Modern vehicles have a huge array of seat adjustment options and it’s often difficult to find that ‘just right’ seating position. With back pain impacting a rising number of people, it’s important that if you’re spending a lot of time in your car, you take the time to set up your car seat correctly.
Here, we’ll take a look at some common adjustments and basic principles that will help improve your comfort behind the wheel.
- Start with setting the height of your seat. This is very much down to personal preference, but a rule I try to position the seat so that my eyes are level with the middle of the windscreen. A higher position will give you improved visibility and put less load on your back, but be aware that sitting too high will limit your visibility in certain situations.
- Next is fore / aft adjustment to get you a comfortable distance to the pedals. With your backside pushed back into the seat (so that you aren’t slouching) adjust the seat so that you can depress all of the pedals to their maximum extension, whilst retaining some bend in your knee.
- Recline adjustment is up next, adjust the recline so that your back is in a naturally supported position. Recline is a tricky one to judge and may need a little adjustment to find the sweet spot.
- You should adjust the steering wheel at this point too, adjust the wheel so that when sat with your shoulders contacting the seat, you can touch the outer edges of the wheel with your wrists and the wheel aligns with your shoulders. With your hands on the wheel, there should be a bend in your elbow and no need to lean forward when turning.
- Lumbar support is next. Take out all the lumbar adjustment then add it back in until your lower back is supported lightly. Don’t use lots lumbar in place of reclining your seat a little.
- If you have an adjustable seat cushion, slide this towards your knees until there is a two finger gap between the edge of the seat and the hollow of your knee.
- Don’t forget your head. Adjust the head restraint (or headrest to a lot of people) for the top to be level with the top of your head and sitting about 2cm behind your head when seated neutrally. You should not be resting your head on the head restraint when driving.
You should now be supported from just behind your knee, all the way up to your shoulders. Spreading your weight like this helps reduce pressure points and will ultimately improve comfort whilst driving.
Pay attention to your posture when driving, a perfectly set seat cannot overcome a slouched and unsupported driving position, which generally gets worse over distance. Check your position regularly to avoid any discomfort when driving.
Hopefully this article covers most common pitfalls with seat positioning, but let me know if there are any tricks that work well for you.