Piston Slap: Seat covers as tough as a Panther?

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2011 crown vic piston slap

Larry writes: 

Thanks for your article on the Crown Victoria; it was a good read. I have a 2011 model with under 90,000 miles and plan on keeping it low because where we live life is slow—everything we need is just around the corner, so to speak. I have been looking for some decent seat covers to protect my seats from wear. Parts stores (AutoZone, O’Reilly, etc.) have a lot, but they seem to fall apart fast.

The problem is, of course, worse on the driver’s seat, so I just need a good cover that will stick around for a while. Can you help?

Sajeev answers: 

There are plenty of vendors making quality fitted seat covers, but hold that thought. First, you’re gonna spend over $150 just for the front seats alone. Second, recall that Panther-bodied Fords of this era have in-seat side impact airbags, and their side-impact safety isn’t exactly stellar compared to newer designs. You want the airbag deploying smoothly without risk to your body or someone in the back seat, so you gotta have a lot of faith in the seat cover ripping apart when needed.

Also, let’s consider money. We live in the era of these cars being imminently disposable and readily available in the junkyards. My local LKQ junkyard lists seats for $28.99, which is roughly $87 for a set of three seats. And these come in pretty tough fabrics, especially the patrol cars. Getting a decent set from a junkyard won’t be too difficult. Throw in $5 for cleaning supplies and $70-ish for a Home Depot shop vac to suck out all the dirt, and you’re in the deal for about $165—about the same price as fitted covers.

You can abuse those junkyard seats to your delight, then swap in your clean, low mile seats whenever desired.  Too bad this only works in a world where you are motivated to run to a junkyard, pull the parts, and install them yourself.

So here are some options I researched, with feedback from our Hagerty Community:

  1. Wet Okele: I priced a set of cloth-trimmed front and rear covers for $268.
  2. Seat Covers Unlimited has a modest “Scottsdale” cloth material for its custom fitted covers that looks Panther-appropriate, to the tune of $380.
  3. Covercraft has a more modest, mesh material on a fitted cover for $210 … front seats only.

Honestly, I think it’s time to make friends with local junkyards. What say you, Hagerty Community?

Have a question you’d like answered on Piston Slap? Send your queries to pistonslap@hagerty.com, give us as much detail as possible so we can help! If you need an expedited resolution, make a post on the Hagerty Community!

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