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Leather, Cloth, or Vinyl: Choosing the Best Seat Covers for Your Car



ar seat covers can make that little splash of difference in an older car, perk it up and hide the little tears or stains that have appeared over the years. In a newer vehicle car seat covers can protect that new fabric and keep your car looking in tiptop shape. Styles range from plain and simple and cartoon characters to wild animal prints. There are molded car seat covers, heated ones, ones made with wooden beads made from any number of hard-wearing fabrics. There are car seat covers to fit the make and model of your vehicle and suit your personality.

  1. Vinyl. The most durable, weather resistant and generally carefree choice. Vinyl is quite durable, very resistant to sun fading, comes in some attractive colors and produces a good looking seat.
  2. Leather. Leather is durable and has a luxurious feel. Leather is easier to keep clean and more water-proof than velour, and being a naturally porous material it "breathes" better then vinyl. Protected from the elements and periodically treated to restore its natural oils leather will outlast even the heaviest vinyl.
  3. Cloth: Cloth seat covers are usually made of heavyweight auto upholstery material with ½" foam padding. Typically, seat cover backs stretch to allow covers to make a snug, glove-like fit.
  4. Sheepskin: These make good car seat covers if your dog travels with you frequently.  They are very reasonably priced and you can throw them in the washer to clean them.

Maintaining Your Seat Cover

A vinyl seat cover is probably one of the easiest to keep clean.  Generally a good wipe with a damp cloth is all it takes to keep that “new” look. 

A cloth and/or sheepskin seat cover can be thrown in the washing machine using the gentle cycle in your washer. Since there’s always a chance that the heat from your dryer might shrink the cloth, I would hang it out to dry.  

If you own a leather seat cover, Clean the leather with a damp, soft cloth. When dry, buff lightly with a clean, brass or nylon bristle brush or nubuck brush to restore the nap of the leather fibers. Scuff marks and dirt may be gently removed with a suede-cleaning eraser or suede stone. It’s also a good idea to spray the surface with a good water based weather protector.  

So which seat cover should you choose?  The one that best suits your needs.  Consider that vinyl can be very hot and sticky in the summer, and cold in the winter. Cloth breathes better, and it won’t stick to your skin, and leather will give you that luxurious feel.  Although more expensive by far, you can keep that leather seat cover looking new for years to come by taking good care of it and protecting it from the elements. 

Also see:

Your Car's Interior

Door Panels-The Rattle and Pounding Fix

Hauling Trash and the Sponge Game - Cleaning your Vehicle’s Interior

Airbags: More Than Just a Lot of Hot Air?

5 Great Entertainment Options for Your Car



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