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I have been shopping for a new small SUV… I have sat in/drove just about every model made today. ALL of them have obnoxiously uncomfortable head RESTRAINTS! Good name for them as they restrain your head from being in a normal physical position!! I think that the federal regulations need to be revised, as I am finding there are MANY people out there with the same complaint! They created these new standards for RESTRAINTS to protect us from neck injury… however, these things are actually CAUSING neck injuries over the long run, through improper position of the head. First off, they cause undue strain on the entire neck, shoulder, and upper back areas. This is FORCING car owners to attempt to remede this painful position of their heads by any number of means, which in turn is putting them at serious risk for NECK INJURY!! Turning the head ‘restraint’ around, replacing it with a rear seat head rest, removing them completely… or even taking them out to the garage and forcing the tubing into a more aligned position. It’s crazy!! The feds are going to be responsible when the incidence of whiplash increase, rather than decrease, because people cannot tolerate this sitting position for very long and will do whatever it takes to make riding in their $30k+ cars more comfortable! The other very important issue that they cause is that by having your head in this FORCED forward position, your chin is lowered and you lose a good deal of your forward-looking field of vision!! You can not raise your head into the ideal position, so that you can see without looking upwards and it even reduces side-to-side viewing in some of the extremely tilted versions.

Anyway, they are a hazard… I have heard so many complaints … and in talking with salespeople, I am not alone… in fact, while I am out looking in windows of new cars that I am considering… it is amazing how many headrests I have seen that have been left in the ‘turned around’ backward position… therefore, I truly an not alone! Not everyone’s heads are shaped the same, our necks, backs, and shoulders are not the same, our height is not the same. And, in my case, I have a ‘military neck’ actually a straight neck with no normal curvature… and there is no way that I can purchase a vehicle, until the do something to correct this PROBLEM!

DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS!! I want to remain safe, of course, but I drive over 100 miles a day, for work, during busy months, and I would be literally laid up in bed if I had to sit in one of these cars for that length of time. In fact, just short test drives have left me with neck aches! Please Help Me!! Thank You!!

You are legally required to keep the head restraints in place. Having said that there is a way to tilt the whole seat backwards, so you will be more comfortable. I have had 3 full size US GM cars where the seats were too upright and soft and I was slumping forward.

My solution was to loosen the front floor seat anchor bolts, go to a welding shop and have some extensions made up, essentially a couple of nuts welded together. these act as spacers and tilt the whole seat back enough to be comfortable.

This was a low cost, $20 solution for me and I kept the interior of the car legal. On some cars with power seats, you can actually tilt the whole seat back.

Good luck!

My solution to this common problem is to recline the seat back a bit more than I usually would, and slide it slightly forward to keep my arm reach unchanged. Not perfect, but it usually works.

After seeing how many neck injuries there were in the days prior to head restraints being required in cars, I’m a big believer in them. Some are uncomfortable but it’s better than snapping your neck in an accident.

Alternative being a neck brace in a wheelchair.


Thank you for the suggestions. Don’t get me wrong… I AGREE that we NEED some form of protection from whiplash injuries, but the adjustable models seemed to work just fine and each individual could adjust the position according to their height, head shape, and comfort level. I have tried reclining the seat backs and moving the seat forward in all of these vehicles, but that just puts your body in yet another awkward & unnatural position, and you may not have as much control over the vehicle, slowing your response time. In doing research, I did come across a fellow who took his head ‘restraints’ in to an upholsterer and had a small amount of the foam removed so that the back of his head could relax into it, yet it would continue to prevent his head from flying backwards in a rear-end collision. Please continue to send suggestions, as this is a real issue for me and I am waiting for the perfect solution… I know it’s out there! I appreciate it.

All those years of ignoring my mother’s pleas to stop slouching are finally paying off! :smiley: Apparently, bad posture means my head never touches the headrest. Either that ot it’s the way I adjust the seat. I’ve seen some of the headrests that appear to be pitched way forward and wondered how that was supposed to work. I’d like to see the people designing them, they must have the spinal profile of a turtle…

I, too, am having a heck of a time finding a new car due to these new “active head restraints.” They are in all makes and models. I cannot tilt the seat back because I have a lower back problem. I have to sit straight up and down. When I do, the severe forward tilt of these new restraints create upper back pain and I cannot get comfortable. These restraints might be fine for crash test dummies, but not for real people. I need a restraint that aligns with the back of the seat, and I can only find those in used cars anymore. The used car market has become so inflated that it makes no financial sense to purchase a used car at practically the cost of a new car. I really think that the car manufacturers need to revisit the ergonomics of the new active head restraints. If not, don’t be surprised to see a swell in the clientele requiring the services of physical therapists and chiropractors – either for the neck pain caused by the severe tilt of the head restraints, or for the lower back pain caused by tilting the seat back to compensate for the head restraints.

I am like these writers. I am driving a ten year old car but have rented four cars this year and none of them were comfortable. I sit upright and want the seat back to be firmly against my back. When I do this the headrest forces my head down. I have already had physical therapy twice in the past several years for my neck and these headrests will cause that again. What are we–short people–to do. I have been driving a rental for a week and am having back and neck pains already.

I wear a size 7-3/4 hat and have a long oval head and I sit up straight. Two weeks ago I bought a (new to me) 2010 Toyota Tacoma and the head rests force my head forward into a position that is just plain painful. Driving in that position, my visibility is compromised unless I recline the seat back, and then lean forward. That leaves me without proper back support; it doesn’t take the brain power of a half wit to realize that is in itself dangerous. I’m the guy that bought a set of seat belts and installed them in my brand new 1961 Ford Falcon; yeah I’m old (75) and I believe in safety, but the bigger part of safety is common sense.
After driving this Tacoma for a few days and a few miles I’m looking at selling it and loosing money and that make me sick. This all comes down to one thing we have too many lawyers practicing engineering without a clue of the consequences of their actions; or perhaps they do. No matter where a head restraint is positioned it (like every other part on a car) will in time, become the basis for a law suit.
“The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem” ~ Milton Friedman

They are designed to prevent whiplash in an accident, not to rest your head on.
I have a newer car as well and have the seat slightly tilted back so my head doesn’t rest on the seat and I feel just fine driving like that.
Maybe if you move the restraint up or down to get a better position, it might be more comfortable for you

“Jack (quoth his father), how shall I ease take ?
If I stand my legs ache, and if I kneel, My knees ache, and if I go, then my feet ache.
If I lie my back ach’th, if I sit I feel My hips ache,
and lean I never so weel, My elbows ache.
Sir, (quoth Jack) pain to exile, Since all these ease not, best ye hang awhile.‎”

If you get the power driver’s seat, you can control just about every aspect of your seating position. I prefer to sit high and tilted back so than my arms are straight. I use the seat back rake and the whole seat tilt to get the position right. Take the time to find a comfortable position with the head restraint out of the way when you test drive. Make it a long test drive to ensure that the seating position is comfortable for longer periods.

I don’t have a problem myself because I’m short. My wife has complained about the headrest being too far forward. I guess if it really was a problem for me, I’d either have it recovered so that it was less thick, or bend the dang retainer bars a little to push it back.

My parents bought a new Rambler in 1960 and part of the deal was that the car was to be equipped with seat belts and head rests. Three years later, my mother and brother were rear ended by a semi. The impact was so great that the car buckled and the engine went into the radiator. My mother was in the passenger seat and the head rest prevented her from having a serious injury. My brother also escaped without injury, although he made a pretzel out of the steering wheel. The head rest served as a head restraint and I am sure 50 years later that these restraints are even better.

@jjfarrell -

Try the new Ford Explorer. It has an adjustable headrest that is designed to alleviate this complaint.

Personally, I like the new headrests. Why? Because I’m tall (6’6"), and until these changes, headrests simply didn’t provide me proper protection. I’m not terribly sympathetic to those who complain about comfort when its a safety issue for me. We have the newer “uncomfortable” design on our 2010 Mazda6… and it works just fine for both me and my (much shorter) wife.

Yes, in the past the head rests were sometimes in the middle of my shoulder blades, very uncomfortable.

I haven’t driven any new cars so I don’t know that its been alleviated, but it sounds promising from what eraser says. (I’m an inch shorter than he)