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Old 01-18-2014, 03:33 PM   #1
skylanedriver21
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Default Retrofitting Aftermarket Seat Heater in an '06 that had Factory heaters

I, too, have benefited from the "trailblazers" in these heated seat threads. The 2006 Vue I bought in the summer of 2013 had an inoperative driver seat heater, so I dove into the diagnosis and repair last fall. I successfully diagnosed the trouble as a burned through section of heating element in the lower cushion and made the repair, using the soldering method. Let the "spoiling" begin (I never had a car with heated leather interior before, lol).

While inspecting and repairing the element, I also predicted that the heating element wouldn't likely be durable in the long run. After "n" cycles of heat and cool, compression and decompression over 7+ years, I didn't expect to get through the winter, and I was right. After about 6 weeks of butt bliss, and with the mercury in free fall, here on the north coast, the seat heat failed. Rather than repeat the cycle of repair and refail, I started shopping for a better heating element. My hope was that I would find something that would work with the existing supply and control circuitry.

Like poster XRL, I wound up buying a carbon fiber OEM style kit (in my case, I got the one seat kit, my OE passenger heater works [for now]). The model number on this item was IBHS1, marketed under the brand of "The Install Bay". When I received it, I started evaluating it for "plug and play" potential. I found that the resistance value for one element assembly was about 8 ohms (vs factory rating of 0.5-2.0 ohm). Additionally, I couldn't verify that the supplied 2 mode control switch (off-high-low) actually supplied voltages that were compatible to the OE switch, which, according the FSM I have, has integral resistors that step down the voltage (I couldn't verify this with my old school analog voltmeter). Finally, the "thermostat" in the aftermarket set-up was in the supplied control module, rather than in the lower heating element (which was the dead element in my car), as is the case with the factory part.

So, I ruled out plug and play, but wasn't ready to drill holes and mount another control switch in my Vue. I wanted to (somewhat) preserve the factory look. My solution was to connect the voltage supply wire from the aftermarket system to the light blue wire that goes into the OE control module (mounted under the seat). According to the FSM schematic, the light blue wire supplies an unmodified 12V on/off signal to the control module. I did verify this with my voltmeter. The ground wire in the aftermarket system went to the black wire in the module connector and I had a viable solution.

Following the process that is so well documented by several posters on this forum, I removed the seat and peeled back the coverings to get at the factory heating elements. I rolled up the lower element (with thermistor) and was able to "thread" it down through the cushion, allowing me to preserve the harness.

Next, I took advantage of the capability of the carbon fiber element to be trimmed, and I reduced its length to the space that was available, threading its harness through the same hole that the OE harness went through. (For future installers, you may want to consider NOT routing the wire in this manner, and use the full length of the element to warm the backs of your thighs as well!) In similar fashion, I removed the OE upper element (which had continuity in my case) and replaced it with the (untrimmed) aftermarket element. Then I buttoned the seat coverings back up.

Finally, I mounted the aftermarket control module to the stamped, seat cushion pan, under the seat using a sheet metal screw. After double checking my electrical connections for accuracy and security, I used zip ties to neaten up the (generous) extra lengths of wire. I chose to bring the aftermarket switch out near the lumbar support adjustment wheel, again, using zip ties to attach the electrical sheath to the drive cable. By doing this, I can reach down, without looking, and change the heat setting of the elements while I drive.

Now, the OE switch in front of the shift lever performs as a "master switch" for current to the aftermarket heating system. My road test confirmed operation (and effectiveness!
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Old 12-20-2015, 03:43 PM   #2
Lvnmarks
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Default Re: Retrofitting Aftermarket Seat Heater in an '06 that had Factory heaters

Quote:
Originally Posted by skylanedriver21 View Post
I, too, have benefited from the "trailblazers" in these heated seat threads. The 2006 Vue I bought in the summer of 2013 had an inoperative driver seat heater, so I dove into the diagnosis and repair last fall. I successfully diagnosed the trouble as a burned through section of heating element in the lower cushion and made the repair, using the soldering method. Let the "spoiling" begin (I never had a car with heated leather interior before, lol).

While inspecting and repairing the element, I also predicted that the heating element wouldn't likely be durable in the long run. After "n" cycles of heat and cool, compression and decompression over 7+ years, I didn't expect to get through the winter, and I was right. After about 6 weeks of butt bliss, and with the mercury in free fall, here on the north coast, the seat heat failed. Rather than repeat the cycle of repair and refail, I started shopping for a better heating element. My hope was that I would find something that would work with the existing supply and control circuitry.

Like poster XRL, I wound up buying a carbon fiber OEM style kit (in my case, I got the one seat kit, my OE passenger heater works [for now]). The model number on this item was IBHS1, marketed under the brand of "The Install Bay". When I received it, I started evaluating it for "plug and play" potential. I found that the resistance value for one element assembly was about 8 ohms (vs factory rating of 0.5-2.0 ohm). Additionally, I couldn't verify that the supplied 2 mode control switch (off-high-low) actually supplied voltages that were compatible to the OE switch, which, according the FSM I have, has integral resistors that step down the voltage (I couldn't verify this with my old school analog voltmeter). Finally, the "thermostat" in the aftermarket set-up was in the supplied control module, rather than in the lower heating element (which was the dead element in my car), as is the case with the factory part.

So, I ruled out plug and play, but wasn't ready to drill holes and mount another control switch in my Vue. I wanted to (somewhat) preserve the factory look. My solution was to connect the voltage supply wire from the aftermarket system to the light blue wire that goes into the OE control module (mounted under the seat). According to the FSM schematic, the light blue wire supplies an unmodified 12V on/off signal to the control module. I did verify this with my voltmeter. The ground wire in the aftermarket system went to the black wire in the module connector and I had a viable solution.

Following the process that is so well documented by several posters on this forum, I removed the seat and peeled back the coverings to get at the factory heating elements. I rolled up the lower element (with thermistor) and was able to "thread" it down through the cushion, allowing me to preserve the harness.

Next, I took advantage of the capability of the carbon fiber element to be trimmed, and I reduced its length to the space that was available, threading its harness through the same hole that the OE harness went through. (For future installers, you may want to consider NOT routing the wire in this manner, and use the full length of the element to warm the backs of your thighs as well!) In similar fashion, I removed the OE upper element (which had continuity in my case) and replaced it with the (untrimmed) aftermarket element. Then I buttoned the seat coverings back up.

Finally, I mounted the aftermarket control module to the stamped, seat cushion pan, under the seat using a sheet metal screw. After double checking my electrical connections for accuracy and security, I used zip ties to neaten up the (generous) extra lengths of wire. I chose to bring the aftermarket switch out near the lumbar support adjustment wheel, again, using zip ties to attach the electrical sheath to the drive cable. By doing this, I can reach down, without looking, and change the heat setting of the elements while I drive.

Now, the OE switch in front of the shift lever performs as a "master switch" for current to the aftermarket heating system. My road test confirmed operation (and effectiveness!
Thank you for the excellent write up, I'm installing the aftermarket heated seats in my 04 vue now and I have a set of factory switches. I was wondering if you had a part number for the pig tail going into the switches? I would like to retain the factory look as well.

Thank you!
...
Eric
2004 Saturn VUE, 3.5L AWD
2000 Saturn SL1
1995 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC
1914 Ford Model T
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Old 01-07-2016, 03:09 PM   #3
skylanedriver21
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Default Re: Retrofitting Aftermarket Seat Heater in an '06 that had Factory heaters

Sorry for my slow response; and also sorry that I do not have the part number you are looking for. Since writing this post, I have relocated the aftermarket switch to part of the plastic frame for the power seat, the portion that is below and forward of the lower cushion. I drilled a hole in this plastic and mounted the switch there.
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