In general, split seat covers in two groups - universal and custom-made. The differences between the two groups are significant and we’ll explain them to answer the next question.
Universal car seat covers
Custom car seat covers
The differences between universal covers and custom-made seat covers are quite sharp! They vary in their purpose, how they are processed, the material used and also the price. The following sections look into the differences between these two products in more detail.
Universal seat covers are produced so they can be installed into several car models. A production schedule is normally displayed that outlines the usability of universal seat covers and includes all vehicle models where the seat covers can be fitted. The advantage of universal seat covers is mainly the lower price. Due to the lower cost of producing the seat cover patterns and the use of cheaper, elastic materials, less can be spent manufacturing universal seat covers than on custom-made covers. The main negative aspect of universal seat covers is their versatility among cars. Because they are manufactured for several models, they are not expected to fit exactly ont the seats. The durability and longevity of the materials along with whether the covers can be safely used with side-airbag seats are also questionable.
Who should buy universal seat covers?
1. There are no seat custom-made seat covers on the market that fit their vehicle
2. Lower cost of universal covers (where the price of custom-made seat covers in certain extreme cases may exceed the value of the vehicle)
Custom-made seat covers are a more expensive, though markedly higher quality alternative, for changing a car’s interior. This seat cover category is always produced for one specific type of seat – a carefully designed pattern guarantees the seat covers will fit on seats with millimeter precision. Quality custom-made seat covers protect the car’s original upholstery and have a positive influence on the esthetics of the interior. When custom-made seat covers are produced, better materials are used. You often encounter in the production of seat covers materials that car manufacturers use to produce original car upholstery. These materials have been developed specifically for the automotive industry and meet strict conditions guaranteeing sufficient durability, material strength and resistance to light, among other things. The disadvantages of this category lie in the price, which can be many times higher than the cost of a universal car seat.
Who are custom-made covers intended for?
- New car owners who want to protect the original upholstery for as long as possible against outside effects.
- Owners who are fans of tuning, and not satisfied about how the car’s exterior is modeled.
- Car owners whose interiors are worn, and who want to return their vehicles to their “glory days”
- Car owners who want to avoid time-consuming cleaning of seats
- Company cars (taxicabs, transport companies, police cars, ambulance, etc.)
Mini Copper One seats before and after installation of custom-made seat covers High-quality and precisely tailored seat covers are difficult to distinguish from the original upholstery. The right seat has seat covers installed that are made with Alcantara® as the core material and Leather Look (automotive synthetic leather) as the edge material.
Like clothing, you can encounter a large variety of materials used in making seat covers for cars. They can vary in color, pattern design, strength and other areas. You can also encounter fabric, plush, semi-leather and full-leather seat covers. The most advanced seat covers are those produced from Alcantara® microfibers (more information about this material can be found at www.alcantara.com). The use of genuine leather to produce secondary seat covers is problematic due to its natural properties (real leather expands at higher temperatures and may cause damage). As well as the precision patterning, the quality of the material used can vary significantly among products from different manufacturers. In general, the following applies:
Materials produced for the furniture or clothing industry may at first sight seem to be appropriate for the manufacture of the seat covers for cars. However, these materials are not developed for conditions that are necessary for use in the automotive industry. The following paragraphs summarize the two most fundamental reasons why furniture materials should not be used to produce seat covers:
- Large temperature fluctuations: the temperature inside a car can rise during a summer day up to 70°C, and in winter the temperature falls well below freezing. Only materials developed for the automotive sector can withstand such extreme changes in temperature
- High degree of material load: because passengers frequently get into and out of a car, such materials require long durability and high strength.
Likewise, the quality of the lamination has a significant impact on the quality and life of these materials. Lamination is a process where automotive foam rubber is bonded to the inside of the material. The quality of lamination is influenced by several factors: quality of the production process used by the laminating material company (the company’s engineering equipment, and the skills and experience of the laminating staff), width and density of the rubber foam. Lamination plays several important roles:
- Protecting seat cover material against creasing
- Preventing seat covers from shifting along the original upholstery
- Soft foam rubber increases passenger comfort. .
In addition to side-airbag inflation testing, high-quality airbags undergo other tests designed to examine the quality of the materials used. Quality testing of materials includes long and short-term parts. Short-term testing puts seat covers in laboratory conditions where the quality of the material and precision of the processing are examined. The length of these tests is 100 cycles – 1200 hours (50 days). The demands required in such testing is evidenced by the minimum and maximum temperatures of a cycle (-40° to +80°C) and by the extreme change of air humidity (from 30% up to 80%).
Long-term testing of material quality is conducted under normal traffic conditions over a length of 100,000 kilometers. The purpose of such testing is to obtain knowledge about how the covering behaves in practical use of the vehicle (including installation).
The article has addressed in stages all the areas that are likely to influence your satisfaction with the selection of seat covers. To conclude, we briefly summarize all the features that your custom-made seat covers should have.
- Quality seat covers are produced from materials that are intended for use in the automotive industry, with the quality and durability of the materials proven by applicable testing.