Saturday, April 14, 2012

Importance of Proper Seat Support for the Driver

Any sporting vehicle will benefit from lightweight sport seats. It's true that sports cars and sporting sedans come from the factory with high-bolstered seats that work almost as well as aftermarket sport seats in terms of holding a driver in place. However, OEM seats are rarely lightweight and this where a change to lightweight racing buckets benefit a vehicle with sporting pretenses.

It's unfortunate that many buyers of aftermarket sport seats obtain them for their looks and street cred. A glance through some car forums will even show opinions stating that aftermarket sports seats give you added comfort. Well, unless your car came with wooden benches, it's safe to say that most of today's OEM seats are more comfortable than the lightweight, thinly padded and rigid racing seats out on the market today. There are of course replacement seats from Recaro, Sparco or one of the other known manufacturers that are quite comfortable, even luxurious. These are not the units you normally use as replacements though, and enthusiasts more often than not will choose seats with high bolsters, lightweight padding and carbon fiber or fiberglass shells.

A seat's purpose is to locate the driver properly so that his or her sightline to the road is unimpeded, and access to the controls is comfortably accessible. With a properly-positioned racing seat, a driver is able to concentrate on the driving task at hand without being distracted by having to keep the body's position in the seat or counteract the physical forces that are generated in cornering and braking.

When considering a racing seat, look for good lateral support at the hips and shoulders. The head should also be properly supported. Some units even provide lateral support for helmeted heads. One common oversight in replacing the OEM seats with aftermarket ones is the seat support. Mounting brackets often need to be replaced when changing seats and some owners make to with fabricated brackets that do not have the strength to withstand high loads. While it's best to use motorsport-approved brackets, any experienced fabricator can do a proper set of brackets for aftermarket seats. A vehicle's seats must stay in place in the event of a crash, and poorly mounted seats can become a liability when the worst-case scenario happens. A seat that moves in a crash can put pressure on a part of the body that is ill-equipped to withstand the forces of a crash. The same goes for the multi-point harnesses that racing seats are complemented with. The anchorage points have to be strong enough to withstand the stresses of a crash.

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