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Revisit GM dealer about heated-seat malfunction

Q. The seat warmers on my 2004 Chevy Suburban have failed. They stay on only for a few seconds. Also, the automatic seat adjuster on the driver’s side doesn’t work all of the time. I Googled “Chevy Suburban 2004 Faulty Seat Warmers,” and found a number of people have the same problems and that the two seem to be linked. I called the dealer; they acted surprised. Any thoughts on this? And do you know whether there are any recalls from Chevy as it seems like the problem is not all that uncommon?

A. Please try talking to the dealer again. Either there was some misunderstanding or the person you spoke with was having a bad day.

No fewer than five service bulletins were issued by General Motors between January 2003 and August 2005 for heated and/or memory seats in the light trucks and SUVs built by their Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Hummer divisions.

The first bulletin, which applies only to 2003 models, states that “a logic lockup of the Memory Seat Control Module” may disable the seat heater and memory functions. The cure, in this case, is an updated Memory Seat Control Module.

Three of the bulletins recommend reprogramming the Driver Seat Module to solve various heater and retained memory problems.

The fifth bulletin states that some of the heated seat components returned under warranty are showing, when analyzed, “no out of specification condition, or No Trouble Found.”

It advises dealers to “provide customers with the knowledge that if bumped, either one of the heated seat switches can be activated/deactivated accidentally;” and to “ensure customers have a thorough understanding of how the heated seat switches function.”

Bulletins aside, the Identifix ( www.identifix.com) hotline archives and the “technicians only” portion of www.iatn.net list many instances of repairs that go beyond reprogramming or replacing the Driver Seat Module. These include replacing the Driver Door Module, replacing the heating elements in the seat backs or cushions, and repairing or replacing wiring harnesses that have been chafed by pedal controls or pinched by seat rails.

A problem must be safety-related for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.dot.gov) to issue a recall to be issued. So a heated seat would have to become quite remarkably hot.

Chip Keen and his wife operate a repair shop on Puget Sound in Washington state. Keen is certified in 18 ASE categories including master auto, master truck, master machinist and advance engine performance. Send your questions to Car Forum, P.O. Box 21, Hansville, WA 98340 or e-mail to carforum@telebyte.com.

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