I know the thread currently running has a humorous tone to it but this is a issue of some importance to some groups. A USA Today Business section article (from today March 10, 2010) gives details about the problem and relates that the NHTSA is going to analyze the data. There have been injuries (victims could not tell they were getting hot). Why every manufacture did not include safety features with the heated seats is most likely the old, cheaper to litigate the few cases than design in safety.
OK, I know I have the date wrong, today is March 10,2011.
Interesting! I have never had a car with one, but reading the comments on the thread was the first I have heard about them getting too hot. Wonder if they have ever caused fires by overheating? You would think they would have a “limit switch” on them.
the ones on my Acura do. I often wish they’d get a little hotter before they cut off
My 2005 Accord has 2-level heaters. There is no missing the toasted buns when the unit is on high. After a few minutes I’m happy to drop to the lower level.
The seats in my Mazda seem to cycle on and off when they’re on.
The number of cases is low (one claim of 25 another of 150). One person who is a parapalegic suffered 3 degree burns. The parameters need to be just right for someone to get hurt like this but a timer or a temp sensor would have been put to really good use.
There are instances of them malfunctioning and catching on fire (or at least smoldering) My coworker’s driver’s side seat on her Jetta did exactly that.
The heated seats in my 300 have two levels–when you first turn them on high, they go to a ‘preheat’ level, then drop back to a level that I find uncomfortably warm. Once I feel the heat building, I drop it down to low, which is perfect for very cold winter days.
I could see how someone with reduced feeling back there could be burned if they left the seat on high on a long road trip (though I don’t know why they’d need it if they have no feeling back there), assuming that it wouldn’t cut out after a while. I haven’t left mine on high long enough to find out. A family friend who was paraplegic, and had a car with hand controls, burned her foot fairly badly in a 1970s car from having it too close to the floor vent for the heater on a road trip.
It was related in the story that the parapalygic man that got burned turnred the seat heater on while working the window controls(by accident), people make mistakes with controls all the time. Since I am having a hard time convinving the Forum this is an important issue imagine what the few injuried people are going through, most likely a lot of evasion and double-talk. This it the type of reaction that causes people to hire lawyers.
This is unfortunate. Hopefully it won’t drive automakers to not install them.
My wife’s Subaru has them and they are wonderful.
Yes, hopefully this study will only result in thermostatic controls or limit switches, rather than elimination of this useful feature. In addition to being a great adjunct to the car’s heater on a very cold morning, seat heaters serve two additional purposes:
They can be used as a mobile heating pad for those of us with chronic back problems.
On a cool (rather than cold) day, it is nice to be able to use just the seat heaters, instead of heating the cabin with the HVAC system.
The seat heaters on my '11 Outback do seem to put out much more heat than the ones on my two previous Outbacks. On the new car, I have to turn the switch from the high setting to the low setting after only 5 minutes–or less. So, I can see how diabetics, paraplegics, or other folks with reduced neurological functioning might not be aware of just how hot the seat has become.