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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone!

I'm a few months into leasing my 2018 Volt and the driver's seat has created an absolute massive problem with my back and hips, one that I'm currently in physical therapy and having regular chiropractic appointments trying to resolve.

From the time I took delivery of my Volt I noticed right away something was "off" with the seats, something I must have noticed but really didn't pay enough attention to that discomfort during my test drives. I figured the leather was stiff, it'll settle down after a couple of weeks of me sitting on it.

Fast forward a month and that comfort problem turned into actual pain when driving. A couple weeks later, after a particularly long commute one morning I heard a soft plop from my left hip, I halfway limped out of the car, and a few days later my doctor confirmed that I had knocked my hips out of alignment.

I've never had any back issues or pain of any kind and have owned many cars in my lifetime. I've never had a single problem with any seat in any car I've ever owned, from compacts to full size sedans, both leather and cloth. In an attempt to narrow down the source of my hip problem to my Volt, I spent a week driving my wife's car without pain, spent another week out of town driving a rental car without any pain or discomfort, and took a 9 day stay-home vacation where I didn't drive my Volt at all and desperately hoped I may have recovered simply by resting it.

Then the first day driving back to work in my Volt, bammo the pain came back and I was wincing in pain trying to get out of that seat after my morning commute.

I've tried every possible seat adjustment, I've watched and completed videos about proper seat adjustment, I've forced myself to sit properly and not rotate my hips or legs while driving - all of it uncomfortable and difficult to do for an entire drive. I've bought and tried hundreds of dollars worth of cushions, lumbars, seat covers, and seat pads. None of it makes a difference. Most of it makes it worse because I'm now balancing my rear on a seat cushion buried under a seat pad with a lumbar pad behind it, making me shuffle around while driving as I try to get comfortable. I've already tried every combination of the individual items as well and kept track of every combination in a big nerdy spreadsheet.

The only thing I have left to do is replace the seat with something else, and then swap the original seat back in after my lease expires in another 2.5 years (which after typing that, sounds like a prison sentence to me).

However I have no idea what problems I'll run into buying an after market seat for the Volt. I don't know anything about swapping seats as well so I have no idea what will fit, or what brackets I'll have to buy, and I'll probably end up finding someone hopefully reputable to do it for me. Can anyone point me in the right direction or give me any advice on what to do, or some personal experience on what they did when swapping out the seats?

Thanks in advance for any help offered, I really need the advice!
 

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Wow, sounds horrible. I don't have any specific knowledge about how to fit a different seat. I also haven't run across much discussion like that on this board. I think the seat has an airbag in it, so it is integrated into the vehicle's electronics to some extent. I suspect it would not be a simple task. Have you considered looking for a local auto customizing shop. The kind of place that does performance modifications or truck lifting, etc. They may be able to do it for you since adding racing seats is a common performance modification.

One observation I would offer is that the Gen 1 seat feels very different to me than the Gen 2 seat, but it may be similar in the way it attaches, either mechanically, electronically, or both.

Or to avoid all that, is it possible to trade cars with your wife permanently?
 

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One other question for you, since none of your cushion combinations helped, is it possible that the high dead pedal position is causing the problem? This may be putting your left foot into an unnatural location that is affecting your left hip. Some owners have discussed different places to place their left foot, or modifications to the dead pedal. Also, if this is the problem, a new seat may not help.
 

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Different strokes for different folks. I had a lower back pain when driving my other cars whereby I could barely drive more than 45 minutes without getting out walk it off. With the Volt, no more back pain. The seats give support low down in the back where other seats don't. The only gripe I have is how wide the seats are giving little lateral support, they are almost like bench seats. That probably is a result of the wider backsides of North Americans compared to how they used to be.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies.

I'm almost certain the seat doesn't have airbags - just the seat warmer. It's very basic seat.

I can't trade with my wife permanently as she has a SUV that she uses for transporting things at work and for the kids.

I've considered the dead pedal position but then also realized it doesn't matter from a pain point if I use it or not. I've driven for days where I absolutely 100% force my foot onto the dead pedal, and days where I play it loose and let my foot/knees lay flat on the floor and bend my knees slightly like I'm sitting in an office chair. I've even used a seat cushion placed between my left thigh and the driver door to force my knees and hips to be straight and force my foot centered on the dead pedal.

I'm also wondering if the head rest is contributing to the problem by pushing my neck and head too far forward which is knocking everything else out of alignment. I'd be willing to find a different head rest that mounts properly to my seat before replacing the seat itself.

Yes, I know it's in that position to help with whiplash in a crash but to be honest, I'm willing to run that risk if it means I won't destroy my back for the 2.5 years left on my lease. When installed a seat cover to help with the problem I removed the front headrests and put them on backwards accidentally for about 5 minutes, but they're not designed to be used backwards and won't lower. The rear seat head rests look more comfortable, but I've checked and they won't fit on the front seats.
 

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Thanks for the replies.

I'm almost certain the seat doesn't have airbags - just the seat warmer. It's very basic seat.

I can't trade with my wife permanently as she has a SUV that she uses for transporting things at work and for the kids.

I've considered the dead pedal position but then also realized it doesn't matter from a pain point if I use it or not. I've driven for days where I absolutely 100% force my foot onto the dead pedal, and days where I play it loose and let my foot/knees lay flat on the floor and bend my knees slightly like I'm sitting in an office chair. I've even used a seat cushion placed between my left thigh and the driver door to force my knees and hips to be straight and force my foot centered on the dead pedal.

I'm also wondering if the head rest is contributing to the problem by pushing my neck and head too far forward which is knocking everything else out of alignment. I'd be willing to find a different head rest that mounts properly to my seat before replacing the seat itself.

Yes, I know it's in that position to help with whiplash in a crash but to be honest, I'm willing to run that risk if it means I won't destroy my back for the 2.5 years left on my lease. When installed a seat cover to help with the problem I removed the front headrests and put them on backwards accidentally for about 5 minutes, but they're not designed to be used backwards and won't lower. The rear seat head rests look more comfortable, but I've checked and they won't fit on the front seats.
Have you tried a “donut” type seat cushion on the seat itself? Of the kind you can find in a medical supply store? When I had my Pontiac G8 I used such a cushion to avoid continued leg pain from the seat, and it may be worth a shot.

Interestingly enough, once I got my Volt the pain stopped with the Volt’s seat layout.

Also I think there are side seat airbags on the Gen 2 at least. I assume on Gen 1 too but not sure of that.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Have you tried a “donut” type seat cushion on the seat itself? Of the kind you can find in a medical supply store? When I had my Pontiac G8 I used such a cushion to avoid continued leg pain from the seat, and it may be worth a shot.

Interestingly enough, once I got my Volt the pain stopped with the Volt’s seat layout.

Also I think there are side seat airbags on the Gen 2 at least. I assume on Gen 1 too but not sure of that.
The Volt has knee air bags that aren't part of the seat itself, they're part of the spot to the lower left of the steering wheel on the main console. I can't tell if the seat itself has airbags, but looking at the seats, I can't tell where they're physically located? Looking on eBay for replacement parts, I see listings for "seat side airbag" but nothing for any model past 2015, making me think Chevy doesn't do it anymore. I can't even tell where a side seat airbag would deploy from or what it would protect if it has to magically erupt from the seat?

Can anyone confirm?

As far as a donut type seat cushion, yes, I've tried them all - donuts, pads, coccyx ones, lumbar support pads, wedges, even rolled up towels. The donut ones were actually worse for me (without giving much relief) because your rear is kind of balancing on it your entire commute, so I found myself getting sore just by maintaining balance on it, kind of like when you sit on a medicine ball.

Also no matter what pad I used, even with the seat in the lowest position, my head was practically scraping against the top of the car and I'm only 5'9".
 

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In my gen 2s I believe the airbags in the seats are in the upper left corner (facing the door as you are sitting facing the windshield). I have seen a small tab with the word “airbag” there.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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...I'm also wondering if the head rest is contributing to the problem by pushing my neck and head too far forward which is knocking everything else out of alignment. I'd be willing to find a different head rest that mounts properly to my seat before replacing the seat itself....
Some people have trouble with that and some don't. I'm like you and agree that the Gen 2 head restraint is too far forward for my liking and it definitely affects my driving comfort. This kind of head restraint positioning is becoming more and more common on many different cars.

One thing that can help with that is adding a cushion to the seat back only (not the part underneath you, but behind you). Something about 1-2 inches uniformly thick that covers your whole back works well. You want something that will comfortably shift your shoulders forward relative to the head restraint. You can even fold up some towels to try it temporarily.

Swapping to a different head restraint can be a good fix for that issue, but it is really hard to find one that both fits and is also positioned further back. You would also have to wonder if it would perform properly in an accident (based on how it might interlock with the seat differently, etc.). I once fixed a Honda Civic seat by mounting an Accord head restraint, but it was very lucky that I found a fit.
 

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My wife bought a lumbar support for me for driving the TR7 as I need more support low down on the spine. It is fully adjustable with a knob on the back that can move up and down and twist the knob for how much support you need. Don't know what she paid for it or where she got it (not here now to ask) but it worked (2,200+ mile trip to Sacramento in September). With something like that you might be able to find the right combo. Did a quick search on internet but didn't see it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My wife bought a lumbar support for me for driving the TR7 as I need more support low down on the spine. It is fully adjustable with a knob on the back that can move up and down and twist the knob for how much support you need. Don't know what she paid for it or where she got it (not here now to ask) but it worked (2,200+ mile trip to Sacramento in September). With something like that you might be able to find the right combo. Did a quick search on internet but didn't see it.
I've tried several lumbar support pads and cushions and they don't seem to be the solution for me. The pain is the same with or without it. I've kept nerdy spreadsheets of every combination I've tried with corresponding pain levels and there never was a big difference.

When I started to feel the actual pain after my hip got knocked out of alignment, I naturally thought, oh lower back, it's gotta be lumbar! But unfortunately that doesn't appear to be the case. The lumbar may add some slight comfort to the lower back for me, but it's sadly not the source of the problem/pain.
 

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Maybe OP has already checked, but could there be a defect or failure in this particular seat? Does the passenger side feel about the same?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Passenger side feels about the same but it's tough to tell, because of course I'm not driving so my feet/legs are in a different position. I haven't been driven around in my car enough to be able to tell a difference, but visually they look the exact same, the angles of the seatbelt, the positioning of it compared to the door of the car, etc - all looks the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sad to say but after 2 weeks of Holiday vacation and not driving my car (and feeling absolutely great at home, doing stuff around the house, putting up decorations, etc) I drove to work this morning and after a fast 20 minute commute, I can already feel the pain/pull returning to the exact same area.

I really would love some information about how to pull out and replace the seat. I'm confident it's ruining my back.
 

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Sounds awful. I didn't particularly like the Gen 2 seats. Felt that the lumbar area was missing a thin pad. Also felt that the headrest was uselessly far back. Reading your comment, made me think your headrest pushes your head forward?!? The opposite of mine. I wonder if your seat is okay or not. I'd go to the dealer and sit in one of the other Volt's driver seats. If the headrest is pushing your head forward, unnaturally, maybe it's in the post-accident whiplash position? Does the passenger seat also push your head forward?

I don't miss my Volt seats.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for your sympathy and thanks for the links about removing the seat! I'll consider my options, just gotta figure out what else is compatible with the rails and what fits in the car.

It was really discouraging to be out of my car for 2 weeks and doing all sorts of crazy lifting/back wrenching types of stuff around the house without any sort of residual back pain. Hanging xmas decorations, balancing on a ladder, screwing around on the roof with lights, cooking for a ton of people and being on my feet all day, and moving furniture around. Basically doing all those things that you would think would definitely mess up someone's back, but it didn't hurt at all.

Then I get in the car this morning and within 20 minutes, back to that same old pulling/pain. And no, those activities did not turn into delayed back pain as soon as I got into my car because I didn't do anything the past 3 days and had no residual pain either. :)

I ended up flipping my headrest around and adding a headrest support pad to it which has helped the problem without solving it entirely. I think my neck being too far forward as definitely part of the problem. Not exactly the best for whiplash but hey, I gotta survive the next 2.5 years.

You should see this frankenstein car seat, I should post pictures of it. I have added a relatively flat cover for the base of the seat that goes over the left/right bolsters to add support there. I have a small removable lumbar pad behind my back. I have the headrest flipped backwards and a soft support pad behind it. I even have a little "elbow saver" cloth padding attached near the left door handle because without it, my knees get banged at a bad angle into the door handle area. The trunk is filled with seat cushions, lumbar pads, and padding/strapping that I have used and decided it wasn't comfortable but I want to keep in the car just in case.

I've kept a detailed document of each of the items I've added and removed to the car seat in an effort to find out which works best and which reduces the discomfort the most.

My car seat looks like the main driver is a disabled person recovering from a terrible accident and this is the only way they can get the car seat to conform to their injuries. Except I'm a perfectly healthy male under 50 who has never had a single problem in any car seat for any vehicle I've ever owned.

You know that feeling you get when you hop in your new car and you want to keep it clean and you're proud to show it off to people? I have absolutely none of that feeling and I'm just happy I'm only in it for 2 hours a day instead of 4 hours.
 

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find a custom vehicle upholstery place and have them make a padded seat cover that works for you memory foam as part of it or something. They can also open up the seat and completely replace the seat padding. if you are getting physical therapy, get the physical therapist to look at the way you are sitting in the seat and often they can tell where your positioning problem is and how to change it. also have them watch you get in and out of the vehicle.
 
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