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2003 chevy trailblazer_lt_ext
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I took the plunge.
I found an ebay deal on DK Schwiezer italian leather for my 03 TB EXT. Couldn't pass it up. They are now a division of Katzkins, if you believe everything you read on the internet. Anyway, full leather, heavily padded, and EVERY detail of construction matched the OEM fabric. The quality is just outstanding.
Here are the results of 15 hours of work.



Want to know how? Then read on, but first let me say, I knew nothing about upholstery before this but I can't resist a challenge. Estimates I saw (again on the interent) said over 10 hours and not for the faint-hearted. Turns out they were right. 15 hours, lots of little cuts on the hands, sore fingers, and a result that makes the car geeks at work think you are quite gifted. You get it all with this project. The project takes basic hand tools: sockets, screwdrivers, a couple different Torx sockets, etc. It also requires a set of hog ring plieres and a box of hog rings. I bought these at the local Farm & Home Store. Less than $10 for pliers and rings. There was only one size pliers, but 3 sizes of rings. I used the #2 rings, which are the middle of 3 (obviously), but the smaller #1 would have worked well. The store was out of #1 rings. Pay attention to how things come apart so you know how it all goes back together.
OK, time to get to it. I have an EXT, so I figured start on the third row. That way, if it didn’t work out if would be for the kids to see. You figure out things as you go, so I won't keep repeating the same processes, just add in the new ones as I go.
Third row seat cushion has two bolts holding it in

Remove those and the bottom cushion comes right out. Take that over to a table (covered in a lovely plaid quilt). Turn it upside down and remove the plastic handle shown below.

Then you will see plastic j-shaped channels that hold the fabric to the plastic

Remove the j channel from the seat bottom plastic and then you can fold the plastic away. Remove the last j channel from the plastic bottom.

Now turn it over and start turning the fabric inside out until you get to heavy duty hook and loop and strips with hog rings attached.

Velcro is easy enough, just separate the two parts. The hog rings...well... they are pretty tuff. I have a medium size pair of cutters and they were hard to cut. I think a large set or stronger hands would have helped. I had neither! You cut the hog rings, then I used needlenose pliers to remove the two pieces. I threw them away ASAP. Didn't want them near the new leather! Here is what I was down to.

Next, line up the new leather and install the new hog rings. That part is easy. Just make sure that you are only putting those rings through the flap and around the steel in the cushion. I had this fear of putting a ring through the front...that would be bad!

Now, reverse the process and put the seat back together with the leather. Stretch those j channels around, stop to eat you microwave sausage biscuits and admire your work!


Not sure why, but the j channel trim on the new seats was white, and it looked ridiculous in the truck, so I put black electric tape over it. Now it looks right.

Repeat for the other side and you now have two seat cushions done. Don't look at the clock or you will be afraid to continue...
...and continue.
 

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2003 chevy trailblazer_lt_ext
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
How to INSTALL LEATHER UPHOLSTERY pt 2

Remove the headrests. One side post has an adjustment tab, the other has a little hole. Raise the headrest as far as it will go, stick a nail in the hole, and the headrest comes out all the way.

We'll deal with that headrest later. Do that when it gets too hot in the garage, because you can do those while watching Wildest Police Videos. You've seen them all anyway.
Fold down the seat and remove the panel that fills the gap when your seats are down. The trim snaps on in 3 places. Use a Trox socket to remove the panel.

Ooops, put that seat back up! Now go to the back. See those bolts there? Take them out.


Then you can remove the j channel from that bar and fold the seat back down. Now separate the j channel at the bottom of the seat back and fold the seat back up. Ridiculous, I know... At this point, I would like to say that I have no idea if j channel is called j channel or not. That's just what it looks like so I make it up as I go. Slide the elastic strap through the slot in the seat cover.

Then you get to these hog rings. Remove them.

And by the way...no need to remove the entire seat on the second and third rows! That would be time-consuming and unnecessary!
Now start turning the seat cover inside out raising it as you go. You will get to that velcro and keep going until you get to more hog rings.

You know the drill. Get out your man hands and clip those, and keep rolling the seat cover to the top. When you get it all the way to the headrest clips, just work it off of those, one corner at a time. It WILL come off without tearing. My OEM fabric covers have no damage whatsoever from removing them, just FYI on that one! Here is what you have left.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
How to INSTALL LEATHER UPHOLSTERY pt 3

And again, reverse the process with the new covers. DON"T DO ANYTHING WITH THE HEADREST CLIPS AT THIS TIME. Just put the cover right over them. Work the new cover carefully over the seat until you are back to the hog rings. Make sure the seat back leather is on straight and install the hog rings. Roll the seat cover down, attaching it tightly to the Velcro as you go. Now attach more of those hog rings at the back bottom. Note the beginnings of blood...


Now use all three of your hands to get that thing zipped up at the bottom, and reinstall that j channel and bar from the back.

Now the headrest issue. Assuming that you have the seat back leather on the way that you want it, straight and tight, then go grab an exacto knife and figure out where you are going to get the courage to do this...

Just cut an X and pull the leather back and forth around the X until you get the headrest clip through. The X is hidden by the clip.

And repeat for the other seat. Now let's talk headrests.
Headrest should be easy, but alas, the hole in the fabric and leather is quite a bit smaller than the foam, so it's quite challenging. That's where Wildest Police Videos, or anything on Spike TV is helpful. J channels at the bottom, squish the crap out of the headrest until you can squeeze it out of the fabric until you have this.

I hear that they are covered in plastic to make it easier to slide the fabric/leather over them. I also heard that you can vacuum the air out of the bag to make the whole thing compress, but that didn't work for me. Reverse the process, snap the j channel back together and you are done. Sounds easy. Have fun! By the way, all three rows of seating have different headrest sizes.
Time to move to the second row. These seats stay in also. Start on the passenger side. Take these Torx screws out

Take apart the J channel at the bottom. May as well remove the trim and seat release handle while you are there.


Hey, here's a hidden screw!

Remove a few trim pieces to release the bottom back and start stripping the seat like before.



Reinstall the new leather, same as 3rd row. Use a plastic putty knife to work the back around the handle.

Allright, seat back of row 2 driver side. Remove the seat belt cover at the top

and disconnect the seat belt at bottom. This is between the 2nd row seats.
J channel at the bottom, a few more trim clips, blah, blah, blah




Reassemble with leather, same as before.
2nd row seat cushions. These are easy. Carefully use a screwdriver to remove the clips that hold the upholstery to the frame.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
how to INSTALL LEATHER UPHOLSTERY pt 3

2nd row seat cushions. These are easy. Carefully use a screwdriver to remove the clips that hold the upholstery to the frame.

Do that all the way around the seat bottom, and the whole cushion will come right out of the metal frame.


You do need to work around those child restraint loops. Pay attention to how it comes apart!

Take that over to your manly quilted table and do the whole velcro/hog ring thing.


Reassemble with Leather. Do the headrests and you are two-thirds done with the project!
Now the front seats, and by the way, yes...you, the driver, is last getting a new seat. That's life. Get over it.
Fronts seats.
These get removed and that makes it way easier. They are awkward, and the power driver seat with all of it's motors is a bit heavy for one person who has a hard time cutting a hog ring with small cutters. There are some plastic covers to remove, a screwdriver will help pry them off.

I started with passenger side.Remove the four bolts. I disconnected the battery before unplugging the airbag from under the seat, just cause I was scared. You are left with this.

Take off the lumbar control knob, it just pulls off

Remove the side panel so you can get to the seatbelt to disconnect that end.

Turn the seat over and remove the four bolts, then you can get to the j channels to uncover the cushion.

Do that whole hog ring thing, no velcro on these by the way, just lots of those fantastic hog rings.
Reverse with leather and you have this.

Now before you reinstall it to the frame, do the seat back.


Strip it by rolling it up. When you get to the air bag, it will pull right out at the top and bottom. The side have some plastic tabs that hold it in place. Look at how that is on the leather, then it will make sense. You will NOT remove the airbag or cover. Just work around it.

You have to do the seatbelt thing here also, but you know how to do that by now. When reinstalling the new leather, get it all in place the way you want it, then do the air bag area, then finally the headrest holes.

Reinstall the seat cushion and reinstall the entire seat. Good time to vacuum first!
Now do the driver seat. Here is why it is heavy.

And you are done! Enjoy...smells and feels so nice. Best $350 and 15 hours I have spent. My wife has me looking to do it to her car next.


 

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wow great write up i wanted to do this but had noo idea...this is great..Awesome job..:thumbsup:


I found them on ebay...Im seeing if I can get the two row in that color..Im excited, thats the one thing my truck didnt have that I really missed from my last car...and now I have directions..
 

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:thumbsup: fantastic write up with plenty of detailed pictures... excellent job - the end result is something to :drool over!

i know you stated that you bought the leather seat covers from a seller on ebay, but what did you search under and what's the seller's name? i would be interested in attempting to do this myself, but how would i go about finding a kit for my '05 LT? how much could i expect to spend?
 

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:thumbsup: fantastic write up with plenty of detailed pictures... excellent job - the end result is something to :drool over!

i know you stated that you bought the leather seat covers from a seller on ebay, but what did you search under and what's the seller's name? i would be interested in attempting to do this myself, but how would i go about finding a kit for my '05 LT? how much could i expect to spend?
I found these
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2005...62QQcategoryZ33702QQihZ004QQitemZ140227362893

however for 2 rows he only has sandstone.... So I contacted him about other colors and he said none are available now.. but the 3 row EXT ones come in sandstone or graphite so for 25 dollars more I would have the 3 seats (worthless to me) but I would have grey....
 

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Nice! When I get my truck back ill show you all my new ebony Leather seats!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ebay

truckaccessorydeals was my seller on ebay. Here is the item # 230265503172

My opinion on this: If what you find is the quality that I found, and I have no way of knowing that, then $350 is a great deal even if you don't use the third row.
The prices I found for what I bought, had I special ordered it from Katzkins or DK-Schwiezer was $1050 for 3 row, and about $850 for two row. And $400 to $500 to install it.

$350 is a deal. Coincidentally, $350 is the KBB add-on price for leather for resale purposes, so you wouldn't be out anything if you sold later. I checked that, too.

Knowing what I know now, I would do that ebay deal, even if the third row went back on ebay because I couldn't use it. Maybe it would sell, you never know.

If you want leather, DIY and save big. And if you do it, remember...it can always be redone if you don't like the results, until you cut those headrest holes. Just take it off and try again. I refit a couple seats more than once to get it straight.

I have NO REGRETS.
Bill
 

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I found these
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2005...62QQcategoryZ33702QQihZ004QQitemZ140227362893

however for 2 rows he only has sandstone.... So I contacted him about other colors and he said none are available now.. but the 3 row EXT ones come in sandstone or graphite so for 25 dollars more I would have the 3 seats (worthless to me) but I would have grey....
Becareful in getting the 3 row set and thinking it will correctly fit a short wheel base truck. Double check the second row seats are the same in a SWB as a LWB. I know if you buy the entire 3 row set from the junk yard the second seats won't bolt into a SWB. Don't know if the upholstery part is the same or not.


Excellent writeup. :hail: You should submit this for an article so those adding leather can learn from your experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks! How do I submit it for an article?

Also, good point about seats being different. I shouldn't have said "go for it" when I don't know if they will fit or not. My mistake!

Bill
 

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I found these
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2005...62QQcategoryZ33702QQihZ004QQitemZ140227362893

however for 2 rows he only has sandstone.... So I contacted him about other colors and he said none are available now.. but the 3 row EXT ones come in sandstone or graphite so for 25 dollars more I would have the 3 seats (worthless to me) but I would have grey....
Just remember that row #2 of an EXT/XL IS NOT the same as the back seats in the SWB models. The EXT/XL have longer 2nd row seats. Great write up, now to get the courage to maybe replace my factory leather......cracked (I call it acracked, more like crap marks) badly and beginning to look a tad shoddy. (And I used leather cleaner and protectant regularly).
 

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Excellent write up! Great pictures! I knew you could do it.

You had more nerve than me cutting an "X" in the backrest covers to slip them over the headrest sockets.
Another possibility for more timid people is what I did: With the headrest removed as per your write up and pic I rolled the backrest cover up, unfastening velcro and cutting hog rings as necessary. With the covers almost off but still held by the plastic headrest sockets I reached inside the backrest and squeezed the barbed tip of the socket together with a pair of pliers while simultanously pushing the socket up out of the backrest frame. Now just pull the entire socket away from the metal frame. Without the socket, the backrest cover is now free.

Install the new backrest cover as you did except for cutting the X's. When the cover is in place push the plastic sockets into the frame thru the small hole in the cover until you hear the barb "click" open. There is a ridge on the plastic socket and a groove in the metal backrest frame so they can only go in one way.

Your way worked for you, it involved less steps, and you missed an opportunity to cut your hand by not having to reach inside the backrest frame so your way is is the better way. I just did not want to make the holes in the top of the backrest cover any bigger because I was afraid I would cut too far and my error would be visible until I sold the truck.

Again, great job, great pictures, and great write up. I hope the moderators combine your threads and make them a sticky.
 
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