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Removing 3rd Row Seats & Installing Cross Brace

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13Sport

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It depends on what you're carrying that and if you think you need the extra room. I find there to be more than ample room w/ the 3rd row seats stowed or half stowed depending on my load. I have twice been in situations where we needed one more seat in a pinch, and it was nice to be able to rotate the 3rd row up and go.

If there is not enough room in the vehicle for what your intentions are, then I guess we question why you purchased a vehicle that didn't suit your needs (though I love the sport and probably would have purchased it even if it didn't quite fit right :) ).
 


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MarlonF

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I don't really see any other vehicle in the market that can match size/price/performance of Sport especially once tune/downpipes are in. I'm coming from a Cx-9 with 3rd row and didn't use them once in 3+ years. The 3rd row seats are just so bulky. Love the car even with the seats in there :thumbsup:
 








The Cheat

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It would be nice to build a flat floor that you can raise and lower to replace the seats with.
 




adamdz

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Thanks for posting this. I just picked up my new Explorer and the first thing I want to do is to remove the 3rd row. I did that with my last minivan too, but it was much easier, I didn't have to remove the side panels. That makes me a bit nervous.

Yeah, I agree that there should be an option to get one without the third row, I have zero use for that and I'd much rather have the extra cargo space. But I will need to save them in case I want to sell the car in the future so I'm glad to see that this a reversible process.

I will probably give this a shot next weekend.

If anyone has any pictures that might help I'd greatly appreciate them.

Adam
 




Purp1eOne

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Thanks for posting this. I just picked up my new Explorer and the first thing I want to do is to remove the 3rd row. I did that with my last minivan too, but it was much easier, I didn't have to remove the side panels. That makes me a bit nervous.

Yeah, I agree that there should be an option to get one without the third row, I have zero use for that and I'd much rather have the extra cargo space. But I will need to save them in case I want to sell the car in the future so I'm glad to see that this a reversible process.

I will probably give this a shot next weekend.

If anyone has any pictures that might help I'd greatly appreciate them.

Adam

I will be doing the same once I get mine.
 




Fast Gator

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Great idea! I'll give it a :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Wish the pics where still up:(
 




adamdz

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Great idea! I'll give it a :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Wish the pics where still up:(

Yeah, pictures would help a lot. Whoever gets to do this, please post pictures if you can.
 








adamdz

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Done!

EDIT 2013-10-27 - WARNING

Thanks to feedback from other forum members we've learned that the bar that the third row seats are mounted on also serves as a brace that adds to the body rigidity and improves the vehicle handling and possibly adds to the crash resistance. We've also learned that the police version of the Explorer, the Interceptor, has an X-Brace in place of the third row and is actually available for purchase. Benny from the Levittown Ford Supercenter, a forum member, came forward with this information:

Ford X-Brace at the Levittown Ford Supercenter

Therefore, unless you opt to purchase and install this brace, removal of the third row is NOT recommended. Please follow this thread to the end to learn more.


ORIGINAL POST

OK, so I did it. I have 2013 Sport with manual third row seats. Here are the steps as I did this.

WARNING: There is some possibility of breaking stuff, mainly the pins and the snaps which will make the panels loose after remounting them. Also, there are few cables to be unplugged, if you pull the panels too quick and too far you can rip these cables out. By removing the panels you will expose lots of guts with some cables, tubing, ducts, etc. which can be damaged when removing the seat. The seat is heavy and there isn't a lot of wiggle room.

WARNING: Ask your dealer first if they will give any trouble in terms of warranty and support if you go ahead with this. This doesn't alter the vehicle in any way that might have any effect on the function of the vehicle, but if your dealer wants to be a jackass they might give you hard time.

So, yeah, be careful. I take no responsibility. None. Whatsoever. Nada! If you break something, scratch something, or hurt yourself, your wife, kid or your dog you will be the one solely to blame. Seriously. Yeah.

NOTE: You will need metric wrenches. I was somewhat nervous doing this and forgot few details, I think the nuts that hold the seat are 17mm, the one that holds the seatbelt is 16mm an those at the front support were 14mm. Anyway, if you have a regular metric set that goes up to 20mm you will be OK. A ratcheting wrench would help a lot (even better with an extension) to undo the four large bolts that hold the seat. They're in tight spots and there is very little room, you can only move the bolts by very little each time so if you have to reposition a regular wrench every time it'll take a very long time and be very frustrating to do.

NOTE: Pull the panels slowly and gently, I was amazed how weak some of the tabs looked, I think I got pretty close to breaking some!

NOTE: I bought a set of upholstery and panel removal tools from Auto Zone. I have weak hands and fingers (computer geek, LOL) so pulling the panels was difficult for me. These tools are plastic (nylon?) so they won't scratch the panels, but they will make it easier. See the pictures.

NOTE: You don't have to remove the gate seal. You will be able to tuck the panels under the seal when putting everything back together. It would actually be more difficult to mount the seal back than tuck the panels under it.

Here you go:

* Examine the seats, fold them and unfold them and look under the front panels/covers to familiarize yourself with the functioning of the front support brackets.

* Fold the second and third rows, take everything out of the cargo area.

* Remove the rubber inserts from the storage compartments on the panels, they're sure to fall off when you flip the panels later.

* I removed the spare wheel, I was afraid that I can bend or break the cover if I step on it.

* Unscrew the cargo hooks. Two on each side. They're plastic, you can do this by hand. I could LOL :)

* Remove the piece that says "REMOVE FOR SPARE TIRE". There are two screws at each end on the inside. Be careful, there are several small plastic tabs along this piece that look like they could break off.

* Remove the panel that sits atop the rear bumper. Just pull straight up. There was a cable there, not sure what it was for (see pictures). Some kind of antenna? Hmm... Google says it's keyless entry antenna. OK.

* Remove the steps/covers on the bottom of the rear door wells. Pull them straight up.

* Start pulling the right side panel, start in the rear (see the pictures for tab locations), then go to the front, behind the second row. Once you un-snap these two areas it'll be easier to un-snap the middle. There were no cables on the right side. Subwoofer is mounted to the body, nothing is connected to the panel (see the pictures).

* Move the panel away enough so you can reach inside and unscrew the bolt that holds the third row seatbelt anchor.

* Pull out the third row seatbelt through the opening in the panel and allow it to retract.

* Turn the panel over and lay it flat, interior facing up, on the folded second row. I have the inflatable second row seatbelts so I didn't want mess around with them. You can easily rest both panels across the second row without removing them from the car, with the second row seatbelts still threaded through them.

* Repeat for the left side panel. On the left side, there is a cable for the 12V power outlet (see the pictures). Lay the panel on top of the right side panel across the second row seats.

* Now, you can remove the rear pillar covers, they're held by one screw each, then pull them off. Be careful, there are speaker wires in each and they need to be disconnected! Sorry, I didn't take any pics of this step, but it was pretty easy. You should easily see the single bolt that holds them, then they come off easily. Avoid the temptation of letting the panels hang from these wires ;) I actually decided not to remove the seatbelts. I just wrapped the buckles and anchors (with bolts) in foam, so they won't rattle, then wrapped that with electrical tape and tucked them up inside the pillar and put the panels back on.

* NOW, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PLENTY OF SPACE TO GET THE SEATS OUT AND THAT THERE IS NOTHING IN THE CARGO AREA! They are heavy, I figure 50lbs, and they move and flap around independently from each other which makes them a little of a pain in the butt to get out. You can't separate them, they're one assembly. I did it by myself, but it would be much easier for two people.

* OK, so now undo the large bolts on the sides. They're really in tight! Get them out all the way.

* Slowly and gently move the seat assembly out. Be careful not to scratch anything. In my model there was lots of tubing and wires on the left, so be careful not to bend or damage anything. I forgot the details (the process was a bit scary for me and I was nervous) but you will need to lift the backs (unfold the seats partially) a little bit in order for the fronts of the seats to disengage from the front support brackets, or you won't be able to pull the seats rearwards.

* Once the seats are out, undo the four bolts holding the front support brackets and remove them. The bolts holding those brackets appear to be permanently attached to the car's body. The only way to remove them would be to cut them off. I wanted this process to be 100% reversible so I can put the seats back if I needed to. So I will get some caps for these bolts. I think I saw something like that in hardware store: a threaded, rounded nut that protects the end of the bolt and then I will put some carpet over that area.

* That's it!

* To put everything back, just reverse the process. Don't forget to plug the wires in and don't forget to tuck the panels under the door seal and don't forget the rubber inserts for the storage compartments. Putting it all back was actually more tricky and took longer than taking everything out. You have to align the pins in order to snap panels in place. I found that I had to snap the middle in first and then front and rear. Just be patient, take your time, don't force anything in. If aligned properly everything should snap in easily. If something is not going in, then it's not aligned and you will break tabs or pins by forcing it in.

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JohnBoyToo

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Great writeup and pics....

I KNOW how much time that took to stop each step and document !!!!

Any time I create a training video/ powerpoint preso/ etc... of a new application or ssytem, it's maddening how easy it is to gloss over a step :)

well done & thanks ! (not that I'll remove mine since I had a 4 seat suv we traded in on this 7 seater !)
 




adamdz

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Thank you for the kind words! If it helps one person, it was worth it:)
 




skipperbrown

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Replacing 3rd row seats with ???

We just picked up a 2014 xlt. We don't have kids and certainly don't need a third row of seats. I'm thinking to just remove them to free up considerable wasted space. However, we will usually have the back seats folded down for carrying dogs/crates and I'll need the back as level as possible to slide crates in and out. Does anyone make a hatch or something that I can drop in the resulting hole?
 




peterk9

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We just picked up a 2014 xlt. We don't have kids and certainly don't need a third row of seats. I'm thinking to just remove them to free up considerable wasted space. However, we will usually have the back seats folded down for carrying dogs/crates and I'll need the back as level as possible to slide crates in and out. Does anyone make a hatch or something that I can drop in the resulting hole?
Welcome to the Forum skipperbrown.:wavey:
I believe there are products made especially for dogs etc., but I think they were designed to be placed on top of the folded seats.
I'm sure someone will be able to point you in the right direction.

You may also want to check out the following thread;
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=361919&highlight=dog

Peter
 




spr

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today I learned that I cant easily just take out the 3rd row seats in my 2013 Explorer.

bummer. Going on a trip and the extra space woulld have been nice.

Laugh - I thought this was automatic. I rented a suburban last year (before we got the Explorer) and they just popped out. I'll add it to my mild surprise at being unable to open the rear window a few days after I got it. :/ Heh.

By the way - very nice job documenting the process.
 




txaggie

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Fantastic writeup!!

I wish I had this about 2 months ago when I removed the seats from a friend's Explorer (I have not removed them from my Explorer). I was surprised how stout the bolts were that mounted the seats to the floor, and how tightly they were bolted.

Anyway, I wonder if Ford used those mount points as a built in strut tower brace. I have owned several mini vans, and when I removed the rear seats, it totally changed the handling and ride of the van. Hmmmm.....
 




adamdz

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Thanks all. I'm really glad I did this. The cargo space is comparable now to my old minivan. It would be really pointless to drive around with those seats that I'll never need. I also took the car in for the first checkup (drove 4000+ miles to New Foundland and back from New York!) and the guys at the shop didn't say anything about the "alteration" :) And it's reversible, so when the time comes ever to sell the car, I can put them back.

We just picked up a 2014 xlt. We don't have kids and certainly don't need a third row of seats. I'm thinking to just remove them to free up considerable wasted space. However, we will usually have the back seats folded down for carrying dogs/crates and I'll need the back as level as possible to slide crates in and out. Does anyone make a hatch or something that I can drop in the resulting hole?

The resulting hole is large and flat. It might just hold the crate/cage. I will measure it later this week and post the measurements. Except that there is a bump between the hole and the seats and another smaller space right behind the seats (fits my folded bike rack perfectly!) so if the cage is tall, it might need something to hold it in place to prevent it from tumbling forward during hard deceleration.

Fantastic writeup!!

I wish I had this about 2 months ago when I removed the seats from a friend's Explorer (I have not removed them from my Explorer). I was surprised how stout the bolts were that mounted the seats to the floor, and how tightly they were bolted.

Anyway, I wonder if Ford used those mount points as a built in strut tower brace. I have owned several mini vans, and when I removed the rear seats, it totally changed the handling and ride of the van. Hmmmm.....

It's a unibody design and it doesn't need any braces to keep it stiff and stout. I'm sure of that. I also removed the 3rd seat from my 2004 Mazda MPV minivan and I had no problems whatsoever and I haven't noticed anything different.
 




MarlonF

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I removed the 3rd row seats also but decided to put them back. 1st because you can't fit 3 people in the 2nd row while using the inflatable seat belts. 2nd because I have a feeling that the 3rd row seat serves as a strut tower brace.

Here is an image provided by sgt1411 showing the brace used in the Interceptor Utility.

9347956768_253ee4e4e7_z.jpg
 




txaggie

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I removed the 3rd row seats also but decided to put them back. 1st because you can't fit 3 people in the 2nd row while using the inflatable seat belts. 2nd because I have a feeling that the 3rd row seat serves as a strut tower brace.

Here is an image provided by sgt1411 showing the brace used in the Interceptor Utility.

Thanks for the pic! Yeah, I am going to stand by my assumption that the overly engineered tube that the seats reside on and the huge bolts holding it to the floor play a role in structural rigidity.
 


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adamdz

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Hmmm. It'd be nice to find out if that bar really serves a purpose other than holding the seats.
 




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