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'03 Accord Sedan Power Seat Recline Failure

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'03 Accord Sedan Power Seat Recline Failure

  #1  
Old 01-09-2008, 01:38 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 4
Default '03 Accord Sedan Power Seat Recline Failure

My wife has a 2003 Accord EX-L V6 sedan. It has the 8-way power driver's seat and the power recline function has stopped working. The symptoms that I experienced:

1.) If you push the switch to recline the seat backward you hear the motor groan for a second and then stopand the seat goes nowhere.

2.) If you push the switch tomove the seatbackforward (de-recline?) the seat would move forward but now the seat is in the fully upright position and that is where it stays. (Flipping the recline switch in either directionyou hear the reclinemotor groan for a second, maybe feel a very slight movement in the seat, themotor stops making noise and the seat recline goes nowhere.)


I thought that possibly the recline motor was the problem so I replaced it -- a bear of a job by the way -- but the symptoms remain.

It's as if the seat recline mechanism is severely bound up. When I replaced the recline motor I visually inspected the hinge pointsthat the recline rod passes through. Each side has a white (nylon?) plastic round disc and the hole that the recline rod passes through has splines/teeth on it. Those teeth were not stripped out and the recline rod seemed to be gripping tight on both sides.

It was not obvious to me that those white plastic discs were serviceable in any way nor was it immediately obvious to me how those hinge points worked. (I must confess I didn't study them in great detail because I was focused entirely on replacing the motor as the solution to the problem.)

I fear that I am going to find out that an all new seat is required or a new seatback core which could be very labor intensive.

Is anyone familiar with a seat recline failure such as this and the potential solution?

Thanks!

- Dave
 
  #2  
Old 03-14-2008, 02:07 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 4
Default RE: '03 Accord Sedan Power Seat Recline Failure

Following up on this issue. I finally broke down and spent $250 on a replacement seatback frame for the car. I installed it yesterday and that solved the problem. The seatback recline works once again.

Whether there was a cheaper or easier solution I do not know.

Apparently there are two types of 8-way power seats used in this model -- TS Tech and Tachi. This car has a TS Tech seat.

- Dave
 
  #4  
Old 08-11-2010, 04:21 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: San Jose, Califronia
Posts: 10
Default

Originally Posted by SEADAVE View Post
My wife has a 2003 Accord EX-L V6 sedan. It has the 8-way power driver's seat and the power recline function has stopped working. The symptoms that I experienced:

1.) If you push the switch to recline the seat backward you hear the motor groan for a second and then stop and the seat goes nowhere.

2.) If you push the switch to move the seat back forward (de-recline?) the seat would move forward but now the seat is in the fully upright position and that is where it stays. (Flipping the recline switch in either direction you hear the recline motor groan for a second, maybe feel a very slight movement in the seat, the motor stops making noise and the seat recline goes nowhere.)


I thought that possibly the recline motor was the problem so I replaced it -- a bear of a job by the way -- but the symptoms remain.

It's as if the seat recline mechanism is severely bound up. When I replaced the recline motor I visually inspected the hinge pointsthat the recline rod passes through. Each side has a white (nylon?) plastic round disc and the hole that the recline rod passes through has splines/teeth on it. Those teeth were not stripped out and the recline rod seemed to be gripping tight on both sides.

It was not obvious to me that those white plastic discs were serviceable in any way nor was it immediately obvious to me how those hinge points worked. (I must confess I didn't study them in great detail because I was focused entirely on replacing the motor as the solution to the problem.)

I fear that I am going to find out that an all new seat is required or a new seat back core which could be very labor intensive.

Is anyone familiar with a seat recline failure such as this and the potential solution?

Thanks!

- Dave
I just diagnosed a similar problem on a 1998 Accord EX. The seat back recline motor function stopped working. Most of the time it is completely unresponsive to the control switch; sometimes the motor runs for a fraction of a second, but so little that the back angle hardly changes. Fortunately, the seat back got stuck in a fairly comfortable position for the average operator.

After removing the seat and puttering with it for a while, and disassembling the recliner motor in place, it turned out that there's a bad Polyswitch device in the motor. The motor resistance should be around 2 ohms. The seat back recliner motor tested at 3.9 ohms cold, and somewhere above 10 ohms a second or two after 12 VDC had been applied. (Note: One must remove the wiring harness plug from the motors when measuring resistance or applying 12 VDC test power, as the control switches short the motors out when they are at rest.) The Polyswitch is a small rectangular metallic object in series with one of the motor brushes, inside the motor housing. It is two copper plates with a special, thin polymer layer sandwiched in between. It works like a fast-acting, self-resetting fuse to protect the motor against overload and to limit motor power at the end of mechanical travel. When the motor reaches the end of travel and stalls, the armature current rises sharply, heats up the Polyswitch, whose resistance goes up rapidly, effectively shutting the motor off. I guess Honda engineers chose this solution because it avoids the extra cost and complexity of relays, limit switches and associated wiring. Apparently, when the Polyswitches go bad, their cold resistance goes up dramatically and they don't allow enough current to pass to operate the seat motor. They should normally have a resistance well below 0.5 ohm. The proper solution is to get a motor end cap with good brushes and Polyswitch from a salvage yard seat and swap it out in place. A temporary fix is to solder a heavy bare copper jumper across the Polyswitch. The motor is now unprotected and one must be mindful to not run the motor to its limits, lest one burn up the motor armature or blow the motor circuit fuse.

The motors are not individually available from Honda. They need to replace the entire seat pan assembly with all motors and mechanicals, and they recently quoted about $1000 for the job. The salvage yard looks like the best bet.
 
  #5  
Old 10-25-2010, 02:34 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: KS
Posts: 1
Default 2003 Accord driver seat recline not reclining

My wife's car just developed the same issue. The seat will slide forward and backward, but the back rest stays at almost 100 degree angle.

I took the car to a dealer, and they said I should buy a replacement seat. Today, I just spoke to another dealer parts associate, who just affirmed that they had a motor for $100
Let me know, if you think this will work?
 
  #6  
Old 10-26-2010, 11:54 AM
JimBlake's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 17,299
Default

Does your motor work but the mechanism doesn't move the seat-back? Then the problem is not the motor itself.

If the motor doesn't run, then you can use your multi-meter to find out if the motor is getting power. If it IS getting power, then a new motor should work.
 
  #7  
Old 10-26-2010, 12:40 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: San Jose, Califronia
Posts: 10
Default

Before attempting to swap out the motor, I'd run some tests on the motor that's now in the seat. Unplug the wiring harness from the motor and apply 12VDC directly to the motor terminals to see if it budges. Check the motor resistance and current draw. Take the end cap with the brushes off the motor and see if bypassing the Polyswitch PTC device with a piece of wire makes the motor work normally. If you can get away with swapping just the motor end cap and the seat back tilt mechanism otherwise works smoothly, it could save a lot of labor in mechanical disassembly and reassembly of the seat. These motors are quite rugged and actually receive very little use over the life of the car, compared to a windshield wiper motor or cabin ventilation fan motor, so I would expect their brushes and bearings to be in excellent shape until the day the car is scrapped.

Congratulations if the dealer has offered you a replacement motor for just $100. It's certainly cheaper than replacing the seat pan with a new one or buying a complete seat from a salvage yard.
 

Last edited by phil8192; 10-26-2010 at 12:42 PM. Reason: added thought
  #8  
Old 10-10-2011, 10:53 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1
Smile I fixed Mine!!!

I was really disappointed by reading all of the entries prior. But after I looked all over the sate of Alaska and couldn't find a used replacement I went back to seat and figured out how to repair it. Here goes.

1. Remove seat from car.

2. Disassemble seat back from base. TAKE NOTES for reassembly!!!! Be careful with all of the plastic clips. The two clips that hold the seat back back plate are probably going to break. No way around that. They can be replaced through your local auto parts store for cheap. Be gentle with the wiring harness. Completely remove the frame from the upholstery, and protect the airbag for safety reasons.

3. Once the frame is out you can access the motor and rod that connects both the articulating points. These articulating points (hinges) look like they have white plastic covers. They are geared internally. That is why putting your feet on the dash and pushing really hard to try to move the seat won't work. You must remove the rod. Do this by removing only one star/retaining washers from an end. Gently tap out the rod.

4. Now instal the rod into one hinge at a time and using a pipe wrench or vise grip rotate the hinges manually. REMEMBER!!! only one side has stops and once you have freed the frozen side they must be realigned for installation, including realignment with the motor. This should free up the seized hinge. It did for me.

5. Reassemble.

I still have not tilted the seat full forward yet to see if it will get stuck again. I just tell the kids don't touch it and we won't exercise it through it's full range of motion. This should take about 4-6 hours for a handy person. Good luck. I saved $1000 dollars.
 
  #9  
Old 01-10-2012, 06:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1
Default fixed mine, but right side is loose

Hi,

I had the same locked up tilting mechanism in the driver side seat of my '03 Accord. I took the seat apart and fiddled with it until I unfroze it and it started to move. I'm not exactly sure what I did to make it work, but I did play with mechanics near the hinge point. I reinstalled the seat and now it does tilt but the right side feels loose, like there's no locking mechanism in that hinge.

I'm afraid that in an accident the seat may collapse backwards with only one side preventing it from moving. Should I worry? Is there a fix?

Thanks,

Drew
 
  #10  
Old 08-30-2015, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 1
Default seat unstuck

Same problem - seat not reclining but seat motor sounding like it was trying to operate against a stuck mechanism.

After spending quite a bit of time looking at the hinge mechanism and recline motor I still couldn't figure out how such a small motor could safely power a seat recline which has to avoid collapsing during accidents. I eventually found the mechanism patent at: Patent US8460145 - Rotation mechanism - Google Patents

It's quite ingenious - the motor turns an eccentric shaft which "wobbles" a slightly smaller gear comprising one portion of the hinge inside a slightly larger gear comprising the other half of the hinge. This provides a very large mechanical advantage and ensures that (a) the recline motor doesn't have to be very powerful, and (b) the seat won't move without the motor even when subject to very large (e.g. accident) forces. If you played with a toy called "spirograph" as a kid it's a bit like that.

Unfortunately the mechanism seems to sometimes jam when moved to the extreme forward position.

I unstuck our driver's side seat in about 2 hours as follows (procedure similar to "Magnum's" above but with less disassembly of the seat):

WARNING: this worked in my particular case but may not work for you. Also, there is always the chance that you may break something in the process.

WARNING: seat contains a side airbag - I disconnected the battery prior to disconnecting the airbag cable (yellow) and then reconnected the battery after disconnecting the airbag cable. I did the same thing on reassembly.

1) removed seat from car. Remove 4 bolts, tilt seat slightly to get at seat motor connector (white) and airbag connector (yellow) and unplug both. Note that the connectors have small buttons that you need to push to release them.

2) remove the plastic cover over the seat hinge closest to the car's centerline (it's much easier to access/remove than the cover closest to the driver's door).

3) turn the seat upside down and push it far enough into the driver's side door (i.e. headrest on ground, seat cushion resting on driver's side door sill, 90 degrees from normal orientation) until you can hook up the (white) power seat motor connector. Verify that moving the seat recline button tries to move the recline mechanism - you should see the odd star-shaped shaft that runs through the center of the seat hinge turn slightly before it stops.

4) grab the star-shaped shaft with a large set of vice-grips or slip-joint pliers; press the recline button so that the seat tries to recline and then "help it" with the pliers.

I had to try a few cycles back and forth but in my case the seat unstuck after only a few tries.

5) Disconnect seat motor connector again, remove seat, reinstall side fascia, install seat loosely back in car, tilt forward to reconnect both cable connections (white and yellow), then bolt seat back in place.

This procedure only unsticks the seat hinge, it doesn't fix whatever the root cause of the problem is so there is a high likelihood that the seat will jam if moved to the full forward position again. Once I had ours unstuck I just made sure to only recline the seat near the middle of it's adjustment range :-)

Hopefully this will help someone else, but as always your mileage may vary.
 

Last edited by spwalmsley; 08-30-2015 at 01:24 PM.

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