Monkeys Jammed the Seat in my Camry
By Bruce Barron
I have a Toyota Camry. The other day one of the lenses popped out of my eyeglasses and slid under the driver’s seat. I pulled over, stopped the car and got out. I moved the seat all the way forward and retrieved the lens. I tried to move the seat back but found that it had jammed in the full forward position. It was still on the track and the motor responded to the switch turning a few degrees in either direction when the switch was moved.
We took the car back to the dealer. The warranty had (obviously) expired.
The dealer insisted that there was no way to fix this. A new seat was required - for $2000 !!!. After much screaming the dealer agreed to find a used seat and offered to install this rather filthy, greasy seat in my car. After still more screaming he agreed to cannibalize the mechanism out of the junk seat and install in my car using my original seat. This fiasco “only” cost me $900+.
I took the scrapped jammed mechanism.
The mechanism had a magnetic limit switch (that was still functional) but apparently had become misaligned permitting the seat to be driven into a mechanical stop.
The motor was mounted crosswise at the back end of the mechanism and had 3mm flex shafts coming out of each end. Each shaft drove a small gear box which in turn drove a jackscrew on each rail. When the seat was driven into the stop, the flex cables couldn’t handle the torque required to break the seat loose of the stop. Rather, these flex shafts would wind themselves into knots, though when power to the motor was removed, the flex shafts returned to their normal state with no obvious permanent deformation.
With the mechanism sitting on my work bench and the flex shafts removed, I was able to easily free the jam.
Not only a poor design but Toyota’s unwillingness to try to fix the problem rather than insisting on replacing the unit was a total rip-off and will result in me never buying another Toyota product.