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2018 BMW X2, 2002 BMW M3 Coupe, 2014 Mercedes Benz ML350
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220 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Anyone who has had this happen knows how frustrating it is to have the seat stuck down with no way to get it back up. Naturally, it will happen at the worst possible time (not that there is ever a good time). The design is terrible, not only for making it possible for this to happen in the first place, but also for making it so difficult to fix.

This happened to me and like everyone else, I read all the threads, but found none of them really helped. I also looked at EPC to see if it would shed some light on how the latch worked. It didn't help much, but I was able to figure out enough from the drawing to find a solution. I spent several hours yesterday figuring this out and I took some pictures to hopefully help others to fix their seat when this happens. (I say when, because it's only a matter of time, due to the stupid design.)

Before I explain what I did, I encourage everyone to take a look at the latch now while you can, so when this happens, you will know what you're doing.

First, I'll try to explain how the latch works, using the picture from EPC.



This picture is not very informative, because it doesn't depict the relative position of the components very well. However, it's a start. The important components are the latch handle & main cable (180), the struts (62 & 64), the clips (63 & 65) and the secondary cable (68). On the driver's side passenger seat, there are latches on both sides of the seat. They both have to be actuated to raise the seat. Unfortunately, when the main cable comes off, it disables both latches. Fortunately, the outside latch can be actuated with your fingers, but there is no way to actuate the inside latch with your fingers. This is the problem.

To show you what happens to the latch, I took some pictures of the latch with the cable on (the way it should be) and off (the way it is when the latch doesn't work). You can see how easy it is to knock the cable off. If anything is underneath the seat below the latch, it can easily knock the cable off when you lower the seat. You won't know if the cable got knocked off until you try to raise it.

These photos are taken from the passenger side of the seat, looking up and underneath the seat. If the cable is knocked off, you might be able to see it dangling below the seat, looking from between and behind the seats. There is a photo below that will help explain this.

Here is a photo showing the cable on the bracket where it's supposed to be.



Here is a photo showing the cable knocked off the bracket.



Here is a picture of the latch from the other side. The main cable is the one on the bottom. It goes through the "clip", which is the lever that actuates the latch. The part of the cable that I showed in and out of the bracket is on the far left side of the photo. The exposed cable in the middle is the secondary cable that pulls the latch on the other side of the seat. It's possible that this cable can get knocked off at either end as well. The cable at the back is the one for the other latch that's activated using the rear handle.



Here is a picture of the latch on the outside of the seat. It's the little gold coloured piece in the middle of the picture. You can easily see it and actuate it with your finger when the seat is down. (You actuate it by pushing it.)



Now that you know why the latch stops working, the trick is how to actuate it with the seat down, when there is no way you can access it. There are lots of solutions in other posts, but some of them involve taking the seat apart and/or breaking things, neither of which I wanted to do. I figured that if I could actuate the outside latch with my finger, there must be a way to actuate the inside latch. My solution was to use a long thin flat piece of metal, a yardstick. I slid the yardstick under the seat from the driver's side and pushed around a bit until I felt something give, which was the latch. Then I reached under the outside of seat with my finger and actuated the outside latch. The seat raised.

Here is a photo that shows how the yardstick has to press against the latch to actuate it. The bright white line is the edge of the yardstick. If you push on the yardstick against the latch, it will actuate. Maybe it was a fluke, but it took surprisingly little time to find the latch and actuate it.



I slid the yardstick under the seat right around the outside latch. You can see in the next photo where it has to go. This view is looking forward from behind the seats. The grey mouse fur on the right is the back of the bottom of the passenger side rear seat cushion. In the middle of the seat, you can see the tip of the yardstick. It's in this location that you will see the end of the cable dangling freely if it's knocked off the bracket.

 

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Super Old Fart Moderator
2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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11,878 Posts
I've been there and done this fix, except in my case with the 2002, the latch cable was broken so I had to begin removing the seat from the rear by knocking out the hinge pins and raising it with a 2x4 so that latch cylinders could be reached.
 

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2018 BMW X2, 2002 BMW M3 Coupe, 2014 Mercedes Benz ML350
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220 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've been there and done this fix, except in my case with the 2002, the latch cable was broken so I had to begin removing the seat from the rear by knocking out the hinge pins and raising it with a 2x4 so that latch cylinders could be reached.
Are you talking about the driver's side rear seat or the passenger's side rear seat? If you're talking about the driver's side, no matter if the cable is broken or simply knocked off, you can release the latch on left with your fingers and the latch on the right with the yardstick. How did you get the left pin out with the plastic trim in the way? The way it looked to me, I would have had to break it to remove it to get access to the pin.
 

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Super Old Fart Moderator
2002 ML320, 2005 S430 4MATIC RIP, 2010 F150 Crew Cab
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11,878 Posts
It was the driver side. My seat was not accessable. I don't know if yours was a slightly different trim but I couldn't get to the cylinder without raising it from the back. Not that it matters on my case because seat still had to come out to replace the handle/cable assembly. Couldn't just buy a cable. It was a two hour fix removing, replacing cable and reinstalling. Could probably do it again in an hour.
 

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98 ML320, 01 S500, 15 GL350
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593 Posts
my problem is the raise motor(strut) seems seized.

I even take the seat out and can not fix it. It only move 1-2mm when push the button and the strut is becoming very hot when multiple tries.

Was told I have to replace the whole bottom unit.
 

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Current: 2003 SL55 Obsidian Black, 2007 ML500 Silver. Former: SL500, 560SEL, 450SEL, 300SEL 6.3
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160 Posts
Rear LHS 2nd row seat stuck down

Thanks for the great write up. The photos were a great help

Mine got stuck last week and I repaired it using the ruler method last night... 30 minutes total; 5 to lift the seat and 25 to repair the broken cable

Just a couple of things that might help others:

The position of the inside latch can be seen through the gap that exists at the rear of the seat between the squab and the carpeted floor. If you shine a torch in the gap you will see the latch that needs to be pushed. My first impression was that it was at the front and on the extreme right hand side of the seat. It's actually at the rear and 450mm in, just like the instructions say!

The outside latch can be felt under the rear of the left side of the squab.

I wasn't able to push the ruler, unlock the outside latch, swing the rear unlocking handle and lift the seat with two hands. two people made the job a breeze.

Mine had failed because one of the retaining ferrules on the cable had snapped off.

Once I had replaced the cable a couple of cable ties to hold the ferrule in place seems to have solved the problem.

Thanks again.

Peter
 

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2018 BMW X2, 2002 BMW M3 Coupe, 2014 Mercedes Benz ML350
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220 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the great write up. The photos were a great help

Mine got stuck last week and I repaired it using the ruler method last night... 30 minutes total; 5 to lift the seat and 25 to repair the broken cable

Just a couple of things that might help others:

The position of the inside latch can be seen through the gap that exists at the rear of the seat between the squab and the carpeted floor. If you shine a torch in the gap you will see the latch that needs to be pushed. My first impression was that it was at the front and on the extreme right hand side of the seat. It's actually at the rear and 450mm in, just like the instructions say!

The outside latch can be felt under the rear of the left side of the squab.

I wasn't able to push the ruler, unlock the outside latch, swing the rear unlocking handle and lift the seat with two hands. two people made the job a breeze.

Mine had failed because one of the retaining ferrules on the cable had snapped off.

Once I had replaced the cable a couple of cable ties to hold the ferrule in place seems to have solved the problem.

Thanks again.

Peter
Glad it helped. I agree, it's not expected that the latch is at the back of the seat, but it stays with the arm, not the seat. That tripped me up for quite a while. If you find the left side latch with your finger, the other side is directly across. The ruler goes straight in.
 

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2002 ML320
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Thanks for the pictures. Having never looked at the mechanism while the seat was up, the best reference I had was the other side, which is of course a bit different. I didn't have anything flatter, so I used was a length of 1/2" pipe and stuck it near the rear of the seat, which is pretty much the only place it would fit, and I found the lever almost right away. For those who, like Me, were not entirely clear where to poke around for it from the pictures I made a short video: http://youtu.be/9lXG0ndkFOk
 
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