Buyers Guide: Truck Seat Covers
SEAT COVER BUYERS GUIDE
Protect Your Pickup Seats With High-Quality Seat Covers
By Peter D. DuPre
When it comes to maintaining our pickups, most business owners are conscientious of oil, filter and coolant change intervals being observed and tires rotated on a regular basis.
After all, pickups are vital to our business; they need to be reliable and run well so you can get the job done.
Keeping up on the mechanical and appearance items also helps maximize the return on the vehicle investment when it comes time to sell or trade it in on a new work truck.
So why not protect the factory seats with high-quality covers?
A pickup that has a clean, well-maintained interior is much more appealing at resale or trade-in time than one that’s clapped out.
Yet, most of us rarely pay attention to what’s going on under the seat of our pants.
Seat surfaces are made of robust material designed to last the life of the vehicle under “normal” use. But the harsh environments work trucks are used in is far from normal, and clothing covered with oil, grime, abrasive dust, mud and such quickly take their toll on even the best OEM seat fabrics.
The result of all this is stained, dirty, threadbare and torn seat surfaces that look crummy and can decrease the resale value of your vehicle by $1,000 or more.
Installing a $400 set of premium-quality aftermarket seat covers will not only save your upholstery from damage caused by work use, but it can also protect your investment so trade-in values are maximized, potentially bringing hundreds of dollars into your hands when the time comes to step into another truck.
CHOOSE SEAT COVER FIT WISELY
To get the most protection and longest life from your seat covers, it is vital to make sure you get covers custom-tailored to your vehicle model.
A set of $29 slip-over universal covers from the local discount store won’t provide long-lasting protection or stand up to the day in, day out use and abuse from the professional user. Additionally, most universal covers are made from a thin polyester weave that wears quickly and is neither waterproof nor stain resistant.
According to Rick Messmore of Covercraft Industries, a maker of custom-tailored seat covers, consumers often mistake the “universal fit” seat covers for the more durable custom-tailored style.
“The universal fit cover is more like a protective drape laid over the seats than it is a proper seat cover,” says Messmore. “They are more a fashion item than they are a protective item and not suitable for professional use.”
Fashion, not protection, is why so many universal covers come emblazoned with frogs, fairies, logos and other designs, and why they are so inexpensive. The buyers of these tend to be younger and will often change out their seat covers to suit the particular automotive fashion trends of the moment.
The custom-fit seat cover, on the other hand, is specifically tailored to fit over the seats of a particular model pickup much like a glove, or even a second skin.
Instead of elastic running around the base of the seat cover material, custom-fit covers are held in place by a system of hidden straps and buckles or by straps with hook-and-loop-type fasteners.
Unlike universal fit covers, which often install in under five minutes, the proper installation of a set of custom-fit covers can take an hour or longer.
The result looks factory, fitting every bulge and curve of the seats for complete coverage and protection without the cover bunching up or coming loose.
MIND THE MATERIAL
Another advantage to the custom-fit seat cover is that you can choose coverings and patterns to suit your taste as well as your work needs.
For example, if your truck sees a lot of action in wet environments you could choose a set of commercial-grade CR (chloroprene rubber) neoprene covers, while a concrete worker may opt for abrasion-resistant canvas covers made from Cordura nylon.
“CR neoprene is very durable and elastic and form fitting to seat,” says Wet Okole’s Steve Grew. “It stretches and contracts when user sits on it and our covers don’t get hot in the summer or cold in the winter.”
There are more conventional options to consider, too.
A camo pattern cover like the Marathon seat covers we used in our Big Boss Ford and Project Bedrock GMC could make accrued dirt and grime less noticeable, and waterproof covers (available in a variety of patterns) will protect your upholstery from spills, mud and other liquid hazards.
Other materials used for custom-fit seat covers include polyester/cotton blends or 100-percent cotton, as well as a number of custom proprietary materials.
The plethora of seat cover materials can make choosing seat protection somewhat complicated as each has its pluses and minuses.
For example, some seat cover manufacturers use a treated, 100-percent cotton upholstery material that does not hold up well to extremely humid environments.
“The quality of the fabric is a crucial element when buying seat covers,” says Supreme’s Carmen Alfonso.
“With the intense heat inside a truck and the humidity (especially in Florida), 100-percent cotton covers literally rot.
“We use a fabric that is a 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester. The polyester is the secret to a long-lasting, durable seat cover, especially when used for commercial purposes. The average lifespan of our seat covers is at least 10 years in commercial settings.”
Plain nylon or straight polyester can also be problematic since they don’t hold up well to the greasy and dusty environments of the West and the oilfields.
For those environments, you are better off choosing a Cordura nylon blend canvas that is abrasion-resistant and wipes clean with a damp towel.
The point is when shopping for covers, take into account the type of environment in which your vehicle operates.
“Our DWR coatings last a very long time – as much as 20 launderings,” says Marathon’s Rob Morgan, “and the Cordura nylon fabric we use is more durable than neoprene, is puncture-resistant and is a self-extinguishing fabric, so it won’t easily burst into flame.
“Contractors and concrete guys love our Superhide product since the concrete dust and dirt doesn’t work through the Cordura. Oilfield guys like us since the grease and grime doesn’t get into the cover, and the covers really hold up well to abrasion from dust and dirt.”
SEAT COVER CARE & CLEANING
Think also about breatheability, especially if you spend a lot of time behind the wheel; most seat cover materials breathe as well or better than OE, but not all do and nothing is worse than spending the day on a wet and sweaty driver’s seat.
Ask the manufacturer about cleaning and care. Some materials will wipe clean with a damp towel, while others may need to be removed for an occasional shampooing.
Neoprene covers, for example, require periodic cleaning with a special wet suit shampoo (available from the seat cover manufacturer and most dive shops) to clear dirt and acids from the foam material, but don’t have to be removed for the job since they are waterproof, protecting the upholstery underneath.
While installing a set of seat covers is a great way to protect a new truck’s interior (which accounts for almost 90 percent of the business, according to Steve Grew of Wet Okole Hawaii, makers of neoprene seat covers).
Seat covers are also a great way to upgrade the appearance of work worn seats and keep them from completely wearing out too early, as well as make your truck appear more attractive to the next potential owner.
Whether your truck is new or getting on in years, protecting the interior with a set of custom-fit seat covers is both an affordable and practical idea.
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