Ford Focus RS Forum banner

1 - 20 of 70 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
261 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi Guys,

Ever since the RS debuted, I've wanted the Euro-spec Recaro shell seats. The first time I ever visited this site was actually following a google search about importing the Recaro shells. Well, time passed, and it looked less and less likely that I would ever get to enjoy the Recaro shells on my US-spec car. And not just because the seats were surprisingly hard to source/import, but because it turns out the EU-spec cars fitted with these seats have a very different configuration on the airbag system.

Even after I found a way to get the seats, I wasn't ready to make the plunge until I knew I could make the airbag system work as intended. Driving around with the airbag light on is not just annoying, but also unsafe as it completely disables the Focus's excellent safety systems (dual stage airbags, belt pre-tensioners, etc.). Well, I'm happy to report that I figured it out, and since I never found all this information in one place, I want to share with you guys how I sourced my full EU Shell Recaro interior (including back seats), and got them installed in my car with ZERO airbag lights!

First, some thanks:
- Thanks to @mikesk for being my late-night PM buddy to bounce ideas off of. He was the one who figured out the resistance needed to simulate the side airbags, and found the part number for the plug. Thanks, Mike!
- Thanks to [email protected] and AMX-Performance in Poland for sourcing the seats for me. Excellent, responsive communication, fast shipping, and the seats were packaged extremely well.
- Thanks to Jonny at JCR for producing his amazing and now famous "Superlow Seat Frames." Super helpful, responsive, and got me the frames extremely quickly. These things are LOW... I am 6'4" and this is the first time I've ever driven a car with the steering wheel tilted all the way down! The stock height of the EU shells is about 0.5 in higher than the lowest position of the RS1 seats (though due to the rake, the front of the RS1 seat is about 2 in higher). With the JCR frames, the shell seats sit about 2 in lower, with the front of seat nearly 4 in lower! This made all the difference for me at 6'4", 205 lbs.
- Thanks to all of you who participated in the various threads regarding the Euro Shells and handling airbag lights with aftermarket seats. This forum has been such a great resource!

Next, some caveats:
- Because the Euro Shells do not have side airbags like the US-spec seats, you will lose the side airbags when making this install. Do so at your own risk.
- The EU Shells do not have any of the sensors from the US-spec seats except for the seat belt connector (though the plug is different). This includes: airbag wires, slider positioning sensor, and occupancy classification sensor (weight sensor) on the passenger side. You will have to re-use these sensors from your OEM seats, and bypass the OCS so that it thinks there is always a passenger. This means you will have to keep the passenger seat-belt buckled, and never put someone in the front passenger seat who can't have an airbag deployment if there's a crash.
- Yes, the seats/shipping is very expensive. Can you get comparable race seats for a much better price? Of course! But for me, having seats that appear OEM (with all the same stitching/RS logo), a better seating position while still retaining recline/sliding functionality, and the rarity of having EU-spec interior in the US was worth it. To each his own!

Alright, let's get started.

Sourcing the Seats:
I knew that I wanted Recaro Sportster seats for the car. Like many of you, I was very unhappy with the stock RS1 seats in my car. I wanted seats that looked more aggressive, provided a much lower seating position with much less rake, and looked as OEM as possible. Since my 5'5" wife loves driving the car, I also had to retain sliding/reclining functionality. The EU Shells are Recaro Sportsters with proprietary runners and custom stitching, so I went about to make sure I liked the feel of the Sportsters. I sat in a 370z Nismo and confirmed the seats were the right choice.

I was connected with [email protected] at AMX-Performance (a certified Recaro supplier) on a thread on this forum, and after running the numbers on just purchasing some US Recaro Sportsters and having them re-upholstered to look like the EU shells, it turned out the cost difference was minimal. Getting true EU shells from AMX also meant I would have the proprietary Ford runners, a necessity if I wanted to get the JCR Superlow seat frames (a must).

The team at AMX was highly communicative, super responsive, and made me feel very comfortable with the purchase. I also found one of AMX's customers here in the US who confirmed that AMX is great to work with, and importing the seats was no problem. I made the purchase and a few days later they arrived, packaged extremely well. The seats were perfect!

JCR got me the Superlow Seat Frames with expedited shipping, and everything arrived within a day of eachother.

e7j5tu.jpg

6gbdjc.jpg


The Install:
If all you want to do is swap the seats and you don't care about airbag lights, it's four 11mm bolts. Should take you 10 min. My install was a little more involved...

Step 1: Remove stock seats
Disconnect the battery FIRST! It's best to disconnect both positive and negative because disconnecting the negative terminal will clear any codes you throw during the process. As mentioned, remove the four 11mm bolts securing the seats to the floor. Once the bolts are removed, lean the entire seat back to expose underneath. All of the sensors/wires consolidate into a single harness which plugs into a harness that runs into the floor. Unlatch the harness and pull it apart. The seat is now fully disconnected and ready for removal. There's not an easy way to pull it out, but I found it easiest for me to recline the seat all the way and slither out through the rear passenger door. This also seemed the easiest way to avoid unintended paint scrapes.

Step 2: Disconnect all sensors and retain wiring harnesses
The yellow airbag plug and seat belt connector come apart easily. Follow the wires to the slider positioning sensor. While it does have a simple latch removal for the wires, you will need the sensor too, so use a philip's head to remove it from the rail and leave it plugged in. Use a trim removal tool to detach all of the wire clips.

10f98r6.jpg

The passenger side is the same, but also has the Occupancy Classification Sensor OCS, which is the weight sensor to determine if there is a passenger for the seatbelt reminder and airbag deployment. It uses a bladder of viscous fluid mounted in the seat cushion connected to an electronic pressure sensor under the seat. This guy is the doosy... the toughest one to trick. We will need the sensor itself, but for now, just unplug the wires from the sensor and leave it mounted so that you don't have to deal with the fluid yet.

At the end of this step, you should have two bundles of wires/sensors to mount under your new seats.

1532p0m.jpg

291fjah.jpg

Step 3: Tricking the airbag wire
The side airbags in the RS1 seats are connected to the car through the yellow harness you just removed. The car needs to see a resistance on the wire of 1.7 - 2.7 ohm or it will trigger the airbag light and disable the system. Here's where the big thank you to @mikesk comes in. He was the one who confirmed the resistance needed and found the parts needed to construct a simple-to-install bypass.

Get yourself these bypass harnesses:https://www.tascaparts.com/oem-parts/ford-resistor-xf2z14b022aa. These plug directly into the yellow airbag wiring harness, but they supply around 7 ohms of resistance, so we will need to modify them to get 2 ohms.

Grab a set of these resistors: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00SWK5V54/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.

Now we need to cut open the back of the bypass harness, remove the 7 ohm resistor, and solder in a 2.2 ohm resistor in its place. Here's a great step-by-step video:
. Once you get this completed, simply plug the bypass harnesses into the yellow plugs on your wire bundles. Side airbag bypass complete!

25f21kx.jpg

33oo8z7.jpg

2guh8y1.jpg

303bsbs.jpg

Step 4: Tricking the weight sensor (OCS)
This is the toughest step. Here's what to do: Grab a set of vacuum line plugs from your autoparts store. You'll need a couple of 5/16 size plugs for the fluid line. Now grab your passenger RS1 Seat and turn it on its side. you will want to position it so that the fluid line running to the sensor is as high as possible compared to the bladder to minimize spillage. Unhook the OCS sensor from the bracket and position it high. Make your cut about half way down the line. You will want extra line both on the sensor side and the bladder side, so don't make a cut too close to either side.

When you make your cut, quickly cap the bladder line with the vacuum line plug... it will hold off leaks until you can secure it with some zip ties later for storage. Leave the line leading to the sensor UNCAPPED for now, just turn it upside down so it doesn't leak. The fluid is not water. It's highly viscous like oil, and it's not under pressure, so you should be able to make your cuts without loosing too much.

Now, you need to cap the line leading to the sensor, but it is a bit tricky. If there is too large a bubble at the top of the line, the bubble may move down to the sensor once you mount it in the seat and throw a code. Likewise, if you try to remove all the air, you run the risk of putting the fluid under pressure in the line. This will also cause the system to throw a code as the value reported will be too high (confirmed in ForScan). What worked best for me was to make the bubble at the top as small as possible, and then mount the sensor and line under the seat in such a way that the sensor is always lower than the line. The fluid is viscous enough that g-load changes from driving won't cause the bubble to travel all the way to the sensor. Once you're happy with the fluid level, cap the line and ziptie it like there's no tomorrow.

Here's a video from youtube that shows how the end result should look:
.

2a8p4lf.jpg

1zojeqx.jpg

k0q92d.jpg

Step 5 (Optional): Install JCR Superlow Seat Frames on new seats
Just follow JCR's excellent installation manual included with the frames.

Step 6: Mounting sensors and wiring harness in the new seats
Now that all of the needed connections have been made to the wiring harness (seatbelt, airbag, slider position sensor, and OCS on passenger side), it's time to mount the harness to the underside of the seat. Some special considerations:
- Many of the wire clips can be re-used in the mounting holes on the under-side of the seat, but you will probably, like me, use an unhealthy number of zip ties.
- Care should be taken to be sure that all wires/sensors are positioned so that the seat can make its full range of sliding. The JCR frames are super low, so this takes a little planning.
- The slider position sensor can be mounted on any rail that slides with the seat as long as the sensor face (little square magnet) is pointing towards the front of the car.
- The OCS should be mounted in such a way that the fluid line extends above the sensor.

70dqnl.jpg

2wnph1c.jpg

Step 7: Install the new seats
Same four 11mm bolts mount the seat, but before it's fully mounted, plug in and lock the wiring harness, ensure the seat can slide all the way forward and back without an issue on the wiring, and then reconnect the battery. When you start the car, the airbag light should illuminate like normal and then disappear about 4-5 seconds after the last light goes out. It can reappear up to 5 min later if there is an issue, so leave the car running or take it for a spin.

Step 8: Install the rear seats
I was able to get the EU rear bench as well. The removal/re-installation is ridiculously easy (less than 15 min) and has been covered at length. Forum search is your friend.

Observations
- The driving position is 100% different/improved. It is shockingly low, and the wheel now comes straight out at me instead of angled up. Likewise, my legs point straight towards the pedals instead of the crazy L shape they were before. Armrests and gearshift is also more naturally placed.
- The interior feels much much larger. Credit the lower seats and the thinness of the seat backs, but the whole cabin feels more airy and less closed-in.
- I was shocked how much I like the rear bench. Those integrated headrests are so much nicer for visibility and folding the rear seat.
- I was expecting some moderate weight savings, but it is minimal. I never actually weighed the seats, but I would be the EU Shells are less than 10 lbs lighter than the RS1 seats.
- While the seats have me in a more comfortable position (no crazy rake, extreme lumbar firmness, shoulder hunching seat-back), the seats themselves have noticeably less cushion/bounce to them. I actually prefer this, but it's good to know.

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome and the seats. Probably not for everyone, and yes, there's a lot of HP to be gained for this amount of money, but for me, I was a great investment/project. Feel free to ping me with questions. Sorry there are not more/better pictures.

- Rob

2zqfpsy.jpg

2aaf11t.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
410 Posts
Excellent write-up!

I notice that all you need now to finish the look is the Euro rear L/R headrests! ;-)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Rob,
This is a fantastic write up - sets the standard for DIY sharing - you and @Hank are great resources.

If you have the time/inclination, I'd love to see more photos of the seats in situ, front and rear. Also, if you feel comfortable sharing the cost, I'd be interested in that as well.

Cheers,
JV
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,319 Posts
How expensive? The seat rake bothers me far more than anything else about the seats since you can't really lower them because of it. If we could find a way to lower the front mount of the seat, that would fix most of my problems with our seating position.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
762 Posts
Nice work man. Killed it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
261 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the support, fellas.

I'll add some additional pictures when I have some time later this week. Any picture requests?

I should mention that this process for getting rid of the airbag light will work with ANY aftermarket seat as long as you have a frame for the Focus RS. You could grab any Bride, Sparco, or Corbeau seat of your choice with a Planted universal frame and toss it in.

Regarding the rake, it seems the only real solution is a completely new seat. The rake is not an issue with the RS1 frame, but rather the mechanism by which it is raised and lowered. I guess you could throw some spacers on the rear mount points of the frame, but you'd end of raising the seating position (which is already too high), and having a crazy negative rake when the seat is raised.

As far as cost, reach out to AMX for a quote. Standard Recaro Sportster CS seats run about $1500 each MSRP, and the JCR frames are about $750 depending on exchange rate. Shipping is a doozy. This is an expensive project.

- Rob
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
762 Posts
Thanks for the support, fellas.

I'll add some additional pictures when I have some time later this week. Any picture requests?

I should mention that this process for getting rid of the airbag light will work with ANY aftermarket seat as long as you have a frame for the Focus RS. You could grab any STATUS , Bride, Sparco, or Corbeau seat of your choice with a Planted universal frame and toss it in.

Regarding the rake, it seems the only real solution is a completely new seat. The rake is not an issue with the RS1 frame, but rather the mechanism by which it is raised and lowered. I guess you could throw some spacers on the rear mount points of the frame, but you'd end of raising the seating position (which is already too high), and having a crazy negative rake when the seat is raised.

As far as cost, reach out to AMX for a quote. Standard Recaro Sportster CS seats run about $1500 each MSRP, and the JCR frames are about $750 depending on exchange rate. Shipping is a doozy. This is an expensive project.

- Rob


Fixed it for you, lol.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,652 Posts
Fantastic work!! Thanks for sharing.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
114 Posts
Outstanding write-up! From your experience and expertise, how difficult would it be to transfer the whole OCS sensor into the shell seat bottom? Is it even feasible if I were willing to pull the seat apart?

Thank you for not only investing a fair amount of time, effort and money in acquiring and installing the Euro seats, but also putting together a great tutorial for the rest of us. You may very well have solved the last troubling piece of my build for me!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
261 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Outstanding write-up! From your experience and expertise, how difficult would it be to transfer the whole OCS sensor into the shell seat bottom? Is it even feasible if I were willing to pull the seat apart?

Thank you for not only investing a fair amount of time, effort and money in acquiring and installing the Euro seats, but also putting together a great tutorial for the rest of us. You may very well have solved the last troubling piece of my build for me!
Great question... I thought about attempting it myself. First, let me say that my response is pure conjecture... I did not try this, but based on what I saw spending several hours under the seats:
- getting the OCS bladder out of the RS1 seat should be easy enough. It is the lowest layer in the seat, with only the wire springs and a pad between the bladder and the bottom of the seat. Since it is flexible, it could probably be coaxed out of even a small opening.
- installing the OCS into the shell looks to be tough/impossible without serious upholstery work. The underside of the shell seat is not a series of layers of wire springs and pads like the RS1... It is quite literally a plastic shell. You can see it in the picture of how I secured the wires. This means you would have to remove the seat cover/padding from the top of the seat, position the OCS correctly, and then re-cover the seat. This presents two problems: 1) you'd have to find a way to route the fluid line through the shell to the sensor. 2) After extensive reading online and in the Focus RS tech manual, it appears the OCS bladder is tightly calibrated, needing very specific tolerances to work and requiring a complicated re-calibration process when newly installed.

Honestly, unless you plan to have your kids in the front seat (not a good idea anyway), there's no reason not to rig it to deploy the airbag every time. The manual even states that in the event of a severe enough crash, the airbags will deploy whether the OCS has been activated or not.

Hope this helps.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
114 Posts
Honestly, unless you plan to have your kids in the front seat (not a good idea anyway), there's no reason not to rig it to deploy the airbag every time. The manual even states that in the event of a severe enough crash, the airbags will deploy whether the OCS has been activated or not.

Hope this helps.
Absolutely! Your direct experience brings perspective to the challenge and its certainly one I'm not willing tackle. The calibration concerns by themselves are a no go.

Again, thank you for the incredible effort you have put into this endeavor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
762 Posts
Love the “Status” seats....except for the big white ‘Status’ logo that looks like someone spray painted it on with a stencil. WUWT?
I would say that is like ordering a MOMO or Sparco and not having the logo blasted. If the logo aint your thing then order them without the logos , its pretty easy. I for one know people at Status, I support local companies in my home town and like HARDPARKING my car with the massive logos. :loyal:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,182 Posts
I would say that is like ordering a MOMO or Sparco and not having the logo blasted. If the logo aint your thing then order them without the logos , its pretty easy. I for one know people at Status, I support local companies in my home town and like HARDPARKING my car with the massive logos. :loyal:
Totally get it. Just a personal preference thing. I didn’t know you could order them sans the logo. I really do prefer them to any other AM styles, and may very well end up with a set. Love the weight savings. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
718 Posts
Wow, great write-up and glad you were able to get them working correctly.

I wonder if it's possible to understand better how the seat belt minder and OCS work. I know BMWs have the ability to plug deletes in for both of those.
 
1 - 20 of 70 Posts
Top