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2009 CTS 3.6L DI rebuilt to FE3 J55 G80 3.42:1
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Discussion Starter #1
Have others experience a problem with the seat back covers staying in place? Mine fell off, and I've had a lot of difficulty getting it back into the matching slots in the steel seat frame at the bottom. You can't see if they're aligned, and blindly pushing trying to force them into the holes just results in bending the metal clips, and worse still, the plastic tab molded into the seat cover.

Is it possible to salvage the seat cover and get it back into place? The plastic tabs are a bit tweaked, the metal clips even more so.

584046
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2009 CTS4 Premium & 2012 SRX4 Luxury
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Yes, last time I yanked mine off to fix the ventilation leak, one of the plastic tabs broke and I believe a few of the metal clips. I bent them back into place as best I could and reinstalled the seat back. Some months later it fell off on its own, it was a hot day and the car sat outside and got very warm inside. I readjusted the clips and reinstalled, and it's held up since. The only permanent fix I know of is to buy a new seat back.
 

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2009 CTS 3.6L DI rebuilt to FE3 J55 G80 3.42:1
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907 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
A new seat back is ordered, $250 shipped from GMPartsNow.com. The two upper tabs were cracked off. I didn't even realize it had 4 retention tabs as they were missing as I was focused on trying to make the two lower tabs work.

Maybe this was the source of the seat squeak?
 

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2008 SRX4 & 2010 CTS4 sedan / Non-Cadillacs: 2018 Audi Q5, 2012 Chev Cruze LT
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564 Posts
When I removed a seat back to fix an internal problem, I had to essentially remake the plastic tabs and reattach the metal clips to those tabs. IIRC, I used JB Weld Plastic Bonder. It's been a year and the seat back has held quite nicely.

For what it's worth.
 

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2009 CTS 3.6L DI rebuilt to FE3 J55 G80 3.42:1
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Discussion Starter #5
When I removed a seat back to fix an internal problem, I had to essentially remake the plastic tabs and reattach the metal clips to those tabs. IIRC, I used JB Weld Plastic Bonder. It's been a year and the seat back has held quite nicely.

For what it's worth.
I can't say the thought didn't occur to me, but I'm not going to go the route of globbing epoxy on top of broken plastic. It might work for a while, who knows. With my luck it would just break again. It might do that even with a new seat back cover.

It is frustrating paying good money for plastic crap.
 

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2014 ELR
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198 Posts
I can't say the thought didn't occur to me, but I'm not going to go the route of globbing epoxy on top of broken plastic. It might work for a while, who knows. With my luck it would just break again. It might do that even with a new seat back cover.

It is frustrating paying good money for plastic crap.
Just pointing out that "Plastic Crap" lasted 11 years.
In a car interior.
That can cool down to well below zero. (F)
And heat up to in excess of 150. (F)
Just sayin....
 

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2009 CTS 3.6L DI rebuilt to FE3 J55 G80 3.42:1
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907 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Just pointing out that "Plastic Crap" lasted 11 years.
In a car interior.
That can cool down to well below zero. (F)
And heat up to in excess of 150. (F)
Just sayin....
That is not an acceptable life span for an interior car part that isn't stressed or a wear surface. It's just a poor design.
 

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2009 SRX V6 RWD, 2011 CTS Premium Coupe
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I can't say the thought didn't occur to me, but I'm not going to go the route of globbing epoxy on top of broken plastic. It might work for a while, who knows. With my luck it would just break again. It might do that even with a new seat back cover.

It is frustrating paying good money for plastic crap.
Kind of sums up everyone's experience with every modern car, doesn't it? I've had my car a month and a half. I've had to replace the headlights (condensation) and the front bumper cover (bottom molding twisted like a pretzel, and I guarantee the previous owner did not offroad with it.) Funny, my wife's 1999 Mercedes with glass headlight enclosures still has the originals....
 

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2009 CTS 3.6L DI rebuilt to FE3 J55 G80 3.42:1
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Discussion Starter #9
Kind of sums up everyone's experience with every modern car, doesn't it? I've had my car a month and a half. I've had to replace the headlights (condensation) and the front bumper cover (bottom molding twisted like a pretzel, and I guarantee the previous owner did not offroad with it.) Funny, my wife's 1999 Mercedes with glass headlight enclosures still has the originals....
All plastic headlights fail, on all cars, eventually. Nothing new there. The seat back cover in a relatively benign environment just struck me as particularly annoying. Haven't had that happen on other cars.

Maybe the previous owner scraped the bumper cover over curbs? I don't have any deformities, yet.
 

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2014 ELR
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That is not an acceptable life span for an interior car part that isn't stressed or a wear surface. It's just a poor design.
You might want to see if you can find the missing pieces or retaining tabs. They could fall somewhere in the seat and cause trouble with motors, wiring or just create an annoying rattle. I have had that bite me a few times.
 

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2009 CTS4 Premium & 2012 SRX4 Luxury
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A new seat back is ordered, $250 shipped from GMPartsNow.com. The two upper tabs were cracked off. That is not an acceptable life span for an interior car part that isn't stressed or a wear surface. It's just a poor design. The seat back cover in a relatively benign environment just struck me as particularly annoying. Haven't had that happen on other cars.
Ouch, that's salty. I agree, for a part that is designed for R&R, those clips seem destined to break, very annoying indeed. Imagine if other panels did the same, like say, the doors, which we've all had to pull at some point to replace actuators. The resulting thread would easily eclipse that of sunroof drains.
 

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2014 CTS Coupe Premium
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165 Posts
That is not an acceptable life span for an interior car part that isn't stressed or a wear surface. It's just a poor design.
Plastics do not have to be under stress to age--as stated before, depending on the climate they'll deteriorate just sitting there. I'd say it served its useful life after 11 years.

Frustrating tho, thanks for sharing.
 

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2011 CTS Coupe Premium
Orlando - We take orphans
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GM since the 60's has had a string of bad plastics, just about every interior piece in my 78 Sunbird crumbled and both armrests broke. Twice. The valence on my 89 Allante is so brittle that you dare not touch a curb stop.

I suspect a good 3D printer could make a better replacement.
 

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2008 SRX4 & 2010 CTS4 sedan / Non-Cadillacs: 2018 Audi Q5, 2012 Chev Cruze LT
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I think the design of those clips is bad - they are one-way as the metal parts lock into metal slots on the seat structure. Not clip but lock. Removing the seat back shell will require remedial work or a new shell altogether before it will go back in the way it came out. I am shocked that the fell out on their own as the original assembly was pretty secure as far as I saw in mine.
 

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2009 CTS 3.6L DI rebuilt to FE3 J55 G80 3.42:1
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Discussion Starter #15
The metal clips are spring loaded into the seat frame slots, a typical interior panel attachment method. I think the problem is the plastic tabs are an inadequate design, which is what broke.

An engineer colleague of mine once commented that engineers who design with plastic are overly-optimistic regarding the strength of their designs.
 

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2009 CTS 3.6L DI rebuilt to FE3 J55 G80 3.42:1
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Discussion Starter #16
Plastics do not have to be under stress to age--as stated before, depending on the climate they'll deteriorate just sitting there. I'd say it served its useful life after 11 years.
If that were true much of the car would have fallen apart, there is plastic everywhere in this (and all) cars. Interior, under hood, underbody, etc.

While plastic isn't my favorite material, it's better than it used to be. The stuff in the seat back is even glass fiber reinforced. Which should be fine in this application, if the engineer who designed the part hadn't screwed up. There just isn't enough meat there.
 

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2008 SRX4 & 2010 CTS4 sedan / Non-Cadillacs: 2018 Audi Q5, 2012 Chev Cruze LT
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The metal clips are one-way on my 2010. The metal is strong and there is precious little give to them to allow them to pull out. With patience, it may be possible. When I pulled off my seat cover, two of the clips remained in the slots and ripped the plastic tabs to which they were secured and the other two clips did come out reasonably intact on the tabs. In both cases, the clips had moved out of their ideal position on the tabs. I had to pry the clips apart to remove them from the tabs, reposition them lower on the tabs and re-secure them by crimping them so their teeth bit into the tab properly. I had to do the same thing (more or less) on the tabs that had almost sheared off but in those cases I rebuilt the tabs. It's been over a year - through a winter and two hot summers and I've had zero rattling or loosening issues.
 

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2009 CTS 3.6L DI rebuilt to FE3 J55 G80 3.42:1
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Discussion Starter #18
I received the new seat back cover and installed it. Not surprisingly, the design has been changed. The molded glass-reinforced plastic now has the crossbar hooks at the top facing downwards, so the cover is installed by hooking the top, then pulling down. The old style had you push the molded plastic hooks up into the crossbar at the top of the seat back. This left the plastic tabs and metal clips supporting all the weight of the cover.

Kind of a dumb design error, which can now be remedied for a mere $200. I'm pretty sure it isn't going to fail again given the improved design. I'm glad I didn't take @NorthernSRX 's epoxy approach (no offense), it's pretty clear the original design wasn't going to cut it long-term.
 

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2019 XTS Luxury AWD, 2004 SRX N* AWD (gone)
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I think Northern SRX's remedy had proven itself as good given the time it has lasted and not having to spend much money on it. Each to their own remedy.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I think Northern SRX's remedy had proven itself as good given the time it has lasted and not having to spend much money on it. Each to their own remedy.
While I agree each to their own, 2 out of 4 plastic retaining tabs were completely broken off. I have every confidence in my decision of the appropriate repair path, especially given the remedy of an obvious design flaw. I don't think you can say an epoxy patch is "as good", when the new part solves the load-bearing design issue. To be clear, his patch has lasted a year. His car is salt-rotted and he may not keep it. I am not in the same short-term situation. Of course I only wish him the best of luck.
 
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