Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby MrBob [OP] » July 7th 2014, 5:38am

I guess it was my turn to bust my arm rest today. I climbed into my van and leaned on the arm rest as I got comfortable. Suddenly, I hear a snap and the arm rest begins to spin freely. I made a quick search here to get up to speed on how others have handled this but it struck me that they often made the repair more complicated than it needed to be. That's not to say that I didn't find useful information in some of the threads and thank you whoever you are.
The first step is to remove the arm rest. This photo shows the bracket and clip that holds the arm rest to the seat. I spun the arm rest into a position that allowed me to see the clip and using a large flat tip screwdriver I was able to gently spread the arms of the clip apart. The arm rest then just popped off. Easy-peasey.
IMG_3366.JPG


Next I worked loose the seat cover. Directly under the back rest is a joint in the fabric. Pull one half to the front of the seat and one half to the rear. This should provide the slack you'll need to move the vinyl away from your work area.

Here's the offending member. We may like our Astros for a number of reasons but quality ain't one of them; a cheap piece of metal likely weakened in the welding process.
IMG_3370.JPG

This is a view of the bracket to which the arm rest is fastened. The large pin holds the arm rest and to the left can be seen the remains of the broken arm rest stop pin. This needs to be drilled out.
IMG_3368.JPG


Using a punch I made a mark in the middle of the broken area for the bit to bite. First I drilled a small pilot hole through it and then used a 5/16" bit to make the final hole. I chose 5/16" because the drill bit was handy.
IMG_3371.JPG


It really wasn't that difficult to drill out. Take your time and use a sharp bit.
IMG_3372.JPG


After rummaging around in my bolt pile I come up with a 5/16" x 1 1/2" bolt and find a Nyloc nut to fit. The nut will fit into the groove in the arm rest clip. Reaching from the front of the bracket I slide the bolt through the hole and follow it with a wrench. After that it's a simple matter to tighten everything up. Using my caliper I measure the broken stop pin at 1" long so I cut my bolt the same length.
IMG_3375.JPG


Finished product. After re-positioning the seat cover I slap the arm rest into place - all good and about 40 minutes from start to finish of the repair.
IMG_3376.JPG


So, there you have it, a relatively simple and inexpensive repair. I hope you find this helpful.
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby Big_kid » July 7th 2014, 1:37pm

:thumbup:
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby RECox286 » July 7th 2014, 3:43pm

My problem, with the pax chair armrest, is that the plastic clip is broken. Haven't found one

to replace it with, and not sure I want to try to duplicate one by hand here in the shop. Been

broken since we got the truck some 13 years ago, and I grit my teeth at GM for accepting a

plastic clip every time I ride in the darned seat. Any thoughts ???

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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby DRZ » July 7th 2014, 6:54pm

At least GMs accountant driven engineering didn't shut off your engine and lock up your steering,,,,,,
Nice fix Mr Bob !
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby MrBob [OP] » July 7th 2014, 9:13pm

RECox286 wrote:My problem, with the pax chair armrest, is that the plastic clip is broken. Haven't found one

to replace it with, and not sure I want to try to duplicate one by hand here in the shop. Been

broken since we got the truck some 13 years ago, and I grit my teeth at GM for accepting a

plastic clip every time I ride in the darned seat. Any thoughts ???

Uncle Bob


What does the Pax chair armrest look like? The clip must be different from mine, which looks like it would be simple to replace.
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby RECox286 » July 8th 2014, 4:21pm

The clip is exactly the same as yours, except I haven't been able to locate one that is still

in usable condition. (01 Astro, the wife's truck)

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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby MrBob [OP] » October 11th 2014, 10:19pm

I leaned too hard on my repaired arm rest and broke it again. I replaced it with a 3/8" by 1 1/2" bolt with a nylock nut. Using what I learned from my last repair, I had the new bolt installed in less than 1/2 hour, and that included making the bolt hole bigger.
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby pauldeere » October 11th 2014, 11:13pm

Nice repair Bob. Do you think a grade 8 bolt would be the best choice?...
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby MrBob [OP] » October 12th 2014, 3:39pm

pauldeere wrote:Nice repair Bob. Do you think a grade 8 bolt would be the best choice?...


That would be a matter of choice. The bolt is so easy to replace that I'd prefer to have it break rather than ruin the plastic insert in the arm rest. The insert is also replaceable but good luck finding one. I don't see the replacement 3/8" bolt breaking any time soon.
I sometimes climb into the front of the van from the back and that's when I seem to screw up and lean too heavily on the arm rest, even when it's folded up.
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby ssbf1 » July 10th 2015, 8:32pm

Just had the same problem with my driver seat arm rest. I decided to pull up the seat fabric, disconnect the lumbar cable and remove the 4 bolts holding the seat back to the base. I had it welded at my Local shop for $5.00, took maybe 30min.
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby MrBob [OP] » July 12th 2015, 5:25pm

Another nice fix.
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby jrsride2002 » May 20th 2016, 12:17am

Well, I too just broke mine. Same scenario, happened after work. Driving just isn't the same, without it.

Thanks Mr. Bob, I'll be doing this sometime this weekend. Maybe sooner, but unlikely.

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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby nerdybiker » June 17th 2019, 5:52pm

I used this writeup today, it's very good!

Building on this info, I went ahead with a few ideas:

A set of external snap ring pliers popped this right off of course, as did a #3 (big) phillips screwdriver. The blunted end on the #3 allowed the two sides of the clip to follow the grooves on the phillips until it came loose, without mangling the tabs.


I drilled the hole 5/16" and ran a 3/8-16 tap through there to add a little holding traction on the bolt, and capped it with a standard nut with some blue locktite on it.

It took me 35 minutes! :)
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby Acelawn » January 17th 2020, 10:20am

Thanks for the help, l just picked up a pair of front buckets at local junk yard, my original seats had no arm rest, the drivers armrest needed this repair.
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby AstroWill » January 17th 2020, 2:50pm

Acelawn wrote:...my original seats had no arm rest, the drivers armrest needed this repair.

:thumbup: It's a huge difference for me, esp on the longer trips.

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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby Giesterfarher » July 15th 2020, 1:27am

I knew there had to be an easy fix. This is going to be my first repair on the new to me Astro. I was trying to decide whether to try the wrecking yards to find an Astro/Safari with the right upholstery and non broken armrest, (Yeah, Right, good luck with that, lol) or maybe find another vehicle with similar seats and coloration and adapt them.

I like the idea of fixing it Tim Allen style better, at least for now. Oh OH OHH! :D

I just can NOT drive without having something to lean on. It forces me to drive with both hands on the wheel and that just isn't cool. lol
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Re: Drivers seat arm rest repair - the easy way.

Postby Giesterfarher » July 18th 2020, 11:39pm

Knocked it out this morning, total time start to finish, 11 minutes, and I had to climb in and out of the Astro 3 times for drill bits that would cut. Funny that the brand new titanium nitride bits wouldn't touch the old bold head, but the HSS bits cut through like butter.
Oh, and there's a real good reason for using a nylock nut instead of a regular nut the OP doesn't mention. The rounded edge of the Nylock allows the armrest to slide fully back onto the main stud and lock into place. The standard nut does not. So I'll be stopping by the hardware store on my way home from work Monday to buy a single nylock nut. lol

At any rate, driving with an armrest again, and it feels great.
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