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Fixing The Steelcase Leap Squeak aka 'Steelcase Squeak'

Since I sit at my computer for extended periods of time for music production; I did extensive research on a chair to get for best lumbar support, something that looked cool, and had flexible options. The Steelcase Leap V2 fulfilled all of those options and for a whopping 3K I had one built from the factory with my specifications: steel metal frame and candy red leather. However... less than a year (!) it developed the infamous 'Steelcase Squeak'. The chair does come with an OK warranty however it's not lifetime, but does Steelcase cover this problem? Nope! Here was their official response to someone else who had the Steelcase Squeak:

  • "...it sounds like the seat bearings need to be greased. The seat would have to be removed to gain access to the seat bearings, so it is something best done by a dealer service technician. You can use the Dealer Finder on steelcase.com to find a dealer near you."
    • (quote extracted from Steelcase's facebook page)

Fixing the Squeak

That's just fantastic, spend extra money to haul your Steelcase chair all the way to a dealer to fix a problem that Steelcase should be addressing for the cost of some of these chairs; I just freaking bought the chair (3K!) why should I spend more money to get a new product fixed? But fortunately I figured out a way to resolve and prevent the problem for new owners.

First flip the (chair's) left lever up and pull the seat forward so that it uncovers both rear sides of the bearing assemblies as much as possible.

Next you'll want to drop oil in between the holes where the bearings are -- I've used Zoom Spout oil (you'll kind of see how the mechanism is split open a bit). Don't overdo it, just put a few drops in and lean back and forth in the chair until the oil works its way in and it stops queaking. ALSO there *is* rust developing near that area! The paint job is seemingly not that robust (it's not powder coated) so it's flaking off revealing some rust that will inevitably lead to a catastrophic failure of the mechanism. Keep in mind I've never abused this chair, I have never spilled liquids in it and it's not that humid around here at all (otherwise my synths would be rusty too and they're not):

Obviously oil isn't going to be as good as grease, but it did stop the squeak on mine and should prevent the bearings from getting stripped. As for the rust there's nothing I can do about it without disassembling the whole chair: which is not easy because it requires proprietary tools to take apart and Steelcase has not publicly released the service manual for the Leap V2. And there's no way a Steelcase dealer would ever bother to fix the rust issue anyways.

So why does the Steelcase Leap V2 develop a squeak anyways? It's a design flaw as to where the (rather quite exposed) bearing assemblies are located, right under the seat with *minimal protection*. It appears Steecalse attemps to place some sort of fuzzy velcro above the bearings to prevent grime from getting in there-- but guess what! The left bearing (which was squeaking) had the velcro piece put on very sloppily by the factory workers, **so what was already a poor solution then had absolutely nothing to protect it**. You can see that in the *above* photo (I tried to move the velcro piece over a bit to help assist with future grime prevention)

Taking a look at the right bearing assembly, you'll see that even after copious wiping, there's still a fair bit of dust around the mechanism (this one as mention previously has the velcro piece installed correctly):

In conclusion if you've bought a new Steelcase Leap custom built that also started squeaking, try to clean around the bearing assemblies, oil it up, and be cautious to keep out further dust (I suppose it would be possible to place something above it to help assist with catching the dust so it doesn't all directly fall into the bearings. Also be sure to check your 'velcro covers' to ensure the Steelcase factory workers actually installed them correctly (which apparently they don't since *many* people have the Steelcase Squeak).

This chair is quite amazing and I love every bit of it, but Steelcase doesn't care if it starts squeaking and rusting when it's not even a year old: for the price they really should be doing more to honour customer satisfaction. If Steelcase actually *did* something about it rather than shrug their shoulders and refer you to a vendor I wouldn't be as cross about the situation. If you're deciding on a Steelcase Leap V2, I would definitely suggest to explore more options if you don't want to deal with poor customer service and premature squeaking due to a design flaw (not including the poor paint job that is designed to rust out of the box). There are many alternatives including Humanscale and Teknion (Okamura). I've used a Teknion Contessa at work longer than I have been using my (personal) Steelcase Leap and it does not exhibit any squeaking or rust-- and best of all repairs are offered *for free* indefinitely!

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