Tuesday 19 September 2017

F10/F11: Seat Fitment Guide - Differences between 10-13 cars and later models.

In 2013 BMW changed the floor-pan layout of the F10 5 Series to accommodate X-Drive, Hyrbid-Drive and stuff, which in turn makes the fitment of the front seat mounts different for post-facelift cars. I see a number of F10 guys upgrading to M-sports and a few having this problem, offering seats for newer models to swap for the older type, so if you're about to do the same make sure the seats you get are for your corresponding pre or post-facelift F10. [I was upgrading my stock cloth interior to standard SE leather on the other hand, my car being the only example I've found so far with cloth from factory. A 530d as well, very rare.]

This is the same for M-Sport and Comfort/SE seats of all specs.

This is the same for LCI and non-LCI models.


These are NOT interchangeable between 2010 - 2013 cars and later 2013-2017 facelift cars.

This is the same for F10 and F11 Touring models.

M5 seats of correct model year variant will fit, but features like active corner-restraints are lost.

Front seats from E60 5-Ser and other model BMWs do NOT fit and would require adapting [see bottom].

The runners on pre-2013 seats are spaced significantly further apart than those from later cars, meaning a straight swap is impossible. It is possible to adapt the seats / floorpan to accept these seats, as I will discuss at the bottom of this page, but in reality forget it.

The wiring plug fits, but changes to the seats do not work with the safety-system. Active Head-restraints are removed on the post 2013 front seats and although this can be bypassed with the 2-ohm resistor trick to get rid of the error message, there may be another airbag related error coming up and it is unclear whether any of the safety systems in the seat will function properly. The seat-movement electrics all work as normal though.

If you don't know the model year of the seats you're buying then here is what to look for:

Control-levers - Pre-2013 seats have the classic handles built into the seat-surround trim with the white logos, whereas post-2013 seats have plain black handles sticking out from under the centre of the squab.

Head-rests - Pre-2013 seats have squarish split head-rests with a button on the side to extend half of it forward, whereas post-2013 seats have slimmer, one-piece head-rests with visible stitching on the front panel.

M-Sport - These are identifiable in the same way. However, the control-levers are similar to those from the E60 M-Sport seats, which will not fit. E60 seats have brackets on the runners that stick outwards and the head-rests are plain/round, as pictured, so make sure you don't end up buying a cheap set of those instead.


Straight swap. These are totally interchangeable on all F10 models from 2010-17.

F10 rear seats will NOT fit the F11 Touring, however, as they have the split/folding back. [The shape of the seat is the same though, so it would not take much to adapt them to fit and give the F10 split/folding rear seats! This is something I would really love to try out in future.]


The door cards are interchangeable between all F10 and F11 Touring models. Curtain-airbags are now in the seats, not the doors, so swapping the wire over is easy and does not differentiate between model specs, LCI etc. [NOTE: With F11 Touring, the rear door-cards do not have grilles for the door-speakers, so they will need swapping over from your original ones. This is something else I would love to try out - putting rear door speakers in there F10!]

Most of the dash and centre-console trim is a straight swap also. The only change to the post-2013 cars being the centre-console switch-panel - older ones having the ash-tray at the front and a poorly designed cup-holder in the centre by the E-brake. Later ones have a double cup-holder at the front and a smaller ash-tray / cubby-hole by the E-brake. These panels are interchangeable, as the console itself is the same, though I'm not sure why you would want to.


Adapting the floorpan or seats to fit the post-2013 seats is a possibility, though the level of effort required makes it a bit pointless. The first thing to consider is safety - will they stand up to a crash or even pass an MOT? The other things are the seat not quite being in the right position and the areas where the carpet doesn't match up will look ugly. If you're sick of waiting for the right seats to come along and the above things don't deter you then there are some possibilities, but I have not tried any of it out or would recommend it...

The bolt-hole spacing on the pre-13 seats is about 100mm wider left-to-right, but the spacing front-to-rear is the same on all models. This doesn't mean you can use the mounting points on one side and just adapt the other side to fit, as works with other BMWs, since the pre-13 bolt-holes are just too close to the sill / trans. tunnel. The difference in width is not central to the seat either [as in ~50mm equal either side], so adapting to fit is not going to be easy.

Adapting the Seats:
Making a one-piece adapter from thick sheet-steel would be best, similar to the ones that Sparco etc. make for other cars, that bolts to the floorpan and has more holes further inboard to bolt the seat to. These would be difficult to make without proper equipment, though an engineering firm will probably knock two up for cheap and with some black paint they would look OK.
Making one out of slim strips of box-section steel would also work, welded into a square or even just a left-to-right strip across the bolts front and rear. Either way, all the above methods will raise the seats slightly higher than usual, though lowering the seat fully might account for this.

Modifying the Floorpan:
New holes can be drilled at the correct positions in the floorpan and new nuts welded in their place to accept the seats. By the look of it, the floorpan has just enough room to accommodate this, but if not, the raised sections of floorpan with the captive-nuts for the seats could be cut out and welded back into place slightly further inboard. This sounds hairy, but would not actually be a huge undertaking, though you would seriously have to know what you were doing to get it right! 


  1. I have an E60 530i M package and really love the car. A friend of mine totaled his F10 2013 BMW M5 and he wants to sell me his seats. How much trouble will I have in this retrofit? Has anyone done it?

  2. Thank you for taking your time out writing this thread, I appreciate and has saved me a lot of time and money that I would of spent on trail and error.

  3. Will f10 rear seats fit in an f11? If the f10 seats were split folding ones? Also f10 rear door cards into f11?

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