Seat Covers Buying Guide: Keep Your Car’s Interior Clean and Protected

Keeping your car’s interior clean and protected doesn’t have to be impossible. All you need is a durable set of seat covers. These shield the upholstery from everyday spills and stains and prevent damage. The initial investment pays itself off and increases your car’s resale value when the time comes to sell. 

Why Covers are a Necessity?

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No matter if you drive a 4×4, SUV, sedan, coupe or hatchback, the right covers do a great job at keeping the car interior spotless. They prevent liquids and food stains from ruining the seat cloth, but also rid vehicles of dust, mud, grime, grease and other nasties from spreading to other parts and doing some serious damage. Left unattended, these contaminants can cause rust spots in the car floor, damage to wiring and the buildup of mould and bacteria that potentially threaten driver and passenger health. 
In addition, covers do wonders in typical Aussie conditions, blocking the damaging effect of UV rays and resulting fading in the cloth, covering up previous mishaps like tears or cracks, and making for a more comfy ride with padding in all the right places. Besides this, a well-appointed seat cover can breathe new life into an otherwise tired-looking car interior. There are dozens of designs and colour schemes to choose from, as well as custom options like engraved names for a personalised touch. 
Lastly, look at the safe benefits covers provide. With custom-fit variants that fit seats like a glove, there’s no risk of slippage or wrinkling, keeping the driver and passengers put even in the most demanding driving conditions, like technical trails with a 4WD, or fast laps on the track. 

What to Consider When Buying

There are three main factors to think about to get covers that suit your car – correct sizes and fit, materials and specific features.

Sizing 

Sizes refer to universal covers or those that are meant to fit seats in different vehicle categories. Size 25 suits high-back bucket seats with integrated and non-adjustable headrests. Cars with side airbags use trademarked designs known as Deploy Safe, effective special stitching that allows bags to deploy during accidents. Size 30 are for low-back bucket seats with adjustable or detachable headrests, and sizes 06 and 08 are meant for rear bench seats without headrests. 06H and 08H are one-piece rear seats that make way for up to three separate headrests. If you’re looking for van, ute or 4×4 seat covers, then standardised options for front or rear bench seats are marked as either Size A (with headrest adjustability) or Size B also taking into account the gear stick. 

Custom-fit 

If you want to rule out fitting issues or have covers that are both quick to install and remove (say when they need cleaning), nothing beats custom designs. These are tailored to the exact dimensions of the seats in specific car makes and models. Not only do they have a snug fit, but there are no ill-looking odds and ends that spoil the whole look, nor are they too big or too small so they create unwanted issues. The only downside is that they’re a bit dearer compared to universal variants. 

Materials 

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Materials in your choice of covers go a long way in determining outright durability, how long they last, the needed maintenance and cleaning to keep covers looking as new, and of course, how comfy they are. There are dozens of options, but the main contenders are:

  • Neoprene – this is the same waterproof material found in wetsuits, so is extremely durable, flexible and comfy. Neoprene covers are ideal if you have kids or pets, and easily contain stains and spills, but are still easy to clean (being machine-washable and quick to dry). Moreover, they’re breathable and flame and UV-resistant so keep cool in hot weather. 
  • Canvas – this is the hard-wearing option for lifestyle junkies. The material is good against water, mud, dirt and other grime, still decently comfy, and comes in different grades and padding options. They just need a bit more attention to maintain. 
  • Leather – leather and faux leather are all about looks. Real and genuine leather (in varying grains) is hardwearing, doesn’t collect water or grime, and is very comfortable in cooler weather. They do get hot in Aussie summers, and longer exposure to direct sunlight can lead to cracks. 
  • Sheepskin – to get the styling and comfort levels of leather, but with the added benefit of breathability, opt for a sheepskin seat cover. These are made from genuine wool fleece that keeps its cool in summer and adds warmth on colder days. They are just a pain to clean. 
  • jacquard – similar in design to the seat fabric in the car, these are made of a blend of polyester and spandex, are stretchy for a good fit, decently comfortable in thicker variants, do a good job with most spills and stains and are some of the easiest to clean. Another plus is that they’re affordable too. 

Designs, Colours and Features

Design specifics, like full or half-back cuts in front bucket seats, allow for particulars in seat designs, such as integrated back or map pockets. Custom-fit covers do a better job in this respect and buyers can get exactly what they need to suit their make, model and trim. Colours have moved on from traditional black or grey, and you can get just about any colour you want to match the rest of the interior, along with stitching that adds more eye-catching detail besides upping durability. Covers that accommodate airbag activation are a must with approved designs that don’t hinder safety. Besides seat covers, go with matching console, armrest and dash covers to complete the interior look and protect more of the car.