Heated seats are a popular feature in many modern vehicles. The warming sensation can provide comfort on cold days.
But what if you also want to use seat covers in your car? Will they still work properly together?
This article provides a complete guide on using seat covers with heated seats.
Overview of Heated Seats
Heated seats use electric heating elements embedded in the seat cushions and seat backs. The heating elements warm up when turned on, providing soothing warmth in the winter. Controls allow adjusting the heat level for optimal comfort.
Heated seats provide benefits such as:
- Warmth – Heated seats warm up your body directly for instant heat. This allows setting the cabin heat lower to save energy.
- Comfort – The warmth can relieve pain from aching joints, muscles, and backs. Heated seats also provide luxury and comfort.
- Safety – Warm seats are safer by increasing circulation and reducing stiffness to allow better control of the vehicle.
- Convenience – Remote start systems can turn on heated seats before entering a cold vehicle. This allows seats to be warm and cozy upon entry.
Heated seats are a popular option in luxury vehicles but also found in many mainstream cars and trucks today. However, they require some special precautions when using seat covers.
Are Seat Covers Safe to Use on Heated Seats?
Seat covers can be safely used on heated seats in most cases with proper precautions. The key factors are using covers specifically designed for heated seats and proper installation.
General seat covers not made for heated seats can potentially be unsafe by blocking heat dissipation. This causes overheating of the seat elements and burns or fires. Special heated seat covers properly allow heat transfer and dissipation. Proper installation is also key, with covers fitted snug but not tight.
Some tips for safe use of seat covers on heated seats:
- Purchase heat-compatible covers – Ensure covers are designed for use with heated seats and allow heat dissipation.
- Proper fitting – Covers should be snug but not tight. Avoid bunching or pinching of material under or around heated seat areas.
- Inspect condition – Check for wear, damage, or improper fit before and after installation. Do not use damaged or ill-fitting covers.
- Follow care instructions – Clean and care for covers per manufacturer instructions to avoid damage or shrinkage.
- Turn off when not occupied – Don’t leave heated seats on for extended periods with covers installed and seats unoccupied.
With proper heated seat covers and careful use, you can safely enjoy the benefits of both accessories. Always consult your owner’s manual as well for any specific instructions.
Pros and Cons of Heated Seat Covers
Using heated seat covers provides some advantages but also has some disadvantages to consider:
- Enhanced heat – Special heated seat covers capture and distribute warmth efficiently. This can make the heated seats feel even warmer.
- Cushioning – Covers add extra cushioning for greater comfort, especially on long drives.
- Protection – They protect the heated seat surfaces from spills, stains, scratches and everyday wear.
- Odor absorption – Many covers help absorb odors on fabric seats.
- Custom options – Covers allow customizing seats’ appearance with different colors and fabrics.
- Cost – Good heated seat covers designed for safety cost more than regular covers.
- Installation – Proper installation takes care and time, especially for two-piece rear seat covers.
- Maintenance – Covers require periodic removal for cleaning to keep seat elements clear for heat dissipation.
- Reduced heat – Poorly fitting covers can reduce heating performance if blocking vents.
- No cooling – Covers are not compatible with cooled/ventilated seats which won’t function through covers.
Considering these factors will help determine if heated seat covers are right for your vehicle and use. Their advantages can outweigh the disadvantages when chosen and installed properly.
Types of Seat Covers for Heated Seats
Several types of seat covers on the market work well and safely with heated seats:
- Heated seat covers – Covers specifically designed for heated seats allow heat transfer through breathable materials. These are constructed of materials like microfiber cloth, spandex, vinyl, leather, and others.
- Perforated leather/vinyl covers – Holes in these materials allow some heat dissipation from seat surfaces.
- Thin fabric covers – Tightly woven microfiber or nylon covers dissipate heat better than thicker fabrics.
- Mesh inserts – Small mesh panels incorporated into parts of the cover that overlay heating elements (cushion and back) aid heat dissipation.
- Two-piece styles – Allow better fit around the contours of seat backs and cushions.
Avoid rubber, neoprene, thick/multi-layered materials or plastic that block heat transfer. Consulting heated seat cover specifications is the best way to choose suitable types.
Special Considerations for Leather and Cloth Seats
The original upholstery material under your seat covers affects performance as well. Here are some tips for leather and cloth seats:
Leather seats often come standard or as an option with heated seat packages. Leather transmits warmth efficiently. Using seat covers on heated leather seats:
- Helps protect expensive leather from premature wear, cracks, and stains
- Provides insulation to distribute heat evenly across the seat
- Offers cushioning for added comfort
Seat covers are highly recommended for protecting heated leather seats. Just ensure they fit tightly and are made of leather, cloth, or high-end faux leather.
Cloth seats typically come standard on lower trim levels without leather upholstery. Although cloth isn’t as pricey to replace, seat covers still help protect factory fabric.
Cloth also absorbs moisture easily and can hold odors over time. Seat covers provide a breathable shield.
Use the same precautions as leather when installing seat covers over heated cloth seats. Monitor heat levels and make adjustments as needed.
Pro tip: If your cloth seats are heating unevenly, seat covers can actually improve heat distribution!
Finding the Best Seat Covers for Heated Seats
Not all seat covers are created equal when it comes to heated seat compatibility. Here is what to look for:
- Fit – Covers designed specifically for your vehicle make, model, and year provide superior fit. Custom patterns improve heat transfer and safety by not interfering with airbags.
- Breathability – Quality materials like leather, neoprene, polyester, and bamboo rayon allow air circulation. This prevents overheating.
- Padding – Suitable cushioning enhances comfort without excess bulk. Thin padded covers work well.
- Heat Testing – Search for brands that test covers on heated seats during product development. This ensures optimal performance.
- Reviews – Check feedback from other owners of heated seats. Their real world testing can confirm which covers work best.
Take your time researching to find seat covers specially designed for heated seat usage. This small effort goes a long way for enjoyment and convenience!
How to Properly Install Heated Seat Covers
With the right heated seat covers selected, proper installation is also key. Follow these best practices:
- Remove old covers if replacing existing ones. Clean seat surfaces for good cover contact.
- Check covers for any defects prior to installation. Do not use damaged covers.
- Attach cover straps and anchors starting from the bottom up for smoothest, wrinkle-free fit.
- Pull covers snug but avoid over-tensioning the material. Bunched sections can cause hot spots.
- Adjust anchor points to ensure material isn’t tighter over heated cushion/back areas. This allows heat dissipation.
- Open cover flaps/zippers and inspect that covers are not tightly pinching heating element locations after attachment.
- Re-check tension and fit after installation and make any needed adjustments.
- Confirm covers do not impact seat track travel for safety.
- Test heated seat operation on all heat settings and observe heat distribution through covers.
Properly installed heated seat covers should remain snugly in place while allowing seats to heat up normally when turned on for safe enjoyment.
Caring for Seat Covers on Heated Seats
Seat covers add another layer of material needing periodic cleaning and care. Here are some tips for seat cover maintenance on heated seats:
- Vacuum frequently to remove loose dirt and debris. This prevents abrasion damage.
- Spot clean spills promptly with an upholstery cleaner. Don’t let stains set.
- Deep clean seats and seat covers 1-2 times per year, or whenever they look dirty.
- Remove seat covers and hand wash in cold water with mild detergent. Air dry.
- If washing full covers isn’t practical, use upholstery wipes for a convenient clean.
- Check for damage during cleaning. Replace deteriorating seat covers promptly.
- Avoid soaking heated seat areas excessively when cleaning. Only damp wipe.
- Steam cleaning upholstery is not recommended for heated seats. Excessive moisture risks damage.
With routine cleaning and care, your seat covers will last longer and provide better protection.
Heated vs Heated/Cooled Seats
Vehicles equipped with ventilated or cooled seats use small built-in fans in the seats. Air circulation from the fans provides a cooling effect. This can make driving more comfortable in hot weather.
Key limitations exist for seat covers used on ventilated/cooled seats:
- Most seat covers will block air circulation from built-in fans and prevent cooling functionality.
- Perforated leather or mesh panel covers may allow some degree of ventilation but reduce airflow performance.
- Fans running under blocked vents under covers can burn out motors sooner.
- Moisture buildup is more likely between seat covers and cooled seats from trapped humidity when fans are inoperable.
To maintain ventilation, cooled/ventilated seats may function best without covers. If you do install covers, remove them periodically for cleaning and air circulation to the seats themselves. Avoid running cooled seat fans for long durations with covers installed.
Heated-only seats without active ventilation generally pose no issues for seat cover use provided proper heat-compatible covers are installed correctly.
Popular Brands of Heated Seat Covers
Many leading automotive accessory companies offer quality heated seat covers:
- Wet Okole – Known for heated seat covers and makes models for most vehicles
- Saddleman – Specializes in heated seat covers for trucks and SUVs
- Sojoy – Offers heated seat covers for a variety of car seat styles
- FH Group – Budget-friendly heated seat covers with good variety
- Copap – Focuses more on leather-style heated seat covers
- Seat Covers Unlimited – Custom-fit heated seat covers for many makes/models
- Gorla Premium – Higher-end heated seat covers in leather, suede and vinyl
Always check heated seat cover specs and reviews of a given brand and model online before purchasing. Proper vehicle fit and heat compatibility should be confirmed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Heated Seat Covers
Here are some common questions about using seat covers with heated seats:
Can you put just any seat cover on heated seats?
No. Regular seat covers not specifically made for heated seats can present safety hazards and should be avoided. Only use covers approved and fit for heated seats.
Do heated seat covers make the seats hotter?
Quality heated seat covers designed for good heat transfer can make seats feel warmer by capturing and radiating the heat efficiently. But they don’t make the seats hotter than their max setting.
Can seat covers deactivate heated seat sensors?
In rare cases, seat covers could interfere with weight sensors in seats and cause heating to not activate properly when occupied. Test thoroughly after cover installation.
Can seat covers void a heated seat warranty?
If improperly installed covers were to cause overheating damage, they could potentially void heated seat system warranties. Always consult your warranty and owner’s manual.
Do heated seat covers wear out heated seats faster?
No. Properly installed heated seat covers will have minimal effect on the lifetime of heated seat elements which are designed for thousands of heating cycles.
Heated seats and seat covers can work very well together when some simple precautions are taken:
- Always use covers approved for heated seats to allow heat dissipation.
- Properly install covers for a snug fit without tight bunching or pinching.
- Perform regular heated seat and cover maintenance and inspection.
- Avoid seat heating overuse when covers are on.
- Do not use with cooled/ventilated seats.
Quality heated seat covers add comfort, protection and customize your interior while allowing you to enjoy supple heated seating. With informed selection and use, they can safely enhance your heated seats for a better driving experience.