Everything You Need to Know about Car Seats

While cars come packed with all the luxuries and vehicle accessories money can buy, it’s the seats that are often the most overlooked interior feature. These need to be supportive, comfortable, suitable for the type of car and how you drive, and above all safe. And they also need to look the part and enahance interior appearance. If your stock seats aren’t doing it for you, then time to look for a replacement.

Why Change the Seats in Your Car?

car seats

As drivers, we spend a lot of time commuting to work, doing the weekly shopping, taking the kids to school, or doing the odd spin around the local track. It’s the seats that take a beating every time. Gradually, the foam will start to sag, the fabric or leather sprouts up tears, wrinkles, and stains, and the once sturdy metal frames and rails groan from damage or fatigue. Moreover, seats will pick up dirt, grime, dust, sweat, odours, and a few other nasties that won’t go away even with good detailing.

Aside from basic safety and visual appeal, seats should also be an extension of the driver. An ergonomically designed seat, with contours that hug the body, upholstery that is firm yet comfortable, and side bolstering that keeps you snug in corners and turns is one that works best in most driving conditions. In addition, drivers also want some form of adjustment to get cozy. A longer journey will see you want more lumbar support to prevent back pain, the ability to adjust headrest angles and height, and in some cars, more in the way of thigh or shoulder support.

Lastly, worn, damaged and tired-looking seats aren’t exactly what you’re after if you’re restoring an oldtimer or looking for a carseat for sale in vehicles modified for the track. Either way, there are dozens of options, both when looking for front or rear seats for just about any type of car. You can get replacement OEM seats from your car dealer or go the aftermarket route. The second option will bring up more choices.

Types of Car Seats

Bucket seats are the standard addition in most cars up front, and newer versions will have integrated headrests. They have improved lateral support to keep you firmly in place when cornering and the reduced weight helps with performance. Race seats build on the bucket style by further lowering weight, and the sturdier materials and build are what you want on the race track. Safety is also improved with the inclusion of multi-point harnesses. While these are the best for faster lap times, they’re not all that comfortable for longer bouts on the highway.

Bigger cars like 7-seat SUVs and 4WDs can have comfier captain seats in both the front and second rows. These are big and exceptionally comfy with more in the way of padding and adjustment. Bench seats are common at the back of smaller and medium-sized cars, have adequate space for three adults and the family pet, and come in different split configurations if you’re carrying extra long gear like skis or surfboards. There’s less side support, though they often include mid-armrests and cupholders.

Choosing Replacement Seats

car seats afthermarket

source: buyacar.co.uk

When looking for a carseat for sale, you should give thought to several buying factors: the vehicle in which the seats will be installed, where the car will be used, the required level of comfort and adjustment, additional features that you need and want, and your budget.

The first consideration will mean that seats will be differently designed and sized to be compatible with the vehicle. This takes into account overall width and height, with or without the headrest. And whether they are for the front or rear row(s). It also means that car seats for performance vehicles will be vastly different than say those in 4WDs. What you buy will also need to fit the factory rails that hold the seats in place. For instance, if you’re switching from standard factory seats to racing versions, the included harness distributes force along the hips, shoulders, and chest in the event of an accident, but also helps with excessive movement. On the other hand, 4WD seats with suspension will absorb more of the bumps coming into the cabin as you traverse technical trails. Different designs then have different purposes in the different vehicles.

Comfort is one of the main reasons to ditch the old seats. This will depend on several factors -how the seats are designed, the materials used, the quality of the build, and features that differentiate seats between fixed and reclining variants. Standard replacement versions offer more of the same, but can have improved materials, such as hard-wearing fabric or leather, and will also include a reclining function and more headrest adjustment. Racing seats forego additional padding for a firmer seat that is usually fixed in place. Being lighter, and often of a moulded and non-slip design, they’re also more about performance and safety than comfort.

Lastly, find seats that are of the right size. This includes adequate seat height and depth and measurements that take into account shoulder height and placement of headrests. While the universal options favoured by carmakers are good for most body shapes. a seat tailored to your proportions will also be one that is comfier and safer. Most aftermarket car seats are relatively affordable for the level of build and materials used and some are advertised to fit specific vehicle models making purchases simpler.