If you’ve ever had to endure a winter—or many—in an extremely cold region, you might know the feeling of getting in a frigid car that hasn’t been preheated. The tension that ice-cold seats can bring to the body can be overwhelming, and that tense sensation is not only uncomfortable but can exacerbate specific back problems.
Part of the beauty of the time we live in is that products such as heated car seat covers exist, even for those who don’t own expensive cars. If you can’t afford a luxury vehicle with heated seats, you can now buy a seat cover that will provide you with virtually the same effect.
How Heated Seat Covers Work
Most heated seat covers for cars, trucks, or vans work via a 12 V power source, typically plugged into the cigarette lighter or auxiliary power output in your car, truck, or van. It’s smart to look for a seat warmer with either a timer function or an auto shut-off setting.
In most seat warmers, electric wiring or coils run through the thin, padded cushion and heat up, the same way an electric blanket provides warmth.
As much as we would all like to think we never forget to do something, the risk of accidentally leaving the heated seat cover on can be quite dangerous. In less extreme situations, you can drain your car battery by leaving the heater plugged in, potentially leaving you stranded.
In more extreme circumstances, you risk melting spots on your vehicle’s seats or even possibly starting a fire.
- 3 Temperature Controls
- Timing Power-Off Protection
- Weight (lbs): 1.7
- 3 Temperature Controls
- Timing Power-Off Protection
- Weight (lbs): 1.7
- Lumbar Support
- Velour Fabric
- Weight (lbs): 1.4
- 2 Heating Levels
- 3 Cooling Levels
- Weight (lbs): 3.69
- Up to 118 F Temperature
- Velour Fabric
- Weight (lbs): 1.54
Best Heated Car Seat Covers (Car Seat Warmers)
1. KINGLETING Heated Seat Cushion
This back and seat heater can go up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (the hottest of the seat covers we reviewed here), and it can warm to a comfy temperature within only one minute.
Pre-selected temperatures help prevent inconsistent heating, and the timer control allows you to turn on a time—30, 60, or 90 minutes—without needing to worry whether you will forget to shut off the heat.
There is also a thermostat control built into the cover to heat, then stop warming to prevent overheating or damaging the cover, and then warming again to maintain your comfort range. We like that this seat cover is thin and has an almost universal fit for most vehicles. Elastic bands fasten the cover into place under the headrest and the bottom of your seat.
- Extremely warm for those who want intense heat
- Various temperature and timer settings
- Anti-freeze wiring harness
- Easy cigarette lighter vehicle plug-in
- Two covers can be connected for simultaneous use
- Claims to be fire retardant, but some reviews of melted spots
- Mixed reviews about the short lifespan of the product
2. FIVE S 10-Motor Vibration Massage Car Seat Warmer
This is not a rolling or Shiatsu massager; it only vibrates for the massage function.
For those who just need subtle relaxation on the commute home from work, that style of warmth and massage can be a calming attribute.
The warmth on this seat cover warmer is also on the mild side. It does not put out high heat, only a softer warming quality, making this an ideal option for those who live in more southern regions and don’t need excessive heat.
The heater can function independently from the vibration, so you can turn on the warmer without the massage. The motor has three massage speeds with four settings for different areas of the body, including the lower lumbar of the back.
- Vibration massage for muscle tension
- Handheld control
- Various settings for massage function
- Independent heat operation
- Very low heat
3. HealthMate Heated Seat Cushion with Lumbar Support
The softer cover is also pleasant for frigid days—a bit less jarring than a smooth faux leather finish.
One of the best attributes of this seat warmer is the price. At under $20, it is an extremely affordable way to heat your seat in colder temperatures.
Four elastic straps help secure the cover into place, and this model plugs into the car cigarette lighter, too. (Make sure you unplug it when not in use to prevent draining your vehicle’s battery.)
- Plush cover
- Simple hand control
- Nearly universal fit
- Thin cushioning
- Warms to 114 degrees Fahrenheit
- Smaller sized seat cover
- Complaints about short product life
4. Snailax Seat Cushion with Cooling and Heating
The extremely breathable “3D mesh” allows air to flow between you and the seat, while the cooling setting blows fresh air through the mesh holes.
The feature is much like having a fan blow a breeze on your back and the bottom of your legs to prevent overheating and getting sweaty while sitting in your vehicle.
The warming technology has two settings and heats up both the back and seat area of the cover. The 30-minute auto shut-off is a smart design on the company’s part, helping to prevent burns or damage to seats. This 12-volt heater warms enough to give you ample coziness but has an overheat protection mode to prolong the life of the product and reduce risk to your and your vehicle.
- Heat and cooling functions
- Well-ventilated seat cover
- Washable mesh
- Auto shut-off for safety
- Highly rated heated seat cover
- A little pricier
- The cushion is not the softest
5. Sojoy Universal Multifunctional Heated Cushion
This seat warmer is a bit more affordable than the KINGLETING model, so the 20 degrees lower temperature and the two extra minutes to heat up would be worth it to many people. It’s still a hot seat and gets there relatively quickly.
The non-slip backside of this seat cover is complemented by the elastic hook fasteners to help hold it in place. There is also a 45-minute timer to give you ample time to warm up while offering a safety shut-off for peace of mind. The cover is made with a breathable polyester fabric and has a high and low-temperature setting.
- 45-minute timer
- Plenty of heat up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
- Reasonable price
- Universal fit
- Standard 12-volt cigarette lighter plug-in
- Some complaints of short product life
- Can overheat some types of vehicle seats
Who Can Benefit from Seat Warmers?
For perpetually cold people, seat warmers can bring continuous relief that feels worth every penny during winter months. Those who have back pain that is worsened by tense muscles may find that a heated seat cover helps to relax chronically tight muscles and reduce back pain.
For others, the sensation of a seat warmer can be calming during long or stressful commutes.
Many newer vehicles, especially luxury models, come with warmers built-in. However, if you don’t want to acquire a new car payment but love the idea of seat heaters, a heated seat cover can be a fantastic, affordable solution.
Most heated seat covers cost in the ballpark of $50, sometimes less. Compared to the purchase of a new vehicle, buying a removable seat warmer can be a cost-effective and straightforward alternative.
Some elderly users, if you need to drive an aging parent around, for example, can find heated seat covers a great benefit. Just be careful of anyone using a pacemaker, as some seat heaters should be avoided in this case. In an otherwise healthy, aging individual, warming a car seat can make trips to places such as doctor’s appointments much more tolerable, especially when it is cold outside.
What to Look for in a Car Seat Warmer
Heated car seat covers are not all created equal, and some will stop working much faster than others. While you can never be 100 percent sure of a product before buying, check reviews from users before buying to see which models tend to have faster burnout or conversely better results than others. You want to make sure you get a seat warmer with at least the majority of feedback being five stars.
Some heated seat covers will get much warmer than others.
If you live in a warmer region and have mild winters, some seat warmers that provide lower heat can last longer and are sometimes safer. Contemplate how much heat you actually need, and then seek out a heated seat cover that meets your requirements but also has a lot of positive feedback.
It is also imperative that you get a seat warmer that can strap into place with hooks or, more often, elastic bands. You don’t want to learn the hard way that your seat heater causes you to slip around while driver more than you typically would.
Some models of heated seat covers can also provide a vibration type of massage function. If you are only looking for the heat, it is probably best to avoid these types of covers, as the warmth can be less than the standard heater.
If you only need a little heat, but find a gentle vibration relaxing on your back muscles, this type can be ideal for some drivers, or even for a passenger who rides in your car. The vibration massage can help improve surface circulation in some individuals.
Risks of Leaving on Too Long
It is also worth heeding caution when investing in a heated seat cover. Anything that heats up has the potential to burn or overheat. While most seat warmer covers will have at least a couple reviews of melted spots or overheated seats (some of which can be due to misuse or neglect), pay attention if there are several with consistent problems.
If you notice a heated seat cover getting consistent customer feedback about similar melting issues or overheated, even burned spots, it is likely best to avoid the product and try something else. Never leave your heated seat cover on in the car unattended, and during long trips, turn it off from time to time to allow it to cool down.
Overheating your body temperature can also cause drowsiness. Use extra caution when driving and using a seat warmer. If you notice it making you sleepier than usual, shut it off, open a window or put on the air conditioning, and pull over or stop at a rest area until your energy returns.
Heated seat covers are not designed to be used for kid’s seats. Never operate a seat warmer under a car seat, booster seat, or on a high setting with a child using it. Some seat heaters should not be used by those with pacemakers, as well, so check with a doctor before buying one.
If you’ve never purchased a seat warmer before, pay attention to the customer feedback. It can be tempting to try a save a few bucks by getting the cheapest version available, but that money will feel entirely wasted if the heater burns out in a month.
Looking for a heated seat cover with ample five-star feedback can be worth spending an extra $20 if it means it will last you a few winters.
Now That You’ve Selected a Heated Seat Cover
Once your seat warmer arrives, it is a good idea to test it out before driving with it. If the temperature gets too hot, it is better to find out in your driveway or on a short trip than on a long journey on an interstate.
Inspect the bottom of your heated seat cover from time to time, especially in the first week of use, to make sure your car’s cushions are handling the heat without damage or signs of compromise.
Once you begin regularly using your warmer, make sure to turn it off for intervals during long trips if it does not have an automatic shut off option. This will not only prevent your body temperature from getting too hot but also help protect the cushions of your vehicle and prolong the life of the heater.
The wiring in heated seat covers can wear out or burn out quickly if not treated well, so take caution not to overheat the device for long periods. A solid rule to follow is that of shutting off the heater every 30 to 45 minutes and allowing it to cool down for at least 20 minutes before turning it back on again. You might find that the heating element will last much longer when you do this.
When storing your warmer (over summer months, for example) try not to roll it too tightly or store it under heavy items. The wiring inside the cover can be fragile, and bending the wires too far, too extreme, or folding it and setting bulky items on the folds can break down the wiring and damage the heated seat cover or even render it useless.
It is worth noting that you should store your heated seat cover during excessively hot months. If the interior of your vehicle will be baking in the hot sun or enduring temperatures over 80 degrees outside, this can also wear down the integrity of your seat covers.
During these months, it’s a good idea to remove the seat cover and store it somewhere cool and dry, out of direct sunlight, and somewhere it will not get too dusty or dirty.
Enjoying the Warmth
As mentioned, never leave a seat heater turned on unattended or while the car is shut off. To do so can be dangerous and can drain your car battery. With proper care, your heated seat cover can take some of the bite out of winter driving and make those long, cold months a bit more pleasant.
There is no single “best heated seat cover” for all individuals. Everyone will prefer different models for their own reasons. Pick what is most important to you, whether it’s a high temperature, various settings, or a lower warmth setting with massage, and give one a whirl.
Just as the Danish get through their Nordic winters by embracing the idea of hygge, a concept of reveling in anything cozy, these little, warming experiences can make cold seasons more pleasant. You might be surprised how much more enjoyable winter driving can be when you experience the luxury of a cozy, warmed seat for the ride.