Reclining passenger seats in a Sprinter

Since we’re a family of four and my camper van started it’s life as a cargo van I needed to figure out some additional seating in the back. There are different solutions for this, like adding the standard rear bench of a passenger Sprinter but basically all of those require some major modification (I’ve heard of some cargo vans that already have the factory mounting holes for the rear bench but mine didn’t have that). One additional limiting factor is that you’ll need seats with integrated seat belts since there is no way you could mount those on the walls. With that in mind my choice was to add some comfort to the passengers and go with reclining seats out of a 2015 Toyota Sienna. These seats are awesome – not only do they recline nicely but you also have additional support for your legs and armrests, like the real recliner in your living room.

Toyota Sienna reclining chairs in my Sprinter van
Toyota Sienna reclining chairs in my Sprinter van

I’m not the first one doing this but the only other example of Sprinter Vans with those comfy recliner seats I could find used a swivel mount to fix them to the floor. Even though i like the idea of swivel seats, it wouldn’t make sense for my layout, so I chose to go with the original tracks which allow to move the seats back and forth to gain some room if required. The other upside of using the tracks is that you can remove the seats really quick if you need the additional cargo space. I’ve found a nice writeup of using the tracks with the seats over at the Expedition Portal where one user installed the Sienna Seats in his Ford Van.

These seats are not cheap ($300 to $500 each new) but they are available from companies that take them out of new vans to convert them for handicapped people with wheelchairs. I’ve found mine on eBay for a good price shipped directly to my door – tracks included.

First thing you’ll need to do is modify the tracks – they have welded bolts that only fit the Toyota Sienna and there’s no way you can install them that way in a Sprinter. You also need to remove some brackets that won’t fit the structure of the Sprinter floor. Just take a look at the picture for the details:

modified and original Toyota seat tracks
modified (top) and original Toyota seat tracks

Next step is to find the perfect spot for the tracks on the sprinter floor. I’ve simply attached the tracks to the seats and moved the whole assembly around until I’ve found a good spot where I could drill holes in the floor without hitting any cross members. Take your time for this step – and yes, you’ll need to drop your fuel tank to bolt the tracks to your floor, there’s no way to avoid this additional work. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Once you’ve figured out the exact location for the tracks it’s time to drill holes in the floor – you might need to also drill additional holes in the tracks itself to have additional mounting points.

Don’t install the tracks yet because you’ll need them outside the van to measure the exact cutouts in your floor panel. You want to have the tracks directly on the sheet metal and you’ll also might need to raise the floor a bit to have the tracks recessed unless you like banging your feet against them all the time.

Cutting out the openings for the tracks in the floor panel
Cutting out the openings for the tracks in the floor panel

The last thing you’ll need to do before you can install the tracks is to bolt them to the van. For safety reasons (there’s a lot of force applied to the bolts in case you make an emergency stop) you should use additional support and not only rely on bolts and washers. I’ve welded some support out of leftover flat metal bar i had laying around.

Additional support for mounting the seat tracks
Additional support for mounting the seat tracks

That’s it – the only thing left is to attach the seats to the tracks and enjoy the added comfort of your van.

Here’s a final picture that shows how the Sienna Seat is dropped into the tracks.

Sienna Recliner seat tracks

Parts needed:

  • The reclining seats with tracks: Check your local Craigslist and they show up regularly on eBay
  • flat metal
  • bolts & nuts

Tools required:

  • Drill and drill bits
  • Jigsaw and/or Circular Saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrenches
  • Angle grinder with cut off disk
  • welding machine

9 thoughts on “Reclining passenger seats in a Sprinter


  1. Hi your install looks great, thanks for posting up. I have 3 of them that I am putting in a Transit. It doesn’t look like you installed the spacer between the tracks – it runs between them in the back end. I was wondering if you have had any trouble with the tracks shifting or coming out of square.

    Thanks!

    KP


    1. Hi Kurt, there’s a spacer between the runners that keeps them aligned. Also the tracks are bolted to the floor, so there’s no moving around. But yes, it’s super important to get them level and square before bolting the tracks down. Otherwise you have a hard time moving them back and forth.

      How do you like the Transit? I really like the size but they are only available with Gas engines and the mileage (~ 14 mpg I’ve heard) I don’t like.


      1. Thanks! So you are running the factory spacer in the rear? I need to decide if it’s needed as I don’t have any.

        The Transit is great. Mine is a low roof 148″ wheelbase cargo. It has the base 3.7 and 3.73 gears. It does well if driven sensibly, I have logged 23mpg indicated at 60mph. It has just 2k on it too, so I’m hoping for maybe a small increase going forward.

        I have a build thread going if you want to take a look.

        http://www.fordtransitusaforum.com/camper-vans-conversions/22513-meet-yellow-bird.html

        Thanks again.


        1. I’ve updated the post with a picture of the installed tracks with the spacer (the metal bar going from one runner to the other in the last picture). That’s the only thing that I got that would make sure that both tracks have always the same distance.

          The Transit looks great! I really like double doors on the side instead of a sliding door.


    2. Nice work on the seat install. Is there any chance you could measure how far the seats will travel fore and aft on the tracks? Will the seats lock in any position along the track? I need about six feet of travel so I’m trying to determine if welding several pieces of track together are worth my effort. Thank you for the reply!


  2. Excellent write up! The build looks great!

    I just bought a 2016 Sprinter Cargo Van, high roof, 144″ WB, and I need to find a 3rd seat solution for my 8 month old. Is it possible/reasonable to mount 1 single seat directly behind and centered between the driver and passenger? We want to add only a single seat, whether it’s something from shop4seats or going to a salvage yard or something, but it doesn’t seem like anyone does this and I can’t find much on forums about adding only 1 seat in the middle.

    Thanks for any help!

    Ryan


    1. Hi Ryan,
      I’m not familiar with the newer Sprinters but I had to drill new holes for the mounting base into the floor anyway so it would be possible to mount them anywhere you like. Mounting a seat in the middle however sounds like a waste of space to me. What’s your reasoning behind not having the 3rd seat behind the driver seat?

      If you don’t need a recliner there are actually quite a few options. I think I remember someone installing a single seat from a Ford van. I’ll try to find the link.

      thomas


  3. So I can buy these seats new for 300 to 500.00? Because I seen a set on eBay for 1150.00 plus 250.00 for shipping .


    1. I’ve seen them on a regular basis for $500 each + shipping on eBay. so the $1150 is not too much expensive for a set of two.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *