When it’s -10 degrees outside and you need to get to work, you get in your car and start down the road. It’s then that you begin to feel the chill of the cold seat get through your clothing. This isn’t a pleasant experience, is it? 

If you’re sick of cold seats, it may be time to consider heated seats. The question though is “are they worth it?”. They may keep you warm in the winter, but what good are they in the summer?

In this article, we’ll discuss whether or not heated seats are worth the cost. They are considered a luxury, so it comes down to whether it’s a need or a want. 

Personally, we don’t think that heated seats are worth it to the average driver. Those who suffer from chronic back pain may benefit from them, though. Keep reading to find out more. 

ProsCons
Great for lower back painHeating element can fail easily
Keeps even the coldest people warmCan cause infertility in men if used improperly
Comes standard with a variety of vehiclesMay be costly to install
Reduces stiffness while drivingNot good for leather seats
 Can exacerbate certain medical conditions

Are Heated Seats Worth It?

We can certainly be spoiled these days with the ever-expanding range of technological advances. We have access to in-dash internet access, remote start, self-defrosting windows, and much more. 

Heated seats are another luxury that’s not quite new to the market, but may offer more smart technology. 

Some may say that heated seats are a waste of money since they don’t really get used in the warmer months. This may be so, but there are certainly some added benefits of this luxury that you may not be aware of. 

Chronic Pain Relief

Most people know that using heat on their backs helps alleviate lower back pain. It’s been proven that heat therapy speeds up the healing process. It does this by promoting healing by increasing blood flow to the muscles in the lower back.

This increased blood flow delivers more oxygen, platelets, white blood cells, and essential nutrients to the damaged tissue to aid in healing. 

Your sensory nerves respond to this heat by releasing chemical messengers that dilate the blood vessels and enhance the blood flow speed. The heat and increased blood flow help the temperature of the skin rise to match your body’s core temperature.

Once your skin reaches that temperature, the blood absorbs the excess heat and protects your skin from burns. 

Additionally, the heat will also transfer from the skin surface deep into the muscles and improve blood circulation into the muscle. 

Calms Painful Muscle Spasms

If you suffer from painful muscle spasms, the heat from the seats can help this. If you suffer from lower back pain, most forms of lower back pain will involve some element of lower back muscle spasms.

These can be severe and extremely painful. They’re actually one of the most common causes of visits to the emergency room. 

As a result of these spasms, circulation is restricted and pain signals are sent to the brain. Using the heated seats can help relieve tightness in your lower back by increasing circulation, relaxing tense muscles, and reducing related pain. 

Reduces Pain From Stiffness

If you drive long distances, you may be prone to back stiffness. Applying heat from the car seats can help stretch the soft tissues around the spine which includes connective tissue, adhesions, and muscles.

Regular heat therapy while driving can decrease stiffness and injury, increase range of motion, and strengthen movements of the trunk. 

Reduces Reliance on Medications

Heat therapy is a fantastic and effective way to ease the pain as opposed to over-the-counter medications.

Heat therapy has a lower risk of side effects than medications do. Since lower back pain tends to arise while driving, using heated seats is a great substitute for medication. 

Warmth

The most obvious benefit of heated seats is that they keep you warm. Generally, the heating system in the car is more than enough to keep you warm, but in extreme temperatures, you may need a little extra.

Additionally, some people are just cold no matter what they do. If you or somebody you ride with suffering from this issue, it may be beneficial to invest in heated seats. 

Furthermore, since the heat is close to your body, it allows you to warm up faster than with just heat from the car’s system alone. If you’re cold all of the time, heated seats will be your best friend, especially on long distances. 

Negative Aspects of Heated Seats

With all positives, there are some negatives. Currently, more than half of all vehicles in Europe and America are already equipped with heated seats. It may seem like a handy feature at first, but it can be quite a hassle for some individuals. 

Leather Seats

Heated seats probably shouldn’t be used with leather. The very first risk of heated leather seats is that your leather can change color. When the heated seats are on, it can cause the leather to change over time due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

However, you can eliminate this issue by applying a water-based conditioner to keep them moisturized. 

Mold and Mildew

Heated seats can affect the leather seat by causing mold or mildew growth. This happens because the heat from the seats changes the temperature of the car interior when activated.

Over time, the temperature change can be so dramatic that the humidity levels change in the vehicle. This increased humidity can lead to mold or mildew growth, which can be toxic. It can also cause your seats to smell pretty badly. 

Sweat Stains

Think about it. When you sweat, you leave marks on your clothing. The same goes for seats. As you’re sitting on them and your skin is touching them, you can sweat and it will rub off on the seat.

The leather will absorb the moisture easily and any oils or sweat from your skin will absorb into the pores of the leather. When the sweat dries, it will leave a stain. You can wipe away the moisture with a dry cloth to avoid this issue. 

Wrinkles

Heated seats can cause wrinkles in the leather. Leather has chemicals in it that give it flexibility and strength when heated. The heat is going to cause your seats to shrink over time as soon as you begin using the heat.

This is due to the fact that when your heater is warm, the leather heats up. While you’re sitting on it, the leather stretches and when you get out of the car, the leather will try to get back to its original form causing wrinkles and deformities. 

Seam Damage

A common issue with heated seats is that the heat can cause damage to the seams of the seat. The heater can cause the seams to melt and lead to other problems with your seat.

If you have leather seats that are sewn together where one is heated by a separate heat source, it’s going to shrink more than the other, which can lead to uneven wear over time. It can be very hard to repair and you may even need to get them replaced. 

Difficult Dust and Dirt Removal

Seat heaters are very bad for leather because it can make it difficult to remove dirt, stains, or dust from the leather. This is because the heat can make stains and dirt appear permanent on the leather.

When the seat accumulates stains and dirt when the heater is being used, it will make stains difficult to remove. Additionally, the leather will become less supple over time. 

Health Issues

Heated seats have been proven by scientists to cause damage to the body. It’s been shown that men who use heated seats improperly can suffer from infertility. Infertility can occur in the event that the man sits on the heated seat too long when warmed to 38 degrees Celsius.

Additionally, women can be affected too. Overheating can cause inflammation of the appendages. Those who have malignancies or suspected cancer can be affected by overheating because it can rapidly develop benign tumors.

Women who are pregnant should also avoid using heated seats for the first seven weeks as it can cause neural tube defects of the fetus or can even cause a miscarriage. 

Children under three years old should also never use heated seats. They are prone to overheating because their thermoregulation system isn’t fully developed. Their small bodies are not able to keep their temperature under control. 

Lastly, as you get used to the heat from the seat, exposing your heated body to cold air can sharply cool the body which can cause the appearance of certain diseases. These can be minor such as colds, but as serious as sciatica. 

Common Heated Seat Issue

As with any part inside of your vehicle, heated seats can have issues. One of the most common issues is the heating element fails. If your heated seat isn’t working, this is probably the culprit if you don’t have a blown fuse.

The heating wire that warms the seat is very delicate and tends to break. If the heating element is partially or totally damaged, the whole unit will need to be replaced, which can be costly. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are certainly advantages and disadvantages of heated seats. If they don’t come standard in your vehicle, you’ll have to pay a fee to have them installed.

They certainly seem like they would be worth it to those with chronic back pain, but we think that they do more harm than good. So, for the average individual, we don’t believe heated seats are completely worth it, but that’s completely up to the person using them.

Author

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