MotoringFile reader and contributor Mike Craven shares with us the trials and tribulations of retrofitting heated seats in a MINI:

Okay, I’ve just completed the retrofit of the heated seats in my wife’s 2005 MCS yesterday and everything is working perfectly (and on the first try too! GRIN). The installation of the wiring harness and the new switch was straight forward (although probably not for the faint of heart as you really have to tear apart the interior of your car in order to install them) The retrofit instructions (i.e. the PDF which can be downloaded from are spot on with only a few confusing parts (where you are kind of just left hanging and aren’t really sure of what to do next).

The retrofit took me a total of around four hours (the instructions claim three, and I could probably could do it again in under two now that I know what I’m doing) using a replacement set of all black leatherette seats (taken out of another MINI) that included the heating elements. It would have been quicker, but I was taking my time and making sure that everything was done properly, and I had to swap the seatbelt pieces and their wiring harnesses over to the new seats as they were removed by the previous owner from the replacement seats (which is common in the aftermarket racing seats you’ll find on the market as the original seatbelt pieces are needed when adding in replacement Sparcos, Recaros, etc.).

I’m VERY happy with the heated seats and so is my wife. They work wonderfully! If anyone has any specific questions on the retrofit (such as where the X33 connector is located, how to do the install/replace the seats without having the airbag warning light come on, etc.), I’d be more than happy to help you out. Either post a note here or send me an e-mail.

BTW, the factory installed price of $270 for the heated seats has got to be the biggest bargain out of all of the options that are available for the MINI. If you’re in the market for a new MINI, I HIGHLY/STRONGLY suggest that you add on the heated seats to your spec (even if you’re not going to use them) as they’re a really big selling point for the car should you ever decide to sell it later on, and they’re very expensive to retrofit. The retrofit kit (which includes the wiring harness and the new switches) cost $148 from Classic in Ohio and the heated front seats sell on the aftermarket from around $600 to $800 a set depending upon the deal you can find (and even more if you want leather! – Probably around $900 to $1,200). It cost me right about $800 to do the retrofit on our car (not including my time for the labor of course) and so that puts the total cost at about $500 over what it would have cost us to have purchased them from the factory. I think that they’re worth every penny though and I would have paid $800 for the heated seats if that’s what they originally cost from the factory (as we like them that much!).

Well done Mike! I would certainly agree that the heated seats are a bargain at their current pricing. Actually the whole cold weather package is really quite a deal if you were to considering retrofitting costs.