A question/request we get very often
HOT-we now have a solution for captains chairs using stock factory mounts for Sprinters - See for Sale section
Summary -if you purchased a cargo van...its going to cost a lot of money and likely not DOT approved. We generally don't do seat only installs (except for bolt in systems into factory OEM mounts already in vans)
Aftermarket seating is much more expensive and much more involved than you would think so lets review the key issues to think about. Why do I see it done incorrectly? Mostly $. Crazy, why would anyone put a price on safety? It is very expensive to add seats. This is by far the thing I see the most improperly done on vans that we work on with previous work done. NONE of our seating systems are crash tested so even when we put seats in...there are waivers to sign. But we do take every precaution to insure that the mounts are very secure. Its huge $ to crash test seating this is why certified seating systems are 10,000-$15000 each. Not only do you have to deal with the costs of the seats and mounting, you also then have to deal with the floor modification in some cases with the seats. This gets expensive.
Safety- The mounts for seating with integrated seat belts (seat belts built into seat) must be secured into your uni-body frame. No exceptions. This involves possibly dropping your fuel tank, exhaust system, or other obstructions depending on type of van or position. Using Plus nuts or big bolts with washers are not going to hold your seat with an integrated seat belt down in an accident. Making custom brackets, moving things under the van, and other fit issues can be very time consuming and require custom welding and fabrication by an experienced fabricator. We have two options for mounting seats- use brackets and braces to tie into frame (for a few seats) or we weld reinforcement plate on your entire floor for our slide track adjustable system. Is it over kill? Some may say yes, but we believe there is no substitute for safety and we won't cut corners to get business or save a few dollars. The SAFEST system- factory installed seats or crash testing seats and seat mounts. A crash tested seat does not mean its crash tested, you need the mount as well tested!
Position- You can't put a seat just anywhere. There are obstructions under the van that can interfere with certain positions you may want your seat mounted so this has to be taken into account. If you mount seats before your build, carefully plan out your layout that is critical. The seats themselves often interfere with other things in the van...your bed, inverters, electronics, heaters, cabinets, fuel lines, brake cables...list goes on. It isn't as simple as throwing a few bolts down. Lastly, a bench seat position parallel to your van isn't a safe position if you get in an accident so we don't offer seat belts on sideways bench seats.
Factory Seats-This is the least expensive way to have seating; buy it with the van installed from the factory. There are options now that you can bolt captains chairs in your factory mounts eliminating costly fabrication time and modification of your floor and they are fully crash tested. This can greatly reduce costs adding captains chairs in where you now have bench seat. Straight bolt in, no modifications, and we can ship these seats directly to you.
Costs-As you can imagine its expensive. Its custom work that must be done by a fabricator who knows what they are doing so they don't blow a hole through your sheet metal or frame. $800-$1200 per seat not uncommon plus additional costs for floor finishing work if needed. Our slide system is $2500 not including flooring. Why? It takes typically an entire day to two days of fabrication just to prep the van for mounts and then install the seats. No one makes "stock" brackets for seat mounting. Everything is totally custom for each individual mounting position and welding is involved for every single mount regardless of position. Can you get it done cheaper? For sure. We just we won't do it any other way other than the safest way possible that we can think of if we do seating with a build.
Hall of Shame
These are mounts done by "professional" builders - the worst is the Plus nut hidden in a frame. All of these mounts were for heavy custom captains chairs with integrated seat belts. For a bench seat with no belts this is fine but not for seats with 3 point integrated belts. If you see this type of work, go to another builder. No excuse. But hey it was cheap and it seems solid right?
Better, but still not right
At least this builder mounted through the frame, but what is recommended is a long plate to support the bolts to insure there is NO way they would pull through. Just a little more effort and this would be a very solid mount. Again, this isn't our work, but it was done 80% right. You have bolt here right next to a huge hole!
This is what you should look for. See the difference?
Integrating into the frame or reinforcing the floor tying into the frame is the right way. See all the spot welds? That's is a lot of work! It would take a huge amount of force to pull these mounts out. Your van would be a ball of steel and these mounts would still be in place. Some say it's over kill. My family rides in my vans, I don't take short cuts ever on their safety. We do it one way, the best way possible. It doesn't matter if you use us for your seat mounts or someone else, but please take the time to make sure who does do your mounts takes the time to do it right. The lower picture is how we reinforce for a bench seat or captains chair if we are doing a single mount with no rails. 1/4 inch plate, welded and braced into the frame rails. We take no shortcut to save costs. Doing it right is our priority as it should be yours.