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Seat Swap: 2023 Bolt EV 2LT to 2017 Volt seat

2035 Views 26 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Ben Nelson
Hi friends!
I love our new 2023 Bolt EV, but HATE the seat! This was supposed to be our new family car, but I could never get comfortable in it, and it just seems to be getting worse. (Fortunately, my wife likes the car and has NO issue with the seats!)

I found out from another thread here that Gen 2 VOLT seats have the same bolt pattern.

My sister has a Gen 2 Volt, so I went to her place and compared the driver seat of the two cars. The Volt seat is wider - not by a ton - about an inch at the most, and it really depends where you are measuring it. But the important part is that it's a slightly different shape - one that won't pinch my hip bone!

Today, I went to a salvage yard and bought a driver's seat out of a 2017 Volt. It looks pretty good overall, and even has blue stitching on it, like our Bolt does!

I expect that mechanically, the seat will pop right in, but I'll need to figure out the difference in the wiring between the old and new connectors.

If anyone knows where I can find some good info on the pin-outs for the seats of the Bolt and the Volt, please let me know!

-Ben Nelson

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Here's some photos and more information about comparing the seat in my car to my sister's Volt. On my blog - 300MPG.org
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This morning, I got the Volt seat physically mounted in the car. Very easy, it's only 4 bolts. Uses Torx 50 bit.

Seat physically swaps right in, but of course the wire harnesses are different.

WITHOUT any wiring hooked up:
I no longer had heated seat.
Airbag indicator light lit up on the dash.
Did NOT have the "Your seatbelt isn't put on" chime.

The Gen 2 Volt seat isn't as comfortable as the Gen 1 Volt, but way better than the Bolt seat.

The seat doesn't pinch weird on my hip bone and thigh, causing pain.

It's easier to get in and out of the car. The plastic airbag trim doesn't dig into my leg getting in and out of the seat. It feels like I slide right into the seat now.

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This area of the seat is much better than the Bolt version:
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Seatbelt latches are the same, so no need to change the belt. I guess the sensor on the seatbelt must work different than I thought. I was really expecting the car to beep at me for not having my seatbelt on, because of the wiring being disconnected.

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If your state requires periodic safety inspections before registration, that airbag light will likely be an immediate fail.
I thought they'd improved the seat for 2022 vs the old 2017-2021 seats. My 2017 seats were fairly terrible, there is zero padding on the sides so dug into my ribs, I added foam padding and that went fairly well, possibly you could do the same on your 2023 and not have to worry about the wiring issues?
This was just a quick physical swap of the seats. I still need to work on the wire harness. That will take care of the airbag issue and restore the seat heating.

Adding padding to the seat isn't the answer for me. The Bolt seat is simply too narrow in the seat bottom. The part of the seat bottom that curves up to hug the outside of the thighs are too close together, too tall, and too steep.

The plastic airbag cover digs into my leg getting into and out of the car.

It's like the entire Bolt seat bottom is just wrong.
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This was just a quick physical swap of the seats. I still need to work on the wire harness. That will take care of the airbag issue and restore the seat heating.

Adding padding to the seat isn't the answer for me. The Bolt seat is simply too narrow in the seat bottom. The part of the seat bottom that curves up to hug the outside of the thighs are too close together, too tall, and too steep.

The plastic airbag cover digs into my leg getting into and out of the car.

It's like the entire Bolt seat bottom is just wrong.
Are you going to make adaptors or swap the pins in and out of the plugs?
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I'm building an adapter.
One reason I can't just pull the pins out of the plugs is that they are both male connections. The male/female connections on the Volt vs Bolt are opposite of one another - male connection on the seat in the one, and male connection on the body on the other.

I have the body side half of the connection which came with the Volt seat - cut off with very short wires sticking out of it.

I decided to get started with the power wires and airbags, since having the airbag system work is a primary concern.

I soldered some wires onto the short cut-off ones from the Volt connector, following the pin diagrams I have. Then I crimped the smallest female spade connectors I had on the other end.

In the car, I could just plug in the Volt seat. On the Bolt body side, I needed to manually plug in each wire individually (which is fine, because there's just four.)

Turning the car on, there was no longer an airbag error! Looks like I'm off to a good start! I also found some automotive connectors I had in the garage. With those are some bare female connections which will fit the pins in the Bolt body side connector.

Next, I need to add the wiring for the seatbelt and for the heated seat.

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Adding padding to the seat isn't the answer for me. The Bolt seat is simply too narrow in the seat bottom. The part of the seat bottom that curves up to hug the outside of the thighs are too close together, too tall, and too steep.

It's like the entire Bolt seat bottom is just wrong.
But couldn't you just build up the center of the seat bottom to essentially make it (virtually) level from side-to-side? I think I would've at least tried this first before going to the trouble of swapping in a junkyard seat (which, actually, doesn't look bad ... but still ...)
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I already tried using some various piece of foam to sort of fill in the center bottom of the seat. It helps with the hip pinched-nerve feel, but causes other problems. For it to work, it lifts me up almost two inches. That throws off the shape of the curve of the seat back.
It still doesn't do anything for the plastic airbag cover digging into my leg while getting in and out of the car, and then I also felt like I was sliding around on every turn because the seat was essentially flat.

I finished up the wire harness and got it plugged in.
Upon turning the car on, I got no airbag error.
The seatbelt buckled or not light works.
The heated seat works.

When the harness tucked under the carpet and the seat back in normal position, you don't see the DIY harness or anything else.
Looks 100% stock.

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Hmmm.
After a nice test drive, I realized that the heated seat works, but I can't turn it OFF!
Back to the drawing board...

PS: Dang, the Volt seat has a powerful heater!
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Thanks for sharing this. Good information to have.
What you did is very impressive! My only concern is, will the seat airbag be able to deploy properly in a car it was not designed to deploy in. The narrow Bolt seat may be necessary for proper airbag deployment, for example. There probably needs to be sufficient space between the B piller and door, and the seat. Hopefully this is something you will never have to find out about.

My wife was t-boned in our 2018 Volt by a 1996 Buick Roadmaster station wagon, and both cars were totaled. I'm glad the side airbags worked as designed. Had GM put the wrong seat in the car, they may not have.
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There probably needs to be sufficient space between the B piller and door, and the seat.
There is such little difference in space between the door and seat, I can't imagine it making any difference. Airbags aren't even designed by the car manufacturers. They are third party and the same brand is used in all sorts of different vehicles. I'm sure that the exact same airbag would also be used in other cars where it's in a location that's 1/2 an inch different.
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There is such little difference in space between the door and seat, I can't imagine it making any difference. Airbags aren't even designed by the car manufacturers. They are third party and the same brand is used in all sorts of different vehicles. I'm sure that the exact same airbag would also be used in other cars where it's in a location that's 1/2 an inch different.
You are probably correct that it won't matter.

The Bolt was crash tested with the seats designed for the Bolt, not Volt seats. We don't know how it would crash test with Volt seats.

The angle of airbag deployment, the timing, etc are all specific to the Bolt. The way the seat airbag works in conjunction with the side air curtain is specific to the Bolt. Interior shape and dimensions are different between the two cars. It's unknown if a Volt seat airbag will deploy properly in a Bolt interior. Personally, I wouldn't take a chance, but it's impressive you got this to work.
Years ago, my parents owned a 1997 Taurus sedan whose steering wheel airbag failed to deploy in (fortunately) a minor frontal accident. It did come out ... but literally only the size of a golf ball! It was a defective, factory installed, airbag from Ford.

Now imagine if it would’ve been a much more serious accident ... where my mother would’ve been seriously injured, or even killed! Would an Ambulance-Chasing Lawyer argue in Court (in a case against Ford) that his client could’ve survived had the vehicle not had a defective Airbag installed?

But then, what if the Lawyer representing Ford inspected the vehicle and found out the Airbag wasn’t original to the vehicle ... but some kind of retrofitted (or “re-packed”) device? Would that cause the Case to be thrown out?

I would think there’s a good chance it could. When it comes to Litigation, the smallest details can decide cases one way or the other...
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It'd be amazing if the Corvette's OEM race seats shared the same frame bolt pattern. LOL!

I'd like to sit lower and, yes, I know I could install something like a Sparco EVO or the like in the car.
Hat off to @Ben Nelson for doing this. He made the decision to do this swap out of a genuine need. I'm pretty sure he gave thought to all the various "what-ifs" and planned accordingly. No one can think of every possible scenario that MIGHT occur. Don't let fear guide your decisions. Use research and common sense.
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Is the seat-bottom height about the same? Do you sit higher? lower? same?
Great job btw, impressive.
I owned a 2017 Volt and thought the seats were great.
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