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Old 10-18-2012, 06:11 PM   #1
nightVzn
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Default Replacing head restraints that force my head too far forward

Hi all, I hope I'm posting this in the right place, and with any luck it hasn't already been covered in another thread (did a search, turned up nothing).

I have a 2010 Impreza GT (silver on black), and I'm one of the countless owners of Imprezas and certain other Subarus who have a serious problem with the head restraints that force my head way too far forward. Active head restraints? Doesn't justify a design that causes a repetitive stress injury in normal use, and I was getting a persistent dull ache in my neck/back. This problem is all over the Internet. Like many others, I find no seating adjustment that helps. So I've been driving with my head restraint turned around backwards for two years -- not safe, and I want to do something about it.

A common recommendation is replacement with head restraints for an older model (I usually see 2004-2006 suggested). I don't want used. I know it'll be expensive. Not surprisingly, SoA is not willing to help with this. I need to decide which model year so I can grab a VIN and order from my dealership's Parts Dept. Has anybody done this? What year did you end up going with?

I looked up interior photos (on MSN Autos) and for-sale listings to see what each year came with, but there is a bit of disagreement between the two:
  • 2006: Even with the "black" interior, the seats are part grey, including the head restraints, but worse, the restraints already tilt a bit forward. Not as bad as my 2010, but still more than I want.
  • 2005: Here's where the sources disagree. MSN shows upright, black restraints ... exactly what I need. But all the for-sale listings I've found for 2005 Imprezas show black restraints that are otherwise the same forward-tilty shape as the 2006.
  • 2004: MSN shows black upright restraints just like in the 2005, and for-sale listings seem to agree.
So I think 2004 is my best bet, assuming the rods are the appropriate diameter and spacing (anybody know?). I know the height adjustment notches might be on the wrong side, but I don't care. I'd order 2005, but don't want to end up with the forward-tilty ones shown in the for-sale listings. (I wonder if the 2005 discrepancy is due to some mid-model-year change?)

I already have some VINs from those for-sale listings. But if anybody has a VIN you've successfully used for this purpose and don't mind sharing a sure bet, I'll take it.

For reference, here are the MSN Autos landing pages for each model year ... scroll down for the photos I mentioned:
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Old 10-19-2012, 02:09 AM   #2
enfilade
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Good luck with this, I have a 2.5i and I almost didn't buy it because of this issue.

I found some sti seats of the same year to swap in, which is a way cooler way to solve your problem :-)

I also considered taking them apart, having them rewelded to work right, and re-covered, but that's purely speculative.
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:04 AM   #3
nightVzn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enfilade View Post
Good luck with this, I have a 2.5i and I almost didn't buy it because of this issue.

I found some sti seats of the same year to swap in, which is a way cooler way to solve your problem :-)

I also considered taking them apart, having them rewelded to work right, and re-covered, but that's purely speculative.
Heh .. I like your solution. I've thought about that one myself -- I'd even have settled for WRX seats, especially since my car is a WRX in everything but name. I loved my 2006 WRX Limited seats. Too bad swapping out seats would make the cost of just replacing the head restraints look like pocket change by comparison.

I cannot wrap my mind around how certain flaws about the last-gen Impreza ever "made it out of committee." The ultra-low-hanging rear-view mirror is another one. All I can think is that super-short people must have designed and tested the car. That's would account for both these flaws. Of course, even then, the auto-dimming feature doesn't work right because the sensor sits too low for how far the back of the car sticks up, and that's also downright unsafe. Ah, now I'm getting off my own topic.
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:16 AM   #4
enfilade
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Keep an eye out on the various forums, you can find takeout seats surprisingly cheap sometimes.

Also, the latest generation has adjustable headrests, that would be another option to check out if they fit.
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Old 10-27-2012, 02:28 AM   #5
nightVzn
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Default Think I found a solution

Thought I'd post an update in case anybody's curious.

I took the plunge and ordered a head restraint from a 2004 Impreza VIN I Googled. Picked it up today, and it fits! And it's shaped like a head restraint should be ... not tilted way forward, jamming my chin into my chest and causing neck/back pain.

The height adjustments notches are on the wrong side of the rod, but I don't care since I always keep it all the way down anyway.

It doesn't look out of place at all. It's the right color (black), and the stock restraints have a different fabric pattern from the seats too, so it doesn't clash any worse.

It's not a cheap solution, but it's something I had to do.

Subaru needs to keep hearing from the many customers who don't like this forward-tilty trend. If enough people complain, we might get through to them. Not sure about the current Impreza (I hear they're adjustable, but do they adjust enough?), but I know the Outback has this problem to some degree. And yes, I know this is in response to newer federal standards, yet plenty of other manufacturers seem to be springing for truly active restraints that don't jam your head forward during normal use. It seems Subaru is just taking the cheap way out. So is Kia, judging by a loaner I drove. The cost-cutting is going too far.
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Old 10-28-2012, 01:14 AM   #6
Power6
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Subaru may be listening the new Impreza has adjustable head restraints.

For the rear view mirror, I am tall myself, here is a tip if you have not discovered it yet: The mirror is "double jointed" so you have some adjustment in height. Bend the mirror up as far as you can on the "forward" joint (closest to the windshield), then bring it back down on the "rearward" joint (closest to you), and adjust from there for angle.
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Old 10-28-2012, 06:29 PM   #7
nightVzn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Power6 View Post
For the rear view mirror, I am tall myself, here is a tip if you have not discovered it yet: The mirror is "double jointed" so you have some adjustment in height. Bend the mirror up as far as you can on the "forward" joint (closest to the windshield), then bring it back down on the "rearward" joint (closest to you), and adjust from there for angle.
Wow, not sure how I missed that before, but thank you for pointing it out. I just moved it up as far as it'll go. I'll have to wait until the next time I drive at night to see if the mirror dims any better now.

As much as I dislike how much the mirror obstructs forward visibility (and I'm only 5'11"), my main concern is I get blinded whenever I have someone behind me at night. My 2006 WRX (which also had an auto-dimming mirror and spoiler) did not have this problem in the least ... light could actually reach the sensor.
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:56 AM   #8
sportinsc
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Default 2012 Sport - driver's headrest stuck in opposite position

As others have reported, I found the headrest very uncomfortable and heard of others putting them in backwards. Sadly, I did that and the position is worse than ever AND it is stuck!! I cannot pull it back out for anything. I took it to Subaru dealership where I bought it and they said they would have to take the seat our, probably bust the plastic cylinders where the posts are and replace the plastic cylinders. This would come to a cost of about $130.00 for my attempt at comfort. Does anyone have any OTHER suggestions? Please hurry before I'm involved in an accident and suffer whiplash...
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Old 07-12-2013, 03:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sportinsc View Post
As others have reported, I found the headrest very uncomfortable and heard of others putting them in backwards. Sadly, I did that and the position is worse than ever AND it is stuck!! I cannot pull it back out for anything.
I appeared to have done the same thing. Did you figure out how to get it out? Even the new "adjustable" headrests still aren't back enough for me (I drive sitting upright, and don't have a hunchback =P ). Well, shoot...
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:11 PM   #10
sportinsc
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Default $55.00 lesson learned

Ended up taking to Subaru dealer & luckily it only took half an hour & cost $55.00 - now that I know it is adjustable...it is comfortable. The next time I consult the manual before doing something like that
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Old 07-15-2013, 10:54 PM   #11
pearly8383
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I haven't decided what I want to do. I'm very happy with it turned around, but want other people to be able to drive the car too and have a functioning headrest, ha ha. If only there were a way for me to get the darn thing out myself? Why do they have to make it function so that it gets stuck in the backwards direction? =P Do you know how they got it to come out? I suppose it was really complicated...
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:27 AM   #12
sportinsc
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What they told me is that it was locked in the backward position and they would have to force it out which would break the plastic cylinders for both posts. They also said they had to take the seat out of the car to do this...I didn't watch them so I'm taking them on their word. I was happy because it only took half the time they estimated and was half the cost.
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Old 12-26-2013, 09:24 PM   #13
quattro_guy
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Default Other approaches?

Any other approaches that others have tried to solve this torture problem? I have good posture too, except when I drive long distances...
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Old 03-27-2015, 10:19 PM   #14
dromond56
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I'm bumping this old thread to see if anyone discovered a good solution to this. I have a 2012 Impreza where the head restraint is uncomfortable even in the furthest back positon at any seat angle. I think this would work well if you were short and had a small head, but not for me....
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Old 03-28-2015, 07:08 AM   #15
nightVzn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dromond56 View Post
I'm bumping this old thread to see if anyone discovered a good solution to this. I have a 2012 Impreza where the head restraint is uncomfortable even in the furthest back positon at any seat angle. I think this would work well if you were short and had a small head, but not for me....
I was the originator of this thread. I continue to see this alarming trend in various Subaru models. I had a new Legacy as a service loaner a few months ago, and just like you said, even in the most rearward position, the adjustable restraints still force my head forward, bending my neck at an unnatural point.

I went with someone on a test drive of the new Outback and Forester recently, and interestingly, the Outback (same as the Legacy I assume) was far worse than the Forester. It's weird how they're inconsistent with this supposedly-safety-driven ergonomic flaw.

My solution for my 2010 Impreza GT has worked out beautifully. As I mentioned earlier in the thread on 2012-10-27, I found a VIN online from a 2004 Impreza and used that to order head restraints, and they're so much more comfortable.

I don't know whether the same ones would fit your 2012. I'd suggest finding a dealership with a 2002-to-2007 Impreza for sale and see if they'll let you borrow one of the head restraints for 10 seconds to see if it fits your seats. If so, you could order the 2004 ones. I think I still have the VIN I used ... I'd be happy to share it if you need black. Beware that this is not a cheap solution. I think I paid some $200 each for the replacements, and the detents are on the wrong side of the pole, so height adjustment is not possible. Doesn't bother me -- I like them all the way down anyway.

The reason I say "buy 2004" and not "2004-2007" is it looks like they started to go with a subtle forward tilt in 2005. Not as bad as in later years, but if you want to fix this problem, might as well fix it all the way ... 2004 is the way to go.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:36 PM   #16
quattro_guy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dromond56 View Post
I'm bumping this old thread to see if anyone discovered a good solution to this. I have a 2012 Impreza where the head restraint is uncomfortable even in the furthest back positon at any seat angle. I think this would work well if you were short and had a small head, but not for me....
On my 08 and 09 I was able to simply bend them back. Here's how I did it:

1. Remove the headrest from the car.
2. Wrap an old bath towel around the padded part to protect the material.
3. Clamp this into a bench vise with a piece of plywood or similar on each side. Be sure to line up one rod and the wood with the jaws of the vise, and position it so the bottom of the pad is at the edge of the vise. Then clamp it pretty tight but don't kill it though.
4. Slide a pipe over the rod up to the pad, and use the pipe leverage to bend the rod backward. I held the pipe at the end near the pad too, and sort of supported it to help the bending.
5. Flip the headrest over and bend the other rod so it is at the same angle as the first one.

You may have to do a little trial and error to get the right angle. I would say I bent mine about 30 degrees or so from where they started. Now my headrests are very close to straight up from the seat back and much more comfortable.

YMMV.
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