Piston Slap: Uncomfortable According to the Owner?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Thanks to all who answered the call and filled Piston Slap’s coffers with queries. We’re good for a while, so let’s do this thing.

Pete writes:

Greetings Sajeev,

Last winter I bought a lightly used, CPO Accord Sport, six-speed manual. While I do love rowing through the gears and revving the hell out of it, I’m thinking about getting rid of it. You see, the seats are the most uncomfortable things I have ever experienced. The headrest forces me to navel-gaze, which I believe I could fix with the right application of force, but the cushions are horribly uncomfortable and cut off my circulation. I really can’t stand sitting in it for more than about 20 minutes. I got what I believe is a really good deal on the car, so I’m not opposed to spending a few thousand if I can get that “Aaaaah” when I settle into it.

I’d consider replacing uncomfortable seats with some from a 2018 Accord sport (with power adjustment), or maybe an Acura. I’ve tried the new Accord’s seats and they’re pretty good. Before you mention it, I don’t want a new Accord… or a Civic, thanks.

I’ve been told by a couple Honda dealers that it’s not even possible to order an entire OEM seat. I would have to order all the components individually, which sounds like an expensive path to failure. Even if I could do this, I don’t know if the side airbags or occupancy sensor would work with my car.

My second favorite idea is to get some really good OEM seats from another manufacturer. There are websites where not-too-old seats can be bought. Of course, there would be fitment issues, and I’m not sure if the airbags and sensors would work.

I could go aftermarket (Recaro or other). I don’t know whether Recaro makes aftermarket seats with integrated airbags and, if so, whether they would work with my car. I’ve heard even Recaros have a high failure rate in crashes. There are other possible solutions, each with its own problems. I could easily replace the cloth seats with Accord EX-L or Touring leather seats. I’ve tried these and they’re pretty lousy as well.

Could a good upholstery shop be able to replace all the stuffing and make the current seats comfortable? It seems unlikely but I’d be willing to consider it.

I don’t know what to do. If I were a rich man I’d trade it in for the last of the Audi A4 manuals. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have any complaints about the seats, but that’s just not in the cards. Can you help?

Sajeev answers:

I kinda know the feeling: my Ford Ranger’s lower cushion was tough on my hip, remedied by a Walmart memory foam butt pad purchased during a pit stop on a long journey: what a difference! Probably not applicable here; I suspect the entire seat is holding you incorrectly, causing the unwanted pressure. Also, these foamy pillows are kinda ugly, and your interior is prettier than mine.

You can buy a (used) seat assembly on the open market, Honda or otherwise. I’ve added the ridiculously comfy Lincoln Mark VII LSC sport buckets in my brother’s Mustang LX notchback: while both are Fox bodies, they had unique tracks for unique floorpans. But mercifully, they bolted right in! Perhaps the redesigned Accord seats fit that easily?

Except we got those airbags…

Airbags are application specific: accounting for a vehicle’s unique interior shape and volume, airbag size/timing/programming algorithms, etc. The new Accord likely has a redesigned airbag system, and switching between manufacturers assumes everyone uses similar size/shape airbags, the same parameters/calibrations/resistance, not to mention their ability to communicate (so to speak) with Honda’s computer without triggering the airbag light.

No dice. So you could start googling for a good upholstery shop, but they can’t know where or how much foam to add.

Going aftermarket is possible, but losing side impact airbags will likely void your CPO warranty.

I hope this is enough reason to NOT go down this path: it’s not worth your well being, or your life. Sell the Accord and get way more seat time in its replacement before purchasing!

[Images: © 2016 Jeff Jablansky/The Truth About Cars]

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Ryanwm80 Ryanwm80 on Sep 12, 2018

    Take a Lincoln MKZ for a test drive - I think it has some of the most comfortable seats of any new car. I also think the Buick LaCrosse is pretty comfy too for a new car. My dad used to have an '83 Honda Accord, and I totally remember feeling the need to shift my body on longer drives because the seats were just agonizing.

    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Sep 12, 2018

      I agree, at least for ones with the multi contour seats.

  • Elliott Zeitz Elliott Zeitz on Oct 14, 2018

    I traded my 2013 Accord Coupe EX-L 6MT for a 2018 Accord Sport 2.0 6MT. I prefer the seats in my 2018. The previous generation Accord had rotten seats. Not as bad as my 2009 Maxima mind you. The car was so good other wise that i lived with the seats for 5 years. You could have bigger problems with a modern car.