While many cars still have manual seat adjustments that work mechanically (you pull up on the bar in front of the seat, and then slide the seat forward or back), power seats are becoming more and more common these days. Many automakers have actually started offering multi-point power adjustment systems.
Each adjustment on your seat requires a switch in order to work. For instance, you have a power seat switch that allows you to move the entire seat forward and backward. There’s another one that adjusts the recline of the seatback. Yet another switch lets you adjust the amount of lumbar support, and another that raises or lowers the seat base, or the front/back of the seat.
All of these functions require an operational power seat switch. These switches are only in use when you actually adjust the seat (you use the switch to change the seat’s position). That means they’re generally not subjected to much in the way of wear and tear in most circumstances, but if you frequently change drivers or share your vehicle with someone else, then those switches will wear out more quickly than in a single-driver situation.
There is no set lifespan for a power seat switch. The more often you adjust your seat, the more quickly the switch will fail. The situation is the same as for power windows or power door locks. The more you use the switch, the more wear you put on the contacts in the switch. When the contacts wear out, the switch will not work properly, or at all.
If the power seat switch fails, the adjustment that switch is responsible for cannot be changed. Obviously, that could be problematic in a shared vehicle situation where you need to move the seat regularly to accommodate different driver heights or sitting preferences. It pays to know the signs to watch for that indicate your switch is on the verge of failure. These include:
- Switch does not move the seat at all
- Switch works intermittently (on the brink of failure)
- Switch stops working and then begins working again
If your power seat switch isn’t working properly and you suspect it’s about to fail, a certified mechanic can help diagnose the switch problem, and repair your power seat.