Heated Car Seats Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
April 3, 2008 | Product Liability
Once considered a luxury item, electric heated cars are commonplace now. Did you know heated cars seats have been known to malfunction and become dangerously hot?
What luxury! It’s a freezing cold day, you get in your car, flip on the heated seat switch and before you know it you’re toasty warm. I’ve accidentally turned on the heater during the summer while wearing shorts and a tee shirt and I can tell you that seat got uncomfortably warm pretty quickly. Fortunately, I was able to turn the seat off before it got too hot. My seat wasn’t malfunctioning, but if it did it would be an easy fix. Just turn it off. Certain things that we take for granted and seem so obvious—the seat gets too hot; you turn it off, are not so obvious to others. What if you suffer from paralysis or have a condition that includes a sensory deficit?
There have been an increasing number of people with paralysis and sensory deficits that have suffered serious and even life threatening burns from cars seats that have overheated. Again, common sense says turn off the heater when you feel it get too hot or don’t turn it on in the first place. But, what if you didn’t know the heater was turned on and you couldn’t feel the burn? And most importantly, why did the heater malfunction in the first place?
How would you feel if after receiving a severe and possibly life threatening burn, that it could have been prevented? The National Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) received complaints as early as 2001 that 1999 Chrysler Town and Country minivans’ heated seats were catching fire. The investigation was closed when Chrysler claimed the seat material was fire proof, “holes were the size of a pencil or less” and “No consumers required medical treatment.” Hmm—I’m no rocket scientist, but if something is hot enough to burn a hole in the upholstery, that’s a problem whether or not there are any reported injuries! Other complaints have been filed involving Ford, Jeep, Mercedes Benz and Volvo vehicles.
Here’s another case of Corporate America refusing to take responsibility and to properly correct a defect that has a potential to harm the public until someone files a lawsuit. And people complain about frivolous lawsuits that are filed. Third degree burns don’t seem so frivolous to me. So, pass it on—heated car seats can be hazardous to your health.