This article will show you how to manually move your seats forwards if the back/forwards motor has failed.

It's all too common that either the seat motor fails, or that the seat jams in the rails because it has been adjusted too far back. Using this procedure you can move the seat forwards enough to free the rail, or if you need to remove the seat move it forwards enough to reveal the rear seat fixing bolts.

You will need:
  • A cordless power drill with reversible operation. You can use a mains drill if you exercise a bit more caution!
  • A decent set of pliers (I used a set of pump pliers as they have a longer handle for better leverage).
  • Sharp knife (Stanley/craft knife). Just in case.

The picture above shows the seat removed from the car so you can see what you are looking for. The forwards/backwards movement is powered by the motor accessible directly at the front of the seat.

On each side of the motor there is a drive spindle going to each of the side rails. These are ordinarily covered in a thick rubber tube, but are removed on the picture above to make it easier to see. (You may find it easier to cut the rubber tube off before removing the spindles, but please be careful!)

The spindle is made up of a solid metal bar, with 2 very tightly coiled springs on each end. Flexing these springs allow you to remove the spindles from the seat motor/rails. You have to be reasonably forceful in doing so as they are pretty tightly fitted.

Once the spindle is removed from each side of the motor, you can fit one of the drive spindles in to the drill chuck.

Insert the spindle in to the left hand rail socket and power the seat forward an inch or so only. Switch the drill to the other side, and reverse the direction of the chuck to move that side forward an inch or so. Repeat the process switching rails each time till you have enough access to the rear bolts to remove the seat.

  • Do not put too much power through the spindle when it is in the drill chuck as it will destroy the spindle.
  • Do not advance each side rail by more than an inch or so, to stop it twisting as it moves forwards.
Schematic of seat base

Drive spindles removed from seat motors