Sunday, September 25, 2011

Car Seat Covers - A selection Guide

In the last ten years, I did seat cover shopping 5 times. Based on my experience I will share some lessons learned which might help in you in taking an informed decision. 

I will start with the lessons learned first. Each of the lessons has a story behind it which I have shared below in detail. 

Lessons learned on Car Seat Cover Purchase 
  1.  If the original fabric seats without seat covers is looking good, put off seat cover purchase. After 2 - 3 years you can put new ones and give a fresh look and a new smell to the car 
  2. The fabric in the seats under the seat cover also get worn out along with the seat cover. So never think of using the bare seat after using the seat with covers for some years. 
  3. Buying ready made seat covers from Delhi works out to be a lot cheaper than in other cities. 
  4. Try to get quote for similar seat covers from different accessory shops. You are sure to get the best price because of this 
  5. Ready made seat covers tend to get loose after some usage. 
  6. Leather seat covers are the best, but cost above 15k even for small cars 
  7. Fabric seat covers decreases the roominess in the car 
  8. Artificial leather (art leather) seat covers are preferred, but just ensure the thickness of the material by comparing the type of the material in different shops. Very thinner ones gets torned off easily, even by finger nails. 
  9. Stitched seat covers fits perfectly with the seat and the shape of the seat can be retained.Eventhough it is stitched to the seat, removing the stitch is easy and does not damage the seat.  
  10. Most accessory shops outsource the stitching job to small upholstery shops. So if one is willing to look around for an accessory shop an artificial leather seat can be stitched at a very lower price (atleast 50% saving is guaranteed than getting it done through a standard accessory shop) 
  11. I can vouch for Car Shoppe in Thiruvananthapuram for seat covers based on my experience (cost wise and quality wise) 

Now a detailed history of the lessons learned!! 

Buying a new car sure brings some joyous moments in one's life. Nowadays this joy is prolonged, while shopping and fitting accessories too. People who buy low end models try to fit accessories matching the higher version of the same car. Those who buy the high end models, will try to add on extra features. 
What looks good for one may not look good for other. One of the most common accessory that every car buyer fits is the car seat cover. 

When I was in the market on the look out for a seat cover for my Maruthi 800, my only requirement was to go for the cheapest one and the one I found was a ready made seat cover. The black seat cover was of the artificial leather type with ample cushioning and the price was Rs.2250 (back in 2001).

Back in office I found that one of my friends also got the same seat covers. But he purchased it for just Rs.1000/- from Delhi. (Lesson 3). He got it fitted by a local guy who charged Rs.250. What a saving !!! 

Next time when I was ready to go accessory shopping for Hyundai Santro (in 2004), I made a wish list of accessories and got a quote from three different dealers. Found out that quote varied by atleast 20% between dealers located very close to each other (Lesson 4) After that, I priotised my list based on the need and the budget in hand. The car seat cover was chosen as a needed one. 

Eventhough the fabric seats without seat covers were looking good, since my kid was very small there was a chance of spilling eatables/milk/drink etc. On the fabric seats it might be nearly impossible to clean it and it can cause a bad odour too. So the decision was to put the seat cover now, and later on when the seat cover get damaged, in the course of 3 - 4 years, we will remove it and use it without seat cover. 

Types of Seat Cover  Fitting  
Once decided, two options were available, based on how the seat covers are fitted on the seats. 

1. The ready made seat covers, which can just be inserted like a cover and it will be fastened by the elastic ropes underneath the seats. 
Advantages: We can chose the seat cover after putting it, ie we know how the product will look like. We can remove it whenever needed. Disadvantages: If the elastic ropes gets loosened then the seat cover may slide to one side giving it an imperfect look. 

2. The stitched ones: We have to select the color and the design and the accessory shop will stitch the seat cover for you. This seat cover will be stitched on to the seat. Advantages: Customized design is possible, cost effective 
Disadvantages: We get to see the final product only after stitching. 

Type of Seat Cover Material  

Another choice to be made was the type of material. 
1. Original leather based seat covers cost upwards from Rs. 15000, hence ruled out (lesson 6). 
2. Artificial leather seat covers are available in the range Rs. 2000 to Rs. 6000, 
3. Fabric seat covers are available in the range Rs. 2000 to Rs. 6000. 

Since we had planned to remove the seat cover after 3 - 4 years and use it without one, we decided to get the ready made ones. We chose a fabric type cover with an artificial leather base which will help us to clean the seat cover if food spills occurs. We doubted whether the artificial leather one will cause sweating in our back. Got it for Rs. 3500 from "Car Shoppee" an accesory shop in Thiruvananthapuram. 

After 1 year of usage itself, the disadvantage which I earlier mentioned started to have its effect and seat cover began to move away whenever someone sitting moves about in the seat. Tighetened the knots once during service, but the problem persisted. While entering the car, it does not look good to see a misplaced seat cover as it gives the impression of a badly maintained car. (lesson 5

Neverthless I used this seat cover for 4 years !! Time came to pep up the car or to sell it and buy a new one. We decided to keep the car as it had no problems what so ever. (See my review of hyundai Santro Xing here). Gave a new set of shoes and alloys for the car (See my review of Apollo Accelere tyres and Alloys here

The seat covers were worn out too. So as planned the seat covers were removed so that we can use the original seats. But to our surprise found out that the original fabric seats also had lost its charm and the fabric was completely worn out. (lesson 1 and lesson 2) So we had to put a new seat cover. 

This time there was no confusion as to whether we need a ready made one or stitched one. We opted for the stitched one and chose a color matching the car's color and to make the interior little bit lively. Artificial leather was chosen, since the fabric ones was tried out earlier. The fabric ones seems to reduce the roominess inside the car and dust gets easily accumulated (Lesson 7). Fabric ones also caused back sweating when the temperature rises. 

See the new stitched ones here. 

Again the accessorry shop which did this was "Car shoppe" based on the lowest quote obtained (Quote was Rs. 2500/-). The stitched seat covers fit perfectly to the seats and it gives a feeling that there is more space in the car because it is tightly bound to the seats. 
After using it for sometime, found that the sweating problem is not much there and it is almost the same as in the fabric type seat. The cooling power of AC has also an impact here. Luckily Hyundai santro's AC is a chiller. 

I was so happy with the work that my other car (Toyota Innova) was also fitted with stitched seat covers by the same accessory shop (lesson 11). 

The beige color gives a brighter appearance inside, but has the disadvantage of getting dirty easily. But since it is artificial leather, we can easily clean with some shampoo and rubbing of the dirt with a wet cloth, without using excessive water and it will look brand new again. Watch how it looks like after a good wash. 

Based on the above experience when I was asked to get a seat cover for my brother in law's Swift, I promptly advised to go for the artificial leather stitched ones. Got this done at an accessory shop in Kozhikkode (Calicut). The output was good too. 

But within a year of usage found out that the seats began to tear out. On closer inspection I found that the material was quite flimsy when compared with the ones used in Santro. (lesson 8
Took it back to the accessory guy who promptly denied the quality factor. According to him the seat cover might have been wet which made it tear. But interestingly the back rest also had peeled off. Neverthless we got it replaced by another artificial leather one (No he didn't do it free of cost) Still we ensured that the thickness was more than the previous one. 

While removing the stitched ones, I saw that it is quite easy to remove the stitches too as there are not many stitches and once the stitch is removed there are no marks in the seat cover too. (Lesson 9). 

Later once when I went to stitch my Bike's seat which was torn in a local accessory shop, I saw that he was stitching lots of car seat covers. On enquiry found out that he was doing it for some accessory shop and he charges around Rs. 400 for the stitching. When I asked him whether he will do it for retail also he nodded positively. So that means if we purchase the material alone and get it stitched from an upholstery shop there can be a huge saving too (Lesson 10)

Please add your experiences and/or queries here as comments. Might be helpful for others too. 

Thanks for reading and Have a nice day !!


Nita Stelling said...

A red seat cover looks good for me, especially if the car is plain black or white. BTW, the new stitched cover of your car looks good. Thanks for posting this one! :D

leather repair Austin said...

This is quite an informative post and we appreciate you for sharing your stories with lessons that we can also apply to our lives as well. Usually the best lessons are from those who have continually experienced different challenges in life like you. Thank you!


Seat covers are best option to save car seats as we know long time use of car seat make them dirty and ugly and ruin car's interior to avoid this seat covers are use and your described seat covers are best.

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Regarding Car Seat Cover
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Dwayne Charles said...

It is simply superb guide for me to make selection of best car seat covers for my Honda CR-V. I will soon get them and install them for a brand new and unique look of my car.
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Thejus T said...

I just want to know whether, we sweat a lot while driving sitting on a art leather seat covered seats?

Arvind Jaiswal said...

Order cheap car leather seat covers online from India's top online shopping site where you get a unique opportunity to buy from a shopkeeper located in a nearby market of your city.

Jose Miller said...


Very good post! I found much more information from this blog. It offer quality car seat covers for cars at low prices. Naturally this give the car a far better impression than the universal cover. But I used my car seat cover from It gives me comfort to journey …

Anonymous said...

Hey Buddy - Thanks a ton for these valuable insights. You've beautifully almost all the concerns that I was having and your 11 lessons have made me a wise man. I now know what to look out for as I'm was undecided on whether to add seat cover or not to my new car, until I read you post. Thanks Again.

Himgiri Hyundai Gurgaon said...

Your selection guide is so appreciated for choosing car seat cover.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for providing a very detailed experience. Very well articulated.
Thanks a ton!!

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I liked the red one.

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Anonymous said...

Was your friend's original seat also worn when you took off the stitched seat covers after one year? I think the wear on the original seat is because you had chosen a fabric cover for the first time.

Anonymous said...

Superb article !!! Clarifies all doubts regarding seat covers in one place. Thanks a lot for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

Its just a very good article regarding seat covers. Hope I can also go with car shopped. Thank you for your valued reviews.

Prakash Dora said...

I came to know that Autoform make car seat covers are good and tailored for best fitting. So I looked in Bhubaneswar for my Honda City but did not find as per the design shown in its catalogue. Had been to Delhi and not available in any shop in Karolbagh. Also went to Kolkata and shopkeepers say they will order if asked for. I have decided to get the covers in local shop as I remember the ready made ones went out of shape in my previous vehicle.

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HAPPY said...

I have installed an art leather seat cover (stitched one) in my brand new swift over the original fabric seat cover provided by the company.
Will the original fabric seat cover got damaged if I remove it after 2 to 3 years?

The plan is same as yours, using the original seat cover after 2 to 3 years once this seat cover got damaged.

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Vino said...

I have Hyundai Elite i20 asta o model. In Coimbatore koyas company, I had done my seat cover works.
They charged amount about 20000 for seat cover.
Without my knowledge they removed the existing seat cover. What should I do with the original seat cover.

Vino said...

I have Hyundai Elite i20 asta o model. In Coimbatore koyas company, I had done my seat cover works.
They charged amount about 20000 for seat cover.
Without my knowledge they removed the existing seat cover. What should I do with the original seat cover.

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