Why Are Car Seats So Uncomfortable? (Explained)

The average American spends around 300 hours a year in a car, which means that, annually, they put in over seven 40-hour working weeks behind the wheel.

With so much time spent sitting in them, why do cars have such uncomfortable seats?

Every car is different of course, but most car seats are uncomfortable because many car manufacturers sacrifice comfort for the sake of manufacturing costs and safety.

Read on to find out some tips to make your car seats comfier, which cars have notoriously troublesome seats and those which would give your living room furniture a run for its money.

3 Reasons Why Car Seats Are So Uncomfortable

Let’s take a closer look at the main reasons why car seats are so uncomfortable

1. Cost

Perhaps the main reason for an uncomfortable seat — particularly when it comes to budget cars — is due to companies trying to keep manufacturing costs as low as possible while maximizing profits.

Cheaper cars, therefore, tend to have seats made from less expensive materials than their more luxurious counterparts.

2. Generic Design

When designing car seats, car manufacturers have to try to cater to a broad audience since people come in different shapes and sizes.

However, not everyone is of average height, build, etc., and what is comfortable for one person might not be ideal for another, so without having bespoke seats made, there’s always a chance that a car seat will feel uncomfortable.

3. Safety

Lots of modern car seats are designed with safety in mind to try and prevent injuries in the event of an accident.

For example, some people complain about how uncomfortable the side bolsters on certain car seats are, but these are designed for safety, not comfort, and help to minimize injuries by keeping the driver in place in a collision.

So, while older models of cars might have had more plushy seats, modern cars make for a much safer driving experience.

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How Do You Fix an Uncomfortable Car Seat?

Experiencing discomfort when driving doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an uncomfortable car or that it is not suited to you.

Luckily, there are lots of things you can tweak to make your ride as smooth as possible.

Adjust the Seat

Adjusting the seat’s height is a simple trick that can have a huge impact when it comes to solving back problems.

Even experienced drivers aren’t aware of the importance of this, but having the seat at the correct height increases both comfort and ergonomics.

The back of the car seat is another area that causes problems for a lot of drivers — something that is also pretty easy to fix.

Often, the seat is set at an angle that feels comfortable initially but in reality, is unsupportive over longer periods of time.

To guarantee the most support for your back, position your seat back at an angle of 100-110 degrees with a slight recline.

Similarly, it is important to ensure that the seat tilt angle offers full support to your body by tilting it to allow your thighs to stretch beyond the seat edge.

This means that your knees should have ample room and not be squashed in too tightly.

These are three quick changes you can make without having to go out and spend any money, but if you are still experiencing discomfort while driving, don’t worry; there are plenty of ergonomic add-ons available that can help solve this issue.

Cushions, Covers, and Supports

There is a wide variety of extras on the market all designed to afford peace when driving as well as peace of mind.

Seat covers are available in both pre-made and custom-made designs with built-in cushioning, meaning that you can choose the most comfortable and supportive one for you.

Likewise, there are numerous options of memory foam cushions out there that can make a huge difference since the material molds to your body, providing superior levels of support.

Last but not least, neck supports can be added to a car’s headrests and come in handy when driving long distances as they can lessen the strain on the neck and shoulders.

The good news is that all these additions can be installed easily, so if your car seats still leave something to be desired, it could be worth considering purchasing one (or more) of these helpful accessories.

Can You Get Car Seats Replaced?

Yes, it is possible to get your car seats replaced.

A mechanic would be able to do it really quickly, but it is perfectly possible to replace a seat by yourself, too.

There are plenty of videos online showing how it’s done if you want to save some money with a little bit of DIY!

Do Car Seats Get Softer Over Time?

Certain types of car seats do get softer over time, but it depends on the type of upholstery that they have.

The leather becomes softer and more supple the more it is used, whereas cloth tends to simply wear away.

How Can I Make My Car Seat Softer?

There are various things you can do to make your car seat softer without having to replace it entirely.

It comes down to proper maintenance and, occasionally, some appropriate accessories.

If your car has leather seats, you can make them softer by using leather cleaner and conditioner.

Another potential fix, especially if your car is old, is to change the foam cushioning inside the seat to make it feel like new.

If neither of these applies or if you want an even softer seat, shop around for a soft seat cover to go over your existing seat.

Which Cars Have the Most Uncomfortable Seats?

Whether or not a particular seat is comfortable can be subjective to an extent.

However, there has to come to a point when the sheer number of complaints causes the pendulum to swing towards something being a fact, rather than an opinion.

Here we look at three contenders for this unwanted accolade.

1996 Ford Ka

In a survey conducted by “Which?”, the first generation of the Ford Ka was voted by drivers and passengers alike as being one of the most uncomfortable cars out there.

It might be inexpensive, but it seems like you get what you pay for in terms of comfort.

Peugeot 107 Mk1

In the same survey, the 107 scored highly on the discomfort scale, with the seats — especially in the back — being described as “cramped” and only being suitable for short drives in the city.

2008 Hyundai i20

“Poorly made seats” is a criticism leveled at this model, and a study into seat comfort ranked it as among the least comfortable cars on the road.

Which Cars Have the Most Comfortable Seats?

Car seats don’t have to be unpleasant as standard, so now let’s take a look at the manufacturers who got it right by making some of the most comfortable seats around.

Note that we haven’t simply listed the most expensive cars that money can buy, despite the fact that they are likely to have comfier seats due to offering a more luxury experience.

Rather, this is a list of everyday, affordable cars that rank highly on the comfort scale compared to their peers.

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Volkswagen Golf

The Golf often features on lists of the comfiest cars of the year, whether it’s 2019, 2020, or the 2021 model, which goes to show that size isn’t everything!

2020 Kia Optima

This mid-sized car’s seats punch above their weight when compared to those of its rivals, with plenty of lumbar support while being roomy enough for all kinds of passengers.

Nissan Altima

There could be a case to be made for more than one Nissan to feature on this list, since the company includes specifically designed “Zero Gravity” seats in many of their vehicles, including the Altima.

These seats were developed to optimize comfort by providing unbroken support from the hips upwards.

Obviously, a car seat is not all that you should consider when buying a vehicle, but it is important not to overlook the aspect of comfort since you will likely spend a significant amount of time in your car.

Remember, though, that there are plenty of things you can do if your car seats are causing you pain or are just not as supportive as you would like.