Originally posted on https://www.autoanything.com/resources/seat-covers-tech-center/
One of the great on-the-road ironies is that while you’re sitting comfortably in your car seat, the seat itself is having to stand up to a tremendous amount of abuse. Dirty clothes, wet swimsuits, spilled drinks, kids snacking in the backseat, slobbering pets, seat friction and harsh sunlight all have the potential to ruin and wear out your great looking seats. And if something terrible has befallen your interior, a complete reupholster will cost you dearly.
Why Should I Buy A Set Of Seat Covers?
The days of worrying about permanently staining your car seats or of being embarrassed by ripped, tattered and unkempt upholstery are close to being over. With the right set of car seat covers, you’ll be able to:
- Proactively protect your upholstery from a dizzying array of hazards
- Cover over existing damage rather than having to reupholster your seats
- Make over your interior to suit your tastes and lifestyle
Seat Cover Proactive Protection Reference
There are certain “high-traffic” areas in your vehicle that seem predestined to receive a lot of punishing use. Your carpets are constantly being trampled by dirty shoes, your steering wheel is being throttled non-stop by oily hands and your seats are always besieged by a steady onslaught of abuses. While the only surefire way to safeguard your seats is to stop driving your vehicle, that solution just isn’t practical. Dressing your seats with a pair of form-fitting, protective seat covers is just as good, and this solution won’t force you into riding public transportation either.
Your car seats face a number of perils, including:
Spills and Grime
No one plans on fumbling a 40 ounce beverage right into their lap while barreling down the freeway, but it happens. As drinks keep getting larger and larger, the potential damage keeps growing and growing. Besides sticky sodas and scalding coffees, on-the-go meals are a car seat’s worst nightmare. That overstuffed burrito hanging out of your jaws is like a Sword of Damocles, looming disastrously over your upholstery and threatening a permanent stain with every succulent chomp. Not to mention soiled clothing, tracked-in mud and salty back sweat. Luckily, a snug set of seat covers will bear the brunt of any spillage and grime you can toss at it.
Whether you’re driving home from an outing at the local pool, a kayaking trip or an endless summer’s day of surfing, the moisture in your clothing can lead to serious problems for your upholstery. Moisture is especially problematic for residents of the drizzly Pacific Northwest and other wet zones. Leather’s worst enemy is water. When it gets wet, it becomes tacky to the touch – a sign that the leather’s natural oils are being washed out. Cloth seating is also prone to damage from moisture. When water seeps into factory-installed fabrics, it can fester and grow into ugly, stinky, disgusting mold. Never fear; our seat covers come in a wide selection of materials with varying degrees of water resistance to protect your interior.
Kids and Pets
Nothing’s quite as adorable as the mesmerized look of a toddler who’s discovering the sweet, luscious delights of his or her first birthday cake. At the same time, that image of a child’s tiny digits grabbing chunks of chocolate cake by the fist-full and smearing it over every square inch of their upper body should remind us that kids are just as messy as they are cute. And, while you can easily mop away accidents in your kitchen, it becomes a huge hassle when it happens in your back seat. The same goes for your furry, four-legged co-pilot. Not only does slobber leave white-bordered saliva stains, hair clings to everything and is a nightmare to remove. Plus, their sharp little talons can rip, tear and gouge your upholstery, especially leather. However, the right set of seat covers will shield your seats from the messes that children and pets inevitably create.
While getting in and out of your vehicle may seem like a harmless operation, it is, in fact, putting a lot of stress on your seats. Like sandpaper on a jagged block of wood, the texture of your clothing grates against the texture of the upholstery (leather and cloth alike). This constant friction between your body and your seat steadily grinds away at your upholstery. As time passes, the strength of the leather or fabric starts to wane, and it will eventually start becoming threadbare, torn and split. Of course, this pitiful fate can easily be avoided with a quality set of seat covers.
Just because every form of life on Earth is dependent on the sun for its existence doesn’t mean that solar rays aren’t a mixed blessing. Too much sun exposure is not healthy for our skin, and it certainly is harmful to our upholstery. Leather is especially susceptible to sun damage because UV radiation dries out the natural oils in the leather. Without these oils keeping things moist, the leather will eventually start to crack. Cloth upholstery is also in danger. Direct sunlight on your fabrics has a bleaching effect. Where once your seats were dark blue or black, an overdose of ultra violet radiation will leave your seats looking purple or ashen. Since you can’t always park in the shade, you can give yourself year-round protection with a snazzy set of seat covers.
A Guide to Covering Your Damaged Seats
Sometimes bad things happen to good upholstery. If the interior of your vehicle has suffered some cruel twist of fate (a leaky pen left lying in the backseat, or a torn seam that’s threatening to unravel completely), you have the ability to rejuvenate your vehicle’s seats without having to go through the hassle of a complete reupholster job. Instead of calling up your dealer and shelling out an arm and a leg for new seats, you can simply slide a new set of seat covers directly over the old ones. No muss, no fuss-just great looking seat covers that fit like a glove.
Custom Fit Seat Covers
Just as an Armani suit is properly measured, cut and stitched to fit the unique shapes and contours of the wearer, so too is a custom fit seat cover meticulously designed for a precise fit over your seats. No part of your particular vehicle’s seat is forgotten or overlooked – not the position of the head rest, nor the location of the seat’s ergonomic controls, nor even where your seatbelts are mounted. Everything is taken into consideration, and these made-to-measure seat covers will fit like they were factory-installed. Moreover, custom seat covers will not obstruct your seat’s side-impact airbags, so you’ll be just as secure as before, only with better looking and better protected upholstery.
Semi-Custom Fit Seat Covers
While a tailor-made suit fits your body to a T, off-the-rack clothing still looks and feels great, and you usually have enough left over for a matching shirt and tie. Our semi-custom fit seat covers are the economical alternative to the tailored suit. They are stitched together following patterns that will work with your vehicle’s seats as well as with similarly sized seats in other cars, trucks and SUVs. Except for the 3 Star Semi-Custom skin Seat Cover, our semi-custom fit seat covers do not leave access to lumbar controls, and they should not be used if you have side-impact airbags on your vehicle. Nevertheless, they deliver fantastic protection against the whole gamut of seating hazards.
Universal Seat Covers
Like the name implies, universal seat covers fit any high-back and low-back bucket seat, regardless of your year, make or model. Rather than being used as long-term coverings, our universal seat covers are a perfect companion in your vehicle for when life gets a little messy. They install in seconds, so you can slip them on when you need them and store them away in your trunk when you don’t. Like the semi-custom seat covers, the universal seat covers should not be used on seats with side-impact airbags.
Tips On Making Over Your Interior
Your vehicle is more than just a means of transportation—it is an extension of your identity, your personality and your uniqueness. You want your vehicle to mirror yourself, and the right set of seat covers is an excellent way to personalize your interior. And, with all the different colors, patterns and materials at your disposal, you have an almost limitless array of ways to customize your car seats. Here are the basics:
Colors and Designs
Auto manufacturers tend to design their interiors to please as many shoppers as they possibly can. In order to create that wide appeal, they usually use neutral colors and almost never add any patterns into the mix. Now, you can break free from the mold by dressing your seats in your favorite color, or even one of the radical and eye-catching designs.
Besides the standard tones that match most interior color schemes, AutoAnything has seat covers in almost every conceivable hue. From navy blue to neon pink, there is a rainbow of colors at your finger tips. If you prefer patterns over solid shades, you’re in luck. We have quite a few different designs ranging from camouflage to tropical flowers. Wet Okole alone has 34 different colors and patterns to choose from! Not to mention that our high-quality sheepskin seat covers come in 17 unique shades.
Whether you want the luxurious feel of 100% real sheepskin, or prefer the rugged durability of neoprene or canvas, seat covers come in a wide range of materials. Read on to learn all about the different fabric options you have for your seat covers:
Neoprene Seat Covers
Now, the same extreme-duty material used in wetsuits is available for your vehicle. Made from synthetic rubber, neoprene provides the maximum protection against moisture. In fact, they’re as water proof as a scuba suit.
For easy installation and removal, the neoprene has an inner and outer layer of nylon. These layers cover the cushy 1/2″ pad of high-quality CR neoprene. Not only do they provide the most protection against moisture and water, they also make a great barrier against dirt, friction, spills and UV damage. To top it off, CR neoprene is nonflammable, so a stray cigarette won’t cause these seat covers to burst into flames. Best of all, the neoprene seat covers like our Wet Okole Seat Covers come in over 30 different colors and patterns, so you’re sure to find a seat cover that suits your tastes.
Poly-Cotton Seat Covers
For the soft texture of cotton with the protection of polyester, manufacturers blended the two fabrics together in a creation called, you guessed it, poly-cotton. This fabric is used in the majority of our seat covers because it delivers the best of both cotton and polyester in an affordable, attractive and easy-to-clean material.
The advantage of cotton seat covers is that they mix tremendous strength with softness, so they feel good to the touch while providing a sturdy defense against wear and tear. What’s more, the polyester adds an excellent barrier against moisture and harmful UV rays. Most of the poly-cotton fabrics are treated with a water repellent coating, which adds an extra barrier against spilled drinks. The combination of these two fabrics makes poly-cotton enjoyable to sit on as well as sturdy enough to stand up to spills, pets, friction and UV damage. Plus, poly-cotton seat covers are machine washable, so they clean easy and effortlessly. Check out our Covercraft SeatSavers Seat Covers for a great example of poly-cotton seat covers.
Velour Seat Covers
The allure of velour is that it mingles the rich appearance and feel of velvet seat covers with the durability of cotton. Its texture is soft and silky, but don’t let that trick you into thinking that this material is anything other than tough and durable. Below its downy surface, velour is built to be as rugged as polyester. Moreover, velour is treated with a special UV shield coating, which will keep harmful UV rays from fading the color of both your velour seat covers and your original upholstery.
On cold drives, you’ll appreciate the warm embrace of a velour seat cover. And, when accidents happen, you’ll really appreciate that you have a barrier between the mess and your factory-installed seats. View these Caltrend Velour Seat Covers for more details.
Cotton Canvas Seat Covers
Like the poly-cotton fabric, cotton canvas seat covers offer tremendous strength with the pleasant feel of cotton. The canvas is an excellent material for preventing dirt, grime and pet hair from ruining your stock upholstery. And, the cotton feels so soft and inviting that you may find yourself wearing shorts more often.
When spills and accidents do happen, cleaning cotton canvas seat covers is a snap. Simply throw the seat covers into the washing machine, let them dry and they’ll be ready for dirt duty. These Carhartt Seat Saver Canvas Seat Covers exemplify this style.
Now that we’ve had an introduction to the ways that seat covers can protect, perfect and personalize your vehicle’s interior, you may feel a bit bogged down with information. Don’t worry! The rest of this research guide will show you how our seat covers can become an integral part of you lifestyle.
Sheepskin and Plush Seat Covers
When you ride with a pair of made-to-measure sheepskin seat covers in your vehicle, you sit in the lap of luxury. At AutoAnything, we carry only exhibition quality, non-shedding pelts from New Zealand and Australia. These pelts are expertly matched, cut and stitched by professional craftsmen. Besides their downy soft feel, sheepskins are known as “Nature’s Thermostat” because they keep you cool and dry in the summer and warm and cozy in the winter. Ounce for ounce, sheepskin is stronger than steel, so it will go on protecting your seats and making you feel like you’re sitting on a throne for years.
Sheepskin seat covers come in a wide range of colors to match or accent your interior design. These seat covers provide excellent protection against sun damage as well as wear and tear from friction. Even more amazing, each wool fiber can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet, so your back will always feel dry even on hot summer days.
What seat covers are best for your lifestyle?
We all lead unique lives filled with different interests, passions and hobbies. Some of us prefer spending our weekends communing with nature by surfing, skiing, mountain biking or hiking. Others like exploring their surrounds by heading out on road trips with their families or even their dogs. No matter what drives you, AutoAnything has a seat cover to compliment your lifestyle.
Seat Covers for the Weekend Adventurer
If you’re the type of person who can’t stand spending your weekends indoors, then a rugged set of seat covers is just what you need to stop Mother Nature from leaving a permanent mark on your upholstery. For the greatest defense against wet and dirty clothes, Wet Okole Seat Covers are the best choice. Because they’re crafted from scuba-quality neoprene, they’re completely water proof and unfazed by dirt and mud.
Another option for the outdoors enthusiast is the Aries Seat Defender Seat Cover. It’s a bare bones, universal seat cover that you can keep in your trunk and slip over your seat when you need it. This tough seat cover was not made to be pretty – it was built to work hard and to defend your seats when life gets messy.
Seat Covers for the Family Taxi
A backseat full of rambunctious children eating chocolate pudding snacks and sipping on juice boxes is a danger zone for stains and damage. Though it’s difficult to train your children to behave, it’s easy to slip on a set of seat covers that will save your vehicle from permanent damage. A great choice for parents is the Coverking NeoSupreme Seat Cover. You get excellent protection from moisture because it is treated with a DWR (durable water repellency) agent, and it is completely machine washable.
Or, some solid seat protection from WeatherTech that can make another excellent addition to the family truckster. Besides being soft to the touch, these tough seat covers provide a resilient barrier against spills, moisture and grime. Plus, cleaning them is as simple as throwing them into the washing machine.
Seat Covers for the Animal Lover
For the animal lovers among us, nothing quite compares to the big slobbery smile that comes over a dog with his head jutting out of a window to catch a face full of wind. Of course, driving around town with your four legged friend riding shotgun does pose certain dangers to your upholstery. They leave behind gouges in your seats from their claws, piles of hair and the occasional “accident.” Shielding your seats from these problems is easy when you have a set of seat covers designed with your doggy in mind. For the ultimate in protection and prestige, you’ll want to go with the Canine Covers Custom Covers. Their quilted top stops sharp claws from digging into your seats, and their water repellent top and bottom keeps any “accidents” from leaking into your seats below. What’s more, they are available in completely custom cut designs to fit your year, make and model. And, they are machine washable.
AutoAnything also recommends the Canine Covers Semi-Custom Covers to protect your seats and make the ride even more special for your furry pet. Like the Canine Covers Custom Covers, they boast a quilted top, water repellent coating on the top and bottom and they are fully machine washable.
How to clean your seat covers
We put the seat covers on for a reason, right? They were going to get dirty sooner or later. So what’s the best way to go about doing this? Well that depends on the fabric type, but here’s a general guide:
- Wipe down the affected area with a damp cloth
- Use an appropriate fabric cleaner for the material:
- Neoprene/NeoSupreme: a cleaning product like Simple Green or wetsuit shampoo
- Leather/Leatherette/Suede: Leather or suede cleaner/conditioner
- Saddle Blanket: Upholstery cleaner
- Velour/Snuggleplush: Carpet cleaner
- Mesh, Canvas, Cordura: Simple Green or similar all purpose cleaner
- Use a soft bristle brush as necessary with light pressure
- Wipe clean with damp cloth followed by a dry cloth
- Let covers air dry, preferably in the sun if possible
This is a general guide, please consult your manufacturer on specific cleaning instructions if you’re ever in doubt. Especially with sensitive materials like leather and suede, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Brands like Coverking Seat Covers come with great video guides to cleaning each of their covers.
An Introduction To The Ordering Process
At AutoAnything, we strive to make ordering your seat covers a quick and painless process. Because the majority of our seat covers are made-to-measure, we will ask you key questions about which factory options you have on your vehicle. We probe because we want to ensure that your new seat covers fit snugly while leaving room for airbags, ergonomic controls and seatbelts.
Before you order your seat covers, our advice is that you take a trip out to your vehicle and give your seats a brief visual inspection. While you’re looking them over, take the time to answer these fundamental questions, which you will be asked during the ordering process (don’t worry, there will not be a final test):
- What is the year, make, model and series of your vehicle?
This is, of course, the most important question of them all. In order to have seat covers that fit, we need to know what vehicle they are fitting into. A Yugo’s seats bear no resemblance to a Bentley’s. If you are unsure about the year, make, model or series, your registration or your pink slip can give you a definitive answer.
- What style seats do you have?
Whether it’s bucket or bench seats, we have a seat cover for you. Based on the year, make, model and series you select, we will show you a drawing of your seat style. However, you should visually double-check to make sure that the type of seat in your vehicle matches the type of seat in our graphic.
- Do you have power seats?
Modern cars use electronic controls wherever they can, and this includes moving the seats forwards and backwards. Take a look on the sides of your seats to see if there is a control panel, and note which seats do or do not. Sometimes, the driver’s seat will have this amenity while the rest of the seats work the old-fashioned way with an under-the-seat lever.
- What is your seat material?
Different stock upholstery requires different inner linings. If your seats are leather or vinyl, which tend to be slippery, an inner lining with better grip is needed to keep the covers from shifting around. Likewise, if you have cloth seats, then your seat covers don’t need to grip as tight.
- How many doors does your vehicle have?
This one is pretty obvious, but it makes a big difference because 4-door models sometimes have a rear seat that does not match the 2-door coupe. Just to be on the safe side, we’ve included this handy door reference.
- Do your front seats contain side impact airbags (SIPS) that deploy out of the side panel of your front seat?
This question is very important because a seat cover has the potential to interfere with your vehicle’s safety features. If your vehicle does have side impact airbags, most semi-custom and all universal fit seat covers will block them. Custom fit seat covers, however, have special openings to accommodate SIPS.
- What type of headrest does your vehicle use?
Because some seat covers go all the way over the headrests, or have an optional headrest cover, we will need to know which kind is in your vehicle.
- Where does your seatbelt come from?
Some cars have seatbelts that come directly out of the back of the seat, so the seat cover has to have special openings stitched in. Others are attached right to the side of the automobile, so no special holes are needed. Which kind does your vehicle have?
- Does your seat have an adjustable lumbar support system?
For added driving comfort, many auto manufacturers are installing lumbar support systems into car seats. The controls for these systems are usually found right on the side of the either the driver’s seat, the passenger’s seat or both.
- Do you have pivoting armrest(s) on the driver’s seat? The passenger’s seat?
Last, but certainly not least, we will need to know if your seats have built-in pivoting armrests. With this question answered, you’re on your way to the joys of seat cover ownership.
- What is the year, make, model and series of your vehicle?
All of these questions are extremely important for ensuring that you get a seat cover that fits exactly. During the ordering process, we will also ask for contact information, just in case we have additional questions about your seats. We may also need a photograph from BMW, Pontiac and Mustang owners because seat style can vary so dramatically.
If you run into any questions of your own while shopping for seat covers, AutoAnything has a skilled team of professionals with expert advice to help you with any inquiries. Give us a call at 1-800-874-8888, or write to us at [email protected].