Heated Seats

Cars with heated seats have become a fact of life in some parts of the country. For some, a seat heater might represent a necessary creature comfort that helps them get through the day. For others the gadget could mean something else altogether: a burned behind.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it would take a good look at car seat warmers and see if occupants are at risk of receiving burns from the seats.

The maximum safe temperature a seat should reach is around 105 degrees, but some seats have been recorded up to 150 degrees in the highest setting, USA Today reported.

The main issue is that some drivers who suffer from paralysis or other issues may not realize when their seat has gotten too hot. One man has been treated for third degree burns after spending only 20 minutes in the seat.

The NHTSA said that they are going to analyze the situation and determine at what point a driver's buns might get a little too toasty. If they do find that certain seats pose an "unreasonable risk to safety" you can expect some recalls and possibly regulations that will tone down the amount of heat a seat is allowed to put out.

Among the manufacturers; Jeep, Volkswagen, Mazda, BMW, Rolls-Royce, Chrysler and Volvo have already issued recalls regarding overheated seats.

Some manufacturers already have timers on their heaters that prevent the seats from getting too hot for too long, but it isn't currently a mandated safety feature.

Burns aren't the only possible health risks that have been attributed to seat warmers. In 2008 a study came out linking heated seats to poor sperm production in men. The study claimed that the seat warmers raised temperatures of male drivers enough to damage the reproductive process.

With winter behind us and summer on the way, drivers can avoid heating their seats for a while. In a year's time, however, some drivers might want to think twice before flicking the switch for that little extra comfort.

author photo

J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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