So, you’re still unconcerned about installing aftermarket seats in newer cars? SEMA and PRO are.

Aug 30, 2011

In early June I blogged the following (below, in italics) about Nissan “strongly” advising against aftermarket seating installs. SEMA and its — your —  Professional Restylers Organization council have yet to hear anything else from Nissan, or any other carmakers, on this issue that potentially could stall or end the business of aftermarket seat trim — unless, perhaps, the carmakers only allow certified installers through any potential future training programs they might devise.

Restyling magazine did get a single comment from Nissan’s  Colin Price, the manager of technology communications for Nissan North America Inc.:

“All we are trying to do is make sure dealers know not to modify, because of the sensors, and we don’t plan to offer any alternative. This was something we put out to make them aware that we are recommending against such changes or modifications.”

Nearly three months later, SEMA and PRO remain concerned about potential push-back from car dealers and carmakers on this issue.

Mr. and Ms. Restyler: Are you still concerned about this?

Nissan sent out a Service Bulletin that “strongly recommends against making any change to seat trim materials from the factory equipped condition …  [that] specifically applies to replacing seat trim with non-factory materials; adding leather/cloth seat covers … around or over the seat back and the passenger seat cushion.”

The bulletin supposedly was prompted by an aftermarket installer adding additional cushioning, which, according to Nissan, led to the failure of an airbag seat sensor to communicate with the airbag that failed to deploy in an accident.

As such, the failure caused by one incident had Nissan recommending no installs of aftermarket seating. Some Nissan dealers know about the service bulletin, others don’t. Some have taken the carmaker’s recommendation and will not have aftermarket seating installed. Some installers, too, could shy away from installing aftermarket seating products in certain Nissans.

Question: Could a single known incident such as the airbag sensor failure supposedly caused by an errant install cause any aftermarket product that could potentially affect vehicle safety (e.g., lift or lower kits, exhaust systems, wheels, sunroofs, and so on) potentially affect much of the aftermarket industry?