November '15

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40 The Shop November 2015 ReSTyling/AfTeRmARkeT AcceSSoRieS Other things to consider when choosing a supplier include the product warranty, avail- able technical support and marketing mate- rials. Product warranties can range from one to three years and some suppliers even cover labor in the event of a product defect. A supplier that provides technical sup- port can save your technicians valuable time and ensure successful installations. A supplier who can work with you to provide customized marketing material can also help you increase sales. INSTALLATION TIPS Technicians with a background in leather interior installations are the best candidates for a successful future in heated seat sales. The upholstery removal and reinstalla- tion is the biggest challenge of the installa- tion process and what most new installers struggle with. Basic 12-volt experience is all that is required for the electrical portion of the installation, which usually involves connecting one lead to ground and one hot lead to an ignition power source. Sometimes a relay is also needed, which involves making four connections instead of two. Typically, the only drilling is one 13/16-inch hole for the switch. Contrary to a common misconception, seat heaters are compatible with any seat cover material. Actually, seat heaters will warm up any seat—whether suede, vinyl, leather or cloth—effectively. The seat cover material has an effect on how long it will take the seat to get warm, which has to do with seat cover thickness. Cloth heats up faster, because it is thinner. Each millimeter of seat cover thickness adds approximately 15 seconds of heat-up time. Seat heaters will draw 5 amps on high and 3 amps on low. A 10-amps-per-seat circuit is recommended, although a 7- or 15-amp circuit for two seats will work. The technician should also understand and be familiar with all the moving com- ponents within a vehicle's seating structure, which is key to a problem-free installation. Properly routed and secured harnesses that are not under the feet and are clear of all moving components will also help provide years of driving comfort. Heated seat controls can be installed in- dash, in a console or anywhere the cus- tomer wants—as long as there is room for the switch and it is a flat area. The center console area is most preferred. Second choice would be the shroud on the side of the seat bottom. Upcharges apply to installing switches within the vehicle doors. The heating element is trimmed with any sharp cutting tool. We use a razor blade, but scissors or a hole punch also work. No modification to terminals are necessary. Depending on the vehicle and seat covers, an experienced technician can do a single seat installation in about 45 minutes on average. New installers need to plan on it taking longer—especially if they are new to upholstery work. COMFORT SOLUTIONS Quality systems will consist of electronic temperature controls that allow multiple temperature settings that will meet or exceed original equipment specifications. Universal switch options are common in a majority of installations. A round or rectangular version with a high, low and center off configuration will provide an original equipment look in most vehicles. Consumers are more comfortable with components that look similar in style to original equipment. Providing customers with aftermarket seat comfort solutions does not stop with driver and passenger seat heaters. Seat com- fort can be added to any row of the vehicle and a range of related seat comfort products are available including seat cooling, lumbar support and in-seat massagers. In fact, because the carbon fiber heating element is a universal product, there are few model-specific limitations when it comes to aftermarket heated seats. The market for heated seats is strong— even in older vehicles. People want to have seat heaters in all their vehicles once they become accustomed to them and realize they are inexpensive, simple to install and add a luxury feature. So, the next time your shop peels up a seat cover, don't forget to heat up your bottom line by adding seat heaters as well. Dino Perfetti is a 29-year veteran of the automotive after- market industry and a member of the SEMA PRO council. He joined Automotive Concepts in 2005 and now serves as sales manager, leading a sales team responsible for customizing vehicles for more than 200 dealerships in the Midwest. Contact him at on The hoT SeAT

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