Are Heated Vehicle Seats Dangerous?


Heated Car Seats in Winter

Each time a newly redesigned car is offered up by an automaker, we get to enjoy more advanced technology and comfort amenities to make our time behind the wheel more enjoyable.

Did you know that heated seats, one such luxury many of us enjoy, have been around since the 1970’s? While they were only available in the most high-end luxury cars in their early years, they are not a new feature, and in over four decades, not much has been done to ensure the safety of heated car seats.

Now, in 2018, this feature is much more commonplace, and you don’t have to be the owner of a luxury vehicle to enjoy a heated seat in your vehicle. If you who live in a state that has cool autumns and cold winters you probably really appreciate this feature. Some drivers even use their heated seats as a mobile heating pad for back and hip aches and pains that may be felt year round.

As enjoyable as heated seats are, there have been some issues with the seats overheating and resulting in injuries, so if you’re currently one of the millions of drivers enjoying the luxurious feel of heated seats, please read on to find out what’s gone wrong with this auto amenity.

Heated Seat Malfunctions

Over a six-month period in 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received 140 complaints from consumers about heated seat malfunctions; over one half of those resulted in fires when the heated seats were turned on. Automakers say that the heated seats will range from 86-113 degrees but the seats have been measured as high as 150 degrees in some cases.

Because only ten minutes of exposure to 120-degree temperatures can result in third-degree burns, drivers and their passengers may be in serious danger when these seats are used to make your trip more comfortable and cozy. Concerned car safety advocate groups are asking the NHTSA to impose a maximum temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit, so that heated seats cannot reach the temperature where burns may occur.

Lack of Regulation on Heated Car Seats

The lack of regulations on heated vehicle seats has left consumers vulnerable to injury according to Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., which provides research, investigation, analysis, strategies, and advocacy on safety matters with particular attention to the safety of motor vehicles. Despite their appearance in 30% of the vehicles sold in the U.S. today, heated car seats are not designed to any voluntary or mandatory industry standards, leading some manufacturers to set the maximum temperatures of their seat heaters in excess of human heat tolerances.

With some medical conditions like diabetes, neuropathy, and paralysis reducing or completely eliminating sensation in the lower extremities, back, hips, and buttocks, some drivers don’t feel the seats getting dangerously hot. With no automatic shut-off switch to prevent overheating, consumers are in danger of suffering first, second and even third-degree burns.

Groups like Safety Research & Strategies, Inc. are outraged that despite heated seat burning incidents being documented since the 1980’s, nothing has been done to protect consumers from this extremely dangerous hazard. While owner’s manuals may have warnings buried deep in the contents about the possibility of the heated seats getting too hot, this does nothing to address the very real and very dangerous problem of lack of temperature limits, lack of auto shut-off switches, and lack of making car buyers aware of potential hazards associated with heated seats.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a defective vehicle, please talk to a qualified accident attorney in your area.

Lynn Fugaro About Lynn Fugaro

Lynn has been writing web content since 2007 after a lengthy career as a middle school English teacher and administrator. Writing web content seemed a natural progression following a career teaching adolescents about the beauty and the power of the written word, and she quickly got hooked on the challenge of writing SEO- and reader-friendly content that could be found on Page 1 of Google and other search engines.

Having written content for physicians and attorneys for the first few years of her writing career, Lynn has most recently produced original, informative, entertaining, and relevant content for the entertainment industry, the automotive industry, senior communities, pet rescues and numerous other businesses hoping to increase website traffic and page views for all clients looking for informative, vibrant content.