- Car seat covers are accessories that protect the upholstery and customize the interior.
- The seat cover types are leather, synthetic, neoprene, vinyl, polyester, and mesh.
- Seat covers are either universal fit or custom fit designs.
- When you shop for a new seat cover, consider its application, your lifestyle, and the cost of the accessory.
If you’re looking for an accessory that serves both practical and stylish purposes, look no further than car seat covers. Designed to keep your vehicle seats clean and mess-free, they’re also a great way to customize or make your stained or ripped upholstery look good as new.
Let’s compare today’s most popular options and discuss the things you should keep in mind when shopping for automotive seat covers.
What Are Seat Covers?
Car seat covers protect your upholstery from spills, scratches, and stains. They prevent crumbs and debris from dirtying your vehicle’s original cloth or leather seats. They are a must, especially for parents with young kids and pet owners who want to make cleaning their vehicles easier.
Aside from their practical purpose, they’re also a cost-effective way to customize your interior. Certain materials like leather and velour can instantly give your seats the look and feel of luxury. What’s great about this accessory is that you can select covers that match your upholstery for a factory look or choose a complementary color to spruce up and personalize your seats.
Types of Automotive Seat Covers
Automotive seat covers come in a diverse range of fabrics and styles. Some of the most popular materials include leather, neoprene, vinyl, polyester, and mesh.
Leather Seat Covers
Leather seat covers give your vehicle a luxe and premium look while protecting your front and rear seats. Spills wipe off easily because most leather covers are chemically treated with a protective layer to prevent liquids from being absorbed quickly. However, you’ll need to regularly clean them to keep them from drying out or cracking.
Make sure that you vacuum and remove any loose crumbs and debris before wiping down your leather seats. This will prevent these substances from getting stuck in the crevices, grinding onto the surface, and ruining the material’s unique texture.
One downside of choosing leather covers is that they are less breathable compared to other fabrics. Their relatively high cost can also dissuade vehicle owners from choosing them over more affordable materials like vinyl or neoprene. Moreover, because leather is an organic material, it is more prone to sun damage and can be difficult to repair.
Synthetic Leather Seat Covers
Synthetic leather seat covers, otherwise known as faux or vegan leather, are a more practical substitute to using genuine leather covers. This material is a man-made alternative designed to look and feel as close to the real thing as possible.
The main disadvantage of choosing this material is that it is less breathable compared to real leather. Because most vegan leather comes with a plastic backing, it can feel sticky and hot, especially if you sweat a lot and drive in warmer climates.
Faux leather seat covers are a quick and cost-effective way to make your factory seats look upscale. Unlike real leather, the material is easier to clean and is less prone to staining. It is also harder for your kids or pets to accidentally scratch or puncture its surface.
Neoprene Seat Covers
If water resistance is a top priority for you, consider getting neoprene seat covers for your vehicle. Made from the same synthetic rubber used in scuba suits, they offer excellent protection against sweat, mud, and UV damage.
Neoprene is also stain-resistant and relatively low maintenance. These covers are usually machine washable and do not need to be treated with special conditioners. However, you can buy neoprene shampoo or use an upholstery cleaner to remove tough stains.
This material comes in a wide variety of colors and prints, and it can give your interior a bright and sporty look. Depending on the fit, neoprene seat covers can cost as much as synthetic leather seat covers.
Vinyl Seat Covers
Vinyl seat covers are excellent for heavy industrial use, such as construction or farming. If you are an emergency or essential service worker, you need seat covers that are tough but easy to clean and sanitize. This also makes them an excellent option for people with kids and pets.
There are a few pitfalls to choosing this type of seat cover. The most obvious one is that they don’t look and feel like genuine leather. They can also absorb heat during the hotter months of the year. You should be careful with placing sharp objects on your seats as the plastic material can be scratched and damaged.
This material will look good as new for years and require low to no maintenance. You can expect vinyl seat covers to cost around the same price as faux leather.
Polyester Seat Covers
Polyester seat covers are breathable, durable, and comfortable. This material is soft to the touch and is highly absorbent. This makes it great for driving in all types of weather.
One of the main disadvantages of choosing a fabric seat cover is that it gives less of a premium feel. While manufacturers have come a long way to make polyester covers look more appealing, they still fall short in terms of looks compared to genuine and faux leather.
Another disadvantage is that the material requires a bit more maintenance than wiping down its surface. Polyester is more prone to staining and absorbing bad odors. Thankfully, these covers are usually machine washable.
This type of fabric is the most affordable among all other types of seat covers. In terms of price, polyester seat covers are on par with neoprene seat covers.
Mesh Seat Covers
Mesh seat covers allow air to circulate underneath the seat for a cool and comfortable ride. The porous material is great for wicking away sweat, heat, and moisture. Mesh takes the cake when it comes to breathability and comfort.
This material is tough while remaining soft to the touch. These covers offer great flexibility and are made from stretchy and rip-resistant fabric. Very similar to velour in quality, it is a very popular choice by many seat cover brands.
Universal vs. Custom Fit Seat Covers
There are two types of seat covers based on fit–universal and custom fit seat covers.
Universal Seat Covers
Universal seat covers are designed to fit most vehicles. Unless you drive a rare or classic car, you should be able to install these on your seats with no professional help needed.
As expected, they may look less appealing than covers which are tailored for your specific vehicle. But if your only priority is protecting the resale value of your vehicle without spending a lot of money and time on maintenance, then this option should be right up your alley.
Custom Seat Covers
If you want a more tailored fit for your interior, custom seat covers are the better option for you. This type hugs the contours of your seats and can even mimic the look of your original upholstery. They can also come with extra foam for extra comfort and support.
Understandably, these often cost more than universal seat covers and take longer to install. They may also require more maintenance, depending on the material used. However, they can be more comfortable to sit in and are less likely to stretch or rip.
Things to Consider When Buying Seat Covers
Choosing the right seat cover for your vehicle will largely depend on your lifestyle and needs.
To help you choose the best option for your ride, here are some factors you need to keep in mind while shopping for new seat covers:
Always check for fitment before purchasing new seat covers for your vehicle. Getting a replacement designed for your specific year, make, and model guarantees a perfect fit and hassle-free installation.
If time and budget are both tight, you can opt for a universal car seat cover that’ll fit over your seats well.
The best type of seat cover is the one that works with your lifestyle. If you often drive around with your kids or pets, you should choose a material that’s easy to clean and won’t easily get punctured or ripped. If you enjoy water sports or going off-road on the weekends, a seat cover that offers protection against UV, salt, and water damage is a must.
The cost of new seat covers will depend on the brand, material, and fit. A set may cost you anywhere between $100 and $250.
Whether you want to hide your stained or ripped seats or simply want to protect the resale value of your vehicle, buying seat covers is always a great idea. To make sure you choose the right one for your needs, carefully weigh the pros and cons of each material and ask yourself how much maintenance work you’re willing to commit to.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.