Regular 3 (or F in general) Series seats are not comfortable, and they don’t look good. That’s a fact. Most of the non M vehicles owners want to get a little piece of that ///M pie by either putting M badges on their cars, M grills, hoods, etc. (While those are some ricey mods, well this..)
This is not really, more of a comfort upgrade. We have felt like since day 1, that the seats in a F30 don’t look good, nor comfortable. That was the main reason for an upgrade and we came across a company who sold M2 Competition seats from a BMW test vehicle, which had only done around 8.000 km before it was disassembled. 🙁
So, they were fairly new, you can still smell that gorgeous leather. However, and there is the trick to this modification… by reading forums, talking to BMW dealerships and tuning shops, we had to face the cold reality that these seats won’t fit into a limousine like the F30, you need seats from a F80. Why you may ask? Because the seatbelts are mounted differently. In a limousine the seatbelts are mounted to the seat themselves, in a coupé – like the M2 Competition – the belts are mounted to the body of the car. And if you have the coupé seats, you cannot attach the seat belt to them, it is just not possible. (and please don’t even think about drilling a hole into the seat frame and mount the seatbelt there… it is your life, and you only have one, so don’t risk it)
But we thought this can’t be true. Unfortunately it is. If you have a M2 or M4 seat and you want to fit that into your limousine BMW as is, they won’t work. Your best bet is to find some M3 seats and use them, those are simply plug and play (and some coding).
However…. you we have found a way to fit them into your car, let us show you how:
What you need:
- A lot of patience and will
- Since you are probably doing this for the first time, you’ll meet a lot of new plastics and mechanism, that you haven’t before, so be patient, it will work
- A lot of tools
- We will list them before each section, so you’ll know what’s up and what you need for that part
- Replacement parts
- The screws in the seats are torqued to spec, and because of that some of them cannot be reused (or at least shouldn’t be). You need to purchase new ones, and use those when you assemble the seats together.
- Lights and table
- If you are working in a darker area, get a light and put the seats on something, so it’s a bit easier to maneuver and you actually see what you are doing
- Some pieces, that may be missing from the new seats
- Some protective covers, microfibre towels to avoid scratches
A little background information
We knew it was possible (deep down), since the M2 Competition and M3/M4 seats are pretty much the same. So we did a little digging, if you go to https://www.realoem.com and look for an M3 and an M2 Competition, under the Seats section you’ll find that the top frame and the cushion is the same (leather is also, kinda, design wise they are different a bit). And if you dig a bit more, you’ll find out that the bottom frame of the F30 seats are the same as the ones from the F80. Soooo, that can only mean one thing. If you take the top part – as is – from the M2 Comp seats, and the bottom frame of your seats, and put them together (plus the cushion and leather from the M2), you’ll get a working seat in your F30. 🎉
So, here is what you need to do:
- Remove the bottom foam and the leather from your donor seats – in our case from the M2 Competition
- Remove the top part of the seat from the donor seats
- Remove the top part of the seat from your own seats
- Remove the bottom foam and the leather from your own seats (if you have thigh support, you’ll need to remove that too)
- Install the bottom foam + leather from the donor seats to yours
- Install the top part of the seat from the donor seats to yours
- Assemble the pieces back together and install the seats back into your car.
- Dance and go for a drive. 😎
1. Removing the bottom foam + leather from the donor seats (M2/M4)
A list of tools you need for this “operation”:
- Torx screwdriver
- T25, T27
- A few flat head screwdrivers (small, narrow ones)
- Some pick tools and plastic pliers
- if you don’t want to get messy
- Some paper towels
- for cleaning up your fingers if they get oily or dirty
Here is what you need to do.
- Put the seat on the floor or onto a table.
- Tilt the seat back so you have access to the bottom part of it.
3. First, you need to remove the seat heating and passenger occupancy sensor. For that you first need to cut the zip tie on the yellow connector housing, that holds the cables together (blue connector is for the airbag, white is for the seat belt tensioner, and black is for the seat heating – black will be connected to a different box, look for the word: “Heizung” = Heating). Once you cut that, you need to pry out the cables, one by one. Each will have their own little pin(s) on the side that you need to lift or push in order to get them free. The first one is hold in place with 2 on each side.
4. Once you have that, carefully slide them out and put them to the side, we only care about the one for the seat heating. To set it free, you’ll need to guide it out of the little clamps that hold it tight to the seat and there is an extra zip tie thingy towards the bottom, that you can pry open with 2 flat head screwdrivers for example.
5. Next you need to remove the side covers – where the seat belt sits – you need a T27 to unscrew one bolt that holds this piece in and then just lift it up a bit and slide it backwards, it will pop out. To make your life easier, you can also remove the seat belt tensioner, but not necessary.
6. Next, go to the opposite side, where the buttons are located that moves the seat. There is a bolt that holds it in place – T25 – unscrew it and put it to the side. Next, you want to remove the whole piece. You’ll need to lift it upwards a bit, until the 2 plastic clips at the bottom get free, and lift it towards yourself, “rotating on the edge of the seat”. Basically bringing the bottom part towards you and upward, holding it with both hands. Here are some photos how to exactly. Start from the back and work your way forward.
7. Once you have that, you can unplug the connections (you may have more or less than shown), and set it to the side, or let it hang.. maybe wrap it with some protective thing to keep it safe from scratches. Since you’ll be moving the seat around a bit.
8. Next up, look for two little clamp looking things that keeps the bottom of the seat cover to the bottom frame and unclip them. The easiest is, if you pull the leather a bit towards the clamp and unclamp them.
9. You’re almost there. You need to unplug one more connector – the passenger occupancy – (in case of the passenger seat) and release it from the clamps and zip ties.
10. The last step is to remove the seat cover itself. Simply remove the seat cover from the seat, starting to pry it off of the bottom frame from the back side. Start from one side, work it towards the middle, then go to the other side and do the same. Remove the seat cover and put it to the side. Have a drink. 🍻
Repeat the same on the driver’s side seat.
2. How to remove the back frame of the M2 Competition Seat (Same for M4)
What you need:
- T40 Screwdriver
- pry tool
- 2x new screws, BMW part number: 52108099039
- Unclip the cables of the top part from the bottom frame.
2. Remove the cover from the seat. There are 2 pins that keeps the cover on, at the bottom. With a pry tool remove them and start separating the leather from the cover. Start from the bottom, simply move the edge of the leather towards you and rotate outwards. Go easy, step by step.
3. (In case you have a coupe seat, start with Number 4.) Remove the screws on the left and right side of the seat (T25), needs a bit of force, they are torqued to 32Nm. After you removed the screws, toss them away, you need to replace them.
4. In case of a Coupe seat, you need to unclip the cable that makes it possible to move to seat forward – when passengers want to get into the rear seat -, just simply pry it off with a plastic tool and remove the little plastic part.
5. Slowly move the seat upwards a bit (check for cables you may have forgot to unplug, don’t force it), and look for a O-ring (Omega) that holds the 2-3 cables together. Unclip that and set the cables free. 🥳
6. Now, pull the seat upwards, slowly feeding the cables while you do it. Easiest if you pull one cable at a time, and continue.
7. Put the seat to the side. You are done. Have another drink. 🍻
Do a happy dance also, you are almost there. 🕺🏻
3. How to remove the bottom part of your own seat
What you need:
- T50, T25 Screwdriver
- Flat head screwdrivers
- Remove the seats. For that you need a T50 and a breaker bar to loosen the screws, move the seat towards the back, to reveal the 2 bolts in the front, unscrew them, then move it towards the front and repeat the same for the 2 bolts in the rear. Remember, these bolts need to be replaced.
2. Disconnect battery negative port. Wait ~5-10 mins.
3. Lift the front part of the seat up a bit, disconnect the yellow connector under the seat.
4. It’s time to lift the seat out. BE CAREFUL. If you are not feeling comfortable doing this alone, get some help, or put a lot of towels on the dash or steering wheel and door cards. Best practise – that worked for us – is to grab the seat at the bottom with one hand and at the back with another, and slowly moving it out like you would lift out your girl/boyfriend. Lift it up a bit, and rotate it out while slowly backing out.
5. Do happy dance if everything is in one shape.
6. If you have thigh support, you’ll hate this part, if you don’t skip this. To release the thigh support, you need to start by first fully extending it, and remove the leather that connects the seat with it (the “crums collector”). Same as with the seat cover, pry it out carefully, starting from one side, pushing in, then rotating it out.
Once you got that, don’t stop. Here comes the “fun” part, you need to remove the thigh support itself, that is a plastic piece and you’ll need two small narrow headed screwdriver or some pry tool. What you need to do basically, is you need to push the teeth of this plastic piece in so you can slide it out.
The trick is, not to slide it out completely, just like 90%. Then you can push you screwdrivers in from each side and slowly moving the thigh support out. It is a pain and you may break something. (don’t worry too much, you won’t need that in your M2 seats. Might be a good idea to call for help. Once it is out, you need to unscrew 4 bolts – T25 – , and remove the leather that wraps onto it, and set it to the side.
7. If you don’t have that struggle, or you are done, let’s move on and remove the cables and the bottom part of the seat. The procedure is similar to your donor seats. Remove the cables from the yellow connector (we found it best if you put a small screwdriver between the plastic connectors – blue, white – and while releasing the little clamps you push it out by that screwdriver) don’t force it though they can easily break. You need to disconnect the seat heating if you have any and move onto the next part.
8. Repeat step: 1.5, 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8
9. And the seat is out. Woohooo. Happy dance! 🕺🏻
4. Remove the back frame of your own seat – F30
Here is what you’ll need:
- pry tools
- T40 screwdriver
- Remove the 2 pins that holds the back cover on. Simply pry them out. Pull the cover downwards then wiggle it out from each side.
2. Unclip the leather on the sides. Gently pushing it in then rotating it outwards. Easiest if you pull the side of the seat towards you – pulling the leather in – and unclip it at the top, then with a flat head or a pry tool push it downwards by the seame and let it free.
3. Remove the airbag. If you have a new one or your donor seats come with it skip this, although if you install new airbags or belt tensioner, you’ll get some error codes and you have to get them coded out. You need a 10mm socket and remove the screws on the side. Don’t reuse the nuts.
4. Next up carefully release the leather from the clamps, so you can move the side bolsters. Carefully take out the airbag. Watch out for those 2 bolts and there is a clamp that holds it to the frame, don’t break it (it is at the top of the airbag). Don’t move it yet, just put it down safely, we need to guide the wire out first.
5. Move it to the sides, we will unscrew the top frame with 1 bolt on each side – T40. Once you have that, make sure all the 3 wires (you may have more or less) and remove the omega connector, than slowly lift the top part off. Same as with your donor seat.
6. Happy dance, you are done. 🕺🏻
At this point, you are basically done, you just need to install everything back together, reverse what you did here. And don’t forget to take the airbag with you. 😉
We’d recommend starting with the bottom part first, then the top part so it is a bit easier to install them back together.
One more thing to do, depending on your OCD level, is to change or cover up the M2/M3/M4 badges. You can either wrap them, put some stickers on them or leave them as is.
Remember to replace the screws that needed to be replaced. Enjoy your new seats. 😎