XJ Cherokee - Limited Heated Leather Interior Retro-fit

On the XJ Cherokee, particularly talking about the 1997-2001 model years, the "Sport" models came with non-power, fixed-back (no adjustable headrest) cloth seats. "Country" models came with a different seat style, which had a detachable headrest and are essentially a cloth version of the "leather" (vinyl) Limited trim seats.

First, I removed the front 2 seats, which are 3 13mm bolts on each side, and a 15mm nut that I was able to get with a box-end wrench from underneath the seat. Next, I removed the rear seat. Pull the bottom seat out by its handles, press the lever on the passenger side where it mounts near the door sill trim and pull up to remove it from its fixed position. Next, remove the top half of the seat by pulling the latches to put it in its folded-down position, and removing the two 15mm bolts, one on each side near the bottom corner. Your interior cabin should be clear of seats now!

Remove the Center Console

Next, remove the center console by first removing the two Phillips head screws securing the lid, and then the rest of the Phillips head screws securing the inside bucket. Next, pop the transmission shifter trim (shift boot if you have a manual like me) and the transfer case shifter trim by pulling out and up to release it from its clips. There will be another Phillips head screw in each of these locations to remove. You should be able to wiggle the console out (if you can't, move the transfer case shifter, the gear shifter, etc to find the best way to get it out).

The Missing Harness

Now - Chrysler, from the factory, did NOT run the harness across the cabin for Sport or Country models that didn't have power or heated seats. However, what they did do, is ran the female connector near the side passenger door sill trim so that if you ever wanted to add power / heated seats, you could always add the missing harness and it will all be plug and play! The harness is part number: 56009841AC. Apparently, you can still purchase it here from Genuine Mopar Parts. I was lucky enough to find it MUCH cheaper on eBay.

Run the 56009841AC Harness

Now let's move on to running the harness. At this point, we will need to remove the entire interior carpeting. So let's remove ALL of the Phillips head screws from the interior door sill trim pieces, and then finish by "unsnapping" the seat driver & passenger seat belt trim pieces to completely release them from the floor. You would have to actually remove the seat belt Torx bolts to completely remove these trim pieces, so I just taped them to the sides of the interior to keep them out of the way while I removed the carpeting.

Gross! This will not fly for me, and this now becomes a bigger project. I will be sanding the floors down to bare metal, fixing any holes, and coating with some Rust 'Oleum. Onto the pics!

As we see here, a nasty rot hole after I ground back an area that looked questionable. Now I will have to get a welder to plate this for me so I can be on my merry way!

Rust-protect the floors

With the hole plated, the floors sanded and acetone cleaned, I can now lay some paint. My choice was Rust-oleum rust-proof bedliner, I have had positive results in the past with this stuff. Get the PRO - it has the primer and bedliner in one. I would also grab 2 cans.

Next level: Soundproofing

So I decided since I will daily drive this a while, I wanted a quieter ride, so that meant sound proofing the entire floor. I bought "Noico" 36 sq ft off of Amazon. Had plenty left over! Lay it down, plan your sheets, and use a roller to apply it evenly and thoroughly.

The harness clips in and can be grounded with the other ground under the passenger seat. You then run it over the center console to the driver's side seat area.

Re-install Carpeting, Test-fit New Seats

Feed power seat wires through holes in carpet on each side, as well as seat belt indicator wire on driver's side only, and the two plugs for the OEM center console switch bezel. Take note that red is the driver's side plug.

Diagnosing Issues With the Heated Seats

So, after everything was plugged in, bolted up and fastened into place, I went for a drive and tried to enable the heated seats for both driver and passenger side. I noticed the light would just continue to blink in the "HI" position. I did some research online and found out a few things.

Indicator light Description
Flashes for both "Hi" and "Lo" settings Heating element is shorted out
Flashes on "Hi" only Open circuit, likely a broken wire in the seat
Flashes on "Lo" only Temperature sensor malfunctioning

Disassembling the Seat Cushions

The front seats disassemble into 2 pieces - top and bottom. Remove the plastic side trim pieces using a Phillips screwdriveer. Move the seat cover aside to expose Torx bolts holding the bottom.

Remove the control unit by using a Phillips head bit on a small socket, or similar to remove the screws from behind the unit.

This is where the top heating element gets power from the bottom

Disconnect these

Removing the Seat Cover

Use a cutter or diagonal plier to cut all of the hog rings on the seat cover. Note the factory seat heater wires, be careful not to puncture them.

Start to pull back on the seat cover to expose more hog rings. You may have to work in semi-tight spaces to cut them out but it is doable.

The eBay Seat Cover

I opted to go with the vinyl instead of the leather as it was a bit cheaper. The material feels great, and it is stitched nicely. The underside is padded well, with factory style seams.

Repairing the Cushion

In my case, I needed to repair the cushion. I was able to use some seat foam I had laying around to cut, and upholstery adhesive into place.

Shape it using a very sharp upholstery knife. Unfortunately I don't have a final pic of the side but I shaped it smooth. The seat cover will hide any tiny defects.

Transferring the Heating Elements

Since I wanted to retain the factory heated seat switch and elements, I decided to swap them over to the new cushion. I would recommend against doing this. There are much better modern options that will properly heat the seat. These covers are too thick to be heated by the small wire that the factory seat heaters use.

Either way, at least I have nice new seat covers, and at some point down the line when I do the seat uppers, I can add better heating elements.

First, cut open the factory seat cover to expose the wiring. Note how it is run to be able to do the same.

Use a hog ring plier and hog rings to attach the new cover. Reuse old wire protector from factory seat, use 3M Super 77 to adhesive on.

Finished Product

Coming soon!