ZJ seat swap - Jeep Cherokee Forum

ZJ seat swap

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Old 02-12-2017, 06:50 PM
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Default ZJ seat swap

The Story:
So recently I got fed up with my uncomfortable 2000 XJ seats and decided to swap in some nice leather ones out of a 94 ZJ. Depending on the route you take this will be a bolt in swap that probably takes about 4 hours if you count the time I spent in the junkyard. It only gets slightly more complicated if you are trying to retain the power functions of the seats. This seems like a pretty common swap but I had a hard time finding specific info about it and wanted to organize all this info into one location.

Why do this swap?
ZJ seats are way nicer in my opinion. They are much more comfortable and look nice. I think the build quality might be a bit better too. Last year my drivers seat in my XJ broke loose. When I took it out to repair it I found that the seat frame was broken in 7 places and needed to be quickly welded back together.


Picture of one of the horrible welds and the worst break

Back ground info:
If you plan on doing this swap there is some background knowledge you might want to know. First of all the bolts for the seats will probably be stuck. In both Grand Cherokees and regular Cherokees the rear seat bracket bolts go through the floor to the outside of the vehicle and are held in place by a tac-welded nut. Because of this you will find AT LEAST ONE BOLT TO BE FROZEN. I recommend lots of PB blaster ahead of time if you can. In the donor ZJ I broke 3 of the four bolts. In my XJ I broke one on the drivers bracket.



The broken bolt on my XJ after I painted it.

The seats in ZJs znd XJs can be broken up in 2 major classifications; The seat itself including back rest, and the tracks they ride on which bolt to the floor. XJs and ZJs share the same bolt pattern on the bottom of the seat. What is different is the bolt locations on the tracks where the seats mount to the floor of the jeep.

I have heard a rumor that tracks from similar year XJs and ZJs will swap directly with one another because they share the same mounting locations in the floors of both jeeps. At this time I cannot confirm this. So with that being said if you plan to retain the power functions of ZJ seats on your XJ you will have to create new mounting locations in the floor of your jeep to accommodate the different holes on the powered tracks. You will then also have to run power to the seats. I have read that a 20a inline fuse from the battery is all you need.

Onto the swap
I used the following tools while doing the swap:
PB Blaster
Breaker Bar
Flexable 3/8 drive socket wrench
13mm or 1/2 socket for floor bolts
13mm or 1/2 open-ended wrench for seat nuts
Phillips head screw driver
Electric Impact Driver (optional)


My cheapo average-joe tools

Here we go:
Find your junkyard and donor vehicle. I drove an hour to Johnston Rhode Island from Connecticut to go to the nicest Pick-n-Pull I have ever been to. All the Junkyards near my home have crappy parts, service, and prices. I scored a set of almost perfect powered leather seats out of a 94 Grand Cherokee for $110. That price seemed more then fair since everyone on craigslist was asking upwards of $300. Even managed to find some miscellaneous trim for my girlfriend's 98 Grand Cherokee TSI (yes thats a thing).

My seats came from a 94 grand Cherokee with the 5.2 liter v8 and roughly 120,000 miles on the clock. I do not have any pics of the donor vehicle but as I said earlier 3 of the 4 rear bolts snapped while removing the seats. My seats had powered tracks but did not have a power reclining function.


ZJ seat next to my XJ seat

If you go to a Pick-N-Pull you'll find that all the vehicles have their batteries removed. This will be a problem if you need to move the seats in order to gain access to the bolts underneath. I cut the wires as close to the floor as possible and stripped the ends. I shoved the wires into the terminals on my drill battery and operated the seats to expose the bolts.



example of drill battery setup.

After I got home the first step was to remove the old seats. Each seat has 4 bolts that holds the tracks to the floor of the jeep. 2 in front and 2 in the back which usually are stuck. I had already removed both seats to change out my heater core so they broke free this time with little fight.

Once you get the XJ seats next to the ZJ seats you'll instantly notice the difference in mounting locations for the tracks.


Difference between XJ ZJ seats

With the seats removed begin by removing the plastic trim from the sides of the seats. With this done you can begin unbolting the seats from the tracks. I used a 1/2 open-ended wrench with a ratchet on one side to get at the nuts. There are 4 nuts on each seat.


Bolt location and wrench

With the track removed from each seat you can begin swapping them. The manual XJ tracks will separate into 2 pieces once you unbolt them so don't worry. Here is an example of how similar the bottoms of the seats are.


ZJ seat on left. XJ seat on right.

With the tracks swapped you can now reattach the side plastic trim. I opted to use the XJ trim to help the seat color blend better with the interior.


finished passenger seat

Once you finish one seat repeat these steps for the other seat. Then put the seats in place and bolt them down. I highly recommend some form of anti-cease on the bolts just in case you need to pull the seats again. I have owned my XJ for a year and a half and this project was the 3rd time driver seat has been removed.


The finished product

Overall I am very happy I did this swap and I highly recommend it to anyone. I'm 6'4" and still fit fine with thew seats installed. These seats are way more comfortable then my old ones and will greatly improve my 30 mile drive to work everyday. I honestly think this might be one of those must have projects. All it takes is some basic tools and a couple spare hours. Hope this helps!
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Old 03-15-2018, 12:06 PM
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This is a really nice write-up!. It never occurred to me to use the drill battery as a power source while out in the badlands of a junkyard.. cool!
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Old 09-06-2018, 10:04 AM
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Excellent write up. Thanks for taking the time.
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Old 11-21-2018, 02:57 PM
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Great job, thank you! I'm thinking about doing the same thing in my '98 XJ, which already has a power driver's seat, but the leather is hammered.
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