A WORD ABOUT SEAT SWIVELS
Adding a swivel adapter to your van allows you to rotate the seat to face the rear of the van. This transforms the living space into a comfortable area to lounge, eat, work, etc.
This option is available from the factory on many of the modern vans. If your van was not manufactured with a swivel seat, there are many aftermarket options that you can install. There are a lot of compatibility criteria for choosing and installing a seat swivel adapter. Look for descriptions / specs regarding bolt pattern, seat belts, parking brakes, trim and swivel clearance.
Some notes, in no particular order:
Consider the use of the space directly behind the seats. In many builds, the space behind the driver seat is occupied by parts of the build out making a swivel seat on the driver side less useful. In some vans, there is a second row of seating; so putting a swivel seat here turns that area into a very useful "seating booth."
If you don't have a dedicated seating area in your conversion, adding two seat swivels to the front seats can turn your cab area into a "dining room" of sorts when the seats turn 90 degrees to face each other.
Adding a seat swivel adapter will raise the seat height. Some products add more height than others. Not enough to affect headroom, but it is noticeable.
There are a few options for shorter "lowered bases" that can replace the original base in order to maintain the overall height. These may cause clearance issues with components like fuse boxes, auxiliary batteries, heaters, subwoofers and toolboxes. So investigate all of the dimensions to make sure all the components will still fit in / on / underneath.
Most adapters allow for the seat to be adjusted forward and back while "swiveled."
How well is it built? Strength, durability, materials etc.
The strength and safety of the seats, being the component that keep the occupant safe while driving, is very important. Modifying those seats shouldn't be taken lightly. In the US, there are regulations that specify a minimum performance for critical items like seats. Swivel adapters should be built to comply with those requirements. Check if the swivel has been tested to comply with FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) specifications.
In our research, all of the aftermarket swivels are built of steel tube or plate. Many are welded, or one-piece designs. Some have very low-tech (low chance of failure) mechanisms, and other have more intricate, easier to use latches.
How easy does it swivel? Does it lock into place?
The swivel should be easy to use, and stay in place (both when driving, and when it is swiveled). It shouldn't rattle, squeak, or scrape.
Does it look good? How much height does it add?
Some of the swivels are advertised to add less than 1" of height. They were pretty expensive, but seem to be extremely high quality (to be reviewed soon). All of the others added between 1" to 2". We did not consider a lowered base since we installed an Espar heater under the passenger seat.
How easy is it to install? Tools required?
All of the swivel adapters are advertised to have very simple installation procedures.
Unbolt seat from base
Bolt adapter to base
Bolt seat to adapter
Optional: adjust seat belt / parking brake if necessary.
What is the buying process and customer service experience?
We did not fully explore this area and learned a tough lesson. It is always a good idea to research companies with which you will be doing business. A few quick searches revealed that we should have turned elsewhere. We found out the hard way.
What is the cost for the product and shipping?
Overall cost is comparable among manufacturers and distributors. Some have lower prices with higher shipping costs. Some have high prices with "free shipping". Always include the shipping estimate as part of your cost.
REVIEW - DISCOUNTVANTRUCK.COM
The remainder of this post covers the purchase and install process for a passenger side seat swivel on a 2019 RAM Promaster.
This adapter is comprised of 3/16” plate steel that is welded, then painted black. The holes are not machined or drilled; they have a cut quality consistent with plasma cutting. It is a hefty piece of equipment, the welds are substantial and full along each seam. They weren't ground, just painted over. Well built, but far from cute.
It weighs about 35lbs.
It does swivel. The center bolt is adjustable, as advertised. It’s pretty clunky to use. The latch mechanism is a steel rod on a spring that has only one detented position - forward. The rod applies pressure to the swivel that keeps it in place. But makes it pretty difficult to swivel otherwise. You have to put some weight / force into moving it around.
Although the swivel adapter itself isn’t an attractive item, it does’t detract from the visuals of the van. Once it’s installed you don’t really notice it. What you do notice is the height of the seat. 2” is easy to see from across the van.
I'm not going to give a step-by-step visual guide on this one, because I do not recommend you buy this, or any other product from DiscountVanTruck. I'll give you the general process, and you'll see why I think you should go with a different swivel.
Disconnect your battery (always.)
Remove the seat (easy.)
There are 6 bolts that hold the seat onto the base. I think they are M8, T40 - I can't remember. Slide the seat forward and remove the front two. Slide the seat back and remove the rear four. Keep them around, because they are used to bolt the adapter in. Unclip and disconnect the two wiring harnesses found underneath the seat.
Bolt in the adapter (doable.)
Using the 6 bolts you just removed, attach the adapter to the seat base. In the case of our seat, 4 of 6 were aligned perfectly. The proper application of leverage (and a few sweaty moments holding it steady) allowed the 2 remaining bolts to find their home. Torque to spec.
Bolt the seat to the adapter (almost done.)
There are 6 holes / slots in the top plate of the adapter. 4 of them align with the holes that originally held the seat to the base. 4 bolts, washers, lock washers and nuts were included with the swivel adapter, so in they went (in that order).
Run the wiring harness through the center bolt (negative, ghostrider)
This is where the trouble started, and where DiscountVanTruck really dropped the ball.
The bolt in the center of the swivel is drilled out to approximately 1/4". Which is enough room to run the wiring, but not enough room to pass the connectors through from the bottom. This was very confusing to discover because the product description specifically says that the center bolt is drilled out for wire passage. Huh.
After scouring the website, the included documentation and other install guides, we decided to get in touch with DiscountVanTruck customer service. The owner responded quickly.
The answer to our predicament was to cut the wires and reconnect them after passing them through the center bolt. We were told that this is "what everyone is doing" and that "the installation is the responsibility of the customer" and we should seek someone more qualified to complete the installation.
Now, I've never blown an airbag while working on a vehicle, but I do know enough to understand that improperly wiring a sensor, inflator, etc. can cause it to go off. With the ever-increasing complexity of the digital and electrical systems in modern vehicles, I was surprised:
The official answer to how to install this seat swivel includes cutting a factory airbag wiring harness.
I can go so far as to say that I understand that this is the way their product is designed. It's tough to design things for specific vehicles that change every year. However, the way the product is marketed leaves out the critical piece of information about their swivel seat adapter: that it isn't compatible with the wiring in the van. Nowhere on the website, product description, installation instructions is cutting a factory wiring harness mentioned. Find me the tech who can install this swivel adapter and rewire the airbag wiring in under 30 minutes (according to the website), so I can hire them.
So we inquired about a return... I will spare you the details of the email exchange.
Here's a link to their return policy.
"Any item that show signs of wear, installation marks, or use cannot be considered for a refund and will be the customers responsibility to arrange return of any such returned item....
Most returned merchandise will be subject to a 30% restocking fee...
Shipping and handling fees are not refundable."
Total Cost = $273
Item Refund = $199
Restocking fee = 30% of $199 = $59.70
Refund = $139.30
Return Shipping = $74 (at least)
Total Refund = $65.30
Net loss = $273 - $65.30 = $207.70
We decided not to return it. Dealing with the frustration and logistics were not going to be worth it.
This is one of the lowest cost options on the market.
Swivel Adapter: $199
Shipping: $74 (arrived in 4 days)
It is a heavy, fully welded hunk of steel. Strong enough to withstand any vehicle impact. The hole mis-alignment made installation difficult, but achievable.
The mechanism is reliable, but clunky. The swivel action is not smooth, but it does stay put. It adds about 2” to the height, which changes the feel of the seat.
It’s black painted steel so it blends in with the factory base / seat. By itself, it isn’t very good looking, and you can tell it was hastily welded / painted.
Installing the swivel adapter was the easy part, and aside from the misaligned holes, went according to plan. The product description was misleading. REPEAT: this product does not work for any Promaster vans with wiring harness connectors.
It is a rare occasion to get belittled by the owner of a company. It turns out we aren’t the only ones with this experience. Avoid this company and spare yourself some headaches.
Overall, they have the lowest priced option on the market. In every aspect of life, you get what you pay for. This is no exception. Don’t fall for it.
Mistakes were made. Lessons were learned. Stay tuned for more swivel seat adventures! Still hunting for a quality, accurate product. Hit me up in the comments if you have a positive experience with a product / manufacturer.
I'll let you know what we end up doing with the scrap metal.