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. 

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.

1. Editor's Pick: HealthMate IN9438-2 12V Velour Winter Seat Cushion with Lumbar Support

HealthMate IN9438-2 12V Velour Winter Seat Cushion

Healthmate’s velour seat cushion is soft, warm, and cozy.

There just aren’t too many manufacturers of heated covers, and Healthmate (made by California-based, family-owned automotive accessory company Wagan) is the one we’d choose if it were our car.

Healthmate makes a number of different heated seat covers, several of which are represented on our list, and the IN9438-01 Soft Velour Heated Seat Cushion 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.

It’s not a full-coverage seat cover, more of a large pad, but it does come with a little polyurethane foam cushioning built in. Seat heaters do tend to be thin, because they don’t work well if you bury the heating elements in padding. You attach it with two cinch straps and four elastic straps. They’re not the sturdiest, so make sure you don’t pull on them to hard. The adaptor cord is over four feet long and should reach almost anywhere in your car.

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 12V Seat Cushion for Full Back and Seat

Sunny Color makes an attractive and well-reviewed seat heater.

We don’t know much about the company that makes Sunny Color, but they’ve 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 their 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 information, although reliability has been very good and it’s covered by Amazon’s standard 30-day return policy.

3. Big Ant 12V/24V Car Travel Seat Cover Cushion

Big Ant Sleek Design Heated Seat Cushion

Big Ant’s heated seat cushion comes in a sleek, perforated design.

Big Ant (or as you may know them, Guangzhou Junchi Manufacturing Co., Ltd.), offers a classy heated seat cover in perforated fake leather. It’s a semi-hourglass, tapering inward along the back, with an included matching (non-heated) headrest cover, a nice touch to complete the look. That narrow back ensures compatibility with seat mounted airbags, and will also help prevent bunching and sagging.

The material is a flame-retardant leatherette, and Big Ant claims a one-minute heat time. We really like the controls integrated into the edge of the cushion, which means you won’t have a switch trapped in some crevice. The cord is 59 inches long, which unless you have a Hummer H1 is long enough. The seat bottom is 22 inches with a little flap to protect the front, the back is 23.64, and it’s 18 inches at the widest. At 1.5 amps, it’ll get moderately warm, there are high, low, and speed heat settings. You do have to turn it off manually, or risk draining your battery.

Big Ant has been selling seat covers in the US since 2016 and offers a 180-day warranty, but only if you register through their website; otherwise it’s 30 days. The Big Ant Car Travel Seat Cover Cushion has 82% positive reviews and an ‘A’ review quality rating.

4. Kingleting Car Seat Cushion with Intelligent Controller

Kingleting heated car seat cushion

We like narrow covers that don’t interfere with side airbags, but it could use more straps.

Kingleting’s heated cover offers several features we wish other manufacturers would introduce, including a digital controller that actually lets you set your temperature (more or less), and a power-off timer to help prevent a dead battery. You can also disconnect the controller from the power cord.

A 39 inch power cord is on the shorter side, with the large controller inline. It’s a dogbone or hourglass shape, and only has a headrest loop and two bottom hooks, so the middle is looser than other brands. It’s a fairly stiff material with a non-slip backing, which helps to keep it from sliding down. 

The Kingleting heated cover draws a big 3.5 amps, and makes heat in as little as one minute. You can control the temperature in 3°C (5.4°F) increments from 30℃/86℉ to 60℃/140℉, which we consider the maximum safe temperature for a seat heater.

Kingleting is a brand of Xiamen Alesi Trade Co., Ltd., which has been selling heated seat covers in the US since 2017. We couldn’t find any warranty information for the Kingleting heated seat cushion and the company may be difficult to contact for service, but it’s covered by the Amazon 30-day warranty. There is no evidence of fake reviews, with an ‘A’ rating, in the product’s 90% four- and five-star ratings.

5. Zone Tech Car Travel Seat Cover Cushion 2 Pack

Zone Tech Car Travel Seat Cover Cushion 2 Pack

The two pack is nice if you don’t want to alienate your passenger.

For the price of one of most other seat covers, Brooklyn-based Zone Tech provides a two-pack of heated covers. The design is basic, with a narrow center section, two lower cinch hooks and a headrest loop, but there are some more premium features as well. You get a digital controller that lets you adjust the temperature up to 120°F/49°C, with a quick-disconnect plug. We like these not just for convenience, but to help prevent damage as a breakaway if you pull on the cord too hard.

Made of waterproof fabric with a non-slip back, both bottom and top sections are 23 inches, and it narrows to 11.8 inches in the middle. It might or might not be a feature you like, but there’s an automatic 45 minute shutoff timer which prevents overheating, especially of the plug. That’s great for preventing battery drain if you forget it, but might not be what you want in very cold weather. Many other heated covers get warmer.

Zone Tech offers a 30-day warranty if you make the return through their website, with live chat and a local Brooklyn phone number available. Ratings are 84% positive, and there is no evidence of fake reviews with a ‘B’ company review grade. Zone Tech has been selling since 2017.

6. Stalwart 75-BP800 Red/Black Electric Blanket

 Stalwart Electric Car Blanket

A 12V electric blanket for your car is a lot larger than a seat heater.

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.

7. Premium pick: Healthmate IN9432 12V Luxury Winter Seat Cushion

Healthmate Luxury Heated Seat Cushion

The quilted look is great, but we really love the safety features.

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.

8. Do it yourself: Dorman 628-040 Universal Seat Heater Element kit

Dorman 628-040 Universal Seat Heater Element

If you want to do the work, you can install factory-style seat heaters.

If you’re ambitious, have a garage and a weekend to spare (and ideally a helper), you can upgrade your unheated seats to the same seat warmers that are equipped in factory heated seats. These are the same pads a technician might use to repair factory seats, and they are designed to work in any seat with any upholstery.

The Dorman 628-040 Universal Seat Heater Element kit comes with a set of self-stick backrest and bottom pads, a pair of hog-ring pliers for seat clips, seat clips, wiring, switch, zip ties, and a 13-step instruction booklet. The installation is straightforward, if time-consuming, but you may need to remove your seats, and it requires running wiring to the fuse panel and install a switch. If you’ve done any serious car stereo work, these steps probably won’t be too difficult.

When installed correctly, the results are great, comparable to factory seat heaters, and the Dorman 628-040 Universal Seat Heater Element kit has 91% positive reviews, and a ‘B’ rating. Complaints mostly center around the cheap included hog ring pliers and fasteners, so we would recommend buying those separately to make sure you can finish the project.

Unlike any heated cover, Dorman has a limited lifetime warranty on their seat heater kit.

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.

 

 

Recent updates:

January 13, 2022: Added Kingleting heated seat cushion, Healthmate Luxury Winter Seat Cushion, Stalwart heated blanket, and Dorman Universal Seat Heater Element kit
to recommendations. Moved Zone Tech brand down to #5 position based on reviews. Removed unavailable Big Hippo, Fochutech, and Seametal brands. Removed AutoTrends brand due to product recall. Removed Snailax which no longer includes DC adaptor. Updated descriptions and FAQs.

January 12, 2022: Removed unavailable Lvydec brand, added Sunny Color and Big Ant. 

January 11, 2022: Expanded FAQs. Added updated Heathmate Soft Velour Heated Seat Cushion as Editor’s Choice. Updated introduction.

 


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