Ford E-250 Swivel Seat Installation

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I recently purchased a 2004 Ford E-250 utility van. I was fortunate to find a van already stripped, insulated, and built out with a bed, shelving, wood floors, and a kitchen area. It’s a pretty good setup for stealth camping and as a climber van. There were some improvements that I wanted to make, though, including installing a swivel seat base for the passenger seat.

I’m no mechanic. After searching fruitlessly for “how to install a swivel seat in a Ford E-250”, I called a garage and inquired about having it done. They quoted me $300 for the seat base and $50 for installation. I figured if installation was only $50, then it was probably something I could do myself.

I found a seat base that seemed like it would work, based on the few forum posts I found. Shop4Seats.com lists a bunch of various bases, so I purchased a single 96 – 06 Ford Swivel Base OEM Seat for the passenger side. Total cost with shipping was $252 and delivery took about a week.

I was concerned about disconnecting the wire protruding from the seat base. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really know what it’s for but I think that it is an airbag sensor. I needed a T-55 Torx socket to remove the OEM seat base, and asked the guy at the auto parts store about that wire. He assured me that it was difficult to accidentally discharge the airbag, and said that if I disconnected the negative terminal on the battery just to be safe than I could certainly unplug the wire without fear.

I assembled my tools: a socket set, T-55 bit, new swivel seat base, a utility knife and some foam padding. First, I disconnected the battery, then took a deep breath and unplugged the wire and….nothing happened. Perfect.

Second step, I unbolted the OEM base from the floor and removed the seat. Once I had the seat out and on the ground, I tested the fit of the new swivel base. It didn’t seem to line up properly, until my friend Joel pointed out that I had it upside down. Problem solved, the new swivel seat base fit perfectly. The OEM seat base sits on four posts, whereas the new swivel base has a flat sheet metal bottom. I had to cut out the rubberized flooring below the old base to fit the new base, and laid some thin foam rubber underneath the new base to reduce any possible vibration and insulate the metal base somewhat from the frame.

With the passenger seat removed, it was easy to remove the OEM seat base from the seat. I bolted the new swivel seat base tightly onto the passenger seat and set the seat with swivel base onto the bolts. I tightened them down and reattached the wire and reattached the battery. I didn’t have any issues with the airbag warning light, which turned off normally after the van started.

The whole installation process took about twenty minutes. The new base works perfectly. The passenger seat itself has rails for sliding front and back, and the swivel seat base allows the seat to rotate around in a full circle. The center console interferes slightly with rotation, so I have to first return the seat back to its fully upright position, slide the seat forward, swivel it partway, then slide it back to complete the rotation. When swiveled to face the living area of the van, the armrest on the seat is a tight fit against the passenger door. It fits better if the seat is slid back completely, towards the front of the car.

Overall I am really pleased with the swivel install. It was easy to install, even for someone like myself with little experience working on vehicles, and greatly improved the livability of the van. I return the seat into forward-facing locked position whenever I have a passenger in the van, and I have the OEM seat base stored in my garage should I ever need to reinstall it. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment!

11 comments

1 Dennis Duff { 10.31.14 at 12:25 pm }

Just what I was wanting to do. We fixed up a 2013 E250 with bed platform and underneath storage, insulation, A/C-Heater and have been using folding chairs as seats in the open area between the front seats and bed when we are stopped. Swivel seats would really make that space more open. Thanks for the tips!

2 Shane { 11.05.14 at 1:10 pm }

I just purchased the same base and installed the same way you did (before finding your post here). However when in the locked position my seat is now rotated a few degrees toward the driver. It also leans slightly toward the driver. Is yours pretty straight or is it crooked like mine? I have called the company to return the product, but I’m curious if I just got a bad one or if that’s how they all are. I was hoping for a 20 min install, similar to your experience. I’ve now got about 6 hrs into this after they first sent me a driver side instad of passenger and I had to figure out why it didn’t fit and deal with customer service etc etc.

3 Mo { 02.25.15 at 8:46 pm }

I have a 1998 Ford -150 with a Tiara Conversion. I’m making this into a short term camper van and want to make the front passenger seat a swivel seat. I don’t know if the Tiara Conversion has a different base bolt pattern than the original Ford bolt pattern. Also I’ve read there can be a problem with the air bag wiring in doing this switch yourself. Can you give me any advice on both of these issues? Thanks!

4 Phil { 02.28.15 at 6:49 pm }

Shane, I don’t have that issue with mine. The seat is level and straight, and the installation was very straightforward. It seems like if it were installed backwards it would tilt the seat forward. Other that that, I don’t know what to tell you. Sorry I don’t have more to offer!

5 Phil { 02.28.15 at 6:50 pm }

Mo, I’m not familiar with the Tiara conversion. I would simply measure the bolt pattern. I was also very concerned about the airbag; I disconnected the battery before pulling any plugs….but it was not an issue. My van doesn’t alert when the passenger seatbelt is not in use, I don’t think it did before my installation either though.

6 Steve { 05.04.15 at 1:37 pm }

Thanks for the write-up! I’m trying to install this in my 2007 E250, but the floor of the van is not flat at all. Did you have this problem or is your van floor perfectly flat beneath the passenger seat? If not, did you shim the swivel base or just wrench it down uneven? Thanks!

7 Phil { 05.05.15 at 6:33 pm }

Steve, the floor under my seat was felt insulation covered with a sheet of rubber. I traced the swivel seat base and cut out both with a razor blade and it worked out just fine. It might be better to cut the rubber hole a bit smaller and cut away more felt underneath, so the swivel seat base pinches the rubber down and seals it against dirt.

8 Brandon { 06.29.15 at 9:54 pm }

I am looking into this swivel base for Granny’s new 2014 e150 which is equipped with a handicap lift. My question is this, do you think that this swivel base would work smoothly with someone sitting on it? We have to transfer granny from a wheelchair to the front seat and it is very difficult due to her lack of mobility.
What I am trying to accomplish is, lift her from a wheelchair to the front passenger seat, while it is facing the rear, and then rotate the seat forward to the normal driving position. And then the opposite for unloading her.
Thanks for any input! -Brandon

9 Phil { 10.06.15 at 10:06 am }

In my van the swivel seat would definitely not work with someone sitting in it. There would be no room for her knees over the engine housing.

10 Mo { 10.31.15 at 5:07 pm }

Phil — Thanks for taking the time to respond to my swivel seat question concerning the air bag wire. Since my van is 6 years old than yours I don’t even think the passenger seat is equipped with an air bag. But to be sure I will disconnect the negative battery terminal. I’m still worried the Mark III (Tiara) conversion may have larger seats than the standard van seat making it impossible to swivel the seat to facing rear. Thanks again. I don’t know if you’re still monitoring this forum but we all appreciate your help.

11 Mo { 10.31.15 at 5:36 pm }

Phil – I’m wondering if you could measure the seat cushion width and depth of your passenger swivel captains chair and also the width to the outside of the arms? This would help me decide if my custom seats would work on a swivel. I’m afraid it’s too wide to turn, but maybe not. Again, I’m hoping you’re still monitoring this site and you still have the van you installed the seat in! Many thanks!

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