///// Finally installed my GLI recaro seats ... Unintended consequences though /////

Andyinchville1

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2016
Location
Virginia
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI wagon, 5 sp, 226K miles
Hi All

It's been many months since I bought some used GLI recaro bucket seats from marketplace but I finally got around to installing them today...

I guess it took a long time because I had to get some of the stitching fixed and I wanted to clean the seats before putting them in the car figuring it would be easier to do it while it was outside then having to worry about doing it inside the car

So anyways I yanked out the old seats and proceeded to put in the new seats

I did remember to disconnect the battery and supposedly you're supposed to let it sit for 30 minutes which I did do I guess to drain down any residual electricity that might be in the system because I definitely didn't want airbags going off unintended.

So after a fair amount of extra work (cleaning out the stuff in the car to make space to help remove the old seats and install new ones) I finally managed to get everything done but I did lose one of those small screws that holds the plastic cover pieces on the tracks to keep the seats from going back so far that they pop out of the track .... I'm guessing with my luck I'll probably find it later on ... Most likely in the tread of my tire !! Hopefully not I looked everywhere for them and I just can't seem to find it

So my first question is what size is that little screw so maybe I can go and buy one from the hardware store .... I know most likely they won't have a t20 head on it so I'll just settle with the Phillips ...

The second unintended consequence of the install was that the recaro buckets were somewhat heavier than the factory seats that I had (factory seats were cloth non-heated) .... Best I could measure the new seats were about 6 lb heavier car seat .... I might have added a little bit of weight although a negligible amount by putting seat heaters in although they're still not connected just because I was happy just to get the seats installed today).

Something else I noticed when I put the GLI seats in the Jetta was that I have to push the seats all the way back in order to have enough leg room whereas when I was running the Jetta seats I didn't go all the way back on the track in order to fit in the car so if somebody else is contemplating using GLI seats in a Jetta that could be a real thing I'm about 6 ft tall and I have it pushed all the way back and I can sit in there but I would like maybe another notch or two backwards but I'm all the way back as it is so I guess it is what it is it's not bad but I'd like to see an after two more in case that's better a little further back but I don't have that option whereas with the factory seat well I should say the factory original seat I could have the option of going back further if I wanted to ... Not sure why it would be so different but it seems to be I might try going in there and pushing back again to see maybe something was sticking and I just can't go all the way back but I'm thinking for some reason that's just the way it is.

The last unfortunate thing to happen as a result of this install was my airbag light is now on....

I didn't have any lights before and now all the sudden I have an airbag light...

I tried to be very careful with everything making sure the connectors were slapped in tight and but yet I still have an airbag light ....

How does one go about diagnosing how to fix that?

As far as I know the seats have never had their airbags deployed doesn't seem like there's any real damage to seats and they seem pretty clean so what could be causing that? Maybe some incompatibility between the Golf and Jetta airbags?

I read it somewhere online where somebody was eliminating their airbags and they had to have a certain ohm resistor put in line in order to fool the car into thinking of the airbag was still functional ... Could it be that the Golf has some sort of different resistance and that's what's triggering the light in the jetta?

On the positive side I like the black fabric it hides dirt hopefully better than the other one which was gray and light color but I'm going to go ahead and do some sort of fabric protector on there like a Scotch guard to hopefully make cleaning easier in the future although the only one I can find today at one of the big box stores was a water repellent it didn't say necessarily stain repellent but I'm guessing if you repel water that should hopefully repel things as well?

Receipts do you seem to hold much better than the factory seats so I guess that could be looked at as a plus however if anybody ever concealed carries I noticed that because it's a little tighter or the contour of the seat is a little different it kind of makes anything you carry feel a little more "there" because I guess the way the seat pushes it back into you ....

For what it's worth the reason I went with the GLI seats as opposed to the correct Jetta seats was because the GLI seats have a lever that allows the seats to flip forward and since I do a lot of delivery work that could actually help give a little extra space in case I have to haul something long ...

I believe my long-term goal would be to put a lightweight jump type seat (by jump seat I mean a simple little seat that flips up and down like you might find in a step van) ... Of course I guess that would have to be modified to fit in the tracks but I guess you have to do what you have to do to save space and weight.... Oh speaking of weight in case there's any weight conscious folks out there ...as best I could measure it the recaro seats GLI version weighs 49 lb where is the factory Jetta fabric seat non-heated weighed about 43 lb. ...

Anyways overall I'm pretty happy with how everything went with the install. only thing is I just have to figure out how to get rid of that pesky airbag light... any ideas?

Also I think I read somewhere that the airbag light might not be resettable except with a computer? I have a scan gauge I haven't tried to clear codes but maybe it would work I don't know I'll have to try that after it stops raining possibly

Thanks in advance for any and all help
Andrew
 

hskrdu

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 17, 2003
Location
Maryland and New England
TDI
2003 Golf GLS 4D 5M, 2015 GSW SE 6M
Andrew we need some punctuation and editing!

GLI or 20AE / 337 GTI seats? I don't think the GLI versions have the flip-forward mechanism, which is usually for 2D cars. What year and version are the seats? Although "Recaro" was stitched into some special edition NA cars, quite a few Recaro VW seats were brought in from other markets.

Did you re-connect the battery at any point before the swap was complete? This is often what causes an airbag light. Troubleshoot with VCDS and you may be able to ID the problem- sometimes it's other things, like the wiring in the seat belt receiver. These often get knocked around more when seats are removed and sit somewhere outside the car.

Did you take pics as you went? I'd like to hear more about adding seat heat and which heating elements you used. Adding wiring into this loom can sometimes be a cause of airbag lights, but someone better with that system would have to say why. The airbag wiring from '03 to '03 should be the same otherwise.

I don't know the size of the screws for the seat rail covers, but they are the second easiest thing to find at the salvage yard.

Checkout the fabric protection from the company that makes Aerospace 303.
 

Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, Crestview, FL, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
The best thing to do for any light like that is to get a VCDS, plug it into the car's diagnostic plug, and see what the light is actually for. Given the circumstances, the assumption that the airbag in the seat itself is the problem is probably valid.

The usual quick fix is to plug and unplug the yellow airbag connector a few times will clear a slight oxidation in the pins. Oxidation there is actually rare and easy to fix because that connector has gold plated contacts.

The other spot for problems is the seat belt buckle. The buckle has 2 contacts, one for being clicked in completely and the other for not being inserted, or for not being inserted all the way. You gotta get that click for the buckle having the insert completely inserted. The ECU (or comfort control module maybe?) can read one of two resistance values, and a value not in the proper range for either resistor will trigger a light. This is the one where: 1, you can insert a resistor at the plug, or 2, the seat belt buckle itself is replaceable if you want to do that instead. Rest assured the buckle itself isn't the problem if this is where the error lies. It is the contacts in the buckle that are the problem, and if you want to do a repair then good luck. There are no parts available for this, and this is one place where I agree with VW in that having anyone disassemble something as basic to safety as a seat belt buckle is a very very bad idea.

But, if you are someone who is very good at buckling the belt carefully and completely every time, then using the resistor is perfectly adequate. Worked for me anyway, and it has been working great for me for years. I did a verbose post on this several years ago and you can look it up, complete with photos if you want.

Last, a CEL or airbag (especially!) light for a safety system is not resettable except with a VCDS or taking it to a dealer ($$!). VW doesn't trust those of us of the unwashed masses to fix a safety system unless you take it to a dealer, because we all know that dealer techs are all perfect and never make mistakes nor do they ever cut corners and thereby mess up a job. If you don't believe it just ask 'em. Anyway, they set it up this way trying to ensure that a safety system is repaired only when a competent tech checks it out.

Cheers,

PH
 

Andyinchville1

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2016
Location
Virginia
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI wagon, 5 sp, 226K miles
Andrew we need some punctuation and editing!

GLI or 20AE / 337 GTI seats? I don't think the GLI versions have the flip-forward mechanism, which is usually for 2D cars. What year and version are the seats? Although "Recaro" was stitched into some special edition NA cars, quite a few Recaro VW seats were brought in from other markets.

Did you re-connect the battery at any point before the swap was complete? This is often what causes an airbag light. Troubleshoot with VCDS and you may be able to ID the problem- sometimes it's other things, like the wiring in the seat belt receiver. These often get knocked around more when seats are removed and sit somewhere outside the car.

Did you take pics as you went? I'd like to hear more about adding seat heat and which heating elements you used. Adding wiring into this loom can sometimes be a cause of airbag lights, but someone better with that system would have to say why. The airbag wiring from '03 to '03 should be the same otherwise.

I don't know the size of the screws for the seat rail covers, but they are the second easiest thing to find at the salvage yard.

Checkout the fabric protection from the company that makes Aerospace 303.

HI,

I was dictating while driving so yea punctuation suffered HA ..... but i was feeling like death was right around the corner without the airbags so wanted to get it posted ASAP.... ( I dodged the Reaper enough over the years already .....figured he might be trying to Final Destination me)...

Anyways (still alive !!) The seats I got were GLI Recaro seats from a golf 2 door coupe so the seats flip forward ( I wanted that since I do deliveries and sometimes extra load length would be nice) .... as far as I know they are "regular" Recaros but from a 2 door Golf since they flip forward..... I am not sure what all the differences are BUT I did but a gray seat from a Beetle that flips forward as well (before I got the Recaros).

As far as the battery, I disconnected it about 30 minutes prior to starting to remove the seats .... supposedly this eliminates potential residual energy that may trip the airbags?

I did take pics along the way but it is super difficult posting on here but I may try when I get more time to relearn how to do it.

As far as heating elements , I bought a set off Amazon (I'll see if I can post a link of which ones I got) .... I did not go factory from ECS I think because they wanted a vin number from the car where the seats came from and I did not have that info).

I have not hooked up the seat heaters to electric power so in theory they should not affect anything (I was mainly trying to get the seats in before dark caught up with me)...

As far as fabric protector I bought some water repellent from Turtle wax that is supposed to help resist stains also ....

IF I were smarter , I would have applied the spray way in advance of the seat install so as not to have to deal with the residual chemical odors but it seems to be going away fairly quickly (altho maybe my sense of smell is now dead HA).
 

Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Wife’s car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
Get a vcds scan of the airbag module. It’s likely that it’s just a power fault light and will clear easily. Or it could be related to the seat buckle itself. There are two wires in the buckle and those wires can be a problem. The good news is you can swap the buckle from your old seat onto the new one if that’s the case. Keep in mind you really need to do vcds to find what the code is and which seat is the problem.

I recently found a near mint set of Jetta black leather heated power seats in the junkyard. They easily fit in my golf to replace the same kind of Passat seats I had retro fitted into my golf several years ago. The Passat seat were showing a bit of wear but I was still able to get $100 for them. There is a write up either on this site or vortex that shows how to install heated seat switches if you are going that route.
 

Zak99b5

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2021
Location
Albany NY
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI
GLI Recaros would come from a Jetta, not a Golf. And all MkIV Jettas have 4 doors and no flip up seats, so I am a little confused there.

I just installed GLI Recaros in my car. Did not disco the battery, just left the key off the whole time. No airbag light. So I'd bet it's an issue with the buckle, and if you have the old ones still you could swap it over.
 

hskrdu

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 17, 2003
Location
Maryland and New England
TDI
2003 Golf GLS 4D 5M, 2015 GSW SE 6M
Yeah, as Zak said, flip forward feature means it's from a 2 door (all MkIV GLIs are 4D). If they have "Recaro" stitched in them, they are usually either Euro seats or from an anniversary/337 GTI. We had quite a few members buy the euro Recaros back when Impex and others could get them. If they say "GLI" and they flip forward, then the seat covers have been placed on GTI seat frames, which I've seen once. You can see why we were checking! The vortex has a lot of younger owners doing questionable things to their interiors (and sometimes to the wiring).

My airbag lights over the years have been (1) seat belt buckle, (1) wiring under the seat after I swapped in GTI seats, and (1) turning the key to the accessory position while I was doing work with the system wires (can't recall exactly). We have some good threads on troubleshooting after you scan with VCDS. It will likely be a wiring issue, hopefully not too hard to track down.
 

Nuje

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Location
Island near Vancouver
TDI
2002 Golf 6MT; 2015 Sportwagen 6MT; 2016 A3 e-tron 6DSG
I did remember to disconnect the battery and supposedly you're supposed to let it sit for 30 minutes which I did do I guess to drain down any residual electricity that might be in the system because I definitely didn't want airbags going off unintended.
Does everyone do this? Particularly in my mk7, where so many modules have a hissy fit when the battery is disconnected, I eschew disconnecting the battery for this kinda stuff*. But even in my Mk4, I've become complacent.
And that "wait 30 minutes"...that really seems like overkill.
Disconnect both terminals, touch them together for a few seconds - that should empty all the capacitors.
(*This is in no way a recommendation and what you do is between you and your airbag god; it's more a comment on my laziness. :) )
 

Zak99b5

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2021
Location
Albany NY
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI
With the ignition off, airbags are not powered. I felt perfectly comfortable plugging and unplugging the airbag connectors under the seat with the battery still connected.

Now, if I had to remove the steering wheel airbag, which requires the key in ignition and column unlocked to rotate the wheel, I would certainly disco the battery.
 
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