Have you ever been on a road trip and just couldn’t get comfortable in the seat? You’re forced to sit in an awkward position or you’re sitting on a stack of towels to raise you up a little bit so you have a more comfortable driving position, but this is a temporary fix. If you want to increase the height of your car seat, you came to the right place.
The easiest solution is to use the built-in adjustment on your seat. You can change the height, distance, lumbar, and angle of your seat. If that doesn’t work, consider adding a seat cushion and backrest cushion to raise you up and push you forward. Otherwise, you can remove your car seat and add some spacers under the rails, permanently and safely boosting the height of your seat.
I put together this ultimate guide for raising your car seat’s height. I’ll go over some small details and give you quick solutions in the beginning. In the end, I have a long step-by-step DIY guide that tells you exactly how to safely and permanently boost the height of your seat.
What Determines the Height of a Car Seat?
The actual height of your seat will depend on a few things:
- Your car’s ground clearance. The taller your car is, the higher your seat is from the ground. If visibility is a concern for you, you should choose a taller vehicle.
- The height of the cushion. The seat itself will also determine the height. Thicker seat cushions will result in a higher car seat.
- The position of the seat. Modern cars have inches worth of adjustment when it comes to the final height of the seat. Through a series of buttons, levers, and bars, you can customize the position of your seat.
Changing the Height of a Kid’s Car Seat
If you’re looking to change the height of a child’s car seat that you put on top of a car’s seat, that’s a different answer. If the seat is for an infant, add a blanket under them to boost them higher. Otherwise, you’ll need to go up a size on the safety seat.
Sorry parents, but the rest of the article will focus on the seats installed in a car that is used by adults.
Why Would You Change the Height of a Car Seat?
There are a lot of reasons why you might want to change the height of your car seat. I’ll go through solutions to all of these issues, but I want to start by addressing each of them.
More Comfortable Driving Position
A car seat comes with a lot of adjustabilities, but there might not be enough. For shorter drivers, sitting in a standard seat can be pretty uncomfortable. The backrest isn’t supporting you correctly and the cushion of the seat isn’t giving you the boost that you need.
Even if your driving stance is fine, you might want even better visibility. For compact cars, drivers can opt to raise their seats to better see the road around them.
A higher driving position and better visibility are partially why people love trucks so much, so why not recreate a truck seat in your car?
See Over the Dashboard
For very short drivers, a standard car seat might not allow them to see over the dashboard fully. To compensate, they might strain their neck or choose an awkward driving position. Don’t do either of these options. I’ll tell you how to fix this later, so just stay tuned.
Make the Seatbelt More Comfortable
Some people will find that their seatbelt crosses them in an uncomfortably high position. If a seatbelt rests on your neck or face, you need to immediately change the height of your seat before driving. Getting into an accident with a seatbelt on your neck could potentially kill you.
Is it Legal to Change a Car Seat’s Height?
There’s nothing legally that stops you from changing the height of your car’s seat. If a police officer pulls you over, they probably won’t even notice your seat is taller, so don’t worry.
Things to Avoid Doing
Before getting into the things you should do, I want to highlight some pitfalls to avoid. Doing these can result in unsafe driving and might not even raise your seat the way you want to.
Don’t Skip Steps on the Alteration
Later in this guide, I’m going to walk through an 11-step process on how to permanently change the height of your seat. I urge you to carefully read each step and not just skip through it.
If you miss a small detail, your car seat might not be structurally sound after. Even worse, the seat might not be correctly fastened and could move while you’re driving.
Don’t Sit on Junk
Your first thought might be to just pile up towels or clothes under you while you drive. Although I commend your DIY way of thinking, this isn’t a good long-term solution. The pile can shift or you can slide off of it after braking too hard.
While it might temporarily put you in a good driving position, the pile will compress over time and cause you to sink down.
To put it simply: it might work for a little bit, but it’s not a long-term solution.
Don’t Take “the Easy Route”
You can find kits online that are just plastic cylinders or a series of metal washers that claim that they’ll raise the height of your seat. Although this is technically true, it’s very unsafe.
If you look at the physics at play when you do this, you’re putting a lot of stress on just the bolts. The rails under your seat won’t be in full contact with the floor under it.
There’s a chance that the bolts will shear or bend as you’re driving. There’s an even better chance that you’ll feel your seat shift and bounce too much whenever you take a turn or hit a bump in the road.
In an accident, there might not be enough support to keep your seat in place. That means that your seat can come detached from your floor and you can be thrown into the side or front of your cabin.
This is seriously dangerous and I’m honestly not sure how companies can keep selling these products. They’re advertised as an easy way to add height to your seat, but they’re just a quick way to put you in danger.
Don’t Commit to an Awkward Driving Position
Some people might be tempted to just suck it up and commit to an awkward driving position. This could mean slouching your back or leaning way too far forward. In either of these driving positions, your health could take a toll.
Human backs are surprisingly sensitive. Driving for too long in either of these positions could lead you to a chiropractor’s office.
If you get rear-ended while sitting in either of these stances, your seat won’t be able to support you. You might pull out your back and suffer lasting injuries.
8 Easy Ways to Change the Driver’s Seat Position
In a few seconds, I’ll walk you through a detailed DIY way to permanently raise your car seat. It requires some elbow grease and time. If you want a quicker solution, for now, check out these 8 ways before jumping to that guide.
1. Adjust the Height
If you didn’t know, most cars come with an option to change the height of the seat. There is no need to take things apart, this adjustment is built into the seat.
On your driver’s seat, look at the left plastic trim at the base. If you see a handle or button, it might be used to adjust the height. The lever might be located in the front of the seat also.
The lever will either be something you need to crank or a button that you press and hold. Your car will need to be turned on for this adjustment to start.
If you’re not sure, take a look at your owner’s manual. It should clearly spell out how to make this adjustment.
2. Change the Lumbar Setting
Another adjustment that your driver’s seat has controls the bottom portion of the backrest. If this area is too far back, then you might feel the need to increase the height of your seat.
Instead, move the lumbar forward and see if that clears things up. Doing this will push you further forward in the seat, raising your sitting position.
3. Move Your Seat Closer
If your legs feel like they’re too far away, you can simply move your seat closer. Again, this eliminates the need to DIY a seat-raising project.
If your seat is all the way forward and you’re still not crazy about the position, keep going through this guide.
Moving your seat backward and forward follows the same step as adjusting the height. There is either a bar at the front base of the seat or a lever along the side. Pull and hold it while scooting yourself forward in order to move your seat forward.
4. Move the Steering Wheel Towards You
Some drivers are looking to raise their seats because they don’t like how far away the steering wheel is. Well, there’s another adjustment that car manufacturers make just for you. It’s called a telescoping steering wheel, and it’s pretty common on modern cars.
There’s a latch near the base of your steering wheel. Unlatch it and your steering wheel should be able to articulate and telescope. Move it around and pull it towards you, and the steering wheel should go to a more comfortable position.
If you don’t have this feature or the wheel won’t adjust to a comfortable spot, then your problem isn’t fixed yet.
5. Raise the Seatbelt
What about people who want to sit higher so the seatbelt isn’t going across their neck or face? Luckily, there’s also a way to adjust the height of your seatbelt instead.
Take a look at the plastic part along the wall of your cabin that the seatbelt is fed through. In most cases, this piece runs up and down along a track.
There should be a button somewhere on the plastic piece that unlocks it, allowing you to move it all the way down. This will cause your seatbelt to go across your chest instead of your neck.
Not only is this more comfortable, but it’s also much safer. A seatbelt across your neck can do serious damage in the event of an accident.
6. Add a Seat Cushion
You can find aftermarket seat cushion raisers options that go on top of your car’s seat. This addition will add height to your seat while still giving you a comfortable surface to sit on.
Consider trying one of these seat cushions before going through more drastic measures. With the increased thickness, you’ll be sitting higher in your seat.
7. Change the Backrest
The same aftermarket options can be found for the backrest of your seat. A backrest cushion will push you forward in the seat, resulting in a higher driving position.
You can couple a backrest and seat cushion together if you want to maximize driving comfort while boosting your driving position.
8. Get New Seats
If a cushion isn’t cutting it, you can buy aftermarket seats for your car. This should only be done on a car that you own, not lease. It’s very common for high-quality car seats to offer a higher driving position.
Doing this will cost you some money unless you use a junkyard for the seat. The installation is straightforward, you just need to double-check that the seat meets safety standards and will fit in your car.
Step-By-Step DIY Guide to Increase the Height of a Car Seat with Spacers
If all else fails, then you can DIY a solution. This step-by-step guide will show you how to permanently raise the entire height of the seat. You’re going to be adding extra material under the seat’s mounting bracket which will boost the height of your seat.
Personally, I wouldn’t try this method until you already tried and failed on some of the other options I listed earlier.
Preface: All About the Spacers
This whole guide revolves around adding spacers under your seat. Before you get too deep into the disassembly, I want to explain what these spacers are and how they work.
The whole idea is that you can’t make your seat high enough with other methods. Instead, you can add a gap between your seat and the floor under it. This will raise the entire seat assembly safely.
To do this, you’ll add “spacers” under your seat assembly. Spacers are made of solid pieces of metal and they’re a certain thickness. The thickness is exactly how much taller your seat will be after you install the spacers.
For the best results, your spacers should be as long as the rails under your assembly. They should also be roughly as wide. The important feature is that your spacers should have holes drilled through them in the correct location.
There is a bolt that threads the rails of your seat into the floor of your car. You want the bolt to go through the hole in your spacers.
You can find the desired location by measuring the bolts ahead of time. You want a distance between both bolts and the diameter measurement. The holes in the spacers should be this measured distance apart, and the holes should be at least 1/16” diameter wider than the bolt diameter.
I would suggest going with aluminum since it’s light, easy to work with, inexpensive, and strong.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools
Like any car project, you want to start by getting your tools together. For this project, you’ll need:
- Socket set and ratchet wrench
- Tape measure
- A good flashlight
- Spare towels or clothes to sit on to find the perfect height
- New mounting bolts that are longer
- Fabricated spacers
- A friend to help lift the seat
- Optional: torque wrench
Step 2: Park Your Car in a Flat Spot
It all starts with parking in the right place. You want the ground to be level and paved so you can get the best results. This process will entail swinging your door fully open, so make sure you have plenty of room around your car.
The best option would be to use your driveway or an open area of a parking lot.
Once your car is safely parked, then you can move on with the rest of this guide.
Step 3: Find Out the Right Height
Before you start adding spacers, you need to understand how much height you want to add. There’s no perfect way to do this, but here’s what I’ve done in the past:
Grab a stack of towels to sit on. Position one at a time on the bottom cushion of your seat. Sit on the towel and assess if the height is right for you. When you find a comfortable position, get out of the car, and don’t touch the towels.
Use a tape measure and measure the towels exactly how they’re sitting on the seat. In other words, don’t remove them and then measure them somewhere else. You want to do it right after you get out of the car with the towels still in the seat because they’ll compress, and the overall height will change from their fluffed state.
This measurement is how much height you need to add to your car seat. Write this number down somewhere. This is the thickness of the risers that you’ll need to add later.
Step 4: Take a Look at the Mounting Configuration
Every car is going to have a different configuration when it comes to mounting. Take some time to familiarize yourself with what your car offers.
Even though the specifics are going to vary, the overall idea is the same. Underneath your chair, there’s probably a pair of rails and some bolts holding it all together.
The rail will guide your seat as you move it forward and backward. The bolts will keep the rails parallel and keep your seat firmly attached to the framework of your car.
In every car I’ve worked on, there have been a pair of bolts in the front and a pair at the very rear of the rail assembly. Take time to locate each of these bolts and determine if there are other obstacles that are getting in the way.
Also, take a set of sockets to see which tool size you’ll need to remove these bolts.
Step 5: Remove Rear Mounting Bolts
Once you’re familiar with how your seat is mounted, you can start removing it. Personally, I like to start with the rear mounting bolts first. Before you try to remove them, move your seat all the way to its most forward position. This will give you access to the rear bolts.
You’re going to remove the bolts that connect the chair assembly to the floor of your car. They’re likely located within the rails or just outside of them.
To loosen them, you can just throw your socket bit on a ratchet wrench. Remember, lefty loosey, so you’ll want to rotate these bolts counterclockwise.
Fully remove all of the rear mounting bolts. Keep them somewhere handy so you don’t lose them. I like using a magnetic part tray so I don’t drop the bolts and lose them forever.
That’s all you’re doing for this step.
Step 6: Remove Front Mounting Bolts
Now, move your seat all the way to the rear-most position. You’ll want to do this carefully since the rails are only half-installed. That just means that you shouldn’t slam the seat backward.
With the seat in this position, you should have free access to the front bolts keeping your seat in place.
Repeat step 5 on these front bolts, completely removing them and putting them somewhere safe.
Step 7: Option A: Add Spacers Under Rails
This is where your specific car’s configuration will come in. For some cars, you can add spacers without the need to remove the entire seat.
If you can easily pivot your seat around, and there aren’t additional obstacles, then this option is preferred. It saves you the hassle of removing the seat and rails and trying to re-attach them later.
In this option, you’ll start by grabbing your spacers. I talked all about these in the preface of this DIY section, so go back and read it if you need to. Remember, the height was determined in step 1.
With some help, lean your chair in one direction and slide the spacers under it. Make sure the holes in the spacer line up with the holes for the bolts. Next, lean the chair in the other direction and place the other spacer.
At this point, you should have your car assembly with two spacers underneath, lined up with the mounting holes.
Step 8: Option B: Remove Seat from Vehicle and Add Spacers
If your car seat has too many obstacles, it’s positioned oddly, or the rails are getting in the way, you might have to remove the seat from your car. These things can be heavy, so you’ll want to employ help from a friend.
The car seat will be free to move at this point. Take it out of your vehicle and put it down nearby.
Place the two rails down, using the mounting holes as guides. Carefully place the car seat assembly back onto the rails, also using the mounting holes as guides.
Step 9: Reinstall New Mounting Bolts (Hand-Tight)
There’s a small problem. The bolts previously used to mount your car are assuming there’s a specific gap between the rail and the floor. Since adding the spacers, this gap has been extended, so the bolts are too short.
Even if the bolts appear to be long enough, there might not be enough thread engagement with the tapped hole in your car’s floor. This is engineer talk that means your seat isn’t structurally sound and the bolts can come dislodged after hitting a pothole or getting into a small accident.
Instead, you need to get new bolts. The new bolts should be longer than the old ones by whatever thickness the spacer is. If your old bolts are 2.0” long and you add a 0.25” spacer, the new bolts need to be at least 2.25” long.
Reinstall all four of these bolts, but don’t fully tighten them. Just tighten them hand-tight so you can make changes as needed.
Start with the two that are exposed with your current seat position, then slide your seat and hand-tighten the remaining two.
With all of the new bolts hand-tight, you can do your first test.
Step 10: Carefully Sit in Seat and Assess
You’re ready to carefully sit in the seat and see how you like the new height. The car should be turned off so you don’t accidentally drive off.
If the height isn’t perfect, this is the time to adjust it. You’ll need to swap out the spacers with new ones, which is easier now that you have all the tools handy.
Avoid rocking or falling into the seat too hard. Since the bolts aren’t fully tightened, your seat can shift and you can break a bolt.
Step 11: Torque Down All Bolts
If you like the adjusted height, you can fully torque down every bolt. You want to tighten the bolts with a tool, so they don’t come loose as you’re driving.
Be sure to tighten all of the bolts and double-check that they’re tight. If you have a torque wrench, you should use it for this step and target the specified torque value for the type of bolt you installed.
Now, you know everything you need to know about car seat and their height. I hope that my guide helped you raise the height of your seat and fix your driving stance. If you want to read more detailed DIY guides, explore my blog. Leave a comment below and let me know if my solutions helped you. Also, take a look at my list of recommended car products that can make your life a little easier.