Stop flipping your headrests around

I have seen it so many times now; people removing the headrests in their seats, flipping them around, and inserting them backwards. The reason for that is simple – comfort. A lot of the new cars have headrests that are tilted forward, so much so that at times it feel like they’re pushing on the back of your scalp. This in turn makes the driver feel like they can’t keep their neck in its natural position.

The reason for the way these headrests are is simple – safety. Those of us whose vehicles were hit from behind by another vehicle know the pains of whiplash. Even a light hit can leave one with neck pain. Obviously more forceful hits can cause more significant injuries. Headrests are there to prevent our heads from snapping back. Making the headrests bigger and moving them closer to our heads is mean of reducing that neck snap.

The issue of comfort is an important one. Comfort needs to be constant while an impact is momentary. But flipping the headrests around completely negates the purpose of those headrests. With the headrests flipped around, the distance between one’s head and the headrests increases significantly. This in turn allows you head to be whipped much further back, significantly increasing the chance of injury.

There are many new cars that had those annoying non-adjustable, but safe, headrests. Many Ford, Volvo, FCA and Toyota (pictured, second row of a Sienna minivan) models come to mind. On newer models, Ford has made the tilt angle of the headrests adjustable. Fancier vehicles have active head restraints, where the headrest moves forward automatically, upon rear impact, to decrease the distance between head and headrest.

Instead of flipping the headrests around, I suggest spending more time adjusting your seat. From my experience, tilting the seat backrest very slightly and raising the seat equally slightly will move the headrests away from one’s head. It allows for a more comfortable driving position without reducing safety or impacting operation of the vehicle or visibility out of the vehicle. Small adjustments make a big difference.

While on the subject, proper driver’s seat adjustment is crucial to the safe operation of a vehicle. I see so many people sitting so low that their eye level is hardly above the gauge cluster. How can they see what’s in front of them? Those who recline their seats to a 45-degree gangster lean angle are equally wrong.

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87 responses to “Stop flipping your headrests around”

  1. 0A5599 Avatar

    I can’t tell you how many idiots I see who install their headrests backwards so that you can’t even see the video in the front seat. What, you think I’m going to drive from the second row on a long road trip?

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Or from the car in the next lane…

    2. Zac Avatar

      Why did you turn your attention to people who lean back? What is wrong with leaning your seat back and sitting low? Why did you call it the “45 degree gangster lean”? I drive a sedan, and don’t want to be pressed up against my steering wheel like your mother. It’s easier to control the vehicle if my hands are pressed against my chest, so why would you decide to end the article by shifting focus to another topic? Why did you call it the “gangster lean” you racist pleb? I’m not a gangbanger, and I’m white, so what about leaning my seat back to my comfort is gangster, and what part of it is unsafe?

      1.  Avatar

        Holy shit calm down snowflake.

        1. Dirk Dilligent Avatar
          Dirk Dilligent

          You’re the one freaking out, snowflake.

      2. Melinda Avatar

        Why would you assume he means black when he says “gangster?” The original “gangsters” were white and there’s plenty of white people still involved in gangs and gang related activities.

        1.  Avatar

          Not as many as black people, though.

      3.  Avatar

        Pot, meet kettle. The racist comment comes from your presumption that “gangster” means non-white. Typical snowflake move.

      4. Jonny Avatar

        Well damn zac did you just say their are no white gangsters after insulting their mom for probably having to move closer as her aging joints ache too much to reach as far as they once did? See how that was none of my business but i said stuff just to complain about something that will never make a difference in my life? Have a better day tomorrow and the next 🙂

    3. Giraffe Cushion Avatar

      hi everyone,
      Please check out this safe alternative, it doesn’t need to flip head rest back and it addresses the sharp angles neck pain:

    4. Steve Avatar

      You obviously dont have physicals that dont respind to logic.

    5. H. Leckie Avatar
      H. Leckie

      You know what? Don’t judge. I had a car accident and suffered severe whiplash and horrible neck pain for a year and a half afterwards. That was back in 1999. But I healed and was fine until we got a 2008 van with the new safer head rests. I have suffered from chronic neck pain ever since. I have literally tried vehicle after vehicle after vehicle for 14 years and all of them are the same. If I don’t turn my head rest around, I get horrible neck pain, violent head aches, nausea, etc. To me, it’s worth the risk.

  2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    This is a thing? I didn’t know this was a thing. Most of my cars have had non-adjustable headrests, and I find them too far back. I have to tilt my head way to far back to take a nap while I’m driving.

  3. Maymar Avatar

    Alternatively, OEM’s, stop cocking up headrests. I sit pretty upright, but in most cars, I’m still comfortable. It’s only a handful of cars where the headrests are the problem (some Kias come to mind), so I find it more likely that some bits are just poorly designed rather than I don’t know how to properly adjust my seat for myself. Easiest just to avoid buying anything I can’t get comfortable in.

  4. outback_ute Avatar

    I remember having to change the seat position on one car to stop the headrest touching my head – I sit very upright. It only took one notch, but I can’t remember what the car was.

    My grandmother used to have the headrest flipped around in her last car, to make room for her 80’s style ‘big hair’. People don’t often change in their 80s.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      I too sit very upright when driving– a result, I think, of learning to drive sitting on bench seats with fixed-angle backs. In modern cars I often find myself driving without resting my back against the seat hardly at all.

      1. Tamara Avatar

        Exactly, I like my seat upright, I’m not lounging. The only way to make it not completely uncomfortable is to do the loungey thing and again the upper area of my back doesn’t touch the seat.

    2. 0A5599 Avatar

      Not everyone in their 80’s changes EVERYTHING, but some octogenarians change SOME things.


      1. outback_ute Avatar

        Hopefully not many don’t change?

  5. Lokki Avatar

    I live in such a bubble. It never even occurred to me to look at other people’s cars to see if they are using their headrests wrong.

  6. crank_case Avatar

    I think the fault lies partly with manufacturers, they need to start referring to them by their full name – Head Restraints, abreviating this “headrest” has for years given the wrong impression that their purpose is somewhere to rest your head rather than to restrain it.

    1. Steve Avatar

      They need to apply stupidity restraints to there brain. What they are doing with headlights now we will all be blind by 50 years old anyway and the elderly will all be dead from crashing from bright lights blinding them on the road. I have been ticket before in older cars with high beams that are 1/4 the brightness of standard beams now. Why don’t they care about that safety? Because it does not look as cool as bright white lights and not looking cool doesn’t sell cars. Now everyone has to have them. Sometime when the big pickups are behind me I cannot even see the road in front of me there is so much light in my mirrors and the whole inside of my car is lit up.

      1. Miss Kitty Avatar
        Miss Kitty

        Do you have the rearview mirror that automatically adjusts for night time driving? It has really helped me with the super-bright lights on the roads at night.

        1. TooBrightLights Avatar

          Night time dimming rear view mirror has helped me, but not when they’re beside me shining in side mirrors or coming at me head on.

    2. ShortArthriticBackPain Avatar

      What about passengers on long drives? You’re saying they should sit up the entire time without allowing their head to ‘rest’ on the head ‘restraint’?
      Sorry, no. I’m short & no matter how I adjust most seats the head RESTS push my head forward horribly. I don’t just have neck pain, I have back pain. I have a 1 hr + commute each way to work & sometimes try to nap on the way. When I’m the passenger on long family trips I definitely nap. I’ve had to place a full bed pillow behind my back to compensate for idiotic & uncomfortable C-shaped seats & STILL been uncomfortable.

      Car seats & safety are not one size fits all.

    3. Cocacolakid45 Avatar

      Here’s the thing, i have proper posture and i sit with the seat all the way back or close to it and with the seat set up like it should be ( almost like a kitchen table chair or a old truck bench seat ) the F’ing headrest pushes my head down to wear im staring at the middle of the steering wheel. Most of the youth of today and for the past 10 years drive with the seat leaning so far back their is dame near a foot between their heads and the headrest so by me having to turn the over tilted headrest around to drive comfortably i have to put myself in danger of a injury but in fact my head is closer to it then most drivers on the road and im sick of it, hell i thought of bending the dame poles but i don’t want mess up my new cars.

    4. Karen M. Duhe Avatar
      Karen M. Duhe

      I have found that the head restraints are not made for taller people. I am a Female 5′ 8 1/2″ tall. I experienced this with two Nissans, 2009 Sentra and 2020 Rogue Sport (which I own now) and both head restraints pushed my head to the windshield and caused me unruly pain in my upper back, and neck including headaches. I am more comfortable sitting straight which pushes me inches away from the windshield. If I lean the seat back and have to sit forward, my mid back does not touch the back seat and causes different back pain and if I lean back and have my back touch the back seat to support my back, my hands stretch out too straight to grip the steering wheel properly. I am still searching for a solution!!!!!

  7. Gregg Collins Avatar
    Gregg Collins

    First off, it is a head restraint, not a headrest. You are not supposed to rest your head on it. I have tried to turn mine around. It tilts too far forward. I have to take my hat off because the head restraint does not allow room for the hat brim.

  8. GTXcellent Avatar

    You’re not my Dad, you can’t tell me what to do!!!

    Sorry Kamil, but this is a risk I’m willing to take. The Jeep’s headrests angle so far forward, that in order for them to NOT be pushing my head forward, I’d have to lean the seats so far back that I could just as well be sitting on a 5 gallon bucket. GM’s seats are even worse. I can’t drive our agency’s old Impalas for more than a couple of hours before I get a raging headache.

    1. ninjacoco Avatar

      Yeah, the Mitsubishi’s gives me Mr. Burns-back if I don’t have its headrests backwards. I sit with the seat back fairly upright, and it’s just bad for that, especially since there isn’t hardly any lumbar support poking the rest of my back forwards to go with it. Luckily, the back is still pretty upright so it’s a minor change that isn’t even really noticeable. Why weren’t the backs of my headrests the fronts instead?

    2. ninjacoco Avatar

      Yeah, the Mitsubishi’s gives me Mr. Burns-back if I don’t have its headrests backwards. I sit with the seat back fairly upright, and it’s just bad for that, especially since there isn’t hardly any lumbar support poking the rest of my back forwards to go with it. Luckily, the back is still pretty upright so it’s a minor change that isn’t even really noticeable. Why weren’t the backs of my headrests the fronts instead?

    3. Dee Avatar

      I agree! My Nissan Rogue the headrest is so gar forward and I sit upright already my neck is just killing me all the time. Adjusting the seat doesn’t work at all. Why should I have yo lay down in a car to get relief from the headrest. This is ridiculous. I’m an adult if others don’t want to sit upright let them add a pillow.

    4. Gneiss Gal Avatar

      hi everyone, this will fix the problem: it repositions the upper body to compensate for the headrest angles that are too far forward for many people.

  9. Ol' Shel' Avatar
    Ol’ Shel’

    I’ve done it, and here’s why:

    Too many seat bottoms can’t be adjusted (tilted) so that the front of the seat is high enough. When a seat bottom is too horizontal, you tend to slide forward over time, which is agonizing on long drives. To counter this, I have run my seat back more upright, which creates a more-downward and less-forward force on my arse. With the seatback so upright, the headrests are just too far forward.

    Give us tilting seat bases, and we will stop reversing our headrests!

    My Dodge Ram has full-power seats, and I can drive for 14 hours a day, day after day in that thing, headrest pointing the way.

  10. Julian Dylan Araali Martucci Avatar
    Julian Dylan Araali Martucci

    I disagree that adjusting the seat will solve the problem in all cases. I’ve experienced neck pain from head rests that jut into my neck and force my head too far forwards at an incorrect angle, no matter how I adjust the seat. The problem is the design of the seats is not ergonomic for many people. The source of the problem is likely so many dishonest people who’ve put in false claims for whiplash, making it appear that the whiplash problem is bigger than it really is.

    As a result of their dishonesty, I am forced to tolerate badly designed car headrests which are not sufficiently adjustable (to make them adjustable would cost more for car manufacturers) and cause injury to my neck. Please don’t add insult to injury by suggesting that doing impossible adjustments solves the problem.

    1. Dee Avatar

      Agree! Wholeheartedly!

    2. Heather Cramer Avatar
      Heather Cramer

      I had the same problem in my car and used this to fix it.
      I used to have terrible neck pain and arm pain driving.

      1. John Avatar

        I’ve just looked up your suggestion and was pleasantly surprised as I’ve been using a slip-on headrest from a deckchair at same height as pictured travelbuddy for a couple of years now. The idea occurred to me when the hood of my old canvas parka became bunched up in just the right position to push against my upper back, making driving a far more comfortable experience. I may order a travel buddy as it seems more substantial.

      2. Kris Avatar

        Oh thank God. I’m in so much pain that I’m experiencing nausea and have actually thrown up on 2 occasions. I really hope the site you mentioned has something that helps, as I’m a delivery driver, and I’m pretty sure my headrest is at the root of my problems.

  11. Pynkeye Avatar

    I’m 5’2”. Most headrests jut out and push my head forward at an uncomfortable angle. I can move the seat forward or back. I can tilt the backrest up or down. It doesn’t matter what I do, it just pushes my head forward. Seats are made for a taller person. If I have my shoulders back and sit upright my head is pushed forward. The only way the headrest works for me in the correct position is to have a giant cushion to lift me up to the proper height. Then the headrests contours perfectly behind my head and neck. Grrrrr

    1. Accorn Avatar


    2. jay Avatar

      The head rests (or head restraints as they call them) are uncomfortable for me as well 5’9″ here.

    3. Sunflower Avatar

      I am 4’11 and looking at new cars I’ve discovered is not an option as those headrests or vices as I like to call them are not made for short people. It pushes my head so far forward that I am unable to move my head, this is a safety issue for us small people… Cars are designed for average people not at all thinking of others who are not average… Design cars with this in mind… Make them adjustable for ALL body types..

      1. Andrew J Miller Avatar
        Andrew J Miller

        I would suggest looking at pre-2010 cars if you can live without some of the more modern features. The NHTSB forced this change on the automakers post 2008, and there’s still a fair number of great cars that you can be comfortable.
        Don’t blame the automakers, blame the US Federal Government, specifically the NHTSB.

    4. GneissGal Avatar

      please check this out, it will completely fix your sore neck: the site explain how it works!

  12. Steve Avatar

    What you are saying makes 0 difference unless you are in your twenties, are not tall at all and have no history of injury. I have had to sell 4 newer cars for this and drive a 2002 and 2006 vehicle The babysitting of adults by laws has become ridiculous. Next they will be regulating our car temperature so we wont have a stroke.

  13. Steve Avatar

    I am sorry but one more rant and I am done. They make the rear seat headrests angle adjustable in many of the cars but not the front. And if you try to switch them they wont insert right. Its is just a selling gimmick. It would cost them too much to put them in all 4 seats so they just have them in front. How twofaced is that. They care about your safety but not the passengers? If you want to get away from this you need to look at 2006 and older vehicles. However the newer model Grand Caravans are adjustable though. I have an 2002 Odyssey and a 2006 grand Caravan. Both have power seats.

  14. Twit Avatar

    I once had a pair of prescription glasses that were made with the prescription so strong that it hurt my eyes. The suggestion from the doctor was to give it a try, and I will get used to them. To that, I question why they were they trying to make my eyes worse. This is the same as my car trying to give me bad posture. Having to chose between definite back pain, or possibly reducing neck pain because I was in a particular type of accident doesn’t make sense. I refuse to believe that being forced to slouch with my head in the Texters position for 3 hours a day can be recommended medically.

  15. Tom Avatar

    Does this guy work for Honda, the most uncomfortable seat in the industry. after you drive in a Honda for an hour, you are in such pain, you will probably cause the accident. The Toyota head support does not lean so far forward and is much more comfortable and still safe.

  16. Scott Avatar

    As stated above, constantly having your head pushed forward can also cause injury, it will likely just develop over a longer period of time. I just bought a newer vehicle and if there was not an option of removing the headrest or flipping it around, I’d have passed. Once, sometimes twice a week I have an hour and a half commute each way. I was feeling the pretty uncomfortable after just the test drive, so although it was the only issue I could find with the car, it would have been a deal killer if removing or flipping was not an option.

  17. Kris Avatar

    I’ve been a delivery driver for 3 years now, so I spend a lot of time in my car. And there’s no position that I can put my seat in that doesn’t push my head forward. And it’s finally caused my neck to hurt. Bad. So bad that I actually vomited from the pain. I’ve been in tears from the pain. All that matters for safety is for the back of your head to rest against the headrest. Well, can can do that even with a headrest that was a good 3 inches further back. I’m sure in some cases you may be right. But definitely not in all cases.

  18. floyd jones Avatar
    floyd jones

    I can’t drive safely with the headrest pressing against my head. If they can’t make them right I won’t use them. I like to sit upright not angled back. I won’t buy a car that I can’t fix them.

  19. Paul Avatar

    The headrest in the 2021 Jeep Compass is a mess. It constantly pushes against the back of my head. In order to avoid it, I need to recline the seat in a way, that for me is unsafe to drive. If the headrest would be adjustable just a few inches more upwards, everything would be OK. Jeep why you do such a crap?

  20.  Avatar

    I couldn’t disagree with you more with the idea of having your head pushed uncomfortably forward is safer. And tilting your seat back so you have to lean your head forward, will eliminate the headrest pushing your forward, but this solution is not healthy for one’s posture and in turn the internal organs.
    The manufactures need to be more mindful and install adjustable headrest!

  21. Garrett Moffitt Avatar
    Garrett Moffitt

    So I’m supposed to be in pain in order to prevent the unlikely event of whiplash?
    I lean back to change the pressure on my spine.
    I’ve had whiplash, and I’d rather have that again then sit in some of these new seats.
    Put in comfortable headrests that inflate on impact.

    1.  Avatar

      That would spring your head into the front airbag at really, really suck. Or it would cause the headrest to fail completely and really, really, really suck.

  22. Cocacolakid45 Avatar

    Here’s the thing, i have proper posture and i sit with the seat all the way back or close to it and with the seat set up like it should be ( almost like a kitchen table chair or a old truck bench seat ) the F’ing headrest pushes my head down to wear im staring at the middle of the steering wheel. Most of the youth of today and for the past 10 years drive with the seat leaning so far back their is dame near a foot between their heads and the headrest so by me having to turn the over tilted headrest around to drive comfortably i have to put myself in danger of a injury but in fact my head is closer to it then most drivers on the road and im sick of it, hell i thought of bending the dame poles but i don’t want mess up my new cars.

  23. ToyotardSteve Avatar

    Whiplash is caused by being hit into vehicle in front of you. Your head goes back, your head goes forward. The modern headrest pre-positions your head for the front impact.

  24. GneissGal Avatar

    fix your sore neck caused by headrest angles: the site explains how it works!

  25. Gneiss Gal Avatar

    Great Youtube video that explains Why are Headrests so Uncomfortable, and SOLUTION!!!

  26. Sharon ONeill Avatar
    Sharon ONeill

    I had a fusion in my neck and I turn the head restraint around because I’m worried it will break my neck if I have an accident. I drive a Kia.

  27. Heather Avatar

    I’m 4’10” and have to pull hair back for work. The headrest is an endless frustration and literal pain in the neck! Guaranteed pain every day because I may someday get rear ended.. seems counter intuitive to me!! I franking hate them!!

  28.  Avatar

    I recently drove a new Camry and the headrest is complete trash. I don’t know why anyone would design something so uncomfortable. Maybe Asians sit differently since they’re generally not as heavy or large framed as most Westerners? (And if you find that comment racist, look within because YOU are the racist). At any rate, after spending nearly a thousand miles at the wheel of a new Camry, I loved everything about it except the poorly designed seats and I won’t be buying a Toyota.

    1. Ronnie Avatar

      Not all Westerners are fat! However, some of us Europeans are doing our best to catch up with the Americans. The fast food will catch up with the asians, just wait and see.

  29. Bob Avatar

    I call them Quasimodo seats, I mean they force you to sit like Quasimodo.

    Being 6’2 with a neck injury I can sit in these cars for about 2 minutes, what happened to good posture?

    I have two options turn the head rest around or catch a bus.

    It’s worth noting that most modern cars, especially European ones do not let you remove the headrest.

    And don’t talk to me if you are like 5’8 as your head will not be dramatically pushed forward by the top of the headrest that has the biggest angle.

  30. Rick Avatar

    I have a newer Tacoma & the headrest is tilted forward at such an aggressive angle that I’m forced to lean my backrest so far back that i cant get leverage on the steering wheel. These new “safety regulations” are actually creating back, neck & posture issues that will soon be turning into lawsuits

    1. Ronnie Avatar

      Rick! A law suit. I like the idea. About time.

  31. Phil Janes Avatar
    Phil Janes

    While I agreed you shouldn’t flip them, the issue is that they point to far forwards. It’s not simply a comfort issue, it’s a not ruining your spine issue. Look at any of these seats, now sit in them properly, with your back AGAINST the seat. First thing you can’t retract your scapulae, secondly, they round your shoulders anyway, thirdly, your head simply does not protrude that far in front of your torso (caveat unless you are an extremely overweight person). I’m 5 11 tall, slim build, athletic and weigh in the region of 160 and these seats absolutely crucify my upper spine. Driving for 3-4 hours a day for two years commuting put me in physio for 5 years! And in extreme pain. You get compensation for whiplash, you do t get compensation for the awful design of these seats. Literally the only modern cars I can drive are cars line the MX5 which due to space have much more upright headrests, and even then, yes, my head is on it. ‘It’s not a head rest it’s a head restraint blah blah blah’… you are not listening, the head is not on the restraint out of choice, it’s on it because the headrest protrudes so far in front of the seat. What are you supposed to do? Sit 6 inches in front of the seat with your back completely off it? I think not! I’ve been in a new Kia Sportage today (hire car for work), only driven 112 miles…ah yes the old searing back pain is back. Back to the Mazda tomorrow thank God!

  32. Ronnie Avatar

    We are not idiots, we are just not over weight or muscle bound. Since the average American is obese, they tend to recline their seats so that their gut is not jammed onto their thighs. Reclining the seat moves the headrest further from the head. The car manufacturers therefore respond by pushing the headrest forward. Another issue is that a skinny person’s back will not have the 2 to 6 inches of fat and muscle carried by an obese person or body builder. The skinny person’s neck is therefore that much closer to the headrest and their neck is pushed forward. It therefore makes perfect sense for a skinny person to turn the headrest round.

    In the image above, the forward position of the headrest is clearly designed to accommodate a bodily deformity. It is the backward headrest that is in the correct position for a healthy person.

    Lastly, an upright driving position maintains core muscle tension, which speeds up reaction time on the peddles. Or, looking at it the other way, the reclined position slows down reaction time on the breaks and makes the rear end collision more likely

  33. BH Avatar

    Your attempt at a solution for this problem is completely ineffective. The seat and headrest are completely the wrong shape for people who don’t want to become hunchbacks. Telling people not to solve a serious problem without giving them a better alternative is nothing but an idiotic anti-solution.

  34. JAN Avatar

    While protruding headrests are safer during crash, they have terrible effects on posture. Bad posture can lead to decreased focused, which can increase the likelihood of getting into accidents. The most important thing is to focus on the road and prevent accidents. Protruding headrests are unhealthy and negatively affect driver attention.
    Of course, I would not install the headrests backwards. I’ll just have to use pillows to pad the seat so I can sit properly.
    This is something that some engineers at the regulatory bodies failed to take into account. Focused drivers are safer drivers!

  35. A Hew Avatar
    A Hew

    I have a new Toyota Highlander. For the past 3 weeks, I have tried adjusting the seats and head rests to no avail. It felt like I had to flex my neck down and round my back to fit headrests, but then my eyes had to look upwards when driving. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice this during test drive. I finally had to flip headrests around to make it workable as I was having neck/shoulder pain. It seems ridiculous that this is a known problem but car manufacturers aren’t making changes to balance safety and comfort.

  36. Hedy Woolwine Avatar
    Hedy Woolwine

    I have suffered misery with my husband’s Toyota. I am 5’2”, with my torso being the part that is shorter. When I am seated in the Toyota, my chin is shoved down against my clavicle. Very uncomfortable. Raising the seat also raises the headrest to the same problem. Nothing makes it even a little manageable , I sit upright in the seat, not touching my shoulders to the seat the entire ride. A co worker is also 5’2”, but she has normal height torso and short legs, she looks 3-4 inches taller when we are seated next to each other and the headrest fits her ok. But her legs dangle. So same height, different issues.

  37. Toyota sucks Avatar
    Toyota sucks

    Bravo Sierra!
    The head rests are a real issue. Fix them.

  38.  Avatar

    What difference does adjusting the seat backward or forward make to the stupid head rest? It’s still going to be there pushing my neck forward, but I’ll have the added bonus of my back being all messed up from even worse posture? No thanks. Things need to change!

  39. Tim Gray Avatar

    I agree with your logic on the reason for the headrest angle, but disagree with how to address it. Here’s why. I design, build, and drive racecars – some with more reclined seats than others. Consequently, I have some insight that most/many of you probably aren’t aware of.

    When designing the seat in a racecar, the angle of the headrest part of the seat is ALWAYS (to my knowledge anyway) essentially vertical – even when the seat is at a 45 degree angle. This gives the head safe support, while also giving a comfortable position.

    The goal should be to make the headrest comfortable, and at the same time functional and safe. Yes, a lot of people tend to have their seats reclined too far, which compromises safety in a myriad of ways.

    The reason for the discomfort with the headrest forward isn’t that it puts the driver’s head to chest/torso angle to a bad angle. It’s that it puts the driver’s head at an angle to the vertical position, where the neck can’t relax – the head wants to fall forward. Thus, it necessitates the driver to recline the seat, so that the driver’s neck can relax, without leaning backwards. If your head is pushed forward beyond the vertical relaxed point, your neck muscles are forced to hold the 15 pound head from falling further forward. It doesn’t take long for this to create a lot of neck strain and discomfort and potentially even injury in itself.

    here’s part of a key point to think about. In a racecar, the safety system includes an anti-submarine belt. Street cars do not have the anti-submarine belt. The purpose of the anti-submarine belt is to keep the driver from sliding out under the seat belt into the floor, (or at least far enough down to cause internal injury as the belt comes above the pelvis) in a hard front impact (sliding under the seatbelt in this situation is an understatement). Consequently, in a street car, as the seat back is reclined, the risk of submarining under the seatbelt is increased. Thus, the risk of severe internal injury is unnecessarily increased.

    If you recline the seat in a street car, to make it so that your head is in a natural vertical position, many street cars will have in excess of 15 degrees – some as much as 20 degrees of recline or more of the seat back. In addition, this places the driver farther back from the steering wheel (creating poor steering control), and/or causing considerably diminished legroom, which creates its own discomfort and control issues.

    The best cure? Make ALL headrests adjustable – adjustable for the position relative to the seat back, and angle.

    The second best cure would be to have the headrests at a comfortable yet safe position (usually around 5 to 7 degrees from the seat back), and then, the driver can have the seat back in the 5 to 7 degree position (or a little more if desired), while having the neck in a comfortable position. Part of the key at this point is that there can be a small gap between the head and headrest, as long as it isn’t too much. After all, sometimes, it’s comfortable to lean the head back slightly to let the neck relax, as the head is resting on the slightly reclined headrest.

    The unfortunate problem with this is that there are so many people that you already mentioned, that like to unsafely recline the seat too far. In my opinion, if people are dumb enough to recline their seats that far, it’s on them. DON’T make everyone else suffer, just so that those folks might be a little bit safer at the expense of those of us who are smarter about how to set the seat.

    If you would like to see the current racecar that I designed, built, and race, it’s at

  40. Boldhorses Avatar

    For those of us who have been in accidents and had to have cervical fusions, the new non-adjustable headrests are a non-starter, I went to Ford to look at the new Broncos and couldn’t sit in it for a test drive without considerable discomfort. I can’t understand why Ford has moved away from the adjustable headrests. Until they return, I will never buy another Ford.

  41. C Wolfe Avatar

    Your point that accidents only happen for a moment… While most the time you’re uncomfortable for that one moment that might or might never happen. The real solution is don’t get an accent instead of being uncomfortable 99% of the time or even 100% of the time if you never get in an accident.

  42. C Wolfe Avatar

    Your point that accidents only happen for a moment… While most the time you’re uncomfortable for that one moment that might or might never happen. The real solution is don’t get an accent instead of being uncomfortable 99% of the time or even 100% of the time if you never get in an accident. Stupid article about a stupid thing car companies conclude. It actually doesn’t make a shit difference to minimize whiplash.

  43.  Avatar

    You have got to be kidding. Try driving a Silverado. There is no way to make the headrest comfortable without flipping it around or removing it.

  44. Juan A Julien Avatar
    Juan A Julien

    NOT A FAN.


    For goodness sake. How much butt whiping do we need as adults from the nanny?

    Absolutely, there are innovative features that serve tremendous value, BUT those headrest create a real pain in the neck.

    It was unbearable for my partner when she was pregnant. With her changed body and new default sitting position, we removed that aweful contraption.

    The shorter one is, the more suffering there will be.

    With all of us getting a stiff neck, headaches, and irritability, I fail to see the net benefit.
    It does NOT have to be that way. That feature is causing more harm thus decreasing safety.

  45. Jennifer Avatar

    I’ve never had such poor neck and back-health then when I upgraded to a 2018 Hyundai Sante Fe Sport from my 1998 Honda Civic. This resulted in a poor quality drive from discomfort, no matter how much I tried various seat pads and angles of positioning my seat. I understand the desire for accident safety but car makers need to be given room for everyday drivers to keep their neck and back health protected. Positioning the seat back is terrible for spinal alignment. I’m on the shorter side of height and I have found that a majority of new car seats swallow me whole and provide no neck support or lumbar and back support as they are made to accommodate larger and taller frames. A huge disservice to smaller people, no pun intended. ?

  46.  Avatar

    Not adequate.

  47. Fan Avatar

    I moss the old days when riding in comfort was plush instead of nowadays government up ur butt about everything from no hot water to ruining your drive