Universal seat covers are a great option for drivers who want to protect their car seat without being locked into the extra cost and commitment of a custom seat cover. On top of saving money, there’s lots of other reasons a universal seat cover may be right for you.
In this post you'll learn:
- why you need a seat cover for your car or truck
- the benefits of universal seat covers
- what to watch out for when buying a universal seat cover
- how to install universal seat covers
- questions to ask when making a buying decision
- where to buy a universal seat cover
Why You Need a Good Car Seat Cover
Here’s what can happen without a good car seat cover.
Over time, moisture, food, pet hair, sweat and body oils can damage leather and cloth car seats. Sweat is bad for your car seats because of the salt and body oils. Regular cleaning of your seats can help, but it won’t prevent long-term damage. The only way to do that is to use a car or truck seat cover that will provide a barrier between you and your car seat.
Leather seats are particularly susceptible to wear and tear, because moisture and body oils will break down leather and cause cracks and other visible signs of damage. Restoring leather seats is expensive, and replacing leather seats can be even more costly. Plus, finding an exact leather match can be difficult.
This video explains why:
What’s Good About Universal Seat Covers?
Universal seat covers will typically fit most vehicles, so unless you’re driving a classic car or an exotic sports car, you should be good to go with a universal fit.
Universal car and truck seat covers are also less expensive than custom fitted seat covers. Be careful, though, because there’s lots of very cheap, low quality products out there.
Universal covers are normally much easier to install than custom fit covers, and they usually don’t require a professional installation...so you can save money and time there.
Car and truck seat covers will prevent sweat, stains, odors, spills and cracked leather. If you stay active or live in a warm climate, the salt in your seat, and the body oils, can destroy leather and cloth seats over time.
The best universal car seat covers are machine washable and easy to clean.
Using a seat cover can extend the life of your car seat and also maximize your car’s resale value.
Buying a Universal Seat Cover: What to Watch Out For
The right universal car seat cover will protect your car from all sorts of nasty stuff, maximize your car’s value, and is easy to use...but that doesn’t mean you can buy any product out there. Here’s why….
Go to any walmart or big box store (or Amazon) and you’ll find all sorts of low-end, cheap, poorly made universal seat covers. These won’t cost much money up front, but the cheap ones won’t offer much protection at all.
Many universal seat covers aren’t waterproof, so if you work out, enjoy the outdoors, have a pet, or drink coffee or other beverages in your car, you won’t be truly protected from moisture.
Some universal seat covers are difficult to clean. If the installation takes a long time, they can be difficult to remove as well. Plus, most seat covers are not machine washable...and who has time to hand-wash a seat cover, anyway?
If you want a seat cover that feels exactly like your current seat and doesn’t move at all, you may want to look at custom fit seat covers, because even the best universal fit seat covers will move on your seat slightly.
How to Install Universal Seat Covers
Just like quality, there’s a big difference in the ease of installation for universal seat covers. Some go on quickly, whereas others can take up to an hour or more.
This video shows an installation for some cheap universal seat covers...and the install is so long that it needs to be sped up!
Also, these seat covers just happen to rip and tear before the owner can even use them.
“These are really light and cheap. They kind of ripped a little on this one as I put it on, ripping the threads apart”
Other universal seat covers can install VERY quickly. Dry Rub products are designed to go on and off in seconds.
Dry Rub Mild installs in seconds
Dry Rub Medium waterproof seat covers install very quickly as well
Questions To Ask When Buying a Universal Seat Cover
Is it easy to install and remove?
Some car seat covers are difficult to install, and can take up lots of your time. Before getting any seat cover, make sure you understand exactly how to install it, what tools you’ll need (if any), and if you’ll need professional help.
What's the TRUE price?
You know that saying about getting what you pay for...well, that couldn’t be more true when it comes to seat covers. That $25 seat cover you found at Walmart may sound good at first, but when you consider that you’ll likely need to replace it once it falls apart, your initial cost is just a small part of what you’ll be paying soon.
Can you clean it? Is it machine washable?
Even if you never spill coffee, a protein shake, or anything else in your car, your body oils and sweat can ruin seats over time. Buying a washable car seat cover will allow you to keep your cover clean so your car will stay fresh and not smelling like a locker room.
How does the cover attach to your seat?
Some seat covers will move around more than others, so if you want extra stability on your seat make sure you get a seat cover like Dry Rub Medium that has an easy-to-use seat anchor and strap to keep it in place.
How is customer service? Can you contact someone if you’re not happy? What’s the return policy?
Lots of seat covers are sold by companies overseas that are untouchable after you make your purchase. If something goes wrong, who is going to help? If the company who creates the product is based in the USA, you’ll be much more likely to reach a real person in case of any problems.
Can you get matching accessories?
Do you want a matching seat belt cover or other types of seat covers? If you want to have your accessories look like they fit together, purchase the products from the same company so you can get consistent materials and design across the different products
Does it include lumbar support or massaging components?
Based on the odds, you’re likely to have back pain at some point in your life. Lumbar support and trigger point massagers can help prevent or relieve that if used properly.
Some universal fit products even include a car seat cover massage system so you can work out any kinks or relieve back pain while you drive.
Is it waterproof?
If you live an active lifestyle or drink beverages in your car or truck, you’ll definitely want your universal seat cover to be waterproof. Just make sure that the waterproof seat cover has several layers so that your skin is in contact with a comfortable, breathable layer and the backing is fully waterproof so you can keep your seat protected.
How does the seat cover look? Does it project an appearance that matches your lifestyle? There’s all sorts of designs and styles you can find, so make sure it’s one that you’d be proud to keep in your vehicle.
Is it breathable?
Getting in a warm vehicle and sitting directly against a universal seat cover that isn’t breathable is not going to make for a comfortable drive, and that means you’ll be less likely to use it. Make sure you don’t waste your money with a seat cover that isn’t breathable, comfortable and offers full protection in your vehicle.
This is where online reviews, social media, or referrals from friends can help a lot. A good universal seat cover is an investment, and so make sure that you’re buying something that is built to last.
Where to Buy
You can find a universal seat cover in lots of places, both in brick and mortar stores and online...but you’ll want to take a more targeted approach in order to find the BEST universal seat cover.
Big Box Stores
Walmart and other big box stores typically sell cheap, low quality covers. These stores usually sell products at the lowest cost possible, which means they’re often sacrificing quality for cost. Plus, when you’re buying a product through a retailer, they’re taking at least a 50% cut...and that money means producing a lower quality product.
Auto Parts Stores
You may be able to do a little better at an Autozone or other autoparts stores, but not by much. The seat covers found here are still on the lower-end...but at least you won’t have to deal with the people of walmart there.
Amazon has a wide range of universal seat covers. The good thing about Amazon is you can research the product through customer reviews, and if you’re a Prime member you’ll receive your seat cover in a couple days.
Direct From the Brand Online
Buying the best car seat covers directly from a brand online or in person allows you to cut out the middleman. Plus, that direct relationship can make a big difference if you have any product or customer service problems. Supporting small businesses are great for the economy (especially here in the USA) as well.
Universal seat covers can protect your car or truck from all the expected, and unexpected, nasty stuff life can throw at you. The most important thing is to purchase the best seat cover you can that fits your lifestyle, your vehicle, and is one that’s built to last.