Passenger seat on 04 Camry has caved in for no apparent reason

seats
toyota
camry
#1

On my 2004 Toyota Camry, the passenger seat has “fallen and can’t get up.” The dealer/repair shop says the track has caved in and is bent; it can’t be moved, they tell me. The dealer is at a loss, declaring they’ve never seen such a thing. There is no apparent cause, they say, as do I–no one really heavy has been sitting there; no children bouncing or even sitting still; in fact, it’s rarely sat in at all. A new seat assembly is required, they tell me. Of course, it isn’t covered by my “gold” warranty ($3000 for the assembly new, parts only; they can’t locate a salvaged seat, although they looked). They suggest I turn it in to my car insurance, but I don’t imagine the insurance folks will go for it, especially with “no apparent reason.” Have you ever heard of such a thing happening? What might be the possible reason. What courses of action do you suggest?

#2

A seat track can’t just spontaneously “cave in” after 4 years. While you may not have witnessed the cause, there has to have been a situation that led to this damage. Somebody caused the damage, and your problem will be determining who actually did it.

#3

I’ve never heard of such a thing. As a matter of fact seats are required to be able to pass stringent safety force testing. The substructures should not buckle.

I’d want a second opinion. Something is not right here.

Did you buy this used?

#4

Did you buy the car new and has this vehicle ever been in an accident?

At one time Subaru had a problem with seat backs breaking but that did not involve the track. (That problem would raise the adrenaline level. I know; it happened to me on the turnpike at 70 MPH when I found myself instantly flat on my back staring at the headliner.)

#5

I bought this car, used, at the end of 2004 from the dealership that sold it to the original owner at the end of 2003. As far as I know, it was never in a wreck.

#6

I am the primary driver and we don’t have children, so you are right in that it will be hard to determine who caused this - and how!

#7

A second opinion is a great idea - although it cost me $70+ for the first opinion (for them to take the seat out to survey the situation).

#8

Wow - your story is really scary. I’m glad you survived to tell the tale!

#9

Just a comparison between GM and Toyota. GM had big problems with the seats in their full size P/U (roughly 89-95) the seat frame bottoms would crack and the hindge bolts would shear,I have replace dozens of each under recalls,you could end up looking at the headliner like OK4450,some of you guys must have fixed these also (I was light line and a new GM guy so I got tons of them)Some people didn’t even know how badly their seat was broken.

#10

One would think if someone carefully examined the problem with the OP’s Camry they could determine exactly why it broke, or at least make a reasonable educated guess.

Assuming the car was never in an accident my best guess at this point would be that maybe a seat track mounting bolt(s) were inadvertently left loose during assembly or maybe someone had the seat out at one time and did the same.
If the original owner had someone in the front seat a lot of the time maybe the constant rocking of their weight on a loose seat track caused it to crack just like a piece of wire that is repeatedly bent. Just theory anyway and if it’s true it should be evident by looking closely at the damaged area.

(Oldschool, that deal with me kind of put my heart in my throat for a minute. Luckily I was on a straight stretch of turnpike on the way to Tulsa with very little traffic when it happened. The only thing I could think of was grab the bottom of the steering wheel, hold it straight, and brake quickly. Had to use the spare tire as a shim to hold the seat back up for the rest of my little trip. This happened to someone else in OK also. The drivers seat broke and the car went into the ditch. Two people in that one and some moderate injuries involved.)

#11

Have you tried calling the salvage yards to see if one is available. 3K is too high IMHO. I am not sure if finding the cause now would be much help. Check on ebay and car-parts.com.

On the same note I keep telling my wife not to take the mother in law shopping-I should get prepared for some extra seats.

#12

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. You’ve caused me to think of two additional questions.

If I don’t get this seat fixed, will it be dangerous for a passenger to sit there?

If I don’t get it fixed, how will it affect my trade-in/resell value?

#13

I’ve never heard of such a thing.

I did…My brothers Ford Escort. After 3 years one side of his seat collapsed. Turned out to be the floor pan rusted out.

#14

Knowing now that you bought it used at the end of 2004 makes me strongly suspect that the vehicle was in an accident. That’s probably why it was back on the lot so soon after its original purchase. It could even have been in a wreck during a test drive. In NH, and perhaps in most states, any damage on a new car beyond a specific dollar value prohibits the dealer from selling the car as “new” but they can sell it as “used”.

The bad news is that there’s no way to tell from here if the seat would keep the passenger safe in the event of an accident or detach. The good news is that the seat track can be unblolted from the floor (don’t forget to unplug the seat sensor), a new one installed on the seat, and the assembly reinstalled on the floor. Getting a new one at a reasonable cost may involve some internet searching.

Sincere best.