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Old 12-06-2008, 07:23 PM   #1
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2003 VUE 3.0L
1996 SL2
Default Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

Seat Heater Repair Tutorial (driver’s lower seat)

Materials / tools required:

Ohm meter
3/8 or 1/2 inch socket wrench with 15mm socket
1/4 inch socket wrench with 10mm socket
small screw driver
large Screw driver
penetrating fluid
soldering iron
scissors or wire cutters
electrical tape
small diameter solder (old variety with lead works best)
aluminum foil
paper towels


1. Diagnosis of burned-out element:

Slide the seat as far back as it will go. The heater module is located on the underside front of the seat, above the slide-adjustment bar. There are three plugs with wires entering this module. Each one has a push-release tab mounted on the outer edge of the plug near the outer edge of the module. You can release these easily with your fingers. Use a flashlight or droplight to see under the seat. Just remove the two-wire one for now. It is the one with the black plastic covering which runs diagonally back towards the door.

Hook up an Ohm meter to the two leads. Resistance should be about 1.1 Ohms.

If resistance is infinite (shown with "0" on my meter) then there is an open circuit, and you should continue with the following steps.

2. Removal of seat from vehicle:

Disconnect the remaining 2 plugs from the heater module and the seatbelt wire plug if you can reach them. They are each held with one easy to push release clip. These wires are also held with slide on/off metal clips to the frame of the seat. Also remove the plastic plug-clip holding the wires to the front inner seat glider. You may remove these after the seat is unbolted if you need more room, just be careful not to pull on the wires too hard.

Slide the seat all of the way forward, adjust the seat down all of the way and tilt seat forward. Tilt the steering wheel all of the way up. Get into the Vue’s back seat with the 15mm socket wrench and penetrating fluid. There are just two bolts and two forward floor slots holding the seat to the floor. The bolts are torqued on pretty hard. Loosen them and spray some penetrating fluid onto the exposed threads so that it runs down into the remaining threads.

If it is really difficult unbolting them, work the bolt back and forth several turns at a time while applying more penetrating fluid. You don’t want to strip these threads. Standing outside of the drivers seat, lift seat up and forward. You may need to recline the seat back to make room for lifting the seat forward. Once you have wrestled it free of the floor, lean the seat back and check that all wires have been removed, especially the seat belt sensor wires.

Any time now is good to remove the seat belt from the seat. Move the seat up to the door opening. You may lift it out or do this next step on the step panel. Using a small flat-bladed screwdriver, push the retaining pin inward while puling lightly on the seatbelt / bracket.

The bracket will lift out, no parts to keep track of here.
Lift the seat out of the Vue and bring it to where you can comfortably work on it. I like to grab the headrest and seat adjustment handle. Be careful with the seat tracks sliding outward so you don’t scratch those fashionable poly panels.

3. Disassembling the seat:

Flip the seat over. On the underneath of the lower seat section are four 10mm bolts, one at each corner. Remove these.

Two of them have the springs partially blocking them. Use a large screwdriver or suitable bar to persuade the springs out of the way while wrenching on them. Do not undo these springs, they are on with a lot of tension. Where the seat and the seatback meet, there is a black plastic channeled connector. It holds the fabric or leather of the backrest and seat together. Pry up on one end of this with a large screwdriver. Once it begins to separate, slide the screwdriver down the length while pulling the two sections apart.

Push the lower seat down through the frame, and lift up on the seat cover to expose the pad and heating element wires.

4. Repairing the heater element:

Visually inspect the attached heater pad for burned area and holes. Carefully & slowly pull the heating pad away down to expose the wires where the damage has occurred.

Cut back the wire an inch or so to remove the damaged section. Clean and lightly sand the last inch of the wires to be connected.

Wrap them about each other for an inch or so. Move the seat material back and place aluminum foil beneath the wires to protect the seat during soldering. With a hot soldering iron, cover the repair in a light solder.

Tape up the repair and re-position the wires so as to not touch other wires.

Verify that the circuit is no longer open. The Ohm meter should read about 1.1 Ohms. Anything close to that is good.

If you have access to a 12 volt power supply, it is a good idea to test it. Hook it up for a couple of minutes to confirm the heater is working and also to see that the repaired section or an area near it doesn’t just burn out. You can also hook it up to the car to test it before fully re-assembling it.

5. Reassembly:

Re-attaching the two plastic seat fabric cover connectors is a tug of war. Get one end mated and slide it up like a zipper. Route wires above the seat slide-adjustment handle. Place the seat back into the Vue. Tilt it back and connect the three plugs into the module. Plug in the seatbelt sensor wires. Route wires tight to underneath of seat, over the seat slide-adjustment handle.

When placing the seat into the Vue, tilt it forward so the front of the tracks slide into the slits on the floor. Secure clips for wires onto frame of seat. Check to be sure that no wires are pinched underneath the seat tracks before bolting the seat tightly to floor. I do not know the torque value for this other than real tight, so don’t sue me! No guarantee how long the repair will last. My first repair worked, but the element burned out nearby that same day, and others report it being a common re-occurrance.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

For the record, my 2001 L200 was completely different.
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:21 PM   #3
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2003 VUE 3.0L
Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

This is an old post but it still helped me a lot. In my case the broken wire was to the temp sensor in the seat (not the seatback) rather than the heating element. I tried to upload a really good pdf file about how to dismantle the seats in my 2003 VUE but it was too big. I you want it, send me a Private Message or email.

Last edited by stuntman; 01-16-2012 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

First, thank you for this tutorial! Through it I was able to identify and repair a broken resistance wire in the driver's side seat back of my wife's 2007 Saturn Vue. In my case the element didn't burn through; it was apparently accidentally cut either during manufacture or when the seats were being retrofitted for leather aftermarket covers. There was a clear slash through the nonwoven fabric of the heater pad, and in closer inspection I could see the wire had been nicked. This I repaired and it produced the appropriate resistance prior to reinstallation.

That said, I have a new problem that affects both seats, and as such I have to believe its cause lay outside the seats themselves. Even when on HIGH, both seats are only barely warm - not even as warm as the LOW setting would ordinarily produce. I have checked both fuses (under the hood and in the passenger compartment) and both are good. Indicator lights for the seats illuminate the "2".

I'm hoping someone in the membership has some knowledge that might inform me what direction to take regarding this issue. Any assistance is greatly appreciated!

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Old 09-18-2014, 11:08 AM   #5
Deltaphi216 is on a distinguished road
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2004 VUE 2.2L
Happy Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

boom! what a great write up! Thank you!
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

Just followed your write up on our 06 Vue passenger seat. Worked perfect. I would never have tore into that far without it. Thanks for taking the time!
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Old 01-17-2016, 06:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

Thanks for your how to. My tuchis is warm again.
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

Good write up. Very similar to what happened in my Buick.
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Old 10-25-2016, 11:54 AM   #9
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2003 VUE 3.0L
1997 SL1
Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

I have a 03 Saturn Vue, and I've been trying to figure out how to connect the wires for the drivers seat. The previous owner removed the wiring connectors and used electrical tape to put some of the wires back together, but left some untaped. Any advice?
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Old 10-25-2016, 04:55 PM   #10
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2003 VUE 3.0L
Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

Yes, I have info for that. Send me a private message with your email and I'll forward it to you.
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Old 11-09-2016, 05:52 PM   #11
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2009 VUE 3.6L
Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

How closely would this tutorial apply to later models? I have an '09 Vue XR with a heated power driver's seats which no longer heats up. Any help would be much appreciated!
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Old 07-29-2019, 10:02 PM   #12
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Default Re: Seat Heater Repair Tutorial

2007 Vue here, turned out to be the upper seat element that burned out. THe upper and lower elements are wired in series, so both panels didn't work until we found the burnt area and soldered it back together. Thanks for the write up!
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