If you’ve ever taken kids for a road trip, you’ll be well aware that car seats offer dozens of tight crevices where French fries or candy can get jammed in together with dust and other debris. Over the course of a few months, attractive factory-floor-fresh car seats can easily turn into threadbare and stained seats that look ready for the dump.
The best way to protect new car seats or to revitalize old car seats is by installing replacement car seat covers. They are affordable and easy to fit. Your car seats are the most visible part of your car’s interior, so car seat covers can transform your car’s appearance.
There are many types and styles of car seat cover. This makes choosing the right car seat covers for your vehicle a chore. The search and final decision can be made easier if you understand what the different types of car seat cover are and why you should choose one over the other.
Car Seat Cover Types
There are 3 types of car seat cover: universal, semi-custom, and custom. Each offers its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is better to know and understand these before deciding what kind of car seat cover is best for your vehicle.
These are the most common and affordable kind of car seat cover. As the name implies, universal car seat covers are designed to fit a wide range of low-back and high-back bucket seats. When buying a universal car seat cover, you don’t need to worry about whether they’re a perfect fit or how expensive they are. One size fits all.
The advantage of universal car seat covers is that they are comparatively inexpensive. If you occasionally need to take a car full of animals to the park or a car full of kids to a muddy soccer field, you can throw a universal car seat cover over your pristine new car seats within seconds. Then, when your seats aren’t in danger, you can fold away the universal covers and store them in your trunk alongside other essentials, such as the portable jump starter that will save your day in an emergency.
It is easy to find universal car seat covers, and they offer a huge variety of patterns and styles compared to custom car seat covers. You can easily choose the universal car seat covers with the exact pattern and style you want.
However, the disadvantages are legion. If there are side-impact airbags built into your car seats, a universal car seat cover will prevent them from deploying during an accident. Levers and other controls on your seat will become inaccessible.
Typically, anti-slip rubber pads are utilized to prevent slipping. Unfortunately, over time ill-fitting car seat covers shift around and crease becoming unattractive and possibly less comfortable to sit on.
Semi-custom car seat covers are designed to fit a specific range of car seats. The manufacturer will specify which makes and models the car seat cover will fit.
The advantage of semi-custom car seat covers is that they provide a better fit for your car seat, so there will be fewer creases and — at first glance — these seat covers will appear custom fit. They may allow access to levers and other controls on your car seats. Semi-custom car seat covers come in a wide variety of colors and styles, though not as many as universal car seat covers.
This disadvantage of semi-custom car seat covers is that they are more expensive than universal covers though still cheaper than custom car seat covers. Semi-custom car seat covers typically take longer to install than universal car seat covers.
Like universal covers, semi-custom covers may block access to levers and other controls built into your car seats. They are not safe to use with side-impact airbags. Semi-custom car seat covers will never look as good as custom car seat covers in your car and may slip and wrinkle.
Custom car seat covers are the kings of car seat covers. They are designed to fit your make and model exactly. When properly installed, they don’t look like car seat covers. They look like they were fitted on the factory floor when your car was manufactured.
There are countless advantages to custom fit car covers. They are safe to use with side-impact airbags. They allow access to all your lumbar controls. They don’t crunch up around your headrest stands or interfere with your seatbelts. Custom car seat covers fit perfectly, making them the most comfortable to sit on and the most attractive to view. They don’t slip over time and crease or become uncomfortable.
The main disadvantage of custom seat covers is that they are the most expensive. They can also be more difficult to locate and typically come with fewer choices in style, pattern, and color. If you want fluffy pink unicorns on your custom Jeep Wrangler seat covers, you’re probably out of luck. Because custom car seats provide an exact fit, they are trickier and time-consuming to install than other kinds of car seat cover.
When choosing the right car seat cover for you, an important factor is why you are changing your car seat cover. Whichever kind of car seat cover you choose, you also need to decide on the car seat cover brand, materials, and pattern.
If you are buying car seat covers because your kids want to go camping and you’re worried about the mud, cheap and quickly installed universal covers are probably best for you. However, if you want to impress your date, custom or semi-custom covers are better.
When it comes time to sell your car, custom car covers are essential. If your car interior looks as good as it did in the new car salesroom, you’re more likely to attract buyers and achieve a better price for your sale.
A pro tip when selling is to choose neutral colors and simple patterns for your car seat covers to appeal to a wider number of potential buyers. However, when dating, go with whatever color and pattern suit your own personal style. You wouldn’t want to pick a date who doesn’t like you for who you are!
Also, don’t neglect the rest of your car’s interior. It’s no good swapping out your car seat covers if you’ve got grime on your dashboard, mud on the floor, and worn out car floor mats. Invest in some interior cleaning products, a shop vac, and replacement car floor mats.
With popular car makes, there are multiple companies competing to sell custom car seat covers. Recognized and reputable car seat cover brands make for the best investment. They are more liable to use high-quality materials and apply quality control to their manufacturing process to protect their established brand name. However, it is always a good idea to check out car seat cover reviews on Amazon to see what experiences other vehicle owners have had with specific car seat covers.
Good-quality car seat covers will be manufactured using waterproof fabrics that don’t easily fade in sunlight, offer stain resistance, and are durable. Twill and polyester are both an affordable option used by many top brand manufacturers, but neoprene is the most durable fabric you will find.
Car seat covers should be made using fabrics that have UV inhibitors and color stabilizers so they don’t change color over time or end up with permanent areas of shade and shadow because you’ve parked your car in the same sunny spot every day for a year.
In a situation where you are forced to park in that sunny spot due to where you live or where you work, also consider purchasing a good-quality custom-fit car cover. Even the best quality car seat covers may fade over time, but a good car cover will prevent this and also protect your vehicle from the elements.