Power seat recline fix info for AL7(SSEi) type seats
If your power seat'* recline function isn't working, it could be caused by a switch/power/relay/wiring problem, disconnected or broken cable, or defective motor.
On both of my bonnies ('92 sse */c and '93 SSEi), though, the motors worked ok (you could hear the motor engage) but the recline function didn't work on any of my front seats. The motors operated for a few seconds but gave up. I investigated last weekend and I believe that the problem was simply caused by dehydrated lubricant in the gear actuators. The information I've posted here is what I did to fix the problem on my car'* seats; this info wasn't taken from a shop manual or suggested to me by anyone, but hopefully the steps I've documented will fix your seat'* recline functions also.
The first seat took me more than an hour to analyze and figure out how to fix, but after I had fixed the first one, the others only took roughly 45 minutes each. Maybe this is a candidate for the techinfo section...
The recline motor makes noise for a few seconds when you press the recline switch, but the seat doesn't recline. This probably occurs mostly when, as in my case, the recline function is rarely used.
Solution (sorry if it'* a bit lengthy):
Tools required: 2 sockets (for the front and rear mounting nuts, they're different sizes), phillips screwdriver (for the plastic base covers), pliers (for the cable connectors), small crescent wrench (for manually turning the drive cables), small toothbrush (for scrubbing the dried lubricant from the actuator drive shafts), and a torx bit (for the seat belt mounting bolt).
Supplies required: spray lubricant (I used PB Blaster), grease (I used lithium grease).
1. Disconnect the electrical connectors and air connector and then remove the seat. Note: On both of my bonnies, there are 4 rear bolts on each seat, but only 3 nuts were installed at the factory; the right rear only had 1 nut installed even though there were 2 bolts. When I removed the first seat, I thought that someone had removed and lost one of the nuts, but I later discovered that all front seats on my bonnies were mounted the same way, with only 3 nuts installed on the rear floor bolts.
2. Turn the seat over and lay it down on a clean surface such as a blanket or towels.
3. Remove the drive cables from both sides of the recline motor. The motor has 2 drive cables; a cable is attached to each side, and the other side of each cable connects to a metal actuator that sits around a metal drive screw. The 2 recline drive screws are located along the far left and right sides of the seat. On my bonnies, the drive cables were gray colored; yours may be a different color. To remove the motor side of the drive cable, put the pliers over the outer edge of the nylon connector ring and gently squeeze until the connector is released. Be careful not to press too hard, or you might crack the connector. On the actuator side of the cable, use your fingers and unthread the threaded nylon connector. Small hands are required for this step.
4. Spray lubricant into each end of the drive cable and use the crescent wrench to manually turn the square drive cable back and forth inside the sleeve in order to work the lubricant into both ends of the cables.
5. Spray lubricant into both actuators, where the threaded cable connectors were previously connected. This can be a bit tricky; you might need to connect 2 nozzle straws together to extend the spray length in order to reach one of them.
6. Spray lubricant into each side of the actuator, around each side of the screw drive shaft.
7. Use the toothbrush to scrub both of the screw drive shafts and break-up the sticky grease on the shafts, on both sides of the actuators.
8. Reconnect the 2 threaded nylon connectors to the 2 actuators. Again, small hands are required for this step.
9. Use the crescent wrench to manually turn 1 drive cable while it'* connected to the actuator. Be careful not to turn too fast or too hard; the cable is a spring, and it could probably break. Turn it in one direction for a while and watch the actuator move along the drive screw. You might need to apply more spray lubricant on the drive screw and/or scrub some more with the toothbrush during this process. Turn the drive cable the other direction and repeat the process. Then perform the same action on the other drive cable.
10. Turn one of the drive cables manually until the drive screw reaches the end of its travel against the stop end of the drive screw (the stop looks kinda like the head of a nail). Then repeat this process on the other drive cable. This ensures that both motor assemblies will be in the same position, so both sides of the seat will therefore be in the same general position, not twisted or otherwise out-of-sync.
11. Apply grease to both of the screw drive shafts.
12. Reconnect the 2 nylon drive cable connectors to each side of the motor. Just push them on; they snap on, but note that you may first need to manually turn the square drive cable a little bit to orient it properly before reconnecting it.
13. Reinstall the seats and reconnect the electrical connectors and the air connector.
14. Enjoy seats that recline again.
'99 Bonneville SLE, white, 112,000 miles
'02 Park Avenue Ultra, white diamond pearl, 88,000 miles