Car Seat Covers Buying Buide: Protect Your Interior

If you’ve been driving the same car as I have for years on end, you’ll know that it looks way different today than the first day you got it from the showroom. Despite the regular servicing and visits to the car wash, time takes its toll. You’ll see things going wrong both on the inside and outside. And even if the paint might not have cracked, the alloys still shine, and the engine revs like the first day, you’ll definitely find something to rant about.

For me, it’s the condition of the seats that I just didn’t bother too much with. And though I went with the better cloth and adjustable lumbar support; I was too stingy to get a decent set of seat covers. Now that the driver’s seat is one notch from being totally ripped and in need of replacement, I’ve decided to get some universal car seat covers. Better late than never.

Types of Car Seat Covers

Seats are one of the first things to consider when optioning a new car interior. Forget all the gizmos, think of seating comfort first and foremost. Different seat types and difference in materials varies greatly among trim levels. I often go with the middle ground – not too cheap, and not too expensive. My polyester seats have seen all the wear and tear that comes with daily driving, and being an SUV, some light off-roading with the added dirt.

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For seat covers, you can either go for the same materials as your original seats or change to something completely different. Materials vary greatly – some are suited for daily driving and are able to withstand all the grinding of keys, phones, groceries and stained jeans. Others, like real or synthetic leather, will give your car an upmarket feel, yet may be prone to more damage over time. Maintaining seats of different materials will also be something to consider here.

Polyester Seat Covers

Polyester is the fabric most buyers choose in a new car. It is comfortable and durable enough without feeling cheap. The mesh is breathable and doesn’t feel hot in cars exposed to the sun for longer periods of time. It has a non-slip lining that doesn’t stick to your legs, great for long, hot Aussie summers. However, polyester absorbs liquid easily, so try not to spill your latté. Getting stains out might prove a challenge. All in all, decent polyester seat covers can go a long way in providing much-needed comfort while driving, with a few niggles.

Leather Seat Covers

Leather can give an entirely new feel and look to your car. Depending on the quality of the hide used and the level of stitching, prices can vary considerably. Leather, in general, is the most expensive material for car seats. However, it goes well with the leather on the steering wheel or shifter, and any accents inside. It is soft to the touch, doesn’t let liquids through, but needs regular cleaning. It can get hot, so it’s not the best choice in hot weather. Besides oozing luxury, leather seat covers will give an old-school feel, good if you’re restoring an old classic but don’t want to shell out for full leather seats.

Faux Leather Seat Covers

Faux leather, or leatherette, gives you the look of leather without the high price. It is made of a mixture of synthetic materials, mainly vinyl. Options on new cars will be pricier than typical polyester seats, but cheaper than real leather. The use of synthetics keeps prices down but also appeases the eco-conscious buyer. Faux leather covers can be slippery and hot, won’t provide the comfort of real leather or the breathability of polyester, and tend to develop cracks over time. On the upside, it is easy to maintain and clean.

Alcantara is a combination of polyester and polyurethane and mimics the look of suede. It is soft to the touch, has a non-slip surface, is generally breathable and resists fire and liquids well. The downside is that it wears quickly.

Nylon Seat Covers

The cheapest material for seats and seat covers is nylon. It is durable and doesn’t get hot in warm weather. It is not as comfortable as polyester or leather, gets stained easily, but its low price might be tempting.

Other Seat Cover Materials

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Sheepskin provides the best comfort, stays cool in summer, and provides warmth in winter. It doesn’t stain, wicks off dirt and liquids, but is also quite expensive. Lower quality synthetic alternatives to sheepskins are acrylic seat covers, which are much cheaper and easier to wash. The most durable covers come in the form of canvas, though are rough to the skin and best suited for work vehicles.

Getting The Right Seat Covers

With all the options available, it might get confusing as to which seat covers to buy. Consider a few things – the current state of the upholstery on your seats and how you plan to use the seat covers. If your aim is to protect your worn-out seats, yet don’t mind a little discomfort, then get canvas seat covers. If you want an affordable everyday cover with reasonable durability, then go for nylon or polyester covers. They are the most available and easy to find. If you’re looking for a more luxurious feel, go for the synthetic or real leather options, but be prepared to part with more of your cash. Leather and Alcantara covers might be hard to find and may need restitching to fit your seats. Get the material you’ll be comfortable with for the long haul.

Finding seat covers for sports or custom seats may prove difficult, especially in less accessible materials. Universal covers, on the other hand, come in a one-size-fits-all configuration and are cheaper and readily available. And lastly consider how long until they’re replaced. Some seat covers, nylon, in particular, are machine-washable, which makes them good if you have pets or use your vehicle for work. Others, like leather, require spot cleaning with microfibre cloths, detergent and sprays. The aim here is to keep your car looking good and protect your original upholstery. A well-maintained interior will save you money in the long run, especially when it’s time to sell.