How to Make Car Seat More Comfortable
Car seat adjustment: Tips for the seat position
With the right seat position in the car, back pain and dangers in emergencies can be avoided. The most important tips on how to adjust the seat and lumbar support, and what you should already consider when buying a car.
Adjusting the car seat, backrest, steering wheel, and headrest individually
Lumbar support can prevent back problems
Incorrect car seat position can lead to loss of control in extreme situations
Modern car seat are flexibly adjustable in height, tilt, and surface and can usually be completely adapted to individual needs. They are designed to make sitting as pleasant as possible and at the same time provide good support and comfort.
The perfect seating position
When adjusting the seat height, choose a position in which you can see all around you and read the instruments easily. Guide: eyes about halfway up the windshield.
The front edge of the seat should not be set too far up so that the thighs are not strangulated. The car seat should end a few centimeters before the back of the knee.
Slide your buttocks as close as possible to the backrest.
Move the car seat back only far enough so that the knees are not extended through when pedaling. The right thigh should not press in on the cushion.
The distance between the upper body and the driver’s airbag in the steering wheel should be about 25 to 30 centimeters.
A car seat that is set too low has a detrimental effect on pelvic positioning, as well as on the visibility of the traffic scene. In general, the car seat upholstery should not be too soft.
Adjusting the backrest correctly
Sit as upright as possible; this reduces the distance to the headrest and is better for the back than the curved posture when the backrest is set at a greater angle. The shoulder blades should always be in contact with the backrest – even if you are steering straight.
Important: The lumbar support
To support the forward natural curvature of the spine – called lordosis – many vehicles have a built-in and adjustable lumbar support. To adjust this, reach to the left of the seat for the adjustment unit. This varies in design and, depending on the model, maybe a toggle switch or a type of joystick or adjustment wheel.
Adjust the lumbar support as closely as possible to the spine. In this way, you can prevent back problems even on long journeys.
If the seat has no lumbar support, a cushion is not recommended as a substitute. In extreme and crash situations, it can become a hazard, according to the experts at ADAC Fahrzeugtechnik. An alternative would be lumbar supports from the accessories trade, but they must be fixed to the backrest so that they cannot slip.
Adjusting the steering wheel
For a relaxed posture, the steering wheel should be set as steeply as possible. However, adjust it so that you can easily read the instruments.
As already mentioned, your shoulders should always be in contact with the backrest – even if you place your wrist on top of the steering wheel rim as a test. In this test position, an outstretched arm and shoulders on the backrest mean the optimum distance from the steering wheel.
With the 9/3 o’clock steering wheel position, the driver has the best control of his vehicle and can react the fastest. In this position, the arms should not be fully extended, but slightly bent. In addition, this position offers optimum protection in the event of a driver’s airbag inflating.
Head restraint as high as possible
For optimum protection in the event of a rear-end collision, the head restraint should be set as high as possible (top edge to maximum top edge of head). A steeply adjusted backrest also brings the headrest close to the back of the head.
Danger due to incorrect seating position
You should avoid these sitting positions in the car at all costs:
Clamp: A cramped posture close to the steering wheel causes more fatigue, and the short distance to the steering wheel also makes quick evasive maneuvers impossible. And: In the event of an accident, you are too close to the airbag. This means that the airbag cannot work optimally and there is even a risk of additional injuries.
Diving: In a “lying” driving position, the back loses a lot of contact with the backrest, and the distance to the headrest increases dangerously. Quick steering maneuvers in emergencies become almost impossible. In a crash, the compressive loads on the spine are significantly greater. The descent becomes a “dive through” under the lap belt, as the “Out of Position” study by ADAC Accident Research shows.
In addition, the diagonal belt is not tight enough, and the upper body moves forward a large distance without braking in the event of a collision. In the event of a suddenly necessary emergency braking, the pedal pressure may not be sufficient. The backrest surface cannot apply any counterforce here because the driver pushes himself upwards out of the seat.
Single-handed drivers: With one hand on the lower or upper rim of the steering wheel, any sudden evasive maneuver becomes an incalculable rowing maneuver with no accuracy of aim. In the event of a sudden tire blowout, you can’t apply full power to the steering wheel to keep the car under control. Apart from that, the noon steering wheel position risks catapulting the arm full force into the face in the event of an airbag deployment. The protective airbag thus becomes a hazard. With this steering wheel position, the turn signal lever is also far away, so the steering wheel must be released to operate it.
Tips for choosing the right car seat when buying a car
The more adjustment options a seat offers, the better it can be adapted to the individual driver and the vehicle’s belt geometry. Unfortunately, these options usually cost extra: adjustment of length, height, and tilt for the entire seat, the backrest tilt, the upper part of the backrest, the seat surface length, backrest width (usually sports seats), and headrest adjustable in height and distance.
Test sitting is a must before buying a car, according to the experts at ADAC Fahrzeugtechnik. Every piece of clothing is tried on before it is bought. A car must also “fit” the driver. When test sitting, one can also check in a short time whether the seats can be adapted to one’s stature or whether the car seat belt is uncomfortable.
Especially for taller people, it is not a matter of course that the shoulders are still supported and that the backrests are not too small. Extensive adjustment options in the car are particularly important if one’s proportions deviate from the fictitious average person on which developers orient themselves.
The longitudinal and height adjustability of the steering wheel should not be underestimated. This allows the distance to the driver’s chest to be optimized. It also facilitates an unrestricted view of the instruments. Also, make sure that the headrests can be adjusted to a sufficiently high position.
These points distinguish a good car model:
height-adjustable car seat surface (unfavorable if only the inclination can be adjusted)
the wide longitudinal adjustment range of the seat
headrest adjustable to a sufficiently high position – it should reach the top of the head
finely adjustable backrest
easily accessible adjustment levers
steering wheel with longitudinal and height adjustment
memory function for electric adjustment
Height adjustment of the belt point on the B-pillar
The ADAC Autotest provides information on this in the “Interior” section, in “Front/rear space” and the “Car Seats” comfort section.