Car Laws & Safety

Are Car Seat Protectors Safe [Read Before You Buy]

Car seat protectors can also cover your car seats from any possible damages that your child’s car seat can cause. Car seat protectors are fittings intended to add a layer of protection to your car’s upholstery.  This can shield your car’s original leather from the expected wear and tear, accidental spills, crumbs, dirt, and other elements that can wet and damage it.

But, is it safe to use car seat protectors? Are those car seat protectors worth your effort and money?

Car seat protectors are generally considered safe so long as you are using the correct kind. You should purchase the car seat protector from manufacturers who made your car seat.  This information can be confirmed by the Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). It advises that the safety of a car seat protector is significantly influenced by where you get it from.

What are the Different Types of Car Seat Protectors?

There are three kinds of car seat protectors. If you are planning to get one, consider each option carefully before making a purchase. 

The Bench Seat Protectors

This kind of car seat protector is designed for conventional-looking back seats. It is a one-piece cover that wholly protects your entire backseat. This is an excellent choice if you don’t want any debris or clutter to get stuck in between your car seats.

Plenty of people prefer this kind of seat protector because it does an excellent job in safeguarding the car’s upholstery from liquids and pets. The drawback of this kind is the lack of dedicated space for your seat belt buckle.


The Back of Seat Protectors

This is your ideal car seat protector if your children ride their car seats in a forward-facing position. As the driver, you might notice the constant kicks you get from the back and your kid resting their feet on the seats in front.

As the name suggests, this kind of car seat protector is to secure the back of the passenger and driver seats. You can reduce the messy and dirty shoe prints with these protectors. As a bonus, these car seat protectors usually have pockets in them for storage. This is to compensate for not having access to the bags at the back of the passenger and driver seats.

The Bucket Seat Protectors

This car seat cover is intended to protect a single seat only. Some parents, especially those who own an SUV, prefer having this one as it does not affect the entire back seat. Instead, you will have this dedicated to the seat where your child’s car seat is set.

The disadvantage of buckle seat protectors is they are not applicable for the middle seat. So if this is where your car’s child seat is set, you need to move it to either the left or right side.


Safe Sources To Buy Car Seat Protectors 

Generally, there are two primary sources from where you can purchase a car seat protector. One would be manufacturers that produce car seat protectors, and the other one would be third-party companies that also manufacture protectors.

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When To Turn Car Seat Around : Forward Facing Questions

The main difference between the two would be car seat manufacturers crash-test their car seat protectors. This is to ensure that it is safe for use. Since they are from brands known to produce car seat protectors, the expected quality and safety standards are higher than any third-party company.

Buying car seat protectors from a cat seat manufacturer makes the product safer than aftermarket companies, who might have missed out on doing crash-testing on their car seat protectors.

Sure, third-party companies can always claim that their car seat protectors are safe, but unfortunately, they have zero means to back up this declaration. 

Direct manufacturers of car seat protectors have tested this product on the top US vehicles, so there is legitimacy when it comes to crash impact and blunt force data when needed for a specific model or brand. 

As added security, car seat protectors made directly from a car seat protector manufacturer have remediation in place so the protectors won’t interfere with the car seat installation. A tight and snug fit is required to prevent any incorrect car seat installations from being hidden.

If your car seat protector restricts how your car seats work and is not crash-tested, it can be dangerous.

Are Custom Car Seat Covers Safe?  

Most companies that are customizing seat covers are not associated with your car seats’ manufacturer. There is a risk for the overall quality and safety of custom car seats. They are third-party vendors that have zero government regulations.

The original car seat manufacturer rarely approves them since they work independently, so there would be uncertainties regarding the materials used in manufacturing these car seat covers. You can’t be confident that the materials used are flame retardants.

Even if these custom car seat cover vendors have accurate measurements, the precision and quality of their finished product can always be questioned. They can be a reason for some car parts to be restricted. It might cause the buckles, harness, and straps to be limited and interrupt them from serving their purpose.

So, best to avoid car seat covers because you can’t guarantee that it is safe. The manuals of most car seats would even have a word of caution about avoiding custom car seats. It is best to directly order a spare or a new set of car seat covers from the company of your car seats.


When Car Seat Protectors Become Unsafe?

The main reason why using car seat protectors for car seats becomes unsafe is that it generally becomes a barrier between your child and your restraining safety system. In addition, more often than not, they are installed incorrectly.

When installed wrong, the continuous shifting can slacken your car seat installation, and this will make your car seats work less efficiently. Most of the time, your product manual would have in print if using a car seat protector for your car seat is safe or not.

Are Car Seat Covers Safe with Airbags? 

Unless your car seat cover came from the manufacturer of your car seats, car seat covers and airbags don’t go well together. It will be an unpredictable consequence, and it is something you’d relatively not risk, especially if you have kids.

Seat covers can cause harm to the way your airbags work. They might not work as expected and might even cause more harm. Due to the restrictions, the airbags might inflate, yes, but at an unpredictable angle and with a force that can cause physical pain. 

Another possible result could be you getting pushed in an odd direction that can cause you greater danger. You also have to weigh the likelihood that the airbags may get delayed or might not deploy at all due to the seat covers.

Are Car Seat Strap Covers Safe?

Car seat strap covers are unsafe because they can add bulkiness and pressure to the car seat’s actual straps. This can cause some challenges when you need to tighten or loosen the belt.

These strap covers can also interfere with the primary purpose of the car seat. It can modify the position and alignment of the restraining system, cause discomfort and even injury to your child. This is one car seat accessory that you should skip.

Are Car Seat Slipcovers Safe?

Also referred to as car seat pads, this is a complete no-no and is not safe to be used.

They are designed to go under your child’s body, and this fabric can impact the functionality of the car seat if an accident happens. It reduces the performance of the car seat to protect your child. Sure, it can make your car seat prettier but not in any way safer.


Are Winter or Heated Car Seat Covers Safe?

Yes, heated car seat covers are generally safe, especially if from the same manufacturer as your car seat. 

Most of today’s winter car seat covers are integrated with an auto shut-off timer, so you don’t have to brood about overheating after a specified temperature has been reached. 

Heated car seat covers are also designed not to run continuously and drain your battery’s car. There is a maximum limit of heat assigned to this car accessory to prevent the risk of burning or damaging your car seat and upholstery. 


Are Stretchy Car Seat Covers Safe?

Stretch car seat covers are usually made of mesh material and follow a universal fit. This makes one of your safer options when you want to use a car seat cover.

It provides your child protection from insects, dust, and debris. The best thing is about it, you always have visibility of your child, and when you don’t need it, you can easily store it without the need to disassemble anything.

After Thoughts

Car seat protectors are convenient car seat accessories that can help maintain your car seats’ cleanliness and overall aesthetics. The safety of your car seat protectors is dependent on where you purchase them from.

It is recommended that you buy one from your car seat manufacturer to ensure that it will not interfere with your child seat’s installation. 

Note that if your car seat protector becomes an interruption to how a car seat should function, then this convenient accessory becomes a dangerous one. Therefore, it would be better to use alternative options. 

And as a general rule of thumb, if it didn’t come with your car seat, then you’re better off without it.

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren