There’s nothing more satisfying than stepping inside a warm and toasty car after freezing outdoors on a cold winter day. In addition to cranking up the heater, you can turn on your seat warmers to take your comfort level one or two notches higher. Once considered a luxury feature in high-end vehicles, more and more mass-market models today come with heated seats as standard.
Like most people who want to protect the resale value of their cars, you may have wondered about using seat covers to protect your interiors from daily wear. So, can you put seat covers on heated seats? Before answering this question, let’s discuss how heated seats work.
How do heated seats work?
The technology behind a heated car seat is similar to that of an electric blanket. The mechanism is built inside the seat to keep your back, thighs, and legs warm while inside the vehicle. They can be individually controlled according to the passenger’s preferences.
The mechanism is typically made up of three components—a resistor, relay, and thermostat.
Resistor – also known as the heating coil, this is a long strip of wire through which electricity flows. This component got its name due to its resistance to electricity, resulting in friction that is released in the form of heat.
Relay switch – a mechanical trigger that allows electricity to flow from the car battery to the resistor in your heated seats. After you turn on the switch that turns on the heat, the resistor or heating coil receives a small amount of electricity from an initial circuit that results in a magnetic field being formed. The magnetic field is what eventually triggers the relay switch, activating the flow of electricity from your car battery to the resistor.
Thermostat – this component is included in the system to prevent it from running indefinitely and overheating. It monitors heat output, deactivating the relay once the set temperature has been reached. As the seat cools down, it triggers the initial circuit so that the relay switch can be activated and the seats can be heated by the car battery again.
Can You Put Seat Covers on Heated Seats?
When deciding whether or not to use seat covers on your heated seats, it’s best to refer to your owner’s manual to check if you actually can. Some automakers warn against replacing the seat covers on your vehicle as it can damage the warming mechanism. They may also caution you against placing anything on the seat that will insulate heat, such as blankets and cushions, to avoid overheating.
Another question you may be wondering: can you put seat covers on heated leather seats? The short answer is that it’s not recommended to install seat covers unless they’re made of fire-resistant fabric.
Once you’ve determined that seat covers are safe to use in your specific vehicle, make sure to choose a set that is specifically designed for heated seats. These are typically made of breathable, fire-resistant fabrics that will not absorb heat as much, allowing you to stay warm and toasty.
It’s also best to get a vehicle-specific seat cover that will not interfere with the deployment of your airbags.
Choosing the Right Material for Heated Seat Covers
Selecting the right material for your seat covers is crucial in ensuring your health and safety. A porous, well-ventilated, and fire-resistant fabric is strongly recommended.
Neoprene and neosupreme are heavy-duty fabrics that are known to withstand heat damage. The only downside of using these thick materials is that they may affect the rate of heat transfer.
Polycotton-drill or ballistic fabrics are more breathable, allowing your seat to warm up faster.
To help you find the right material for your seat cover, seek advice from an upholstery professional who can point you in the right direction.