If you’ve ever driven a vehicle on a long-distance trip, you know just how much sitting you end up doing. For those who make a living driving for long periods—like truck drivers—the kind of chair you spend all that time in really matters. Here’s what to know about stock and aftermarket semi-truck seats and which one is better for you.
What’s the Difference?
Stock seats are simply the ones that come with a new semi-truck. Unfortunately, many companies don’t consider the seat to be a wear-and-tear item that needs regular replacing. Unless you know the specific history of your commercial truck, you can probably assume it still has the original seat, regardless of how old it is.
An aftermarket seat is a new seat you can install as a replacement for the one currently in your truck. Many aftermarket seats offer better features for professional drivers, making the job safer and more comfortable.
Why Your Chair Matters
It’s common knowledge that a lot of sitting isn’t great for your health, but fewer people know about the added danger of sitting improperly. While you can counter the bad effects of sitting behind the wheel all day with regular exercise, it’s harder to mitigate the effects of poor sitting posture unless you know what you’re doing.
Here are some things to keep in mind for proper truck driving posture:
- Keep your hands relaxed as they grip the wheel.
- Keep your whole back against the backrest.
- Allow enough leg room to keep your thighs flat on the seat.
- Try not to slouch.
- Adjust your posture frequently by shifting in your seat, flexing your wrists, and stretching your neck.
The Importance of Seat Suspension
Unfortunately, you can do all of the above and still wind up with adverse health effects if you have a sub-par driving seat. For example, if your chair’s suspension is too low, it won’t be able to protect your spine from the constant road vibrations. Your chair may end up hitting the floor of the truck when you’re driving, which puts unnecessary pressure on your spine.
You might also find it difficult to adjust a worn-out chair to your body’s needs. The chair may not be able to support you properly if the cushions are flattened, which is common in stock semi-truck seats that have already been in use for some time.
Comparing Stock and Aftermarket Seats
To help you decide which kind of semi-truck seat is best for you, we’re going to break down all the different features. Here’s what to look for when choosing a driving seat.
Upholstery and Materials
One of the big differences between stock and aftermarket seats is the quality and range of materials available for each. Stock seats usually have vinyl upholstery, which can help protect your cab from spills but isn’t necessarily the most comfortable to sit on all day.
When you choose an aftermarket seat, you’ll have a wide range of upholstery and styles to choose from, including leather and other high-quality materials.
Comfort and Adjustability
Comfort and adjustability are two more factors that differ between stock and aftermarket seats. If you’re inheriting a cab from a previous driver, it’s likely the driver’s seat has seen some wear and tear. It’s probably also formed to the shape of the last driver’s body, which may make it uncomfortable or unsupportive for you.
One of the most important aspects of buying an aftermarket seat for your cab is that your new seat will better accommodate your body’s dimensions. Most aftermarket seats are designed to offer more adjustments, which means your chair will actually fit you correctly.
Correct fit is important if you’re following the ergonomic recommendations mentioned earlier. For example, what do you do if you can’t comfortably reach the pedals while leaning your back against the backrest of your seat? In an adjustable seat, you’d be able to shift the backrest forward until it supports you properly and you can adequately reach the pedals.
You should also keep in mind that shopping for a good driver’s seat is similar to buying a mattress. Soft and squishy may feel good at first, but a firm cushion is more supportive in the long term.
A crucial function of semi-truck seats is to protect the driver from road vibrations. Not only are they unpleasant to feel, but they can cause long-term damage to your back and nerves. Road vibrations can also cause some drivers to become sleepy, which leads to greater risk of an accident.
A quality driver’s seat should have features like an isolator, which allows the driver to control how much rocking they experience while braking and accelerating. The seat should also have some kind of lumbar support and headrest adjustability to maximize driver stability. Unfortunately, these essential features can be hard to come by in stock semi-truck seats.
One of the areas where aftermarket seats shine is in bonus features that can greatly increase the comfort a seat offers. Some seats have temperature controls that assist with heating and cooling, while others may have features like built-in massage. These bonus features can make a huge difference for drivers who spend many hours each day on the road.
Other Things To Consider
If you’re considering upgrading to an aftermarket seat, don’t let your cab’s current seat fool you into limiting your choices. Measure the space inside your cab and check to see what kinds of connections it has, regardless of how well your current seat makes use of these features.
One reason this matters is because there are different heights for semi-truck seats, including low-rise and suspension versions. Ideally, you’ll want a suspension seat because of the added protection from road vibrations, but you should always measure your cab first to ensure the seat you choose will fit.
Choosing an Aftermarket Seat
If you’re looking for aftermarket commercial truck seats, check out GRA-MAG’s supply of high-quality seats. Our aftermarket driver’s seats work for many major truck manufacturers, and we even offer fleet volume discounts.
We are also excited to announce the upcoming launch of our SteadyRide aftermarket seats. We’ve designed these unique semi-truck seats to absorb up to 67 percent of whole-body vibrations, leading to reduced fatigue and better health outcomes for truck drivers. Call or email us today if you’d like help finding the seat that’s best for you.