In the Hot Seat (Repair and Maintenance of Seat Heaters)
Posted in Windshield Wipers on January 19, 2020
It's chilly outside. You flip on that switch that looks like a picture of a seat with little heat waves rising from it. You expect soon you'll feel that warmth but… wait! It's not getting warmer. Oh no, what's wrong with my seat heater? There could be lots of reasons it's not working, and it could be as simple as a fuse or as major as the heating element itself. But it's something to leave to a pro to diagnose and repair.
Let's say it turns out to be a blown fuse. Simply replacing the fuse may not fix it because there was a reason the fuse blew in the first place. It's possible the on-off switch has worn out or corroded. Perhaps the wiring connection isn't completing the circuit (could be corroded or full of dirt) or the voltage reaching the heating element isn't correct.
There's a little sensor that keeps track of the seat heater's temperature called the thermistor. When the seat is hot enough, it will stop the juice from heating it any more. Sometimes those fail. But if all of these components are healthy, you may need a new heater element.
Those seat-heating elements are made up of wires that get sat on. A lot. That can put significant strain on them. Putting something heavy on the seat can break them. Or, if you put your knees on the seat cushion as you're getting something in a rear seat, that can also damage the element. Sometimes they can be repaired but often they have to be replaced. And here is where the technician's expertise comes into play. That heater element is attached to the seat's fabric and replacing it can be tricky. It also can require disassembling a lot of the seat to access it.
Seat heaters are a wonderful feature and they make your vehicle oh, so much cozier. So keep them working and enjoy the warmth!