Cars are an essential tool in our lives and we expect a high level of comfort as well as good overall quality, because many of us spend a lot of time sitting in the car. Also, as more of us report chronic back pain during our lifetimes, it's never been more important to look after our back health. Many people don't realise how important a comfortable car is for their backs, so to prevent or improve back problems you should look carefully at your car seat as a potential solution. We got our resident seat comfort expert George Anderson in to demonstrate how to achieve a comfortable and safe driving position, and you can view our videohere. So with George's tips in mind, here are some more ideas.
Why is seat comfort so important?
We've all heard the advice that spending too much time sitting down is bad for us in many ways, not least for our back health. When you sit in your car you've got a job to do, which is to complete your journey and transport you and your passengers safely, so you may as well make it a comfortable experience. If you're sitting comfortably in your car, you will be less stressed, and this will improve your driving standard and your safety behind the wheel. A poor driving position will increase your stress levels and also put strain on your back, which could potentially give you chronic pain for years to come. So, it's essential to get your seating position right.
How to improve driving comfort
One of the great things about modern cars is how much they allow you to adjust the seat and controls in order to find a safe and comfortable driving position. Some are electrically adjustable, others adjust in seemingly infinite ways to give you that perfect driving position. George shows us some easy adjustments to make in the video, but here are some more things to look out for:
Seat material - With a range of leather, alcantara or cloth materials available, try a number of different options to see which you find most comfortable to sit on.
Seat heating/cooling - Even some mid-range or smaller cars now come with heated seats, which warm your back on cold mornings and ease stress. Some cars also come with cooled seats for those boiling hot days, but these are harder to find.
Sports seats/normal seats - Sportier models will often come with sports seats which hold you in place and offer support in different places. Try sports seats and normal seats to see what fits you best.
Adjustment - Any standard car seat will move forwards and backwards, and the backrest will recline. Look for cars with more adjustment options including height, tilt and lumbar support. Lumbar support moves inwards at the small of your back to prevent slouching.
Steering wheel, controls and pedals - You should be able to reach the pedals, steering wheel and gear selector without stretching or reaching. Most car steering wheels now adjust for reach and rake (height), so you should find a comfortable position.
Seating position - Sit close enough to be able to press the pedals down firmly without having to raise your knee. If you're either too close or too far away, it will put strain on your back or pelvis. George shows you in the video how you should sit far enough away not to be bunched up, but close enough to press the pedal without twisting. There is a great Sunday Times driving guide here with lots more information about how to get your seat just right.
If you've tried everything and still can't get your seating position just right, there is an excellent range of aftermarket products available including seat padding, cushions, lumbar supports, seatbelt pads and neck supports to give you extra support in areas where you may need it. Visit any major car accessory stores to see what's in stock, or you can even check the accessories brochure from your car's manufacturer for a range of products tailor made for your model.
Other comfort tips
There are some more creative ways to make your journey less stressful and your driving experience more comfortable all round. For those gentlemen who keep a wallet in their back pocket, take it out for driving because it may be twisting your spine when you sit down. Dress appropriately for driving with the right shoes and clothing that doesn't restrict your movement. Keep everything you'll need for the journey in reach - change that CD before you start your journey, so you don't have to lean across to the glovebox to get it. As George says in the video, if you share a car then each of you may have a different driving position, so take some time to adjust everything to your comfort before you set off.
The most comfortable cars
If you're looking for a shortlist of the most comfortable cars on sale today, Car Buyer has provided a helpful guide to their top 10 comfiest cars. Let's look at the top 3:
1) Vauxhall Insignia – It has impressive comfort levels (if you avoid the larger wheels).
2) Skoda Superb Hatchback – a deceivingly roomy interior with an extremely solid driving experience.
3) Ford Mondeo – For a car of it’s spec, the suspension rides very well. It manages to soak up big bumps as well as glide over small ruts.
Each different car will have a very different driving experience, so when you're looking for a new car it's worth trying out a few different brands and different types of seat to see what works for you. Here at Thame Cars we have a range of the UK's most popular (and comfiest!) models available for you to see and try, so you're very welcome to pop and see us and try some seats out for size.