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Discussion Starter #1
This is the actual write up thread, please don't lump this in with my research thread.

Feel free to offer any input or constructive criticisms. This is the first time I think this has ever been done and while I think it's possible we won't know until it's all done.

Please note if you are planning on following this writeup that there will be a fair amount of fabrication required and there may be a decent amount of permanent alterations to the vehicle in order to get everything in place the way I want it. If you are interested in keeping it able to go back to stock this likely won't go that way.

I finally have finished enough to move forward on a luxury seat and I've selected the Heated/Cooled, massaging, comfort (multicontour) seats out of the massively wasteful land barge known as the Audi A8 to keep complexity down I've selected the 03-10 model year seats which have all the bells and whistles, aren't so old the leather is getting old, but don't have to talk to a computer or have an air pump powering them for basic functions like lumbar or front thigh support adjust.

The insight measures roughly 24 inches from the edge of the plastic door jamb to the side of the e brake shroud. The front console will likely have to come out and a boot placed over the stick shift This modification for sure already WILL NOT work with cars modified to have a center console that is floor mounted, there is simply not enough room, these seats are MASSIVE and just squeek in the car from what I measured at the German car dealer. They're about 22.5 inches wide with the frame dog legging out towards the door. The seat cushions are about 21 inches wide. I anticipate a high likelyhood of having to modify the center tunnel of the car in order to make these seats fit and have full range of motion, I might also have to relocate the emergency brake, to say it will be snug is an understatement.

Once the seats are put in and wired up I'm planning on putting a piece of square tubing and another at an angle to support it and mounting it to the angled wall behind the seats so it comes through the middle of the two seats and lets me suspend a center console and cup holder between and in front of the seats. I may also be adding a hinge to it and a pin so I can fold it up out of the way when I want to.

Right now I'm sourcing seats and it's looking like it will be about 350 for the driver. I am doing that one first and may not even do a passenger since I hardly ever carry a passenger great distances and the rx-8 leather heated seats I have in now should suffice for the passenger.
 

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This is the actual write up thread, please don't lump this in with my research thread.

Well, let's give that some thought. This is, after all, like the 4th or 5th thread you started about seats. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Lol, that's why I felt I needed to include that note. I finally have a clear path and all the measurements so I can go forward. It was hard finding a luxury seat that didn't need to be connected to the original car to work with most of the basic settings. The 7 series is door mounted controls, the S Class has a central air pump for the whole car. The Audi is the only one I've seen anyone do anything with independent of the car from this decade. I was trying to salvage my rx-8 seats by adding foam but the cost just isn't worth it when it still has so many downsides. Don't get me wrong, compared to the stock insight seats the power heated rx8 with lumbar are amazing, but compared to the A8 seat they're absolutely meh and hurt my butt and tailbone and the seat base isn't long enough and the bolsters too narrow. It took a lot of digging just to find a good starting point but I am where I want to be to move forward and I'm 99% sure I can make it work with the car, I just might not be able to get the massage or ventilation to work.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
A word of caution to anyone following this that is going to try it as well. The year cutoff is very sharp on the seats, additionally the standard A8 seats are known to be kinda meh, the sport are slightly better and the comfort line are pretty awesome, if you're taking the massive time and effort, get the one with the extra switches ;). If you try and get the comfort seats from a 2011 or newer you will be stuck with a seat that doesn't adjust very much unless you want to add at minimum the MMI and whatever else that needs to function. The newer cars remove a lot of the switches and integrate with the MMI (kinda like an infotainment screen) to a four way switch and have a little roll selector since they are 22 way instead of 18 way and they didn't want to add two more switches. The additional adjustments for anyone that is wondering are for the seat base bolsters and for the seat back bolsters. The seat still would have the regular tilt and base adjustments but you wouldn't be able to access the thigh support, which could be set up way too long or way too short. Also you would not be able to access any of the four way lumbar. That's not to say you couldn't run your own wiring and switches and McGyver something in, but I don't think it's worth the effort since the 11 seats are much more expensive typically and their only major advantage seems to be the 25 types of massage, which is found in the MMI and I don't know what all else you would need to integrate it into the car. Someday if I come across an 11 or newer with major body damage but good electronics for a song I might play with it but I doubt it.
TLDR: Stick to the D3 year range 03-10 or older if you're not wanting massive headaches or a seat that isn't very adjustable.

The seat heating and ventilation is controlled outside the seat on all year 03 and newer, probably the older ones too but I didn't check as I wanted the D3. This will require tapping into the harness and adding switches. That's pretty standard for most cars, if it wasn't winter I would add a switch to turn off my RX-8 seat heater which I just hard wired since it's always cold and I finished those like a month ago.

I'm not sure if the massage function on the '10 and older are integrated with the MMI at all or the programming is in the seat itself. I think it's the latter because it's very basic and there's a button on the seat for it. It's a very "meh" massage, but it might be nice on a really long drive just to keep you from shifting so much. On the 10 it just rolls the lumbar up and down and in and out. The '11 and newer there are something like 5 massage types with 5 intensity settings and the only way to turn it on is the MMI.

There will be a switch on the seat that doesn't really do anything that you can tell, this is a little rocker switch that rocks up and down. This switch is for the seat belt height coming out of the car pillar.

The comfort seats are available in ventilated and non, the perforation is small so look closely at the pictures when selecting a seat to buy, they look different enough in person that you wouldn't like having mismatched seats. Additionally, I believe the lumbar massage is an option since I've seen some seats with the button and some without it. I don't think it's all that fantastic on the 10, but if it's important to you then look at the switches closely, it's pretty hard to see in most eBay or car-part pictures.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I managed to source a driver seat for the car for $344 shipped to a depot in Wausau and I can drive up there before work to get it with the Escape. I got a perforated black leather seat out of an 07? Audi A8 I believe it was. They're hard to find closer to 10 and with low miles just because those cars are a lot less likely to be totalled, most of the seats are 04-06. It should be here by early next week at the latest. The seat is in very good cosmetic shape from the pictures they took. The only real wear is some slight crease marks on the driver side bolster, the passenger side on the seat is still good and the driver looks miles above my rx8 which is itself far from cracking. They pulled it instead of leaving it in the car so it should be nicer than a lot of junkyards that let them sit and get kinda musty.



Another bad thing I found out about the 11 and up seats is the top third of the seatback is adjusted in the mmi so that could be way out of wack if someone sat funny or they tilted everything forward to make it easier to get out of the car. The 04-10 are really the way to go. They're cheaper, more available and less integrated. While the better massage would be nice I can't imagine having to go into multiple screens while driving just to move my thigh adjust or the seat back upper tilt which on the test drive I moved around a bit, I have a bad habit of moving power seats a bit lol.

I'm planning on keeping it to just the driver for now due to not only cost, but also due to these seats weighing an estimated 100 pounds, I'm curious to see what they tip the scales at when I get them in.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just a little update, I see a lot of people have looked in on this thread but not many comments but I'll keep the write up going at least for the record I guess.

The seat was delivered this week and it's in great shape, no smells and I managed to get the seat to move around when I hooked it up to my new motorcycle battery that's about half charged so far. Everything as far as movement on the seat functions. The headrest goes up and down, the tilt is manual. The seat back tilts and the upper seatback independently tilts as it should. The front of the seat goes in and out the full 2 inches or so it should, the seat goes up and down and tilts all like it should. As expected the pillar mounted seat belt holder switch does nothing out of the car ;) The massage feature I can't get to work even though there is a button for it on the seat itself and that isn't controlled in the dash of the car. The motors for the lumbar in and out work and up and down as well, so I'm not sure if that just requires full voltage to run or if for some reason the programming or permissive is not available. I noticed so far that some of the functions will move a little then stop so I'm not sure if the switches are corroded or if the battery is still getting charged up as it has only been on the tender about two hours. At one point the headrest wouldn't move at all until I put the tender back on so that's the direction I'm leaning towards.

Now for the part you probably care about. In order to wire the seat you just take the cord that came from the car if the junk yard left it on and there are three wires thicker than the others, two are mostly red and one is brown. Connect the two reds to positive and the brown to ground or negative. From what I can tell if the junkyard pulled your plug out there are those wires found with the same color coding farther in on the harness, seems like one in each of the main plugs. If you don't have the main cord be careful to not wire into anything other than these as I'm not sure which ones are the air bag wires yet. This seat has a built in air bag, possibly more than one.

The rails look like they're very easy to make brackets for. I'm planning on going with just some flat stock since these seats are much thicker and have more height adjust than the RX-8 seats I don't feel the need to prop them up higher and this way they can go low when I want them to such as when a tall person drives the car. I'm probably going to strip a lot of stuff off the seat just because it's useless to me such as the storage pocket on the back and the air bag.

The other thing that will have to be wired up is the seat heaters. Since they're controlled in the MMI on this year of seat (04-10) I'm going to trace out the wiring for them and wire them independently and either use a potentiometer, resistive switch or PWM to control the heat. I want them set up so I can have the butt only hot enough not to be cold while having penetrating heat into my back, from the factory they're wired together so I'll divorce the wiring.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The seat was sent to me with a module still installed, I don't know if that's needed to control the seat. I can hear a faint secondary click that isn't the switch when I move the seat like a relay engaging so I believe that the seat WILL not work without the module. I think if you got one without a module that even if you could trace back to all the switches and wire them up to work that they would burn out in short order just like if you had all your starter amperage going through your steering column.
 

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Take the lid off the module and examine the PCB. By googling all the micro chips you may get some insight into how the controls work. Be prepared for some bus level architecture that is proprietary and undecypherable. It's not likely to be analog.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
To be honest the massage on the pre 2011 isn't worth the bother if it isn't a simple wiring fix to get it to work. All it really does is slowly move the lumbar up and down and in and out, it just uses the lumbar adjust motors and some programming. I'm pretty happy with the adjustability the seat adds though, way better on the back than the RX-8 seat at least when I drove the A8L to see if I liked the seats.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Right now I've got the back of the seatback off. This one has the common issue with the headrest adjust not playing nicely at times and while I'm in there I noticed that the lumbar is cable driven and has a lot of slack which explains why I didn't have as much lumbar as I like. The motor goes through almost half of it's path of travel before it starts pulling on it. Luckily there's a cross bar near it so I can just zip tie it on the sheathing to get it more tensioned. I usually like a lot of lumbar and almost never have a car set below half so I'll probably add some pretension to it as well so I can have it stick out more at max travel.

I'm going to see where the seat heater leads are and add some wiring so I can power those, I'm probably just going with a direct wire for now, but in the spring I will be adding in a switch for each heater and some means of temperature control.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Weighed it out on the way to the garage by subtracting my weight, looks like it weighs right around 86 pounds with everything except the back pocket on it. I got 247 on the scale and I'm 161 wearing my jacket.
 

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So I took my RX-8 seat out of my car and put in the A8 seat for mock up, it fits, barely, it took some gymnastics and Tetris skills to get it in from the driver side, I almost took out the passenger seat but was able to figure out a way. Make sure to remove all the door trim before putting it in, ask me how I know :mad:. Looks like I'll have to get creative with how I mount the rails to the floor. On both rails they're running up the curves where the floor pan goes down on the car so I'll have to probably have it raised some but I don't want to go too far as it's a thick seat as it is, it looks doable so far. With the seat all the way back against the angled carpet I have to stretch to reach the pedals with the seatback pocket removed which adds about an inch removed from the seatback, so there's probably enough room for someone with normal length legs up to about 6 foot without taking out that rear panel of the car that protects all the electric bits. I'm planning on taking it out to give me extra reclining room for roadside cat naps when I'm on a long trip and putting some kind of cover over those if needed.
 

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I'm not sure what you're going to remove. I don't think the sheet metal panel will help. I think the problem will be the Tom Mix bar. DO NOT remove this. It is structural, and if you get t-boned you will end up being the filling of a taco.

Sam
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yeah, I was looking at the sheet metal panel. I wouldn't mess with the Tom Mix bar, I've seen what other small cars look like in a wreck. If I did anything with it I would make it steel and further back, but I doubt I'm going to do anything with it at this point, there seems like enough room for standard driving right now.
 

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The way I'm setting everything up is definitely for a sub 5'11 person. I have just a slight amount of room to the left of my head before it brushes the headliner where it angles down. This could be corrected by shifting the seat to the left and redoing the hump, but for me I don't think it's a concern and that would take away all the space for the suspended center console I'm planning on adding.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
There's a mod you'll almost for sure want to do to this seat if you're installing it in an Insight. In the A8 with how you sit your legs are straight forward, in the Insight because of the seat being wider and also having the clutch pedal your legs end up being on the edges of the inner seat bottom. Well they made that part of the seat really uncomfortable in front to save a little money. There's an actuator that extends the thigh support of the seat and on each edge of that there's a plastic guide and a bezel covering it with nothing except a thin layer of fabric and leather in between since the foam on the seat stops slightly before the guide. For me this made it incredibly uncomfortable because it's like a pressure point.

Looking at it I found that the guide wasn't really necessary and took the bezel off and unscrewed the guide on each end, this fixes most of the problem but there's not really any foam there since that's the guide part and you still end up pressing into the shelf underneath so I'm going to build that up with some foam and eventually cover the sides in some alcantara or similar material just so it looks more oem and doesn't have a gaping hole on the sides.

I was really worried because I was extremely uncomfortable driving to where I was sore afterwards for hours and I thought I went through all that trouble for nothing but the '10 I test drove had pretty low miles so the rest of the foam kinda hid that major flaw in the seats.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Upon taking apart the seats it looks like the seat bolsters have heat as well so there are three seat pads for the base of the seat, I didn't realize that on the test drive of the A8, I will probably just wire all three as one unit but I might leave the wires at a point where I could change that easily if I didn't want them on or wanted them separate.
 

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Got the seat heaters wired up along with two switches so I can turn them on and off for the back and butt separately. They get very very hot even when it's -10 out within about 20 minutes so I'm going to look into some form of temperature control settings. I took the seat apart to make sure I didn't set off the airbags in the seat. It turns out there's only one on the left above the upper bolster so you could just cut the wires for it, it doesn't weigh a lot but I took it out since I had the seat apart anyways.

The wires for the seat heaters are pretty self explanatory, just look for wires that go to the middle and then tee off to the bolsters. If you have an ohm meter just look for pairs of wires with a few ohms, the ones with 10k ohms are for the mmi I believe to tell it the temperature so it can control it and I don't have any of the mmi system. The top will just have four wires and the bottom has six since that has the temperature probe. I ended up wiring them all in parallel and then adding a switched hot on each set of three as well as adding in an additional heater in parallel for the upper seatback since for some reason the upper part of the seat where it articulates doesn't have a heater and that's where a lot of my back pain is from my construction fall.

When it's not so incredibly cold I'll take some pictures.

One thing I also ended up doing was clipping a feedback wire for the headrest. It had an intermittent issue and was getting a bad signal and only moving up and down an 1/8th inch because it thought it was at a travel limit in both directions. Now it just uses the physical stops on each ends but since it's "lost" it takes three or four steps from top to bottom, not really a huge deal, but if you run into one or two features that don't move, but not several since that's probably a bad connection on one of the two hots, then you might have a similar issue and that's the fix.
 
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