HOW TO: Fix / Weld broken ZX3 Driver's seats - Focus Fanatics
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Old 02-26-2009, 11:45 AM   #1
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HOW TO: Fix / Weld broken ZX3 Driver's seats


I, as well as many other Foci owners, especially those that own ZX3's, seem to have had this problem - over time the seat starts to lean backwards on the right hand side. Either that, or something drastic happened to it and now it's bent weird. In either case, I have been driving mine for about almost a year now since I really started having problems.

Over the past few months the seat has been creaking and groaning majorly, and in fact the right hand side completely collapsed (if you sit in it and leaned back the whole right hand side would just fall back). The seat was basically broken internally. I had to put a big plastic bin behind my seat to help hold the back up in position (white trash fix - hey at least I stayed away from duct tape!)

I started looking for a replacement seat from local salvage yards, but the seats were always in pretty ugly condition (even though they said "excellent"). I couldn't order one through Ebay cause the shipping would end up costing me as much as just buying an aftermarket seat.

I decided to finally try and get the upholstery completely off and see if I could weld my seat to fix it once and for all. A friend of mine finally got a MIG welder (he has a garage - I live in an apartment, so not fancy tools for me...)

Ok so we need to get the fabric / foam off the back of the seat to see if we can fix the problems. Let's start.

A brief description of the tools needed, that I can remember:

1. T40 torx bit
2. Ratchet (the seat bolts are very tight!)
3. flathead screwdriver
4. scissors or wire cutters
5. Needlenose pliers
6. 15MM box wrench
7. Phillips screwdriver
8. Channelock pliers (pliers that can open pretty wide)
9. Welder to fix broken stuff

10. And lots of elbow grease...

Ok first step. We need to remove the lower black plastic U clip that holds the seat back fabric on, near the bottom of the back of the seat. To do this you can use a flat screwdriver and try to open up the U clip to get it started. Once you get it started, you should be able to help it continue to "unzip" by hand, all the way across.

Now we can start to pull the fabric off of the seat.

Here you can see I've started to pull it up. Ignore the old red text, that is from a previous picture. You also will need to take the extra fabric that is hanging down below, and push it up and through to the front, push it through the crack between the back of the seat and the botto of the seat, so it's in front. Now you can start pulling the fabric up.

You also will need to remove this lever before you can pull the fabric up too far. I don't remember the size, but it's a TORX bolt. Mine have been modified to something else since they first broke, so I don't remember the bolt size, sorry.

I took this picture after my work was almost done so that's why the fabric is missing already.

NOTICE: One you decide to start peeling the fabric off, the first thing you will see if that the "front" on the seat fabric, the extra chunk of fabric that you pushed up through the crack - well, the fabric is attached to the foam. It's attached with some plastic clippy wire or something. You don't need it, just snap the plastic wires off (just pull the fabric off of the foam) and now the fabric will be free of the foam along the bottom edge of the foam, and you can start pulling the fabric off.

Ok now you can start to peel the fabric up. Don't worry about trying to roll it, if it rolls just let it, the foam underneath holds on to the fabric pretty good around the sides. Just pull it up. You will notice on the front that the sides of the fabric are held down with velcro, so that makes it easy.

When you get near the top, there is a "wire" going across the seat that helps hold the upper portion of the fabric tight. There is a "bar" or "wire" going across horizontally, that passes through some steel rings, which hold it. We need to pull out the bar. I used needle nose pliers and gently worked it until I was able to pull it out. Now, this really isn't like a wire, it looks and feels more like a rolled up piece of paper or something.

I don't have a picture of the "bar" but I got a picture of the front of the foam with the velcro and the rings.

I found that the fabric actually has a "loop" that the bar passes through, and then the rings hook around that bar, BUT they also go through the fabric loop. They actually penetrate the fabric, so after you extract the bar its easiest to just cut the fabric around the loops to free it. This is fine since afterwards the loops still will grab the bar anyway, the fabric does not need to be there.

The hardest part now to disengage is on the back upper portion of the upholstery, it is held onto the frame in the upper back by another one of those long plastic U clips. Here is a pic of what I mean:

You will have to try and reach with your hand up inside and then grab the U clip and pull the U clip UPWARD, and use your other hand to push forward on the clip. If you keep working it, it will eventually pop loose. Once it's loose, you can then "unzip" it the same as the bottom U clip. It definitely is the hardest clip to work. You may need to use your flathead screwdriver to help.

Once again I am sorry, but this picture is AFTER I already had the cloth off, so just try to picture it in your head. You'll see what I mean when you get to it.

Now you just need to remove the headrest, it has a normal button on one side, and a hidden one on the other, just push both buttons in and pull the headrest out.

Now you should be able to completely remove the fabric, you will have to stretch the holes to fit around the headrest posts, but you can get it totally off now. After you do you will then see the foam as you see in the earlier pictures.

Now, you can actually remove the entire back frame for repairs, without having to remove the seat itself.

Take out the two TORX bolts on the outside of the seat on the left hand side using a ratchet with a T40 bit.

Once you get these two bolts out, the seat back frame is almost completely free, you should be able to pull the frame out, but I noticed that the "tube" at the bottom of the frame goes through a pivot hole on the right hand side of the seat, and the tube is flared a little bit, so you can't just pull it out.

You'll have to get in there with some channelock pliers and work your way around the tube, crushing the end inward, to get rid of the flare.

It also makes it easier to remove the seat if you loosen the lower bolt on this side using a 15MM wrench, so the metal frame that has the pivot hole can be pushed out a bit to make more room. That way you can pull the seat out easier without bumping into anything on the left hand side.

If you look at the plastic piece in the picture, you can see I'm kind of bending it back, there is actually a plastic post near the bottom (you can see it in the picture), which has a phillips screw holding it, on the bottom of the seat frame. You can remove this screw to make the plastic cover easier to bend out of the way while you loosen that 15MM nut.

Once you get that tube flare crushed down enough, you will be able to pull out the entire frame of the rear of the seat.

You can just remove the foam on the seat by pulling it forward, and then upward off of the seat. Once again the same as the fabric, you will have to stretch it over the headrest posts to get it off.

Here you can see where my frame had completely broken apart, on the left hand side. This made it lean back on the right hand side. So my buddy and I welded it. Yes I know it's not a pretty weld, but it is strong (we tested it by standing on it), and I put the seat back together today and drove it and so far it feels good.

I'm not so good with a MIG just yet :P

My frame was also cracked on the bottom near the left side too, probably the top went first, then the bottom. The tube was also cracked on the left hand side. We welded those up as well.

THe reassembly is the same but reversed of course.

I hope this mini how to helps someone!


Last edited by niko; 02-26-2009 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:23 PM   #2
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awesome write up!! im sure this will be placed in the how to, i know a lot of people have been having issues! good work
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Old 02-27-2009, 12:54 AM   #3
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Hi bluefront, good point. I have a 2000 ZX3, so I don't know how many changes they have done since then. I read your thread, that is good info as well! I see on your seats they had wires on the sides (vertical wires) where on mine it was just velcro.

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Old 02-27-2009, 01:22 AM   #4
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Trying to explain the internal workings of this Focus seat is difficult.....and actually doing the job is very tricky, unless you've done it before. The driver seat on my '06 with leather very similar looking to the one in this thread, but not exactly the same. My seat wasn't broken when I took mine apart, but it had nasty metal noises (popping, squeaking, crunching).

More photos of this seat repair process are in this thread. Dig into your own seat cautiously/carefully.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:53 AM   #5
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did someone say How-To?

ill sticky this thread until chad has a chance to add it to our ever-growing How-To Archive

good work
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Old 03-01-2009, 11:31 AM   #6
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^^^^^Yeah the cover removal procedure is different if you have wires instead of the velcro shown in this thread. You should remove the wires completely before pulling the covers up...

I'm not sure what year they changed from Velcro to the wires. You can tell if you have wires right at the start of this job. Unsnap the "U" connection at the very bottom of the cover. Pull it up a little in the front, and reach your hand behind the front should be able to feel the wire rods, if they're in there.

Velcro would be a bunch easier to remove.
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:52 AM   #7
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I believe this same thing has happened in my 2004 ZTS sedan. The right side of my driver's seat sags back quite a ways further than the left side.

All those clips and stuff - argh -- couldn't I just scissors off the cloth, remove the seat back, take it to the welder, then put it back on and use a aftermarket seat cover?

Disassembly while keeping the factory cloth intact seems like quite the pain in the butt...
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Old 07-31-2013, 07:47 PM   #8
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Niko, you are my hero. This is exactly what I need to do. My "white trash" fix has been a 4x4 cut to the correct length with a thin piece of plywood screwed to one end so as to be more "gentle" on the seat back.

Time for a real fix. Thanks for the write-up and photos.
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