Have you ever really thought about how much time you spend in your car? And the variety of people, animals, and items you carry around? With all of this, the fabric of the car seats can be damaged.
This is where car seat covers come in. Having brought up four kids and various dogs, I learned very quickly to appreciate the fitted covers over the seats in my car.
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I think that’s one of the reasons my car is still going strong, now that all my kids are grown. Having bought my car with the covers, I never really thought about just how many different car seat covers there are out there.
Read on to find out about the many options you do have to choose from.
1. Universal car seat covers
Universal car seat covers are designed to be adaptable to a range of makes and models of cars. Because of the variation in seats between different cars, the covers will fit quite snugly, but not as tight as custom seat covers.
Although universal covers do come in different sizes, with smaller cars they are likely to act more like a drape over the seats than a cover that matches the exact dimensions of the seats.
Because they need to be able to fit over a range of seat sizes, some universal seat covers must be made in a stretch fabric, which means they do not necessarily give the look you may choose for your car.
These will look as though they fit quite well because the stretch fabric allows them to hug most of the seats.
There are also universal car seat covers that are made from a water-repellent fabric. These covers are partially fitted to most car seats, but can also look a little loose and even badly fitted.
Custom car seat covers are designed to fit specific seats of individual makes and models of the car exactly. The dimensions and shapes are drawn in 3D on a computer and created with the aid of computers.
Not only do the covers fit the seats of the type of car, but are produced to fit the new specs of every new model of the same car.
3. Loose covers
Sometimes you may want actually to cover your car seat cover, if you are transporting animals in your car, or if you are going on a long journey with kids.
These covers come as sheets or are more conventionally shaped as car seatbacks or seats. Because they are designed to fit just about any seat, these covers will fit loosely but are meant to be practical over attractive.
The loose sheet cover can be laid along with the back seat for a short trip with a pet in the car. For longer trips with kids, use the sleeve-like covers that slip over the seat and back of the seats.
The loose covers are waterproof and stain-resistant. If they get messed on, you can just wipe them clean. They are also machine-washable, which makes them versatile for use soon after each other.
Leather car seat covers are available for seats in some specific cars. These can only be custom-made, because, although leather is a natural material, it cannot stretch to fit different types of seats.
Precisely because leather is a natural material, these seat covers are more durable than those made of synthetic fabrics. They can also be cleaned quite easily.
Leather car seat covers will also give a car a more sophisticated look than fabric covers. One of the drawbacks of leather is that it can absorb heat.
If your car is left in the sun, then you will find that your seat may be very uncomfortable. This is especially true of darker leathers.
The solution here is to have a flat cushion handy that you can put on the driver’s seat when you get into the car. You can also use the cushion to cover the seat when you are not in it. This will keep the seat cool in the sun.
Most car seat covers are made of synthetic materials, which are cheaper than leather or sheepskin. They are also generally more flexible than natural materials and can be fitted more precisely.
Faux leather seat covers are a good option to give your car a luxury look and sophisticated feel, without the high price of real leather.
These covers are often thinner and more easily manipulated than leather. They are also coated with a special plastic coating that makes them waterproof and stain-resistant.
Some seat covers that resemble leather are made out of polyurethane. This is a form of synthetic leather that has a poly coating. It is thinner than real leather and also more flexible.
The seat covers can be manipulated easily and cover the car seats efficiently.
Polyurethane is water-resistant and most substances can be wiped off easily with a damp cloth when something is spilled on the seat.
However, polyurethane can be vulnerable to some cleaning agents. Make sure you follow all the instructions for cleaning the seat covers exactly.
However, as useful as these seat covers are, polyurethane also absorbs heat. If your car is left in the sun, the seats become very hot and are uncomfortable to sit on. They can also become a little sticky.
Polyurethane car seat covers are much cheaper than the leather equivalent, but also won’t last as long. Over time, the material can begin to flake and even crack.
Another popular material for car seat covers is vinyl, which is a synthetic substance made from plastic. Car seat covers made from vinyl will last for a long time, because the fabric is very durable.
Vinyl is resistant to moisture, which means it will repel liquid spillages in the car. Other substances that may be dropped onto the car seat can be cleaned off easily. Vinyl is unlikely to be damaged by cleaning agents.
Vinyl has an advantage over other fabrics, because it is environmentally friendly, which adds another dimension to reducing your carbon footprint in your car.
Polyester is quite a popular fabric for car seat covers. It is strong and cannot be ripped easily, which makes it particularly useful if you carry sports equipment and even tools in your car.
Polyester is a very popular fabric and is available all over, so these seat covers are affordable.
Car seat covers made from polyester don’t absorb heat like some leather-look materials can. This means you can expect to be quite comfortable in your car seat when you get into a car that has been left in the sun.
An even more durable alternative to polyester care seat covers is those made of canvas. This is a fabric that is a blend of polyester and cotton, which makes it a synthetic natural blend.
The cotton content means that the canvas can breathe, allowing some air to filter through. This helps to keep the car seat covers from becoming too hot in summer and even too cold in winter.
Canvas car seat covers can be washed in the washing machine. Depending on the mix of materials in the canvas, it can be a little stiff and not as easy to manipulate as other fabrics may be.
The beauty of fabric car seat covers is that they breathe. Polycotton and related fabrics are woven from threads and, even the closest weaves will allow some air through.
This makes fabric seat covers cooler than those made from polyurethane, or other synthetic materials.
Fabric is also easy to wash and will dry relatively quickly in the sun. It can also be put into the drier, which means it can be dried thoroughly and quite quickly.
On the other hand, though, many fabrics can’t be wiped or washed without remaining damp for a little while, because fabrics retain water.
Neoprene is a type of fabric that is made from rubber. It is stronger than woven fabric and quite water-resistant. You will find that most foods and even oils will also not stick to neoprene.
Car seat covers made from neoprene will definitely protect the fabric of your car seat, because it is a very durable material. Neoprene can be manipulated easily.
Seat covers made from neoprene will not absorb liquids that may be spilled in the car. Even something sticky can be wiped off with a wet cloth.
One of the things you should be aware of in your car is possibly protection from fire. As neoprene is non-flammable, it is a very safe fabric to be used on car seat covers. It will also protect the seats from cigarette burns.
Using a neoprene seat cover also means you will be comfortable in the driver’s seat because it doesn’t really absorb heat. The fabric is heat-resistant and offers protection against bumps.
Neoprene is not quite as flexible as most other fabrics, which means that fitting seat covers made from this material will fit your car seats very snugly, and fitting them takes a little effort.
7. Baby car seat covers
Baby car seats are an addition to your car and must not be ignored when it comes to considering car seat covers.
The seat itself will protect the main seat to a certain degree, but you should still use a car seat cover over the fitted kid’s seat to protect the upholstery.
A separate seat cover for the baby seat will protect it and will also add to the protection of the car set underneath.
Since 2000, cars are built with ISOFIX anchor points. Some also have a third point that can be used as an anchor for the kid’s seat.
Some car seat covers for kid’s seats don’t have holes to fit the ISOFIX, but there are brands that are specifically fitted with holes to accommodate the ISOFIX.
These are possibly more effective, because they mean the car seat will be covered efficiently.