We just didn’t understand the fuss about the best heated seat covers until we owned a car with heated seats. Since then, getting into a cold car with non-heated seats (or as we call them now, misery seats) has been an occasion for dread. Outside of some high-end models, they’re still not common standard equipment in most new cars, not that there are any new cars available now. Or used one. So if you want a warm seats, your best option is to upgrade to a new aftermarket heated cover.
A car seat heater isn’t your only option, however. We’ve also included a heating pad for your car as a choice that’s easy to remove or use anywhere in (or even out of) your car; and a do-it-yourself kit if you want a factory-quality permanent installation.
Car seat heaters don’t just feel good, they’re actually good for the environment. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, you can save a few gallons of gas annually when you use a heated car seat cover, because you don’t need keep the cabin as warm. If the entire US fleet had heated and cooled seats, EPA estimates it would result in using 1.3 billion fewer gallons of gas annually, and 12.7 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions! So you owe it to not just yourself, but your friends in coastal cities, to upgrade to the best heated seat cover you can find.
Heated seat covers are a bit different than traditional seat covers, as they’re cushions that install over your seats, not around, and don’t provide full coverage. Many of them are a narrower hourglass shape to stay out of the way of side bolsters and airbags. Still, they’ll do a fairly good job protecting the seats, especially the bottom, in addition to heating.
How We Picked The Best Heated Seat Covers
Heated seat covers generally have poorer than average reviews, and it wasn’t easy to come up with a list that met our criteria. In addition, we’ve found that many brands either go out of stock, or just disappear from retailers. That’s why we purchased the best-selling heated seat cover on Amazon last winter, and used it extensively to see if it deserved the praise. See our Editor’s Pick for our conclusions.
So if you ever sat in car and fell in love with heated seats, check our our recommendations for the best heated covers so you can add that same level of comfort to your vehicle. For more information on the best heated seat covers, refer to our Table of Contents.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: HealthMate IN9438-2 12V Velour Winter Seat Cushion with Lumbar Support
- 2. Sunny Color 12V Seat Cushion for Full Back and Seat
- 3. Stalwart 75-BP800 Red/Black Electric Blanket
- 4. Snailax Heated Massaging Seat Cover
- 5. Premium pick: Healthmate IN9432 12V Luxury Winter Seat Cushion
- 6. Wagan Heated Seat Cover
- Can I Upgrade My Factory Seats to Heated Seats?
- Are Heated Covers Safe?
- Will a Heated Cover Damage My Seat?
- How to Install Heated Seat Covers
- How to Pick Heated Seat Covers
1. Editor's Pick: HealthMate IN9438-2 12V Velour Winter Seat Cushion with Lumbar Support
We bought the HealthMate to test a year ago, and it's been working great ever since. Photo credit: David Traver Adolphus / AutoGuide.com.
We purchased a HealthMate IN9438-01 Soft Velour Heated Seat Cushion to test last winter, and have used it hundreds of times since. We were expecting something floppy, like a seat cover, but found the HealthMate to have enough structure to support itself, so it doesn’t fall down and bunch up. It’s firm, cushioned with a thin layer of dense polyurethane foam, and the velour top is holding up great. The assortment of elastic straps and hooks, along with a non-slip bottom, do a good job of holding it in place.
As with any seat cover, it can be a pain to get under a seat or in next to the console to attach everything. The adaptor cord is over four feet long and should reach almost anywhere in your car, but make sure you don’t plug it into an always-on 12V port and drain your battery, which we did the first time we used it this fall.
Healthmate makes a number of different heated seat covers, several of which are represented on our list, and this basic version landed at the #1 spot for it’s 81% four- and five-star rating over 2,000 reviews, ‘A’ review grade for the entire company, and affordable price. The Healthmate Soft Velour Heated Seat Cushion draws a maximum of 40 watts and has two heat settings, topping out at 114°F/45.5°C, which isn’t as warm as most other covers. Wagan uses high-quality wiring with a heat-resistant silicon sheath for safety.
An eight-amp fuse increases safety and it can be connected to a 120-volt adapter for in-home use as well as in-car. If you want a more upscale look, check out the quilted Luxury version farther down the list.
Healthmate/Wagan has a one-year limited warranty; customer service 800- numbers for the US and Canada; and responsive email contacts.
2. Sunny Color 12V Seat Cushion for Full Back and Seat
Sunny Color makes an attractive and well-reviewed seat heater. Photo credit: Amazon.com.
We don’t know much about the company that makes Sunny Color, but it’s been selling this and other seat covers for several years, with very good ratings across products. Sunny Color’s stylish and well-made heated seat cover has 91% positive reviews with an ‘A’ review grade, and consumers report they are performing and holding up well.
It’s a larger seat heater than some choices, about 18 inches wide, with a back around 24 inches high, enough to cover bucket and truck seats. There are two elastic straps with hooks on the bottom, an adjustable cinch strap around the back, and a headrest loop to hold it in place. Like most heated covers, the cord is on the passenger side and is only 36 inches long, so if you have a wide vehicle and a center 12V outlet, you might have a hard time reaching it.
Sunny Color says it’s heated cover gets warm in two minutes, and reaches the 140°F/60°C range. There isn’t much difference between high and low settings, so it could be too warm for some people. We couldn’t find any warranty or other corporate information about either Sunny Color or parent company Mao Wn Rui, although reliability has been very good and it’s covered by Amazon’s standard 30-day return policy.
3. Stalwart 75-BP800 Red/Black Electric Blanket
A 12V electric blanket for your car is a lot larger than a seat heater. Photo credit: Amazon.com.
There are a few drawbacks to a heated seat cover, and a heating pad for your car might be the answer to them. Their materials may not be as breathable as your seat fabric, especially if you have cloth seats, they won’t work with a lot of back seats, and of course you need one for every passenger. Adding a fleecy Stalwart Electric Car Blanket takes care of all of that, for less money than most car seat heaters.
Measuring 59 x 43 inches, the Stalwart is available in six different colors, all made from polyester fleece with a very long 96 inch (12 foot/2.4 meter) cord that plugs into a 12V outlet. A little clear vinyl pouch is included for convenient and clean storage, so you can keep it in your car all year long. There is no temperature control or times—it turns on when you plug it in and doesn’t turn off until you unplug it, so forgetting it could drain your battery or pose a fire risk. We wouldn’t recommend sitting on it.
Stalwart doesn’t specify a temperature, but the Stalwart Electric Blanket for your car draws about 45 watts, so it should easily get into the warm 120°-140° degree range, and users report it gets pleasantly toasty. Reviews from 13,000 customers are 83% positive with a ‘B’ review quality grade. The main complaints have been about quality control or defective units.
Electric blankets are explicitly excluded from Stalwart’s normal one-year automotive products warranty, but are covered by the 30-day Amazon warranty, and are not washable.
4. Snailax Heated Massaging Seat Cover
Heat and massage; the sybarite's seat cover. Photo credit: Amazon.com.
If a heated car seat isn’t sufficiently opulent, Snailax (what a name!) offers a seat cover that both warms your posterior and gives it a massage. Though to be fair, they say that it’s not a deep tissue “Shiatsu” massage, but the Snailax seat cover is undoubtedly better than a frigid, static factory seat.
The massage is delivered by six motors with five massage programs; however, the heat is either “on” or “off.” The heat function does have an automatic shut-off feature to prevent overheating. The contact areas of the Snailax are soft synthetic fabric, while the reverse is finished with a slip-resistant rubberized material. a pair of straps also serve to secure the Snailax.
The Snailax operates on 12 volts from your car’s cigarette lighter or 120-volt household current, allowing it to be used at home or in the car. However, the 12-volt car adapter is sold separately; order it here. The seat cover’s back and seat measure 25.4 inches and 16.6 inches, respectively, and the maximum width is 18.5 inches.
There are over 10,000 reviews for this product on Amazon, and over 80% of them are positive. However, if things should go wrong, the Snailax is covered by a 12-month warranty, and there’s a QR code in the instructions for an extended warranty at no additional cost.
5. Premium pick: Healthmate IN9432 12V Luxury Winter Seat Cushion
The quilted look is great, but we really love the safety features. Photo credit: Amazon.com.
For a premium look and premium features, Healthmate’s IN9432 Luxury Heated Seat Cushion is our pick. At 43 x 20 inches, it covers most of a seat, and uses Healthmate’s top, middle and bottom attachments to keep it in place. The fabric is thicker 0.5-inch quilted polyester with an anti-slip backing.
You get a very long 4.3 foot cord with an inline high-off-low control that should reach easily from the left or right seat. Healthmate does not list a temperature. It draws a maximum of four amps and 48 watts, which puts it on the higher end and should make well over 120°F. It uses a copper nickel alloy heating element wound over a fiberglass core for break resistance that provides even heating over the length of the coil, eliminating hot spots.
Safety features include a pressure pad safety switch built into the seat bottom that switches the heating pad off when there’s no weight on it, a replaceable five amp fuse to prevent overload, and an automatic one-hour timer. Healthmate and parent company Wagan are based in California and offer a one-year warranty, and US and CA 800- numbers for customer service. This is a new product without many reviews, but Healthmate is well known and has an overall corporate ‘A’ review grade.
6. Wagan Heated Seat Cover
Thw Wagan Tech heated seat cover is all comfort, but no frills. Photo credit: Walmart.
Wagan also makes HealthMate, so the company’s Tech heated seat cover is probably the same as our Editor’s Pick underneath, with a different velour surface. Like the Healthmate, the Wagan is fairly simple; it offers only two heat settings, no massage feature, or any other bells or whistles. This simplicity, however, helps keep it affordable and straightforward to operate. Wagan touts the three-way control switch’s ease of use.
In spite of its simplicity, the Wagan rates as very comfortable. It’s contoured for extra support and covered in a soft, plush material. Like our Number 4 pick, the Wagan can operate on 12 volts from a car’s electrical system of 120-volt household current; the power cord is 4.3 feet long. Wagan doesn’t quote separate dimensions for the seat and back of this seat cover but lists the overall dimensions: 35.0 inches long, 17.0 inches wide, and 1.0 inches thick. Elastic and cinch straps help keep the seat cover in place.
Buyers report quick warm-up times and ease of use as plusses with this model though at least one said it didn’t work at all though this could be down to user error. Wagan Tech covers the Model 9738P seat cover with a 12-month warranty.
Can I Upgrade My Factory Seats to Heated Seats?
Heated seats are wonderful in cold weather. Before the engine can heat the cabin air, electrically heated seat pads begin to warm up the cold foam block that is your chilly driver’s seat. That way you’re warm by the end of the street, not 10 minutes down the road, soothing some of the chill of fall and winter.
One of our recommendations is for just that, and it’s certainly a project in reach of a dedicated DIYer. But it isn’t a simple job and even if you know what you’re doing, it’s a lot of work to install heated seat pads designed to go under the cover of your factory seats, just like from the dealer.
You’ll need to remove your seat, undo hog rings, straps, snaps, and other fasteners, strip off the cover, fit and hardwire the seat pads, and then put everything back together again. You might have to drill though the firewall and into the dash to run power to your heated seats and install a switch. It’s labor-intensive and expensive, and with modern seats sporting airbag and seatbelt sensors, you’ll have to be very careful not to damage any connectors or sensors for seat belts or airbags.
Are Heated Covers Safe?
The actual mechanism that makes a car seat heater work is simple: It’s just an insulated wire with high resistance. A little 12 volt current from your car passes through it, and it gets warm. Some heated seat covers have a dial which changes the amount of current and temperature. The whole process is safe, because you can’t really get a dangerous shock from that kind of DC voltage. Most of them draw about 1.5 amps and run at under 40 watts, with some as high as 4 amps and 50 watts when you first turn them on.
Problems can happen if there are defects in manufacture, or damage to your heated cover. Short circuits inside or in the cord can get too hot and pose a fire risk. We would recommend taking your heated seat covers out of your car as soon as the weather warms up to reduce wear; and always unplug them when you’re not using them. Some 12 volt plugs stay active even when the key is removed, and you don’t want to leave any electrical equipment running unattended, in your car or anywhere else.
If you ever see a discoloration that looks like a hot spot, stop using it immediately and contact the manufacturer for a replacement.
Will a Heated Cover Damage My Seat?
If your heated car seat cover is getting hot enough to damage your upholstery, it’s going to let you know in some very personal and uncomfortable ways. If it were our nice car, we’d probably go ahead and add an extra layer of protection in the form of a seat cover underneath, preferably either a cloth or genuine leather one that could hold up to heat, just in case there was a malfunction, or the heat somehow made dye in the heated cover’s fabric run.
How to Install Heated Seat Covers
Take the cover out of the box, put it on your seat, plug it into your 12-volt outlet. There, you’re done. Ok, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but not much. Attach the included straps to the vehicle’s seat and secure it in place and you’ve accomplished the hardest part. If you want more than one heated cover and only have one 12-volt port, a splitter can divide that one plug into two or more, letting you plug in more heated seat covers.
How to Pick Heated Seat Covers
Look for a cover that offers multiple heat settings. You might like extra features like ventilation or massage, but they will cost extra. Next, look for a color that best matches your interior’s, and try and find a cover that matches your seat style. Easy-access remotes are a nice feature, since on-cover controls can be tough to reach. If you’re large or tall, look for thin covers that don’t push you off the edge of your seat.
January 3, 2023: Removed promoted product recommendation.
December 22, 2022: Updated product links.
November 28, 2022: Added a new promoted product recommendation.
November 21, 2022: Added new link for HealthMade Deluxe version, updated Healthmate, Sunny Color, and Wagan descriptions.
November 18, 2022: Added Wagan Tech and Snailax seat covers; removed Big Ant and Healthmate; updated product links.
November 17, 2022: Added hands-on review and photo of HealthMate heated seat cover.
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