Heated seats don't add anything to the off-road ability that defines a Jeep, but if like I am you're writing a blog with the tag line Building the Perfect Jeep for the Best Off Road Adventures, then they're pretty much a requirement. After all, what could possibly improve a brisk morning trail run with the top off? The warmth and comfort of heated seats! Sounds like a worthwhile addition to the perfect Jeep.
There are numerous seat heater kits available, and like most aftermarket parts they are of varying quality. A lot of people go with the factory original Mopar kit (part number 82210854AC) that Jeep dealers can install for you, but after one of our friends had great success with the kit from Roadless Gear in his Suzuki Samurai, I decided to go that route and save some money. One of the other benefits to this kit is that these heater pads are dimensionally much larger than the Mopar heater pads as well as others that you can find on eBay and other vendors; on the Wrangler's seats, these heaters extend the full length of the bottom cushion, and the backrest gets heated from the base all the way up to the fabric's seam near the top of the seat!
Step one is to remove the seat and detach the front and side fabric clips:
Since the Roadless Gear kit includes extra-large heater pads, the seat cover's middle retainer bar can be cut off after removing the hog rings from the foam:
Slide the pad between the cushion's foam and the upholstery cover with the adhesive strips facing down against the foam. With the heater element slid all the way to the seam at the seatback, it will extend to the front of the seat cushion and provide heat at the back of your knees:
There's no need to poke a hole in the foam; the wires can be fed through the back of the seat cover once you've detached 3 of the 4 fabric retainer clips from the seat frame:
Once you've positioned the heater pad exactly where you want it, carefully peel the backing off of each adhesive strip. Roadless Gear also provides a sheet of additional adhesive tape to help ensure that the heater pad can't migrate. I placed one at the leading edge of the heater pad:
Follow the same procedure for the seatback. There's no need to completely remove the upholstery or unbolt the seatback from the base; just unclip the retainers from the bottom of the seatback (the front and rear halves of the upholstery have plastic bars that hook to each other at the base of the seatback:
You can then slide the heater element all the way up to the fabric's seam near the shoulder area of the backrest. The wires can then be routed out the bottom of the upholstery and attached out of the way to the seat frame with the provided zip ties:
After installing the heater pads into both seats and then bolting both seats back into the Jeep, the next step is to figure out where to install the switches and route the wiring harness inconspicuously. The center console has plenty of room to house the relays and the excess length of the wiring harnesses; just make sure you zip tie them neatly and out of the way of the parking brake linkage so they don't get pinched and short out. You will need to disassemble the console to route the power leads forward to the dashboard and the harness plugs out the sides at floor level to the sockets you zip tied under the seats:
The best place I found for the two switches was in the center console between the cupholders and the shifter. This requires drilling two 3/4" holes through very thick plastic, which means making sure you've measured and marked accurately before performing irreversible mods to your Jeep:
Although the fuse box under the hood is prelabeled for seat heaters, I found out the factory wiring harness isn't actually wired for these circuits in the 2007-2010 Wranglers (the fuse box itself is shared with other Chrysler Corporation vehicles which did have seat heaters available). I certainly could have upgraded the harness, but that would have been a lot of additional work. This had me scratching my head wondering how the Mopar seat heater kit for the Wranglers is designed to hook up. I found the Mopar kit's instructions online and saw that they include a pass-through plug for their harness, which draws power from the cigarette lighter circuit.
This makes sense, since it's a 20-amp circuit that's switched with the ignition; it's appropriately wired to provide sufficient amperage to the heaters without popping fuses or frying the wiring harness, and you can't accidentally leave the heaters on and drain the battery while away from the Jeep.
Since the Roadless Gear kit doesn't come with the pass-through adapter harness with proprietary male & female plugs, I decided to just manually splice into the cigarette lighter wires, which meant the dashboard had to come apart. I wired up the seat heaters with the fuses included in the kit because in the event I start blowing fuses, I want to know which seat has the problem, and I wanted to keep it separate from a cigarette plug accessory popping the fuse. Make sure that you route the wires out of the way of the vent selector cable linkage; space is tight back there:
The last step after reassembling the dashboard and testing everything was to pop the switches into place and enjoy the nice warm seats. The two levels of heat (Warm and Thermonuclear Blast) are much appreciated!
The installation is fairly straightforward, but it's definitely a time-consuming job that makes the $250 standalone option price for heated seats on the 2012 Wrangler a real bargain. If you saved a fortune like we did by buying a used earlier-model Jeep instead of a new one, heated seats are absolutely an upgrade you can do yourself to make your Jeep much more pleasurable to drive with the top down on those cold mountain mornings.