Heated Car Seats Could Pose Burn Danger

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited September 2014 in General

imageHeated Car Seats Could Pose Burn Danger

Burn specialists, a safety group and NHTSA are investigating this issue. Some problems stem from heated seats used by people who lack feeling in their lower extremities.

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  • sub2sub2 Member Posts: 1
    VW has had this problem for years. Canada had a full recall on VW heated seats years ago. In the US we only had a campagine. That is because American back sides are not worth as much as a Candian back side. Really the NHSTA messed up on this one. It should have been a full recall considering the seats were melting and the clothes were smouldering and people {many} recieved burns. I read the 12,000 plus NHTSA VW complaints. Also, they {NHTSA} will not tell you the total number of Fires for each manufacturer.Let us make our own choice which cars we want to buy. I want the one that has the least number of fires.
  • ko_oregonko_oregon Member Posts: 0
    We had a recent problem with a 2005 BMW X3 heated seat. On a infrequent cool morning, my wife decided to turn on the seat heaters and within minutes, she experienced a stinging sensation on her left hip. She was still in a parking lot so she could stop and get out of the car to see what the problem was. She saw the heating element on the left bolster, glowing red having burned through the seat material. She shut the seat heater off to prevent any more damage or harm. I contacted BMW after having a diagnosis done at a local BMW dealer, and was informed that because of the age of the vehicle, I was out of luck for any financial assistance from BMW. I viewed this, not as a warranty issue, but as a safety issue. Had she not been in a parking lot, had there been any flammable material near the seat, and had she not been wearing nylon warmups, this could have caused serious damage to the car and serious injury to her. BMW doesn't appear to believe this is a problem they want to deal. I caution anyone who has an older vehicle to NEVER use turn on the seat heater when outside the vehicle. There should be some kind of current sensor or heat sensor that shuts off the heater when either is excessive. The heating element should be designed to fail to an open rather than a short. Don't get BURNED using seat heaters. Especially from BMW.
  • allen67allen67 Member Posts: 1
    My 2002 BMW 530i startiing burning my leg and back. I had to stop using in when the seat caught on fire and burnd a hole in the leather seat. Took the car to Plaza Motors in St. Louis (where I purchased it) and they told me it was out of warranty and they would not fix it. I filed complaint on NHTSA web site but never heard anything and probaly never will.

    Based on this experience i will NOT buy another car from Plaza Motors and my next car will not be a BMW.
  • drice01drice01 Member Posts: 1
    @allen67 You should have contacted BMW N.A. and filed a complaint with them. That's what I did after I was burned by my heated seat in my BMW.
  • chicklet2chicklet2 Member Posts: 1
    I just purchased a 2016 Infinity QX50 In October 2015. The car seTs are 8-12 degrees hotter than they should be. However the dealership said they can't do anything as that is how they were designed in Japan. I need the heated seats for lower back pain but can't have on for more than 5 minutes.

    Is there any recourse? I did speak with Infinity Consumer Affairs and they were useless. I suggest you avoid this year's model if you want useable, safe heated seats.
  • RADRAD Member Posts: 1
    I don’t believe it’s necessary for the seat heater to malfunction for a person to get burned. I used the heated seats on my BMW basically continuously due to back pain. Ultimately, I ended-up with a small area of my back that shows classic signs that I burned the tissue over a long period of time.
    I carefully found the area on the seat that corresponded to my burn and it is indeed a node where the heat emanates from. I don’t know that the heater element is “too” hot (>105 degrees if this article is accurate), but I’ve realized maybe it was ‘user malfunction’ that caused my injury.
    Even if the seat was only 103 degrees, I was basically ‘slow-cooking’ that area of my back.
    I do plan to see if I can measure the temp at that specific point of my seat, but no more always-on for me.
    BTW; this sucker does NOT heal rapidly.
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