1999 JAGUAR XJ8 3.2

Front seat refurbishment

  When I got the XJ8 I commented that the drivers seat needed a bit of TLC, especially on the off side bolster.  This problem is always worse when the seat is left a long way forward for a shorter driver and the bolster gets scuffed on the way in and out.  It shouldn't be as much of a problem for me as I'm quite long in the leg (in both of them in fact!) and therefore the seat is a fair way back, so I don't scuff the bolster as I get in or out.  There was an option on the cars equipped with memory seats, that as you took out the ignition key the seat went backwards and column went forwards and upwards - flash eh?  I might be able to manage without that little luxury.

The cosmetic damage to the seat when I bought it - it is after all 14 years old!


The bolster takes quite a hammering but at least there are no splits or tears


Even the cushion has some marks which need attention

    Anyway the first step for me was to remove the seat completely so that I could do the job on the bench in full light and not have to mask up lots of stuff to prevent the finish getting in places I didn't want it.  There are 2 Torx bolts at the back and two at the front of each seat.  Drive the seat fully back to remove the front ones and then drive it fully forward to get at the rears and then bring the seat to upright.  As these seats are fitted with side airbags it's now time to disconnect the battery - any spurious flash of voltage at the wrong time when disconnecting or reconnecting might trigger the bag (we're told)  Before you commit to this, make sure you have the radio security code to hand for later - you'll also need to reset the clock when you're finished.  Negative (-ve or N) lead comes off first then the positive (+ve or P) and then you should touch together both leads to eliminate any surplus charge.  Make sure that when you reconnect it's a 'clean' connect, i.e. straight on to a post without dithering.  Wait a couple of minutes after disconnecting the battery before disconnecting any harness plugs.  There are two of these plugs to remove, one for the airbag with yellow wires to it and a much bigger plug for all of the other wires, but if you tip the seat backwards they are easy to access.

The first of the Torx bolts can be seen here (the black blob at the lower end of that row of vertical stitching) There is another on the other side by the tunnel.  Seat to the rearmost position to gain access.


With the seat in the forward position the rear bolts can easily be seen and removed

    Be careful when lifting the seat from the car so that you don't scratch anything - I put an old towel over the sill - and these seats are HEAVY!  Once the seat is clear of the car, you can detach the seat belt from the seat frame. 

It's now time to make the seat look even worse than it did - for a while at least!

I bought my refurb kit from Furniture Clinic with all of the necessary lotions and potions to carry out the job on both front seats if necessary.  My colour is Jaguar Cashmere (code SDZ) and they have already matched that in the past; but if you have a special one off colour they can match that too - for a small fee.

Once the seat was out and on the bench I gave it a really good clean with the leather cleaner which made quite a difference to the overall appearance.  Now for the brave bit!  You have to attack the worst areas with a scotch-pad soaked in the leather prep - this makes a right bugger of what you thought was only a small problem - but don't despair, it will come right in the end.

This is what happens - the outer side of the seat cushion - the finish has gone, right down to the leather surface and most of the cracks and creases are gone too.  I did this to the bolster as well, but forgot to take a picture of that bit before I applied one coat of the colour with a sponge pad.

That's the bad bolster with the first coat sponged on - you are not after a great finish at this stage, just a good covering.

This is the cushion after a couple of coats from the airbrush, which is supplied in the kit - it looks much better now.

....and the bolster similarly treated

The next stage is to fix the finish - which is a clear coat like the one I removed at the beginning with the leather prep.  This produces a gloss finish which must, in the case of the XJ8, be covered with a satin coat.  I suppose I'll get round to doing the other seats as time goes on, so that it's all uniform. 

The first clear sealer coats are on but the finish although well sealed, is too glossy so the next stage is to apply the satin coat.


It looks a lot more natural now and just needs leaving for a day to fully dry before refitting.

     This really has been a pleasurable job with an excellent result and well worth the effort - I wanted to take the seat out anyway because the lift motor for the rear of the seat is not working.  I've managed to get one via ebay, all others are working OK and as a quick test I stuck 12 volts across it and there was nothing - after unclipping its harness of course, so as not to bugger up the delicate electronics in the seat module.  I managed originally to get the rear of the seat to my preferred height by inserting a small square bar (turned at one end on the lathe) and then attaching a battery powered drill to drive it up - but I would like to have it functional again if possible.  These seats (even on the poor man's model!) have motors for cushion height front and rear, fore and aft movement, recline, headrest up and down plus a compressor for lumbar adjustment and heaters in the cushion and back, oh, and an airbag! - no wonder they're heavy!  And I nearly forgot - there is a seat control module and an external relay fastened underneath too!

    Refitting is quite straightforward but again care is needed to make sure nothing gets scratched.  Remember to attach the seat belt to the seat before you put it back in the car - now who would be daft enough to forget that? (Oops!) The wiring connectors can also be fitted to their respective sockets.  Now it's time to re-connect the battery - positive first, then negative - aiming for a 'clean' fit.  Assuming that you have the radio code, that can now be entered and the clock reset.  After a week or so, you can apply the leather protectant which forms a barrier to dirt ingress and restores that wonderful leather smell.  Yep, the passenger side ought to be done too.



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