Sweat, stains, spills, and general funkiness...nobody wants that in their car! That's exactly why you'll want the best car seat cover to protect your vehicle from all of that, and more.
While there's lots of options to choose from when looking for vehicle seat protection, you'll want to make sure you're getting a product that's right for you. That's why we've created a buying guide for different types of car seat covers that includes:
- why you do (or do not) need a seat cover for your car or truck
- the difference between custom and universal fit seat covers
- a car seat cover buying checklist
- a review of 10 popular car seat covers
First, let's figure out whether you need a seat cover...
Why Buy a Seat Cover for your Car or Truck?
A good car seat cover will protect your seats from cracking, stains, bad smells, pet hair, sun damage, liquid spills and body fluids like sweat. Keeping all of this funky stuff out of your car will make it more enjoyable for yourself, and your passengers, too. Not to mention that a good seat cover will protect your vehicle seats so you won't have to have them cleaned or replaced, they'll last longer, and have a higher resale value for your car.
Eric Sandage of PartsLocator.com says it best:
"A seat is the one piece of a vehicle’s interior that takes the most wear and tear. Its condition is also the first thing a potential buyer notices inside a vehicle. A damaged or worn seat can really hurt the final price when the time comes to trade-in or sell it."
Some people wonder whether they need a seat cover for their vehicle, and the truth is, not everyone does. Car seat covers are designed to protect your investment, but there are some cases where you may not want to do that. You probably don't want to invest in a seat cover if:
- you're driving an old car, which you don't want to resell or turn into your dealer for a new car
- your car or truck seats are already damaged and stained significantly
- you don't own a car (duh!)
- you drive an exotic car and only drive it when you and your clothes are clean, and you and your guests never bring food or any liquids in the car with you
If you don't fit into any of the categories above, getting a seat cover can be a great decision. High quality seat covers can protect your vehicle - which is often one of your biggest investments - for it's lifetime, whether it's just for a few years, or a few decades. This means:
- higher resale value when you do turn in your car, or sell it. This can pay for the car seat cover itself many times over
- a better driving experience for yourself and your passengers
- you'll be more confident knowing you don't have a stained, cracked vehicle seat
- more comfortable (who wants to sit on cracked or wet seats?)
Of course, some people will be more likely to want seat protection than others. If you have a pet, like to exercise, live in a warm climate, are into the outdoors, have children, drive a company car and want to return it in good condition, or eat or drink in your vehicle, a seat cover is a great way to protect your vehicle.
Custom Car Seat Covers vs Universal Fit
Once you know you want to purchase a car seat cover, the first thing you'll want to decide is whether you want custom seat covers, or universal fit.
Custom Seat Covers
Custom car seat covers are a semi-permanent way to protect vehicle seats from everyday wear and tear, and stains caused by coffee or other spills. Custom seat covers typically fit well and once they're on, they stay on, because they usually take a while to install, sometimes only after reviewing manuals or instructional videos.
Cost is another thing to consider - custom seat covers are usually more expensive than universal-fit covers. Outfitting your front or back row with custom seat covers can cost hundreds of dollars for a good set of seat covers.
Universal fit car seat covers come in all shapes and sizes, with an even wider variety of quality. Universal fit covers are typically easy to install and remove, and are transferrable to any of your vehicles.
Entry-level universal fit seat covers can start at a low price point - as low as $20 for one cover - but like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
Although there are lots of universal fit covers available, many are low quality. Some don't fit well, others don't look good, some aren't easy to clean, and many won't fully protect against the wear and tear of most people.
Not sure what's right for you? Before you make a purchase, make sure you're checking off each of these boxes on this buying guide checklist.
Car Seat Cover Buying Checklist
The material used is incredibly important for any car seat cover. You'll want a product that is comfortable to the touch. Why buy something to protect your seat if you're not going to use it because it's uncomfortable to sit on?
Is the car seat cover breathable? Certain materials restrict air flow and don't allow your skin to breathe. The last thing you'll want is to stick to your seat cover and not allow your skin to breathe.
Does the seat cover provide coverage on most of your seat? Does it cover the headrest, or just drape over the back of the seat, exposing your headrest? Is it a glorified towel that just drapes over the entire seat, or does it have a tighter fit that allows for a sleeker look and feel? Does the cover have non-slip material and/or other ways to keep the seat in place while you're driving?
Remember, you get what you pay for. Plenty of low-end seat covers fall apart after using them for a short time. If it gets dirty, stained, or sweaty, can you clean it without destroying the material in the washing machine or by using other cleaners?
Let's face it - sweat stinks! You don't want your vehicle smelling like a locker room, and that's sure to happen if you sweat all over your new seat cover but can't clean it properly.
Even if you don't work out or live in a warm climate, food and drink spills can leave some funky odors, too.
Make sure you purchase a washable car seat cover so that you can get rid of any germs and bacteria before they seep into the seat itself.
If you like to work out, enjoy the outdoors, are active, have pets, drink liquids in your car, or live in a warm climate, make you purchase a waterproof car seat cover. After all, what's the point of using a seat cover to protect against sweat, moisture and spills if the cover doesn't have a fully protective barrier?
Easy on/easy off
If a seat cover isn't easy to install, you're less likely to use it. If a seat cover isn't easy to remove, you're less likely to clean it properly. Make sure you're getting a product that is easy to install and remove so you'll use it often and care for it properly.
Does the look of the seat cover match your vehicle, and your lifestyle? Just because you liked playing with dolls as a kid doesn't mean that Barbie Doll themed seat cover is something you want to show off in your car.
The value of any product is determined by it's durability, cost, and how effectively it solves the problem at hand. Car seat covers can be stupid-cheap but just remember that you're aiming to protect one of your biggest investments - your vehicle - so skimping on car seat protection won't serve that purpose well.
The BEST Car Seat Covers: 10 Product Reviews
Our team reviewed some popular vehicle seat covers. See which ones made the cut and which ones should stay out of your car or truck.
"After getting the seats cleaned for my wife's car, I bought the tan with black trim Okole seat covers. It took about 30 minutes to install the covers and I was very happy with the color match."
What People Are Saying
"Best Seat Cover"
What People Are Saying