How to Fix a Broken Rear Seat Release Latch: VW, MKIV

How to fix that back seat latch

Recently while picking up a fish tank my lovely v-dub decided to give me another unwelcome surprise by not allowing the back seat to fold down. When I pulled up on the latch it just felt disconnected and refused to release. So if you are having the same problem here is a quick diy. It will work with all MKIV Jettas, GTI's, and Golfs. Does it ever end with these cars!!

As with all my diy's I called my local VW/Audi stealership to see how much they would charge to fix this problem. I could not get a direct answer but the quote was, $115 for diagnostics + parts + labor = Do it yourself for under six dollars!

Rod Part # 1J0-885-643-E
Rod Part # 1J0-885-643-E

Tools & Parts for the Job

This DIY only requires two tools.

  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Replacement latch

The replacement latch can be bought online or from a vw dealership. I bought mine at the dealership for $5.88 so this will is a very inexpensive repair if you choose to do-it-yourself.The part number is 1J0-885-643-E, you will also need the color code, for black the color code is B41, Grey is U71, Beige is Q70. The parts department should be able to help you out using the part number listed above.

Removing the broken seat latch

This is the easy part. Pull directly up and pull it hard. It is stuck in there with two pretty sturdy prongs so it will require a bit of force. Don't worry about breaking it.

Once it releases, completely pull that piece out. That is the piece you will be replacing (known as the rod). In the picture below, you will notice how one of the prongs has broken off the end of the rod. That is what has been keeping the latch from releasing the seat.

Tip: Only pull out the handle, do not try to pull out the whole plastic cup as it will likely break. If you do manage to break it don't worry it is only another five dollars.

Broken Rod Prong
Broken Rod Prong

Releasing the rear seat latch using a screwdriver

This part can be a little tricky, but after a little bit of trial and error the back seat will release. I also recommend folding the other (working) seat down and taking a look at the latch to see how it works.

  • Slide your screwdriver in to the hole above the round ring that the latch connects to.
  • Try to work your way under the latch mechanism buy pushing forward and up with the screwdriver while pushing forward on the seat.

This may take a few try's, but after you've done it a few times it's pretty easy, and it really helps to try it on the working seat side first to see how the latch releases.

Attaching the New Handle/Rod

I found this part to be a little tricky too. The best method that I found to do this is to get into the back seat with it folded down.

  • Insert your new handle/Rod
  • Put a finger or two in the little hole and pull the latch up as far as you can.
  • With your other hand press down hard onto the handle till it pops back into the latching mechanism.

Look at the pictures to the right for a better explanation. In the first picture that is how you want to pull up the latch lever. In the second picture you can see the end of the Rod (circled in red) and the latch outlined in green. Pull up on the green part and push hard till the prongs in red pop through.

Now give yourself a pat on the back and grab a beer! I think I made this easy enough to follow, but if you have any questions just leave them in the comment section.

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Comments 81 comments

Greg 6 years ago

Thanks for the guide, I was pretty pissed at myself when my seatbelt got stuck in the latch and I accidentally ripped the whole rod and cup out. You wouldn't happen to know what the part number for the cup is would you?

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Writen4u 6 years ago Author


I had the part number before and after searching and searching I still can't find it. If you call the dealership with the rod number listed above they can pull up a diagram in etka that will have that part number. Sorry I couldn't be more help. Once I get my computer with etka running again I'll post it here for future inquiries.

Jason from NJ 6 years ago

Great post--very helpful! Thanks for putting this up--you saved me $100.00

Both of mine were broken and I was able to replace the passenger side. I need to go back for the driver side one because the I did not realize that there are different rods for each side.

Muchos gracias.

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Writen4u 6 years ago Author

Thanks Jason I'm glad I could help.

Jay 6 years ago

good DYI. do you have for a door switch/sensor?

Scott 6 years ago

Worked so easy, effortless almost. I had never planned on fixing this since I assumed it'd be costly and near impossible. Best $7 I ever spent! Thanks for the write-up.

Jeff 5 years ago

Hey so mines locked closed(I dont know how to open it) and the handle plastics are gone. How do I open it and them proceed with these steps?

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Writen4u 5 years ago Author


I figure even with a lock on it the steps above would work to get the seat down.

can you put the key in the lock, unlock it then use a screwdriver like above? I would think that the lock would only effect the handle so valet drivers could not get in your trunk, I don't think it would effect the latch.

Take down the side of the seat that works and see if you can move the latch up and down with your fingers, if so, you should be able to get the other side down with a screw driver.

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Writen4u 5 years ago Author

Thanks Scott, I'm glad I could help.

Sorry Jay I just noticed your comment, If your talking about the drivers side door latch, no I don't have a diy, If it's going crazy and unlocking, randomly locking, setting off the alarm while your driving, I'd recommend biting the bullet and taking it to VW. I think it was a pretty common problem on 2001 jettas. I had that problem, took the door apart, opened the devise, tried to solder the pins. It was such a pain in the a** needless to say it didn't work. But if you'd like to try it I knows there's Diy's out there somewhere. You also have to buy a special bit to uncrew the latch box from the door.

Kim 5 years ago

Could you please clarify what model VW you have? From the pictures I'm thinking it is a hatch back.

I have a 2006 Jetta sedan with one rear seat release latch that has failed. I can't get at the latch to try to manually release it without removing parts. I'm not sure if removing the piece between the seat and door would even give me access.

Thanks for any suggestion you could give.

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Writen4u 5 years ago Author

Hi Kim,

I'm not sure about a 2006 MKV, this is for MKIV models (1999-2005) but I'm sure the latch assembly is somewhat the same. Some times you just have to get in there and tinker with it for a while till you can get it loose.

Sorry I can't be more of a help. One of my neighbors has a MKV jetta so if I see her I'll ask to check out her trunk (that sounds a little dirty) and see if I can be more of a help.

samdog 5 years ago

Text and photos quite concise and clear. Very nicely done. I just repaired my GTI. Thanks.

ps This sort of thing is the best of the internet.

samdog 5 years ago

When I did a little troubleshooting, I found that the prongs on the end of the rod were not broken. I could snap it back into the latch, but the shoulders of the prongs were rounded enough that it would pop loose on every third or fourth pull. The new one is tight.

Irene 5 years ago

THANK YOU SO MUCH. You saved me over $200. I called the VW dealership.. their quote 2.5 hours @ $115 per hour for labour plus parts. It too me 15 minutes and $4.88 for the part. The best tip i could give is fold the seat that does work to see how it works. That'll give you a good idea where to press on the seat that does not work. Many thats.

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Writen4u 5 years ago Author


I'm glad it helped. It is ridiculous how much the dealership charges for some of these simple repairs.

Gretchen 5 years ago

I was hoping to get a bit more info on how to get the seat latch to release now that I have the broken rod safely removed. I only have access to the latch from the latch cup on the top of the seat back. The back of the seat latch access is hidden when my seat is in the locked upright position.

Is it possible to get the seat down at this stage of the game??

Help, Please!

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Writen4u 5 years ago Author

I read somewhere that you can try and hook a hanger into the hole where the original prongs go and try to pull up, but I'm not about to go outside and break my seat latch to test this theory out.

Even though the wheel well is in the way you still should be able to slide a screwdriver in from the side and push the latch up.

Brian 5 years ago

Thanks for the write up! I used a small angle tip prybar with a screwdriver type handle and it was smooth sailing following your instructions. It took me longer to get a carseat in and out than to replace the latch itself.

Guest 5 years ago

Thank you so much. I didn't remove or replace the latch yet, but I needed to get the seat folded down today. It took me less than two minutes to pop the latch. I agree with the above poster, this kind of thing really is the best of the internet.

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Writen4u 5 years ago Author

Thanks guys, I'm glad this article is helping.

Squeakypaul 4 years ago

Just wanted to say thanks for an awesome clear guide. I just used this guide to fix a 2005 skoda fabia. Simple clear instructions made this a five minute job

Estela 4 years ago

Great DIY! Thanks, my car's latch has been broken for years and I didn't want to spend the cash to repair it.

Andrew 4 years ago

As most above, this DIY was excellent and I'm sure saved me plenty. Had bought my 2000 GTI a short while ago and immediately found this problem to be a nuisance. Also, when I did get the seat down I found the hook on car wall [that keeps the seat from popping out] was not engaged so fixed that too. What a pain trying to get that thing locked in such a confined space. Cheers!

ChicagoVW 4 years ago

Thank you so much for this post and for the simple and useful instructions. Can't tell you how many pieces of plastic have broken off my Golf, but with info like this it is easy to fix and not a dealer headache. Very valuable, thank you for taking the time to post!

Kat 4 years ago

Thank you so much I will let my brother read your instructions and try to repair my back seat ..I have a 2003 gti .. Took it to two different dealerships one did not even look at it and told me it would be at least $600 to just get into the seat and figure out the problem, another dealership told me it could be up to $900 and would be cheaper to replace the seat...I can not believe it might only cost me under $10.00

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Writen4u 4 years ago Author

The dealership will get you any way they can! Hope it fixes your problem.

Nicky P 4 years ago

Thanks for this, just one comment, when trying to pop the catch, i tried for ages attempting to work the screw-driver in over the latch, then in a eureka moment realised it would be just as easy to try from the bottom and it popped first time. If there are other people struggling this might work for you too

katie 3 years ago

thank you, thank you, thank you--seat belt caught and was close to destroying the whole back seat with a crowbar when I thought to google it first and found this post. Yes, a bit of finagling with the screwdriver and latch but 5 minutes was all it took. Very empowering. Now I can get my lumber. . .

Bobberty 3 years ago

"Only pull out the handle, do not try to pull out the whole plastic cup as it will likely break."

I used the Flathead Screwdriver to pry the handle off by placing it between the cup and handle. popped right off.

I looked at other side to get an idea how to pop the back. Easy.

I held the latch mechanism up with a screw driver and popped the handle in place.

Easy as pie... thanks for all the hints OP.

Jim 3 years ago

Your idea worked great, then I drilled latch, ran a coat hanger down, through the hole and bent it back up. On the top end, I removed the old latch connection, ran coat hanger up through a hole I drilled throught the old pull handle, tee'd it back on the upper side of the handle. Works like a champ, and didn't have to buy a new handle.

Pieter 3 years ago

I've got a Skoda Fabia Combi 2006. When I pulled the handle out, I had to use a lot of force. Then the handle broke at the connection with the rod. The rod was still stuck somewhere. After it broke, the rod came out quite easy.

After practising with the other side, I found out it worked best to push a big flat screwdriver right under the ring that holds the seat. Then you have to push sideways into the panel that covers the wheelarches, then push forwardeven more. Then you push the handle of the screwdriver down, because of a metal edge in the seat, the tip will move up. This releases the hook.

Now I need a new handle, but at least I can put big things in my car again. There are some numbers on the rod: 4 Rechts VW 600 885 644 A

Its black and for the right side (rechts).

I would advise people to first put the seat forward, if they can. It turned out the left side of my car was already fixed, simply with a dot of some kind of plastic glue on the prongs.

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Writen4u 3 years ago Author


Thanks for the extra tips and Skoda part numbers.

M Cooper 3 years ago

Thanks for the tip, great DIY, well explained.

Just one note, the part number is for the left hand side of the car, right hand side number is: 1J0-885-644-E


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Writen4u 3 years ago Author

Thanks for the part number Cooper.

Jim 2 years ago

Well the instructions were great. I replaced the handle in my 2002 Jetta wagon. Popped the new piece in and it was pulling the latch up and down just fine. But then when I pushed the seat back in lock position it wont pull the latch up and the seat is stuck again. what happened?

Tricia 2 years ago

Thank you so much! This is not something I felt I could tackle on my own but your instructions were perfect. No one was there to enjoy my success with me so I had to high five myself. You're the best!

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Writen4u 2 years ago Author

Hi Jim,

Are you sure that the prongs of the new handle are fully seated and pushed in? or that the seat belt is not in the way? That is all I can think of why it wouldn't be releasing. Good luck.

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Writen4u 2 years ago Author

No Tricia, you're the best for doing it your self and saving a b*ttload of cash. Now go out and buy yourself something nice. Internet high five!!

Tony 2 years ago

You sir, You rock

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Writen4u 2 years ago Author

Thanks. Glad it helped.

TC 2 years ago

Thanks so much - I called my auto repair guy and he just gave me a big Aaaaaaaaaa forget about it.

MK 2 years ago

Thank you so much! Your DIY helped me to pool handle out in 2 min on my Skoda Fabia 2006. Now I only need to find replacement part, hope that dealers can sell me for reasonable price, else i would have to search on scrapyards. :)

Mike 2 years ago

The reason I bought my 2004 Golf was because it had the hatchback. I was aggravated when I found out the latch was broke. Like others I thought it was going to be a costly repair. Following your advice and instruction I was able to order the part and install it in a matter of minutes. Pleasantly surprised at how simple it really was. Pictures were a big help too.

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Writen4u 2 years ago Author

Glad it helped. Thanks for the feedback.

SteveV5D 2 years ago

Hi All,

Brilliant help page but no-one has observed the reason for the failure in the first place. When I had repaired my seat (temporarily with a piece of wire) I noticed that it was not possible to close the catch without lifting the lever. Upon studying the mechanism I realised that the heavy wire loop that the catch latches on to was bent upwards. After bending it down about 4mm it all now works fine. Obviously when people slam the seat shut (which is natural) the loop gets bent up which makes it harder to open the latch. Eventually the plastic rod can't cope with the strain and gives way. Mine wasn't broken, it had merely pulled out of its location in the latch due to the excessive pull force.

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Writen4u 2 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment. While you claim no one has observed the reason for the failure, I believe you mean to write "VW has not observed the reason for failure".

"Eventually the plastic rod can't cope with the strain and gives way".

That is the reason I wrote this article. The reason why it fails is obvious to anyone that has had to fix this problem. The problem is that VW/Audi will not admit it as a design flaw.

SteveV5D 2 years ago

You seem to be missing my main point which is that the key to the problem is the deforming of the heavy wire loop that the catch engages. The breaking of the rod is the result. In my case it was essential to bend that loop down otherwise I would eventually have had a repeat failure.

Incidentally, I need not have broken out the handle, as the rod had simply pulled out of the latch, it wasn't broken. I could have simply refitted it and glued a sliver of plastic into the slot - see your No5 photo (I did this anyway with the new one to make sure it didn't come apart again)

Anyway thanks again for your guidance, I couldn't have succeeded without it!

Writen4u profile image

Writen4u 2 years ago Author

Hi Steve,

Thank you for the comment. Maybe it will help some, as for me there is/was no deformation of that wire loop. the breaking of the rod was due to VW using cheap plastic that broke over time. Which is what I wrote the DIY for, glad the article helped you discover the true problem you were having with the latch.

Susan & AJ 2 years ago

Thank you so very much for this DIY. You saved us $100 +. All it cost was $6.11 & 15 minutes. You are the man! :-)

Jenny 2 years ago

Hi there, is the part number the same for a VW Polo?

Jenny 2 years ago

Found the part number (6Q0 885 644 A), now I need to find out where to buy it from...

Jenny 2 years ago

Update: ok so I found the part number on the rod for my Polo, ordered the part from a VW garage nearby, paid €3.48 for it and have just replaced it, following the instructions above. Absolutely brilliant: like others have said, garages were quoting me outrageous costs as the back seat would have to come apart etc, one even told me to go to a specialised car seat upholsterer to take the fabric off! However following these instructions, I've managed to do it myself in a couple of minutes, at 8.5 months pregnant, so really anyone can do it! Thanks so much for posting this article! :)

Robbo B 2 years ago

Thanks so much for this fix. I can't believe how easy this was.

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Writen4u 2 years ago Author

Every ones trying to make a buck. I'm glad you came across my article and saved a ton of cash, your gonna need it with that baby on the way.

Larry 2 years ago

Thank-you sir for this information.I just fixed my old golf seat in 5 minutes.The part was only six dollars.

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Kelly Leal 2 years ago

Thank you much for posting this fix. Parts cost me $12.00. My old Jetta thanks you.

Michael McCarthy 2 years ago

My thanks to everyone for reassuring assistance. Unfortunately my European Golf

Plus has no seat back release latch. Only a looped finger pull strap projecting from the lower seat. Access to the release linkage is only from underneath so it appears the complete seat must be removed to repair the failure. Might even upgrade both rear seats having gone through the learning curve. Don't think I'll get away with

inexpensive replacement parts here in the UK. Thanks again. Mike.

Thomas 2 years ago

Great instructions. Thank you.

sean 22 months ago

i cant pull out the latch if my life depended on

brian 21 months ago

Did anyone else have trouble releasing the rear seat latch w a screwdriver? Been at this for over an hr and cant figure it out. Ive been attempting it from the trunk, trying to push the piece that latches onto the metal hook upwards and forwards w the screwdriver. Anything I can do differently?

Robbo B 21 months ago

Hi Brian, I found it a little difficult, but I folded the other seat down to see what it was that I was trying to do. I found that helped. I worked from the trunk and used a large flat head screwdriver. You need to wedge it between the catch and the latch and wiggle the latch up a little at a time. Good luck!

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Writen4u 21 months ago Author

Hi Brian and everyone else that ask, do just as Robbo said above, use the working seat to see how the latch works so you know where and how to place the screwdriver. Thanks for the comment Robbo.

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Writen4u 21 months ago Author

Hit the gym for a couple weeks?

Ian 19 months ago

Thanks for the excellent write-up. I was about ready to start trying to pry the cup out. This'll save me time and money.

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Writen4u 19 months ago Author

Glad it helped and glad you found it before ripping the cup part out. Thanks for the comment.

Lorcan Parnell 19 months ago

This is excellent thanks!

Stavros 16 months ago

Hey I was wondering if I can just put in the new release latch without folding the seat down using the screw driver? In other words can I just put in the new piece while leaving the seat locked. I have no access to the metal hook from my trunk for some reason so I can't fold it down. Thanks!

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Writen4u 16 months ago Author

It doesn't hurt to try but I would think with out the pressure from below it would either break the new prongs or not fully connect. I haven't had to pull one out for years so I can't quite remember.

14ercards 13 months ago

Thanks for the explanation. Just fixed my 2000 GTI.

Jeremiah 11 months ago

Any chance you know the part number for the plastic cup section? Looks like that part is broken on my Golf as well...

Frank V 11 months ago

Wow, nicely outlined step by step, thumbs up!!

Thank You.

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Writen4u 11 months ago Author

Jerimiah - the part number for the cup sections are (left) 1J5-885-783, (right) 1J5-885-784, followed by the color code you need.

Frank - thanks for the comment.

Ian 10 months ago

This works great, thank you! My seat belt got caught when I closed the seat and the latch broke when I tried to release it.

I did the passenger side (right side) - it was a little tricky but I got it to work. I used a flat head screwdriver and put it *through* the loop where the latch holds the seat down, and then pushed down on the screwdriver to lever it up. It was helpful to look at the driver side (left side) and practice on it. I think it's a little more difficult on the passenger side.

Keith Hughes 9 months ago

Thank you for the information. Everything worked just as you stated. Took the rod/handle out and opened the seat this morning in less that 10 minutes. The part will hopefully arrive soon, but delays may happen with it being xmas and all, and will cost less than £2.

Bill 8 months ago

Thanks for info Used it yesterday on son's 07 Fabia. Sprang the catch with a screwdriver very easily. Had to lever the top of the handle out and broke the top off from the rod but the rod then came out ok. Both prongs at bottom of the rod still intact but the edge was worn off which had allowed it to slip out of the metal ring. New handle less than £2 and easily clicked into place. Done in 5 mins in the car park at Harry Potter studios where we met up.

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Writen4u 8 months ago Author

Thanks for the comment Bill it is amazing on how fast and cheap a lot of these little things can be fixed when people DIY as opposed to sitting at a dealership for hours and pay VW a few hundred dollars to do it for them.

Jim 4 months ago

Took me 15 minutes. A couple of tips. Yes, look how the other seat latch works. When prying the non-working side, don't forget to push the seat forward a little. You might have it unlatched and not know it.

I pried the broken latch top, breaking off pieces until it came free. I could not push the latch with my fingers, so I pushed in the new piece, then used the screwdriver to pry the latch up, then pushed down hard and the latch locked. I thought the hook might have gone to the side, but it seems to be guided to the right place. This is likely an assembly assist. Anyway, I had to push pretty hard to get the latch to hook.

Viv 2 months ago

Can't tell you how pleased I am about this. Garage had said seat would have to be stripped down and an expensive job so I chose to leave it, but was very inconvenient not being able to put back seat down. Will tell you I am a woman who has some DIY skills but certainly not a mechanic. Diagram took me some time to decipher until I realised it was on the side so I zoomed up to 200% and turned the laptop on its side. Very clear, very easy, and very pleased with myself! Thank you

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Writen4u 8 weeks ago Author

Glad it helped. Woman or not any mechanic will take the opportunity to turn an easy fix into a $1,000 project.

Janette 7 weeks ago

Thank you so much for this. When I broke the release, I could only think of the over inflated price to fix. I spent more time getting tools, screw driver, to fix it. Slick, slick. All done in less than ten minutes. Happy girl.

Hans Beck 2 weeks ago

Hello, first thanks!

But I broke the cup ;(

Can't find the part with the item number left in comments above: (left) 1J5-885-783, (right) 1J5-885-784

But found this 1J5-885-783-B-B41 (Left rear seat cup). Only on an american webpage.

Anybody got luck with ordering the cup? Wanna share info?

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