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1999 Impreza 2.5RS Coupe
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I've got this silver '00 RS coupe I rescued and it's pretty rough around the edges. One of those rough edges is the upholstery on the drivers seat side bolsters. A friend of mine with a much nicer red RS recently swapped her seats out for racing seats. Her drivers side seat was also a little torn up, but her passenger seat was in good condition. She graciously donated her good passenger seat to see if I could figure out how to swap the two.



I figured I could approach it one of two ways. The first: figure out if I can just swap the seat backs. Since it's a passenger seat part replacing a drivers seat part, I'm not sure if that's do-able. The second: figure out how to remove the good upholstery and replace the damaged one. This seems like it'd be quite the pain to do, to get it to look right and sit properly on the cushions.

Any suggestions?
 

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1999 RSTi coupe
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402 Posts
I'd just remove the good upholstery and swap them out. It's really not too difficult. I had an 02 WRX and sourced a near new set of covers for them. Did the fronts and rears in a weekend taking my time. It's not hard to get it to sit right either. Get yourself some wire snips to cut the bull clips (I think that's what they're called) that hold the upholstery to the padding. I just cut them and used regular zip ties to secure the new seats covers. Never had an issue with it.
 

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2000 2.5RS Red
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90 Posts
They're called hog rings, not bull clips, but close enough.

I had the same issue with my 2.5RS. The fabric will rip again unless you fix the underlying issue. Of course, once the fabric is shot, it is time to replace. What I did in mine, was buy seats from someone else on this board where the fabric was in perfect condition. But since I got a pair, I was able to replace a driver's seat with a driver's seat. In your case, you will have to go to the additional effort of swapping the fabric, but to fix the fabric ripping issue (and the foam), you need to get the fabric off anyway.

I looked at mine, and recall that swapping the seatback fabric (not the whole back) from passenger to driver's side is do-able. There's a tiny difference in where it covers the hinges, but nothing you can't work around in a way that nobody would notice.

Anyway, there is a metal frame under the foam that slowly cuts through the foam, and it was causing the same issue in the replacement seat. It just was not visible yet, and the fabric was still ok.

What I did, was reach through the cut in the foam, and wrap that piece of metal rod that was cutting the foam in rubber fuel hose so that it can no longer cut through the foam. Just slit the hose to get it on, but do not make the slit in a straight line or it can get pushed off. Instead, cut the slit in a spiral.

Step 2, use spray glue to glue the foam back together. If the foam will not close on its own (because it was worn away), cut up pieces of new foam, spray glue them, and shove them in the hole.

Step 3, spray glue strips of fabric scraps (I cut up some old denim), and apply them over the damaged foam as a patch to hold everything together. If you don't overlap the fabric (better yet, if you cut the edges with pinking shears), you will never feel this through the cloth seat cover, but it protect the foam from failing in the future.
 

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1997 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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305 Posts
Previous owner put some '98 RS seats in the '96 Brighton coupe I bought late last year. Like many, passenger seat looks fine, driver seat has some wear along the bolster - not nearly as bad as in the OP, but in that same spot. In addition to the wear, I can also feel that the metal frame has cut through the foam, as rlitmn described.

rlitmn, what sort of foam did you use to make the repairs? Thanks for the explanation of how you went about fixing / reinforcing things - definitely something to put on my project list for the car.
 

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2000 2.5RS Red
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90 Posts
Gladly, Tapatalk put your post in my notifications, as I have not been back here since I sold my RS. You're making me miss it...

Anyway, since you asked, I'll go into more detail on what I did.

The metal frame sort of pulverizes the foam as it cuts through it, and you end up with foam that is not only split and torn, but also some foam dust and empty space you need to fill (hence your question).

For that, I used what I had on hand, high density gray case foam like this:
https://www.canalrubber.com/foam-high-density-gray-foam/

You could also use an extra firm upholstery foam, but you don't need to spend big bucks on this, you just need scraps. A fist sized chunk that most upholstery shops will have lots of on the floor will do for the bolster repair you need.

Trim the foam so it fits tightly in the hole with some excess sticking out. Then apply spray glue (I used 3M Super 77 spray) to both the hole and the foam going in (wearing disposable gloves makes the cleanup easier), and get your foam in there. Once it has dried, you can trim the excess back to shape it.

Take a look at this. Not my video, but he's got the right idea:
How to repair your seat with foam - YouTube

and another example:
Auto Upholstery foam repair - YouTube

The secret here is that the foam pieces glued in will compress together with the foam already there. The problem is that the glue is not as strong as the foam, so you'll need to apply some sort of fabric to the top to hold everything together. I used scraps of denim, but if you go with such a thick fabric you have to be careful to avoid overlaps, as double layers can be felt through the covering.

In any case, avoid creases or folds. The second guy's gray fabric looks a lot like some landscaping geotextile cloth I have. That is very strong, very thin, and very breathable (you'd want the fabric type, not the perforated plastic geotextile which does not breathe well, and isn't that strong). Because it is thin, you can get away with overlapping layers. Maybe next time I'll use that stuff.
 

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1997 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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305 Posts
Finally got around to removing the driver's seat so I could work on it. Took the Recaro SE out of my non-running Legacy so I could still drive the Impreza.



Following rlitmn's suggestions, I picked up some foam from a fabric/craft store - it's 1" thick high density, but I'm not really sure it's dense enough. I also picked up a pair of kid's jeans off the clearance rack - for a few bucks I've got plenty of denim to work with.



A couple shots of the foam degradation / splitting on the driver's seat back:





The inner bolster is worse, but I worked on the outer bolster first. Wrapped some fuel hose around the bit of frame that was starting to protrude, and then stuffed/glued some of the foam in there. Guess I didn't get a picture of that. Then I laid some of the denim on there and trimmed it to fit with some pinking shears. In addition to the area that had actually worn through to the frame, there was another spot that the foam was split for a few inches, so I covered that with the denim, too.

Initial mock-up:


Trimming it down:

I figured since I've got plenty of denim to work with I might as well cover basically the whole bolster. The foam looked a bit worse for wear in a couple of spots, and I figured doing it this way would reduce the chance of feeling any seams.

And then glued down with the 3M trim adhesive glue:


 

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1997 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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What I'm not too sure of is how to address the exposed from up closer to the shoulder on the other side of the seat - the part on the right in this pic:


It's not obvious in the picture, but the lower split in the foam (on the left in that picture) is in a thicker section of foam, and I should be able to fix that pretty easily. But the part up by the shoulder is quite exposed - if I wrap the fuel hose around the frame there, it'll protrude beyond the foam. Even if I don't use the rubber hose on the frame, the frame is just about even with the foam; there's not a gap to fill with new foam. I think I would need to add a layer of foam over a larger area, but since I didn't have to do that on the other bolster, it would be asymmetrical. Not sure if that would really be noticeable or not once it's covered with the denim and then the actual seat cover.

Thoughts?
 

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2000 2.5RS Red
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90 Posts
I think you would want a minimum of an inch of foam covering the frame metal. When that bolster wire cuts into the foam, it destroys (into powder) more volume of foam than you would think by just looking at it. If you just close the gap around the wire, then you end up with the situation where the wire is too close to the surface. So you're going to have to add foam to build that side back up.

But don't go ripping the seat all apart if it ends up lopsided. You can glue foam ON TOP of that denim too. It's all going back under the cover anyway. Just feather the edges so it all seems smooth.

Anyway, from what I can see of your repair, you're well on your way. Nice work!
 

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1997 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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OK, sounds good. I've got a pretty decent sized strip of foam to work with, so I can layer some more on there.

Also picked up some seat heaters, so I'll be throwing those in while I'm at it. :cool:
 

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1997 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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Progress has been very slow; since I have the perfectly good Recaro seat in the car now, it's been easy for me to let the 2.5RS seat just sit on the floor in pieces. :lol: But, in the past week or so I've pretty much wrapped it up.

Following up on rlitmn's advice to layer more foam over the wire frame, I did that on both shoulders. It was really only needed on the inner bolster, but obviously if I only did one side the seat would've been asymmetrical, so I did both.





Then roughly shaped before putting the denim over it to smooth it all out:


Seat back all denim'd up:


I trimmed the top 1/3 of the seat heater off so it would fit the available space and stuck that in place. Also seen are the two zip-ties being used in place of hog rings to reinstall the cover.




The one remaining thing is to fix the wear spot on the outer bolster; I want to take it to an upholstery shop and see what they have to say. In the meantime, I've fixed it up Frankenstein-style. :)



That demonstrates that there's plenty of slack in the material to fold it over and stitch it up to hide the spot that has worn through. I don't have much skill with needle and thread, so if I try to fix it myself it'll look like ass. However, I'll do it myself if the upholstery shop wants too much to do it.

Moving onto the bottom, it was much of the same. The only damage was on the outer thigh bolster, but again I did both sides to keep it symmetrical.





I shaped the foam on the outer bolster first, then made some Sharpie marks on the other foam to give me a rough guide to try to make it about the same shape.





Due to the complex curves, I had to gather up some of the denim and cut out pie slices so that it would lay flat without bunching up on itself.





I was able to use the full heater on the bottom, and passed the wire out through the back - it wraps around the back of the foam underneath the cover, and comes out through a slit underneath the seat.







I'm quite happy with how it's come out so far. Many thanks to rlitmn for the advice; in particular, I think using the denim to smooth things out has worked brilliantly. In addition to seeing about getting the seat back cover fixed, I need to pull the center console apart to take care of the seat heater wiring, then I'll be able to reinstall the seat and enjoy the fruits of my labor!
 

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1997 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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A couple months ago, after a year and a half or so of my refurbished seat being in the car, I managed to tear a nice hole in the outer side bolster on the back of the driver seat. I was in a tight parking space and trying to slide my way into the car, back pocket button caught a small wear hole on the bolster and turned said small hole into a ~3" long tear. :(


You can see the denim material underneath from my previous seat foam repairs.



I "fixed" it with some safety pins initially, but obviously that wasn't going to be a final solution. That bolster had been repaired by an upholstery shop once before, and the fabric was just thin with wear and sun exposure, so I didn't think taking it back to them would work.

Fortuitously, right around the same time that I tore the seat cover, a local u-pull-it junkyard got in a 2000 RS and I was able to go raid it for seat repair parts. The driver seat didn't look any better than mine - probably looked worse, actually - so I grabbed the passenger seat in the hopes I could use at least the covers off of it. Much like my existing passenger seat, the junkyard passenger seat had seen way less use and was in great condition.

I pulled out my driver seat and took the two seats apart to compare things. I ended up using both the seat back cover and the seat bottom cover from the junkyard passenger seat to refurbish the existing driver seat.
  • The seat back foam is molded onto the frame, so you can't just take the foam from a passenger seat back and use it on a driver seat.
  • The seat back cover is pretty much the same on the left and right seats. The only difference from one side to the other is at the bottom corners, where there are 2 flaps that wrap under to cover the ends of the foam. On one side the flap is slit (to go over the hinge), and on the other it's not. A few seconds to cut a slit on the other side, and now you can use a passenger side seat back cover on a driver side seat back (or vice versa).


  • The seat bottom foam can be pulled out of the pan that forms the base of the seat, but my existing bottom foam was in good shape, so I didn't see any reason to change it out. As for the shape of the foam on left and right seats, they're not quite the same. At the back inner corner of the foam, alongside where the seatbelt latch is mounted, the foam cuts in a little bit to clear the latch. It's a pretty subtle difference, though, and I don't think would preclude you from swapping left and right seat cushion foam.
  • The bottom covers are also not symmetrical - the plastic clips that secure the cover underneath aren't the same. However, they're close enough that I was able to put the junkyard passenger side seat bottom cover onto my driver side seat foam and pan. All but 1 of the plastic clips fit fine. I did have to cut a small hole in the cover so one of the bolts that attaches the seat rails could go through.
I had noticed before pulling the seat out to fix the torn seat cover that my previous foam repairs (discussed above) hadn't really done the job - I could definitely feel the metal frame through the foam in a couple spots on the seat back. While I had things apart to replace the cover, I added some more foam to better cover the frame. This time I used 3" thick foam, so 3x thicker than the 1" I used on my first attempt. I didn't take any pics of the process, but I put blocks along either side bolster, trimmed them a bit, then covered them with more denim.


(Block of 3" foam on the left, next to the seat back with denim donated from an old pair of my jeans.)

I had thoroughly rinsed the covers from the junkyard seat out in the sink, then ran them through a gentle wash cycle. They're a bit wrinkly still, but I'm sure that'll work itself out with use.

 
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