Seat Covers: The Good, Bad, Ugly

Links to Amazon and other retailers on this page are affiliate links. When you click through and make a purchase, New Again Auto Detail earns a small commission from the retailer. Thank you.

seat cover auto detail

Protect Your Seats; Avoid Damage

Today, let’s explore some key points regarding “protecting” your interior. Seat covers have their place in the automotive world for sure. But first, lets look at why you might want – or not want – to cover your seats.

Oldie (and not so) Goldie

You may have an older vehicle and the cloth or leather is in tattered, worn out, or in just plain ugly condition. In this case, I say “two enthusiastic thumbs up.” The same holds true for floor mats and carpeting, but we’ll save that for another day.

Don’t get us wrong. We like old cars and even ones who are on the wrong side of good looking. After all, we like the look of an old rust bucket so much, we make it part of New Again Auto Detail’s identity!


auto detail car care tips tricks

New (and damn well wanna keep it that way!)

auto detail mercedes interiorYou just bought a sweet ride. Whether it’s new or just new to you, you don’t want to damage that pretty cloth or leather…

Slow down just a minute there.

Why do you want to hide that beautiful interior? If you bought a vehicle with leather, you made a great decision. There’s no problem protecting it with seat covers. Can’t blame you. Just know there are many ways to protect the leather so you can keep it uncovered and enjoy its beauty. More on that another time.

Maybe you bought a vehicle with cloth. Not a bad choice, I just like my leather. There are so many ways to keep your cloth looking great and keep it protected as well. Again, more on that another day.

Seat Covers: The Good

Seat Covers GoodWe’ve already touched on the fact that seat covers help protect your cloth and leather. There are of course seat covers that are better than others, but depending on your situation, any cover is better than no cover.

For those of you who live in hot climates, you know the “sensation” of plopping down on a seat that may have been in the sun for a while. That is something you probably won’t do more than once. To protect from burns on your sunset, a cloth cover can do wonders.

As the best of both worlds, you can pull those covers off for night cruises or simply in milder parts of the calendar.

Seat covers are of course good for protecting against pet hair, dirt, food, drink spills, and… well, the list goes on and on. Quality seat covers address a lot of these issues, but be sure to buy covers that are designed specifically for you car.

Buying covers that have been made to fit YOUR vehicle help keep debris from easily blowing up between the cover and factory surface. Without a tight, custom fit, dirt can (and will) get between the cover and the seat surface. This trapped dirt begins to act like sandpaper. It will slowly grind away at the cloth or leather wearing it down faster than having no cover “protecting” your seats.

Pet hair can work its way through poorly fitting covers as well. Once that happens, the hair will find its way into the seams and fabric of your factory surfaces. This could leave you with hard-to-remove pet smells and embedded hair strands that are tough to remove.

Some generic “one size fits all” might be less expensive, but you won’t get the tight fit that will keep out the bad actors.

Seat Covers: The Bad

Seat Covers BadWith all the good that seat covers deliver, there is a hidden evil. You may be tempted to save some money on less expensive covers. That will be tempting, because after all, they are just something you can abuse because the real treasure in below them.


Unless your customer seat covers are designed to be waterproof, spills go straight through and land on your cloth or leather. Sure, you wipe up the excess and what’s left on the surface of the seat cover should dry quickly.

Not quite.

That remaining moisture can get into your cloth upholstery and beneath it to the foam and create smells that can permanently infect your vehicle. That same spill on leather can stain the leather as well as damage the surface and cause pealing.

All-weather covers are designed to be a positive moisture block. That will help keep spills on the surface of the cover long enough from soaking through and damaging the factory covers. You still need to clean up your mess, but at least you’re only cleaning the cover and not the seat.

Do a little research and find the cover that fits your needs. Don’t fall for the wrong cover that won’t perform or hold up to its responsibility.

Seat Covers: The Ugly

Seat covers uglyDon’t become a member of the Ugly part of this story. Let’s talk seriously about seat covers and how they work with air bags.

Depending on the age of your vehicle, there is a very good chance it is equipped with air bags. Although invented in the early 1950s, they didn’t start arriving in vehicles until the early 1970s.

Starting in the late 1990s, they’ve been standard equipment on all vehicles.

Don’t Suffocate Air Bags with Seat Covers

Skechers Memory Foam™ Car Seat Covers, Hexcomb Breathable Thick Seat Covers Two Front Seat Covers, Airbag Compatible, Automotive Comfort & Protection for Most Cars,Van,Trucks, SUVs (Black,Two Front)

Buy on Amazon

Know your vehicle. Well, it’s obvious you care about it, since you’re here at New Again Auto Detail. But we really want you to be informed as well.

If you have airbags in your vehicle, be certain – I mean absolutely certain – that you buy seat covers designed to accommodate an expanding air bag.

Your life may depend on it.

There are many locations where air bags may live in your vehicle. Besides the dash, the A Pillar, B Pillar, and other areas, the ones we are most concerned about today are located in your seat back. That’s the one that has to “breathe.”

Owner’s Manual Homework

As always, go to the source for critical information. Go through your Owner’s Manual and even call the dealership if there is any question. Do not add a seat cover unless you are certain is meets your vehicle’s needs.

Crash Dummy to the Rescue

This video is an excellent example of why seat covers must be designed to “give way” in a crash and allow the air bag to breathe.

At 1000 frames per second, the super slow motion of this video uncovers what we never see. The whole episode is captivating, but the sequence that starts at 3:50 is the best example.

Notice at 3:52 and frame 63 in the video caption, the “seat-side” air bag is fully engaged in the deployment BEFORE the headliner bag begins its expansion.

Me? I damn well want to prevent anything from delaying the seat-side deployment when something is coming square at me from that angle.


Be Smart. Be Safe.

You’re proud of your ride. Rightfully so. Investing in a quality seat cover protects your vehicle, but choosing the right brand and model protects you, too.

Don’t skimp in this area. It only takes once to wish you hadn’t… and you don’t usually get a second chance.

Here’s another look at side airbag testing, just to drive home the idea.

Stay safe.


Comments are closed.