to achieve a number of movements. The manual seat has two forks on each side which enter slider holes. The car seat level activates the forks by pulling them out. A rod connects the forks, and the rod is held with a sleeve.

Newer models can allow the passenger to move in 12 to 18 different ways. There is a potentiometer located under the front seats which acts as a position sensor for the power seat assembly. The meter relays the position of the power seats to the PCM. This information from the potentiometer helps to prevent conflicts in movement with other systems in your car. The power car seats actually move the passenger with only the movement of a switch. The car seat is moved along a track; therefore, the passenger does not have to execute any change in posture.

Both the manual and the power seats have evolved to allow the passenger to complete several movements. However, you adjust for leg room so the most common commands for the car seat are to move forward or to move back. The manual car seat has a manual switch for this motion. Still, the passenger must exert additional energy to move the manual seat. The power seat passenger need only push a switch.

Causes of Car Seat Won’t Move Forward or Back

Diagnosing a stubborn car seat depends on the type of seats you have. Manual car seat designs have vulnerabilities even though these are the simplest designs. Albeit, mostly everything in newer cars is powered, it is common for the powered parts to fail sometimes. Yet, many people still drive the oldies with manual assemblies. You can troubleshoot the power car seat problem based on the type of seats you have. Here are the most common reasons why your car seat is not working properly:

Failing or bad power seat switch – Each modern car has a power seat regulator switch on the driver’s side, the passenger side, or even on both sides. The switch allows the passenger to move forward and back just by pressing the button. When you press the button, you should be able to hear the motor powering the seat. If not, there is a problem. Also, pressing the power seat button too aggressively or using the switch too much can expedite the wear on the switch. When the power seat switch is bad, the seat may not work even though the motor is still good. When the switch is bad, it affects all or one seat depending on how many of the seats have a switch. If all of the other seats work, test the switch for the seat that won’t go forward or back.

Blown fuse – There power seat assembly is designed to allow the seat to slide forward and backward upon demand. When the power seat will not move at all when you press the button, then there is no power getting to the seat. The lack of power can be for a number of reasons, one reason is a blown fuse. There is a fuse in the fuse box under your dash that is for the power seat system. If that fuse is blown, none of the seats will work. You will have to replace the fuse and test the seats to see if that was the problem.

Potentiometer malfunction – When the potentiometer is not working correctly it’s likely the power seats are not functioning properly either. The potentiometer malfunctions and also it is installed with an improper adjustment. An electrical problem can stop the potentiometer from working as well as your seats.

Bad power seat motor – The power seat motor provides the power needed to move the power seat in so many ways. Some power seats may have more than one motor in order to fulfill the demands. The motor does the job that used to be done by pulling a lever in either clockwise or counter-clockwise direction and scooting up or back in the seat. The motors have a gear which connects to the regulator. Sometimes, the bearings or brushes in the motor go bad or the windings in the motor wear out.

Electrical problem – It could also be an electrical problem where the motor is not receiving enough voltage to move the seat. A series of wires connect the components of the power seat assembly. This includes a wire circuit that runs between the switch and the motor along with a ground. These wires can become damaged, worn, or corroded over time. When wires do not send the require voltage, the motors and switches cannot work. Most power seats have built-in circuit breakers that reset automatically. The connectors and wires are usually under the seat and can be seen using a flashlight. Most times, the power and ground in the power seat assembly can be tested without removing the seat. One more thing, when the power seat is moved back perhaps to vacuum that area, the wiring can become disturbed

Power seat stuck on track – Sometimes the power seat will go part of the way forward or back but remains stuck in one position. You may have tried to get it to move by pressing the power button several times. The seat may make a clicking sound, which means the motor is working, there may be something stuck or some part of the track may have become corroded. The power seat can get stuck on the track due to just about any type of debris. Also, more friction causes the seat to stick which means the track may need to be lubricated.

Your Treat Your Car Badly – Most vehicle owners understand that a vehicle must be inspected and serviced from time to time, as referred to as routine maintenance. For those who don’t, the likelihood of problems that cause damage to the car seat is extremely high. If the vehicle is not inspected routinely, small problems can escalate to major problems that are much more expensive to fix. This is also true for vehicles which sit for long periods of time.

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Symptoms of Car Seat that Won’t Move Forward or Back

The wearing down of the parts in a manual or power seat assembly generally happens over time. There are symptoms that a part of the assembly is going out or that some part has already failed and has decreased the performance of the system. Here are some common signs that a part in your seating assembly may need replacing:

Warning Light – Just as the powertrain control module (PCM) monitors the other parts in your car, it also monitors the sensors and other parts of the power seat system. When the power seat assembly parts are malfunctioning or not working at all, the PCM will activate the check engine light (CEL) and throw the codes in the OBD2 system. You may also see an activated malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) along with OBD2 diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) trouble codes.

Seat going forward and backward at slow speeds – If your power seats are moving but are going forward and back at extremely slower speeds, it means that something in the power seat assembly is malfunctioning. It could be a motor or switch about to go out. something in the assembly is about to go out.

Noises when you press the switch – The movement of the power seat should be quiet and smooth. If you hear a clicking sound but the seats moves at least a little bit, you know that the motor is getting power, but there is still a problem. If you hear the sound but the seat does not move, it could be the motor or there is a problem with the alignment of the parts. The contact points on the switch may be dirty, which means they need to be cleaned.

Seat stops moving when you press the switch – If the seat stops moving when you press the switch, it means one of the parts in the assembly is failing. It could be the switch or it could be an electrical problem. The power seat switch can be tested first to help diagnose the problem.

What to Do About a Car Seat That Won’t Go Forward or Back

As we know, when things break on the fancy new cars, it can make us long for the simplicity of the manual designs. Yet, problems can arise in manual designs too. No matter which type of seats, they all get old sooner or later. Most times, the replacement of a part or a cleaning can set things back in order. However, this is not always the case.

Check the OBD2 codes – When components in your power seat system go bad, the computer in your car makes a record of each event. You can use an OBD2 Scanner (view on Amazon) to check the trouble codes that have been thrown about your vehicle. One code that you may get is the Error Code B1965 “Seat Horizontal Forward/Rearward Potentiometer Feedback Circuit Short to Ground” DTC. This code means the potentiometer is not functioning correctly. This commonly happens when there is an electrical problem in the wires, connectors, or fuses. It can also be caused by the potentiometer not be adjusted correctly and must be reset.

Get an inspection – As we know, when things break on the fancy new cars, it can make us long for the simplicity of the manual designs. Yet, problems can arise in manual designs too. No matter which type of seats, they all get old sooner or later. Most times, the replacement of a part or a cleaning can set things back in order. If you still haven’t been able to diagnose the problem with your seat it may be time to call a professional. Take your car to a repair garage and let them know about the problem with the seat.

Be Safe

Although you can drive your car without moving the seats, when something is not working it needs to be fixed. This is especially true when the position the seat has become stuck in is not the ideal position for the driver. Most power seat problems can be repaired rather quickly and at modest cost. Get it done and be safe.