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What is a Power Seat?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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A power seat is typically the front seat in a vehicle that is equipped with electric motors that control the movement and positioning of the seat. A control switch much like a small joy stick is mounted on the lower side of the seat, allowing the driver to adjust the seating position in several ways. The typical power seat is a six-way unit with movement up and down, backward and forward as well as various reclining positions. In a bucket seat configuration, the driver's seat may be the only such seat in the vehicle, but the passenger seat may also be so equipped, however. In a bench seat application, the entire seat is controlled via the driver's side control switch.

Initially offered primarily on high-end automobiles, the power seat option was soon available on lower-end vehicles, including pick-up trucks. While possible to do so, adjusting the driver's side seat while the vehicle is in motion is highly discouraged. Adjustment of the seating position should be completed prior to placing the vehicle in gear. On certain vehicles, pre-positioned settings can be completed by pressing a switch on the seat's control panel or next to the outside mirror control. This typically allows for two or more settings to fit multiple drivers and once programed, allows a driver to set the seat to the same comfortable position time after time.

Many vehicles come from the manufacturer complete with a power seat wiring harness under the seat regardless of whether or not the seating option is actually installed on the vehicle. This makes converting the seats to power an easy process that involves installing a power-equipped seat into the vehicle and connecting the existing wiring harness. The correct seats can often be found in a local salvage yard or in online auctions, making the conversion very cost effective.

Power seating components from the early 1960s were prone to early motor burn-out and failure on American-made automobiles. Advancements in electrical motor design have made modern seat motors durable and long lasting. This has made the option very popular, and it is often offered on a model line that was previously a poor-selling vehicle. This inclusion of the power seat option can often boost sales and create a more desirable automobile. The seating option is also frequently packaged with other more expensive option packages to boost sales as well.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon134607 — On Dec 15, 2010

I have 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser, and the front seats shifts to one side when I try to move them forward or backward. Is there a part missing or does anyone have a simple solution.

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