I bought mine on eBay. They were out of an H3 (sacrilegious, I know) and while not a perfect match, the color was close and the price was right. I had spent some time at the junk yard and there was nothing close, and they wanted way too much for dirty old headrests. I paid $31 shipped and they are brand new.
Get to know your seat frame:
You can see what the frame looks like in this diagram:
Getting the seat cover off:
Unbolt the top half of the seat using a T-45 torx bit. Set the bottom half aside. Now, working with the top half, unzip the zipper and remove the seat frame from the cushion. Once the frame is removed, you can separate the cover from the cushion. At first, I didn’t think the cover would come off, but it is attached with very strong Velcro. Separate the Velcro and remove the cover from the cushion.
Modifying the frame:
The best method I could come up with involved drilling the top tube of the seat frame to allow the headrest posts to pass through. Not only did this provide a guide for the posts, it also centered the headrest fore/aft with the seat back. My headrest posts were 7/16” in diameter. Make sure the holes are drilled very straight.
Adding a lower guide/support to the frame is the biggest job. I welded a 1” x 1” square tube into the seat frame to act as a lower guide/support. The headrest posts also pass through this guide so it needs to be drilled to the correct diameter (7/16” in my scenario).
The lower brace should be placed high enough that the headrest posts pass all the way through and protrude maybe 1”. In my case, that was about 4” below the top tube of the seat frame.
Hint, make sure you mark the frame as to which side is the front and which side is the rear. In my case, the headrest posts have a slight bend so the holes end up being somewhat “directional.”
Clean up the frame and touch it up with some self-etching primer.
Modifying the cushion:
Now that you’ve added a lower brace to the seat frame, you need to cut a channel in the cushion to allow for correct fitment. I just put the cushion on the frame and marked it with a sharpie. Get out the utility knife and cut the channel. Check often for the correct depth.
You also need to cut a small channel where the headrest posts will occupy the space between the top of the seat frame and the new lower guide. I put the head rests in the frame and again marked with a sharpie where to cut. I cut a small v-channel about 7/16” deep.
Next you need to punch holes in the top of the cushion where the posts pass through. Use an ice pick or something similar and press through the cushion where the posts should pass through.
Modifying the seat cover:
Put the seat cover back on the cushion. Make sure it’s on nice and straight. You will be cutting the cover where the posts pass through, so you don’t want to mess this step up.
Put the frame into the cushion.
I used a 3/8” drill bit and placed it in the frame (in the cover) and pressed it up through the top tube of the frame, through the cushion and pressed it against the seat cover. Just to clarify, the drill bit is taking the path of the headrest post, only it is coming from the inside of the seat out (bottom to top). Grab your utility knife and cut a small slit (1/8” or so). Alternately you can mark the spot with a sharpie, but I wanted to do the first cut while I could feel the drill bit location. When doing this step, hold the seat cover/cushion and make sure that it is in place so your cut is accurate.
If you haven’t already, remove the drill bit. Double check your marks. I placed a small piece of clear duct tape over the place where the cut will be made. Hopefully this will prevent the hole from tearing or fraying. Cut a small + at the mark. Check the size with the headrest post and adjust until the hole is large enough of the post to pass through. Obviously you want the hole to be as small as possible.
Install the headrests:
Install the headrests. Mine were tight enough that I didn’t need to do anything to secure them in the seat. However, I had purchased some 7/16” lock collars just in case.
Zip up the seat cover and bolt the seat halves back together.
Things to consider:
My TJ is a '97
This mod will affect your fold and tumble action. You can still fold and tumble, but you have to either slide both front seats forward, or remove the headrests. Totally worth it to me.
The headrests feel very solid and I feel much better knowing that my boys have some support for their neck in case anything should happen.
Sorry I don’t have more pics off the process. I was in a hurry to get this done as I was heading out of town for the weekend.
Any modification to the seat frame could affect the safety performance of the vehicle. This is a standard disclaimer to say, do this mod at your own risk. I won’t be held liable for this idea, your actions or your safety.
EDIT: Sorry I don't have pics anymore. They were lost during a server transfer.
Great job. That looks awesome. I imagine I will have to do this mod someday when my boy gets out of his car seat and into the real one. I actually wish someone just made a replacement seat like this. I'm not very good at fabricating things and I can't weld. But for the safety of my child I will do this someday. Thanks for the excellent writeup.