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What is seating/what does it do?
There are two main types of seating in most vehicles, the individual or bucket seat which are contoured to take one person, and the bench seat which will accommodate two or even three people. Usually bucket seats occupy the front of the vehicle and bench seats are to the rear.
In addition there are some estate cars that have one or two rear-facing children’s seats that can be folded away when not in use. All seats in the vehicle, including children’s seats, require seatbelts by law.
Getting into the details of seating
Durable material is required for seating due to the constant wear and tear they take, or car seat covers can be used to prolong the original upholstery. Seats in modern vehicles, especially the front bucket seats, are adjustable in a variety of ways. These include forward and backward, taking the driver further or closer to the steering wheel and pedals, back-rest adjustment which will angle the occupant more upright or more reclined, and the seat section which can be raised or lowered to suit the desired driving position and aid visibility through the windscreen and windows. In some cases the back-rest of the front bucket seats will lower to the horizontal, enabling the driver or passenger to lie down. Lying down while driving however is not recommended. The back-rest adjustment is particularly useful in allowing the driver or passenger to choose the most comfortable position for the lumbar or lower back area which can be the cause of back problems on long journeys. The back-rest section may be in two halves allowing for tilt around the shoulder area.
Most vehicle seats now incorporate a head-rest which is adjustable up and down and is a major factor in avoiding ‘whiplash’ injuries as a result of a collision. Either side of the head-rest most bucket seats now feature ‘winged’ sections to help support the drivers head from unwanted lateral movement.
In most modern vehicles seat adjustment is done electrically via a series of levers, switches and buttons, however in some older vehicles adjustment has to be done manually by sliding the seat forward and back on a set of rails or turning a wheel on the side of the seat or backrest which will raise or lower that section of the seating. In some cases electrically powered seats will have an in-built memory of the favoured seating positions and will default to that position at the beginning of each journey. In many cases it is possible to store more than one seating position in the memory system, allowing for multiple drivers to choose the correct setting at the push of a button.
Adjustment to the rear seats, especially bench seats, is not so common but they can usually be folded in such a way as to maximise boot or cargo space. The seat section folds forward to butt up against the rear of the front seats and the back-rest section folds down to the horizontal. The rear children’s seats fold away into the body of the rear backrest.
In two-door vehicles the front bucket seat back-rest section will fold forward to enable passengers to access the rear bench seat. Certain larger vehicles have front seats which can swivel round to face the rear. This is particularly useful in mobile homes and campervans.
Heated car seats are standard these days and can be controlled by buttons or switches on the dashboard, as can seat ventilation. Armrests are available in some models and can be folded away if not required so that it is easier to get into and leave the seat. Cup-holders are also available as part of the armrest.