Custom vs. Universal Car Seat Covers – What’s the Difference?

One of the biggest debates in the car seat cover world is: Custom vs. Universal. Custom car seat covers are designed to fit the exact model of your car but come at a higher price point, while universal car seat covers are “one size fits all” but are cheaper. How do you choose?

Before we dive into the major differences, let’s consider the main reasons you want car seat covers in your vehicle in the first place: Is it to protect your original upholstery? Or maybe you want a new interior look to fit your style?

Either way, car seat covers are a great choice! They allow you to protect your investment (including the vehicle’s value if you decide to sell it in the future) and they come in a variety of fabrics, colors, and patterns to showcase your uniqueness.

So what’s the better option for you, Custom or Universal? Read on to discover what our experts at CalTrend consider to be the most important considerations when making this decision.

1. How does it fit?

Whether your goal is style or protection, you want your seat covers to fit properly and feel comfortable. When you don’t get the right fit, the original upholstery is not 100% protected and let’s face it, reinstalling often can be a pain.

Universal seat covers are manufactured to be “one size fits all” so you cannot expect a proper fit for your vehicle’s seats.

Even between model years, car manufacturers often may change the interior seating specs. With a custom cover from a reputable company, you can ensure that your seat cover meets the exact specifications for the seats in your vehicle’s make, model, and year.

If you’re truly looking for a factory option or snug fit that can enhance the look of your interior seats, custom is the way to go.

2. What is the level of quality?

The old saying, “you get what you pay for,” is especially true when it comes to car seat covers. From the type of fabric to how the seat covers look, feel, and last over time, high-quality products are a better choice. For custom seat covers, if you want your product to last, choose fabrics that are both comfortable and durable (and appeal to your style!).

How Do I Choose the Right Fabric for Me?

In general, you’ll have more options with custom seat covers compared to universal because seat cover manufacturers are creating covers that fit the interior options of specific makes and models. For example, if you have cloth seats in your vehicle, you can get CalTrend’s ICBINL seat covers for the look and feel of leather. And actually, ICBINL is even stronger than leather.

CalTrend’s custom seat covers are made for Ford, Chevy, Ram, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Jeep. The two-piece design ensures a snug fit and eliminates the sagging that can come from one-size-fits-all universal seat covers.

3. Is safety a factor?

You might be wondering what seat covers have to do with safety. For newer car models, seat covers can have a serious impact on the deployment of side impact airbags, which are often integrated into the front seats. In an accident, the seat cover could block the airbag from deploying properly.

Check your vehicle’s seats before purchasing universal seat covers, most of which are not made for cars with side airbags. If you’re unsure if your car has side airbags integrated into the front seats, most usually will have “SRS,” which stands for Supplemental Restraint System, or “Side Airbag” inscribed on the chair. Or, check your vehicle’s manual.

With custom seat covers, shopping by make and model of your car can give you the extra peace of mind that your seat covers are airbag compatible. (Contact a CalTrend expert for more information about our seat covers.)

4. Which offers a better value for the price?

A major factor in purchasing universal seat covers is the lower price. Universal seat covers are an affordable option, especially if you just want to throw them on your seats on the way to a camping trip for some protection.

With custom covers, you’re getting the exact look and fit for your specific car, truck, or SUV, with easy installation and a guarantee of high-quality materials. Protecting your interior’s upholstery with that precise fit is a huge bonus with custom seat covers.

What are our customers saying?

Custom car seat covers can give your vehicle the style, protection, and comfort you’re looking for. But don’t just take our word for it, read the reviews below from CalTrend’s happy customers.

I’ve had these seat covers for 7 years and they still look great!


Coming back for our second round, my husband is a construction general contractor, and it seems he lives in his truck. He’s managed to abrade the driver’s side seat cover by dragging tools in his pocket across it for years but the underlying upholstery still looks great due the CalTrend seat covers we got when he purchased his Toyota Tundra new in 2014. Very happy with the durability!!!


Best seat covers I have ever had. I do a lot of driving for work and CalTrend seat covers are protecting my seats. These seat cover are much better than the cheap ones you find elsewhere.


Bought seat covers for my Nissan Versa, and i got to say these are the best seat covers in the market…installation was a breeze!!


Just received my seat covers for my 2016 Honda Civic, in little to no time! Let me just start off with the material, it looks and feels so sturdy. Installation was easy, they slipped right over my upholstery.


If you’re ready to start shopping for your CalTrend custom seat cover, start here:Shop by Vehicle or Shop by Fabric.

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