Manual seat height adjuster replacement


Veteran Member
Aug 19, 2012
Northern AL
2005 Passat GLS Wagon, 5 speed conversion, GBSM
My drivers manual seat height adjuster would not go all the way to the bottom of the travel range, which caused me a problem since I am 6'5". I wasn't sure what was at fault, but I knew that my passenger seat had a lot more adjustment. After a lot of searching, I finally found this thread,

The B5.5 manual adjuster is the same as the one described in that thread. In my case, I could adjust it some, all from above middle of the range to the top of the range. Follow Oilhammers steps in the referenced thread, with the following clarifications. BTW, if you can get the seat forward and somewhat adjusted high, you CAN leave the seat in the car to do this. In fact, it is pretty easy to do the job.

Bring the seat all the way forward, and as high as you can adjust it. Remove the seat height adjuster handle as Oilhammer describes; you WILL need new caps to go over the screws if you don't want to destroy your old handle. The screws that hold the handle on are Torx 25, NOT allen heads. Use a good quality torx bit as the screws are a tight fit in the new adjuster, and you don't want to round out the screw heads.

Remove the outside plastic skirt around the base of the seat. There is one screw that holds the inside skirt to the outside one, and a screw that holds the outside skirt onto the base of the seat. Remove both screws. Remove the seat back angle adjuster knob. I used a nylon pry bar from a trim removal set, and was able to get mine off without damage. Now remove the skirt from the seat bottom; it just clips on the rest of the way, once you remove the screws at the front.

Remove the three 10mm head bolts that hold the adjuster to the frame. You may have to wiggle it a bit to get it out, as it has a pinion style gear that engages a matching rack gear on the seat frame, and the gear shaft extends into the frame for support.

Make sure, with the adjuster removed, that you can move the seat frame up and down by hand thru the full height adjustment range . It is spring loaded in the up direction, and should spring back when you stop applying pressure to the seat bottom.

Oilhammer gave the correct part number for the replacement assembly, 1J0-881-053-D for the drivers side. It isn't cheap, around $170 list. I got mine from for about $120. Simply bolt it in, jiggling the seat up and down with your hand as you install it to line up the gear teeth and the gear shaft into the hole in the frame. There is no centering or anything else that needs to be done before installing it.

Test the new adjuster before you reinstall everything else in reverse order. The seat lever screw caps that Oilhammer provided are also correct for the B5.5. Be sure to include the color code suffix he provides when you order them.

In my case the new adjuster restored full functionality to my seat mechanism. For me, the money was well spent as I now can get completely comfortable in my seat for the first time.

I looked at my old adjuster, and there is nothing obviously wrong with it. It looks identical to the new one. It is all a stamped steel assembly with a gear/ratchet assembly, riveted together, and appears to have a crude ball bearing race in it, which may be jamming my old one up at one end of the adjustment range. There is no way to disassemble it without destroying it that I can see.

Hope this helps someone.