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Old 03-13-2014, 04:59 PM   #1
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Can I just remove the passenger seat?

Hi all,

I would like to remove the passenger seat from my van. I'm going to be solo for some months and could use the storage space. I realize there is no problem in physically removing the seat (bolts, etc.), and I can put in in storage for eventual replacement, but what I am not sure about is the wiring "plug" that is there. Is that something that is going to screw up my airbag or some other sensor? I obviously don't care about the passenger side airbag when there is no passenger and no seat there, but I want the rest of the system to work while the passenger seat is out (i.e. my driver's side) and don't want a service light constantly on.

(I did remove my passenger seat once to put new foam in, but didn't start the van until it was re-installed and plugged back in again.)

This is a 1997 Ford van with the 5.4 V-8 (so it has both driver and passenger side airbags).

I've searched this, both here and on the general web, but not found anything specific -- so I figured I'd start a thread. Someone here seems to know just about everything

Thanks!
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Old 03-13-2014, 05:30 PM   #2
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Re: Can I just remove the passenger seat?

Ford says you have to replace the ECS module. Info is in here:
https://www.fleet.ford.com/truckbbas/non-html/Q49.PDF
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Old 03-13-2014, 05:40 PM   #3
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Re: Can I just remove the passenger seat?

Thanks for that link.

Am I reading wrong or is that replacement module for vehicles *without* a passenger side airbag? Here is what I mean (I made it bold):

"Final-stage manufacturers removing the front passenger seat from their final assembly process in vehicles equipped without the optional passenger air bag must replace the air bag Electronic Crash Sensor (ECS) module with service part number F7UB-14A685-A to prevent the air bag light from coming on. (Refer to Attachment III for installation procedure.)"

Since my van does have a passenger side airbag (and I don't believe it was optional)... I wonder if the ECS module replacement paragraph applies to me? Or am I missing something entirely... I'm not very familiar with the lingo.

Thanks,
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:34 PM   #4
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Re: Can I just remove the passenger seat?

I think it's a typo in the doc. Airbags were standard since '97. The option was the "passenger airbag delete". So yeah, I think that's how you avoid the airbag light or the potential for missiles from airbag deployment with cargo over there.

If you unplug the seat sensor, and the airbag light turns on, you probably need the module. There's probably a way to jumper the plug using a resistor to keep the light off, but that won't keep the airbag from deploying (if that matters for your use).
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:50 PM   #5
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Re: Can I just remove the passenger seat?

A typo makes sense, doesn't it.

A question for you -- I realize you may not know this, but just in case you do:

Say I just "try it" and unplug it and the airbag light does come on. Then can I just plug the thing back in (meanwhile ordering whatever that part is) and have it go back to normal (i.e. with the seat in place for the meantime). Or once that light is on do I have to go to the dealer or something to re-set it (even with the seat back in).

It would probably not be an issue if the passenger side airbag deployed (I just plan to have stuff there), but OTOH, why, because then it would need to be re-packed or whatever (gah, let's hope this stays theoretical).

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Old 03-13-2014, 08:59 PM   #6
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Re: Can I just remove the passenger seat?

Here's a different idea. The plug under the passenger seat goes to the pre-tensioner.



If you're going to have the seat out for a long time you can always just remove the pre-tensioner from the passenger seat. It's not that hard to get off. Leave it plugged in and store it under the drivers seat. There's plenty of room there. The cable that runs to the passenger seat can be moved with it. If you decide to use the seat again you just bolt it back in place.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:09 PM   #7
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Re: Can I just remove the passenger seat?

Ah, good idea! Thanks!

Here is why I thought that was an airbag plug (and maybe they are connected via the pre-tensioner?). A while back one day I noticed my airbag light flashing (seemingly randomly) when I started up the van. After a short time it would light up solid. No codes on the Scangauge.

After some Googling, I figured out that the airbag light has its own code system. When there is a fault it blinks the two digits of the code (i.e. three flashes, pause, five flashes), then pauses, and then repeats the set two more times. After that it comes on solid (and is apparently disabled at that time).

I watched it with that new knowledge, counted the flashes, and found out it was something about the passenger seat connection. I re-seated that white plug (it wasn't noticably disconnected, but I had been swiveling the seat quite a bit, which moves the wire it's attached to around) and the code never flashed again (and the airbag light wasn't on either).

So maybe the pre-tensioner is connected to the airbag light/system? After the above experience, I had the feeling if I just unplugged that and removed the seat, I'd get the airbag code again (and worse, the driver's side airbag would thus not work).

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Old 03-13-2014, 11:42 PM   #8
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Re: Can I just remove the passenger seat?

Yes, the pre-tensioner is part of the restraint system and will trigger airbag codes. The Airbag light will clear itself at the next startup cycle if the condition is no longer present.

Just keep in mind that if you keep the pre-tensioner connecter but not bolted down, you will have an unrestrained projectile if the airbags go off. If the seatbelt cable whipped around your angle or something, it would probably cause some serious injury, since that point is designed to restrain 3,000 pounds of force.
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Old 03-14-2014, 01:32 AM   #9
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Re: Can I just remove the passenger seat?

Good point. The last thing I want to do is create a hazard out of what should be a safety feature. I think I will at least check into the Ford part mentioned in the bulletin you linked to. The only odd thing about that (from an admittedly cursory web poke) is that it sounds like a "regular" part that is part of the airbag system -- I was thinking it sounded like something special that would only be used in the case of a passenger airbag but a "passenger seat delete."

It's funny: I thought I would Google and find tons of people who had removed the seat (whether for more space when traveling solo, or perhaps in a work-related vehicle that needed the space for hauling longer/larger loads), but I sure didn't turn up much.
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Old 03-14-2014, 04:47 AM   #10
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Re: Can I just remove the passenger seat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb

If you unplug the seat sensor, and the airbag light turns on, you probably need the module. There's probably a way to jumper the plug using a resistor to keep the light off, but that won't keep the airbag from deploying (if that matters for your use).
We don't want to jumper any SRS connections as that too has potential for triggering the air bags etc. Every repair procedure involving the SRS specifically mentions to not back probe any connection for test purposes due this possibility.

I'd simply install the recommended module for the time being. When its time to reinstall the seat keep the module for future use. Do treat it as any other computer internal part---static-free bags etc.
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