Can a very obese person damage a car?

Can having a 400+ person riding in passenger seat regularly damage a car and how?

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Depends on the car. I’ve seen broken-down seats that will never be right again due to regular use by morbidly obese people. I would not want that in my seat on a regular basis.

I’ve also heard of suspension sagging because of long term use by a morbidly obese driver.


The most likely part to suffer damage will be the seat…The car will “list” to one side, throwing off the alignment and perhaps causing uneven tire wear…An air-bag deployment is likely to be a disaster…


Seats can break down in any car with normal use. but yes that would be the only added risk I have seen. We had a morbidly obese guy at work (450 plus) who drove an 11 year old, but bought new whatever Suzuki has the spare on the back. As far as I know he never had any car problems due to his weight, with his car in any way. My thought, no problem. He lived alone, evidently fell and could not get up and was found dead on the floor by his daughter, he was 58 years old.

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In my fleet there are quite a few big guys. There seems to be a correlation to damaged seat frames and the big guys

I’m just reporting what I see

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Yes the seat can be damaged.
I have also seen vehicles with a permanent lean to one side from overweight drivers.

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+1 to comments about both seat damage and suspension damage.

I used to know a newspaper reporter who was both tall and very much overweight.
He bought a VW Golf, and within ~2 1/2 years, the fabric was so badly-worn on the outer edge of the driver’s seat that the springs began to show. A few months after that, the entire seat was mostly metal, with only a few shreds (literally) of fabric remaining.

When I was a kid, there was a morbidly-obese man who drove a fairly new '57 Plymouth.
Even from a distance, you could tell when his car was approaching, due to the extreme leaning of the car. W/in a few years, the car had a noticeable lean to it, even when it was parked w/o him sitting in it.

So…yes, damage can be done to both seats and suspension by a very heavy passenger.

Yes they can. I have seen it happen. Seat to be sure but suspension, tire problems as a passenger…not so much. If the obese person were the driver with no passenger, there would be a imbalance problem. But, assuming the person weights 250 lbs more then the driver, the mismatch is no worse then a normal hefty driving alone. The seat WILL take gas. Definitely stay at the high end of the tire pressure range…5 extra all the way around. Personally, I would rotate the passenger from front to back opposite the driver. and make sure the wear is balanced. I have no problem insisting upon it as obese people need to be safe too and know where they stand (sit) in this world with their weight problem. I would not let it be a safety issue either as balancing the weight in a car is vary important for good handling.

One of our guys at work is a big guy, He has a chevy pickup he is assigned as his work truck, after 3-4 years of use by him the seat cushion was broken down and eventually it happened… the seat frame broke.

To be fair, he is in and out of that truck constantly. Sometimes I would bet over 50 times in a day. It went off to an auto upholstery shop and they replaced the seat frame, foam and repaired the cover, after a few years its flattening out again.

Cars are probably designed and engineered for drivers that are on average 200lbs, if I had to guess, so if you put more weight on a seat it will probably wear out quicker.

An alignment shop I used to go to had a customer getting an alignment one day, it was a small captive import type car, dodge colt maybe, I can’t remember, well the shop had to align the car with the driver in it because he was so big he caused so much lean he had problems with the car going straight, so there can be issues there.

Is the 400lbs person able to put on a seatbelt?? Sometimes the seatbelts are not big enough for larger people, but there is a solution…

You can get a seat belt extender online or from your dealer so the person is able to buckle up. Last thing you want in a crash is a 400lb person flying at you. (you don’t want a 80lbs person bouncing around the car either in a crash, not knocking heavy people here, its just a fact that you don’t want projectiles in your car in the event of a crash weather it be a 10lbs Chihuahua or 5 lbs of sugar or a 400lbs person)

The seat WILL take gas.

Amen Brother.

I am a buck 75 and my seat takes alot of gas some days. Specially if I eat at my favorite Mexican restaurant.


I am guessing that cars today are much better able to have these weights then they were years ago. Even nomal weight persons back then could wear seats down in 5 years of high miles. Car manufacturers have a large sample size of large people to deal with seats. After all, bus and plane seats hold up pretty well and planes are still able to get off the ground. Imagine though; two obese riders could come close to the maximum carrying capacity of many cars. I would be just as concened with that.

The short answer - yes. But it’ll take more then just one trip.

One of my engineers weighs over 400lbs. On at least 2 vehicles that I know of he’s had to replace the seat after a couple of years of use.

I’m not sure I agree with the comments about suspension damage. This is not that different from having a normal-sized person in the front passenger seat and another normal-sized person in the back right seat, which happens all the time.

I do agree that the seat will wear out much more quickly, not only cosmetically but also possibly structurally. If for some reason this person will be riding for a limited time, I’d consider throwing a junkyard seat in for now, putting the original seat back in later.

"The seat WILL take gas. "
Dag, I’m sure that’s true… {:slight_smile:

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Back in the day (late 1970s and early 1980s), it was pretty common to see a big fat guy driving around in an old clunker of a car that leaned to the driver’s side. We had one or two camp counselors at YMCA camp who fit that description. However, these days, guys that big usually drive a pickup truck or a truck-based SUV, so it seems to be a thing of the past. Cars also seem to be made better, so even though I occasionally see a large person driving a small car, I haven’t seen one that leans to the side since I was a child.

The workmen at my new job wear out their seats from frequently getting in and out of their work trucks. None of them are overweight, so the seat wear is caused by use, not by obesity.

DISCLAIMER: I certainly don’t mean to disparage or fat-shame plus sized people, as I am one.


It’s probably safe to say most of us should lose weight

I need to

Include me in that statement.

I for one am happy to have gained 30 lbs! my back felt better, but the concentration camp look just wasn t me.

my step grandfather used to squeeze into a little fiat, the kind that looks like an MGB. some of his cars used to lean, some didn t

I’m 60lbs heavier when when I graduated from high-school…but 70lbs lighter then when I was in my 30’s. When I stopped power-lifting…I knew that to maintain my powerlifting weight just wasn’t healthy as I got older.

I had a good friend in another department at the university where I taught. This friend had a cottage on a lake and he and his wife invited another colleague, an extremely large woman to the cottage for a weekend. This extremely large woman rode in the back of the Mercedes Benz my friend owned and her weight broke a seat spring. While at the cottage, she got stuck in an arm chair and they had a very hard time getting her out of the chair.
I am really working hard at losing weight. I am 6’ 2" tall. When I retired 3 years ago, I weighed 230 pounds. I am now down to 205 pounds. We eat only 2 meals a day–breakfast and a mid afternoon meal. We walk 3 miles a day five or six days a week and do it in under 50 minutes. I want to live as long as possible, because there are a lot of people in this world I want to irritate before my life is over.