What are power seats in cars?

Power seats in cars use electric motors — rather than manual levers, cranks, or knobs — to adjust seat position and recline. They make it easier for the driver to quickly and easily find a position that allows them to best see the road and for passengers to find a comfortable position for the ride. Some cars with power seats include heating, cooling, and massage options. You may be able to add power seats if your car doesn't have them.

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What are dual power seats?

If a car offers power seat adjustment for both front seats, this option is called dual power seats. This option distinguishes it from vehicles that only provide power adjustment on the driver's side. Some cars include power seat adjustment for the back rows of seats as well.

Are power seats in cars a common feature?

As cars have come to include more features in general, power seats have become more common. If an auto manufacturer offers a car without power seats, it's usually a base model trim level. Power seats are nearly universal as you move up through a brand's offerings and trim levels. Higher-end and luxury brands usually offer cars with power seats that have additional adjustment and configuration options.

For example, in 2022, Honda offered the Civic (their entry-level sedan) without power seats on most trim levels, but they were available on the Civics’ touring package. The Accord, a more upscale sedan, included power seats on the top four of its six trim levels.

What is a 6-way power seat?

Manufacturers offer different adjustments on the power seats in their cars and often refer to them based on the number of movements and adjustments they can perform. The 8-way and 6-way power car seats are the most standardized configurations. Common arrangements include:

6-way power seats8-way power seats10-way power seats12-way power seats
Position forward and back6-way power seats8-way power seats10-way power seats12-way power seats
Height up and down6-way power seats8-way power seats10-way power seats12-way power seats
Seat bottom tilt forward and back6-way power seats8-way power seats10-way power seats12-way power seats
Backrest recline forward and back6-way power seatsX8-way power seats10-way power seats12-way power seats
Lumbar: amount of support more and less6-way power seatsX8-way power seatsX10-way power seats12-way power seats
Lumbar: support position up and down6-way power seatsX8-way power seatsX10-way power seatsX12-way power seats

In addition to heating, cooling, and massage, some cars, especially luxury or sports models, may offer thigh extenders, bolster adjustments, and an electric headrest adjustment. With so many functions available for car power seats, some can save configuration settings as driver profiles. If you share a car, you don't have to tweak each setting individually when you change drivers. Each driver can push the appropriate driver profile button, and the seat will move into position.

Can I add power seats to a car that doesn't have them?

If the auto manufacturer offered your make and model with the option of power seats, it may have the necessary connections to add them later, even if you selected a trim package that didn't include them. Check with your mechanic to see if it's possible. If you can add power seats to your car, you'll need to replace the seats with power-enabled models. Salvage yards can be a good place to find inexpensive used parts if you don't want to buy or can't find new components.

If you're looking at buying a new car, it may be cheaper to select power seats as an option or upgrade your trim level than it would be to source and install aftermarket power seats. Talk to a professional about the potential cost of a seat upgrade before committing to a package that doesn't include power seats. According to RepairPal, replacing individual components like the power seat motor can cost hundreds of dollars.

How do I move power car seats without power?

If the power seats in your car aren't working, you may be able to move them with a winder tool. The winder looks like a cable with a handle on one end and a screwdriver-like bit on the other. Insert the bit into the matching socket on the bottom of the seat and spin the handle to move the seat backward and forward. The seat's movement will be slow and limited to back-and-forth movement, so you may still want to get the power seats repaired.

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