Swivel Seat Installation in Ford Transit (Driver & Passenger)

Last Updated: November 19, 2022

Swivel Seat Installation in Ford Transit (Driver & Passenger)

Ford Transit Swivel Seat Installation (Driver and Passenger)

Swivel seats help optimizing the precious space in a campervan conversion or in a work van. The Ford Transit, Sprinter van, and Ram ProMaster can be ordered with factory swivels (with some limitations), but installing an aftermarket adapter is often cheaper and it’s actually quite a simple task. In this article, we’ll go through the installation process of swivel seat (passenger & driver) into our Ford Transit van. Let’s get into it!

Swivel-ski-boots

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Portrait-FarOutRide-Van

1. Swivel we recommend


We had the opportunity to try a few different swivels during our first years of full time Vanlife: Scopema, Amazing Auto, SwivelsRus and DiscountVanTruck. Our comparison criterias for selecting the best swivel to buy are: height, weight, installation, operation, wobble and squeaking. You can read more in our Swivel Seat Review & Comparison.

Too long didn’t read: Scopema is the swivel we preferred and we recommend!

Scopema Swivel Seat Adapter
(Ford Transit, Sprinter Van, Ram ProMaster)
the-swivel-shop_logo (Scopema Swivel Seat for Transit, Sprinter, ProMaster)

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2. Benefits of installing swivel seats


A swivel seat is a bit like the swiss army knife of your van interior layout; it adds versatility and create extra space in your campervan or your work van. Indeed, you can unlock the full potential of those single-purpose cabin seats and turn them into so much more:

Living Room
Van-Life-Swivel-Seats-Couple
Making plans for our next backcountry skiing adventure
Gear Room
Swivel-ski-boots
Swivel, boot up, ride!

3. Good to know


3.1. Factory swivels


The Ford Transit can be ordered with factory swivel seats (for more info on all options to consider: Ford Transit Order Guide for Campervan Conversion). Let’s see the pros and cons:

Pros
  • No installation.
  • Shorter base (better driving posture).
Cons
  • Not offset (like most aftermarket options). To complete a 180° rotation you need to play with the seat settings (fwd/rear) in order to clear the steering wheel, the center console and the door panel.
  • Only available with 4-way manual seat.
  • Safety alarm constantly on when key is in the ignition and the swivel is not facing forward. (we were told you can simply unplug the speaker wire under the seat to turn off the alarm!).
  • Can’t start the engine when a seat is not locked in forward position.
  • Costs more than aftermarket.

3.2. 10-way power seats


Scopema swivel can be added with the 10-way power seats. Note that you will have cut the lower part of the outside trim piece that houses the seat controls (see this example on the Ford Transit USA Forum) AND raise the seat with a few spacers so the motor doesn’t catch. Amazing Auto has swivels specifically for the 10-way power seats, so that no trim is required (at the detriment of the height and driving posture). Because the seat has to be moved forward/back during the rotation, some people have reported that the power seat makes it a bit irritating if you have to swivel often (e.g. full time Vanlife). Indeed, the forward/back motion is quite slow because of the motor.

10-Way-Power-Seat-Ford-Transit
10-way power seat
4-Way-Manual-Seat-Ford-Transit-(annotated)
4-way manual seat

3.3. Dual AGM batteries


Yes, an aftermarket swivel can be added on the driver side with the dual AGM batteries option. This is actually what we have in our van, so keep reading to find out!

3.4. E-brake (emergency brake/parking brake)


In 2020 Ford introduced an electric e-brake to replace the standard hand e-brake. This is a very welcomed change, otherwise the hand brake has to be lowered for the seat to clear the hand brake during the rotation. Please note that not all Ford Transit models includes the electric e-brake: only the single rear wheel axle with 9,500lb (or less) payload:

Ford-Transit-Electric-E-Brake-Options-Configurations
Electric parking brake configurations

Our new 2021 Ford Transit has the electric parking brake:

Ford-Transit-Electric-Parking-Brake-dash
Electric parking brake ON/OFF
Ford-Transit-2021-No-Manual-Handbrake-Between-Seats
No hand brake between the seat, perfect!

Our 2016 Transit had the manual hand brake in between the seats; we have the procedure to lower the hand brake (Section 6) for those of you who need it.

Ford-Transit-Driver-Side-Swivel-Installation-(12-marked)
Manual hand brake

3.5. Espar/Webasto heater


You can install an aftermarket swivel seat in a Transit van with a Espar/Webasto (gasoline/diesel) heater installed under the passenger seat. This is actually the configuration we had in our 2016 Transit van! We do have an extensive Espar/Webasto Air Heater Guide which covers the theory (installation requirements, choosing the correct size, effect of altitude, etc.), the installation (ALL of it!) and our long-term feedback (issues we had and how we fixed them).

Van Conversion Webasto Air Heater, Final
Webasto on-going installation
Van Conversion Webasto Air Heater, Final
Done!

4. Passenger swivel installation


Time


1 hour

Cost


$399 USD

Weight


30 lbs

Material


ItemDescriptionBuy Link
Scopema Swivel (passenger side)Added between the seat base and the seatThe Swivel Shop
Rust-Oleum To touch up the trimmed baby seat anchorAmazon

Tools


ItemDescriptionBuy Link
7mm, 10mm & 13mm Hex SocketTo disconnect/connect the electrical harness, uninstall/install seat Amazon
Adjustable Wrench (or 13mm wrench)To install the seat on the Scopema swivel plateAmazon
5mm Hex Bit (or 5mm Allen key, same thing)To install the Scopema plate on the seat baseAmazon
Mini Hack SawTo trim the baby seat anchorAmazon
Sand PaperTo smooth the sharp edges after trimming the baby seatAmazon
BananaRequired for Step 4.6

4.1. Remove the Ford Transit factory seat


4.1.1. Slide the seat backward and remove the screw (7mm hex socket) to disconnect the electrical harness under the seat:

Ford-Transit-Passenger-Swivel-Seat-Electrical-Harness-Screw-7mm

4.1.2. Pull the retaining clip down to detach the electrical harness from the seat (no tool required, it’s fairly easy):

Ford-Transit-Passenger-Swivel-Seat-Electrical-Harness-Clip

4.1.3. Still with the seat backward, remove the 2 front screws (10mm hex socket):

Ford-Transit-Passenger-Swivel-Seat-Screws

4.1.4. Slide the seat forward and then remove the 2 back screws (10mm hex socket):

Ford-Transit-Passenger-Swivel-Seat-Screws-(back)

4.1.5. Put the seat aside, get into the seat base, and hand-pull the 2 clips to detach the electrical harness from the seat base. This is to give the electrical harness some slack during the rotation:

Ford-Transit-Passenger-Seat-Pedestal-Electrical-Harness-Clip

Keep it up!

4.2. Trim the Seat Rails (Optional)


4.2.1. During the rotation, the seat rails may rub against the door (passenger or driver) and might eventually damage it. We didn’t do anything to mitigate that on our previous van, and we honestly don’t think it’s that big of a deal:

Swivel Damage to Door (Transit)

4.2.2. But if you’d rather do something to prevent damaging the door, now would be a good time to trim the rails. We trimmed only a small angle and that was enough to clear the door (don’t forget to touch up with paint):

Ford Transit Seat Track Trimmed (foor scratch damage)-Edit
(showing driver side, but it’s the same for passenger side)

4.3. Install the swivel adapter


Place the Scopema swivel on the seat base, route the electrical harness in the center, and install the 4 screws (5mm hex bit or 5mm Allen key). The holes might not be perfectly aligned, that’s OK. Start by installing each screw with just a few threads in, then once all 4 are fitted, torque them all the way in.

Scopema-Swivel-5mm-Hex-Screws

4.4. Reinstall the Ford Transit factory seat


4.4.1. Place the seat on top of the Scopema swivel and route the harness behind the bar (towards the back of the van) so it doesn’t catch during the rotation:

Ford-Transit-Swivel-Passenger-Harness-Routing-Behind-Bar

4.4.2. Still with the seat forward, install the bolts, washers & screws (13mm hex socket on top, 13mm wrench/adjustable wrench at the bottom):

Scopema-Swivel-Rear-Bolts

4.4.3. Slide the seat backward and install the bolts, washers & screws (13mm hex socket on top, 13mm wrench/adjustable wrench at the bottom):

Install-Ford-Transit-Passenger-Seat-on-Scopema-Swivel

FIY. This is the correct way of assembling the 13mm bolt, washer & 13mm nut at the seat/swivel interface (2 previous steps):

Scopema-Swivel-Bolt-Washer-Nut-Correct-Order

4.4.4. Reconnect the electrical harness (7mm hex socket):

Ford-Transit-Passenger-Swivel-Seat-Electrical-Harness-Screw-7mm

We’re almost done!

4.5. Trim The Baby Seat Anchor

The baby seat anchor interfere with the rotation and has to be trimmed.


4.5.1. We used a Dremel to trim the baby seat anchor, but we would recommend a mini hack saw instead. Sparks (tiny metal chips) can stick to surfaces and promote rust. Metal chips from a mini hack saw would be easier to catch!

Ford-Transit-Passenger-Seat-Baby-Seat-Anchor-Trimming

4.5.2. Smooth the sharp edges (by sanding), clean & touch up the bare metal with corrosion-resistant paint. We used Rust-Oleum, but it’s a bit messy to spray so we first sprayed some in a small jug and applied it with a brush for a nice finish.

Baby-Seat-Anchor-Touch-Up-Corrosion-Resistant-Paint

4.6. Swivel check

For the very first rotation, slowly swivel the seat and make sure the electrical harness is not catching. All good? Sweet, you can go crazy with it now!

Passenger Swivel Check
Banana for scale.

Video

And now let’s do it again for the camera!

That’s it for the passenger swivel!


5. Driver swivel installation


Time


1 hour

Cost


$399 USD

Weight


30 lbs

Material


ItemDescriptionBuy Link
Scopema Swivel (driver side)Added between the seat base and the seatThe Swivel Shop

Tools


ItemDescriptionBuy Link
7mm, 8mm, 10mm & 13mm Hex SocketTo disconnect/connect the electrical harness, remove/put back the metal plate, uninstall/install seatAmazon
Adjustable Wrench (or 13mm wrench)To install the seat on the Scopema swivel plateAmazon
5mm Hex Bit (or 5mm Allen key, same thing)To install the Scopema plate on the seat baseAmazon
5/8″ Spade Bit (or drill bit)To make hole in battery box coverAmazon
Dremel with Cutting WheelTo make cutout in battery box coverAmazon

5.1. Remove the Driver seat


Removing the driver seat is the exact same procedure as for the passenger seat (refer to Section 4.1 for the photos):

  • Disconnect and unclip the electrical harness (7mm hex socket).
  • Remove the 4 screws (10mm hex socket).
  • Optional: Trim the seat rails to prevent damaging the door (hack saw or Dremel).
Driver Side Swivel Install and Remove (Ford Transit) (1 of 2)

5.2. Reroute the electrical harness


The Scopema swivel plate sits completely flush with the seat base, so there’s no more room for the electrical harness. In the following steps, we will reroute the harness inside the battery box:

Swivel Driver - Harness Rerouting - Ford Transit (1 of 6)
Before
Swivel Driver - Harness Rerouting - Ford Transit (After)
After

5.2.1. Drop the swivel in place and trace the center hole on the plastic cover (you’ll use this later!):

Ford Transit Driver Swivel - Mark Center Hole

5.2.2. Now put the swivel adapter away and remove these two screws (8mm hex socket):

Swivel Driver - Harness Rerouting - Ford Transit (2)

5.2.3. The electrical harness is secured to the metal plate with a rubber grommet and a clip. Remove them to free the harness:

Driver Scopema Swivel (remove grommet and clip)

Removing the battery box cover exposes the battery terminals. Be very careful not to create a short between the positive terminals and the van chassis (e.g. with the metal plate or tools).

5.2.4. Remove the metal plate and the battery box plastic cover, then reroute the electrical wiring harness as follows:

Swivel Driver - Harness Rerouting - Ford Transit (3 of 6)

There is a pre-cut slot in the battery box (nice!). Route the harness through it and slide the rubber grommet in.

We secured the harness with a cable tie, otherwise it would chafe against the sharp edge of the battery terminal (vibration + chafing = danger).

Route the harness between the two batteries.

This is where the harness will exit the battery box (next steps).

5.2.5. Drill a hole (5/8″ drill bit or spade bit) where the harness will exit the cover and create a cutout (we used a Dremel) to slide the harness all the way to that hole:

Ford-Transit-Battery-Box-Cover-Trim-Harness-Swivel

5.2.6. Slide the electrical harness all the way to the hole, snap the plastic covers back in place, put back the metal plate with the two screws (8mm hex socket). Looking good!

Ford-Transit-Swivel-Harness-Reroute-for-swivel-completed

5.3. Install the swivel adapter


Place the Scopema swivel on the seat base, route the electrical harness in the center, and install the 4 screws (5mm hex bit or 5mm Allen key). The holes might not be perfectly aligned, that’s OK. Start by installing each screw with just a few threads in, then once all 4 are fitted, torque them all the way in.

Driver-Side-Reinstall-Swivel-Scopema-Plate

5.4. Reinstall the driver seat


Reinstalling the driver seat is the exact same procedure as for the passenger seat (refer to Section 4.3 for the photos as needed):

  • Install the 4 screws, washers & nuts (13mm hex socket and wrench).
  • Connect the electrical harness (7mm hex socket)
Driver Side Swivel Install and Remove (Ford Transit) (2 of 2)

5.5. Swivel check

For the very first rotation, slowly swivel the seat and make sure the electrical harness is not catching. All good? Sweeeet!

Swivel Install Final Check

We’re done with the driver swivel!


6. How To Lower The E-Brake On The Ford Transit (Optional)


If you have a Scopema swivel and the manual hand brake (e-brake) on your Transit, it must be lowered to create clearance for the rotation. Here is how we did it on our first van conversion (Ford Transit 2016)! Note that we didn’t have the Scopema Relocation Bracket at the time, so today, it should be a bit easier.

6.1. Remove the 2 plastic covers by pulling them up:

Ford-Transit-Driver-Side-Swivel-Installation-(12-marked)

6.2. Got it!

Ford Transit Driver Side Swivel Installation (14)

6.3. Here is the idea of this modification: we take the 3 existing attachment points (start of arrow) and re-locate them lower in other existing holes (end of arrow). Not clear? Keep reading!

Ford-Transit-Driver-Side-Swivel-Installation-(15-marked)

6.4. To remove the metal plate, we need to remove these 2 screws:

Ford-Transit-Driver-Side-Swivel-Installation-(20-marked)

6.5. All the batteries posts can be detached. The two batteries are “linked” together with this small tube (to locate in the picture, follow the arrow head). It looks like it is a venting tube. It can be detached (and re-attached later, no problem) to remove each battery individually (unless you’re much stronger than me).

Ford-Transit-Driver-Side-Swivel-Installation-(25-marked)

6.6. The two batteries are located in a plastic basket. Remove it!

Ford Transit Driver Side Swivel Installation (26)

6.7. You can now remove the 3 screws that attach the e-brake from inside of the seat base (we have no picture, but you’ll see, it’s pretty obvious). The e-brake is not yet free! Remove the 4 nuts that attach the metal plate to the seat base and trim the plate as shown to be able to remove it:

Ford-Transit-Driver-Side-Swivel-Installation-(29-marked)

6.8. Then, disconnect the e-brake electrical wire (at the red arrow).

Ford-Transit-Driver-Side-Swivel-Installation-(30-marked)
First, remove the grommet (rubber part in the seat base), then pull away the electrical wire:

6.9. The nut below is welded. We need to remove it, because we will use the hole that is under the nut.

Ford Transit Driver Side Swivel Installation (1)
Make sure to catch all the metal chips! Those are evil! They will create rust spots in a short time! We used a bag and then vacuumed all over.

6.10. The nut is gone! Sweet!

Ford Transit Driver Side Swivel Installation (2)

6.11. We’re about to lower the e-brake, but doing so makes the cable housing rub with the sheet metal. Indeed, it off-centers the cable housing through the cutout (the rubbing happens below the van, not shown here).

6.12. We must prepare a device to protect the cable housing from rubbing with the sheet metal. We kept the sheet metal that we trimmed when installing the Maxxair Fan! Neat!

Ford Transit Driver Side Swivel Installation (8)

6.13. We will now lower the e-brake. The back screw fits nicely, the front screw “fits” in the large cutout (where the e-brake switch wire grommet was). The cutout is way too big, but adding a fender washer will make everything secure! The third screw (the lower one) is no longer used… (but we feel that it is strong enough with only 2 screws):

Ford-Transit-Driver-Side-Swivel-Installation-(4-marked)
When lowering the e-brake, carefully guide the cable housing so it does not rub with the sheet metal below the floor. The sheet metal is really sharp!

6.14. We must now crawl under the van to install the part that will protect the cable housing from rubbing with the sheet metal. We fixed it with a worm-drive clamp:

Ford Transit Driver Side Swivel Installation (9)

6.15. We’re not done just yet! See, the airbag control module is located just forward of the e-brake. The metal bracket that we removed previously was acting as a shield, since the module is supposed to be pressure-sensitive.

Ford Transit Driver Side Swivel Installation (10)
Showing the airbag control module

6.16. We need to modify the metal bracket, and put it back in place.

Ford-Transit-Driver-Side-Swivel-Installation-(6-marked--2)
We were a bit aggressive with the modification, but it’s doing its job of protecting the module. Only the two front nuts are used to hold the bracket now. You might come up with something better?

6.17. Re-connect the e-brake electrical wire previously disconnected and put everything back in place!

Unfortunately, the two plastic parts that we first removed do not fit anymore, but this is only aesthetic. We still have to do something about that… trim them or something.

We’re done!


7. Long Term Review


Back in 2016, on our first Ford Transit van conversion, we installed cheaper swivels to save a few bucks. After a few years of full time Vanlife, we upgraded for the Scopema and we didn’t look back. At the time of writing these lines, we’re building our second van and choosing Scopema again was a no brainer. They do cost more, but the driving ergonomics is much better and they operate soooo smoothly. In our opinion, it’s worth paying a little extra for something we will use almost everyday and for a long time. For more: Swivel Seats Review and Comparison.

8. Conclusion


If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance you’re just about to start your own van conversion and you’re a bit stressed out about it. It’s totally normal! Starting your build with the swivels is a good way to break the ice: it’ll boost your confidence and get you going.

That’s it for now. Hope we could help 🙂

#SwivelLife ON

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About-Us-Narrow

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017, we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers, and moved into our self-built campervan. Every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams, and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!