Best car seat covers and protectors 2018

Protecting your car seats by covering them is an excellent way to keep your interior in top condition. We test the best covers on sale

The best car seat covers can help your vehicle hold on to more of its value come resale time, so it pays to look after them. But which protectors should you buy? To find the best we tested eight front and rear combination sets on a Renault Clio.

They were all ‘universal’, which means they will suit some cars better than others. Not all are compatible with leather or heated seats, or those with airbags, and none was suitable for sports or bucket seats. Consider the rear fitments if you have the split-folding facility; some products work on a full 40/50/60 range, whereas others offer nothing at all. On some cars, it may be necessary to cut the covers to suit seatbelt buckles and catches.

• Best car upholstery cleaner

How we tested them

We marked each product on how well it stayed in place by getting into and out of the car five times. Ease of fitment and instructions were also logged. Then we ground in light gravel and vacuumed it up, before smearing on a mix of olive oil, fruit juice, coffee and tobacco ash to see if it stained. We dragged a wire brush across a small area to test durability. The final factor was price.

The Walser set covered all the bases to take the win, although the Cosmos Leatherlook came close and, surprisingly, the bargain-priced Halfords Essentials set scored well enough to finish third.

  • 1. Walser Zipp-It Allessandro Seat Covers
  • 2. Cosmos Carrera Leatherlook Seat Covers 14723
  • 3. Halfords Essentials Seat Covers
  • ReviewsWalser Zipp-It Allessandro Seat Covers

    Price: Around £38
    Rating: 5.0

    Claiming a 90 per cent market coverage, the Zipp-It covers featured lots of zips: on the tops of the front seats for easy headrest fitting, and sides to accommodate a lever for two-door models. With separate front squabs, there was no movement, nor any sign of lasting staining and only the slightest wear from the brush test. We liked the instruction leaflet, crammed with clear diagrams. In the rear, the backrest featured three zips suitable for all the split-fold types, although the headrest holes had to be cut. 

    Cosmos Carrera Leatherlook Seat Covers 14723

    Price: £43
    Rating: 4.0

    The priciest set we tried, the fake-leather ruched finish was impressive. They are available in red, blue and beige, and for seven-seater cars. Three rear backrest zips offer full folding split options but, like the front, you must cut holes for the headrests and seal with nail varnish. Our stain concoction wiped off and the wire brush had no effect. The slits down each side of the backrests made them a tad baggy, but they didn’t move.

    Halfords Essentials Seat Covers

    Price: £20
    Rating: 4.0

    This well-priced set featured the desirable 40/50/60 zipped sections for the rear seat. The front covers had no slit for a tilt handle and, while there were no headrest zips, plastic collars were included to seal the holes that had to be made. The instructions could be clearer and also warned about colour transfer. There was a little staining and marking from the brush, and the fitting on the backrest could have been tighter. 

    Halfords Paris Car Seat Covers

     

    Price: £35
    Rating: 3.0

    Zips on the front seat covers of this premium set allowed headrest positioning and a side lever where required. The textured centre section was comfortable and rebuffed attempts to stain it, but the wire brush slightly marked the plain side panels. There was just one central zip in the rear, which would hinder those with 40/60 splits. Not suitable for heated seats, the instructions said wet covers should be removed and dried due to colour transfer. 

    Sakura Camden Seat Covers SS5295

    Price: Around £22
    Rating: 3.0

    As with five out of the eight sets, the fronts were one-piece. They fitted well and could be secured tightly, with the headrests fitting into slits at the top. They stayed put in the movement tests and vacuuming didn’t affect them. There was some faint staining and equally light marking from the brush. Uniquely, they featured comfortable built-in front lumbar supports. The rear backrest had no zips, so the split-fold function couldn’t be used. 

    Cosmos Domino Grey Seat Covers 1095302

    Price: Around £40
    Rating: 3.0

    A shiny velour finish meant the covers looked a bit flashy, but they weren’t unattractive and were comfortable. The surface worked because the stain wiped off and the wire brush had no effect. The front covers were quite baggy, with the twin side slits allowing lateral movement, but the squab stayed put. Fitting headrests required hole-cutting and nail varnish. Yet the triple-zipped rear backrest makes the Cosmos suitable for split-fold options. 

    Sakura Carnaby Green Seat Covers SS5294

    Price: Around £19
    Rating: 3.0

    In essence, this set was the same as the Camden, but without lumbar supports. They had a side slit to allow for seat adjustment, and the 100 per cent polyester one-piece fronts fitted well and didn’t move. There was a very slight shadow where we applied the stain, but the wire brushing produced noticeable fluff. The rear backrest was a single piece but, being the second cheapest set, it’s worth a look if split-folding is unimportant to you. 

    Argos Simple Value Seat Covers

    Price: £17
    Rating: 2.0

    The Argos covers were the cheapest on test and their design was as good as most. But it was the only set that wasn’t airbag friendly, which really limits its application; the Sakura sets and Halfords Essentials were within £3 and were suitable for airbags. It came with just four headrest covers and the backrest had no ‘bib’ to secure it, which allowed some movement. It held a stain shadow in the squab that was more noticeable than on its rivals. 

    Need to clean your leather seats? Then why not look at the best leather cleaner on the market?

    Next: Walser ProFit

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