What's the Deal with Honda's Extrememly Uncomfortable Seats?

Posted on
Scott McCracken

An alarming number of people have complained that their late-model Honda has the most uncomfortable seats of any car they've ever owned. The problem seems to affect the 2008+ model years with a particular, back-crippling emphasis on the Accord.

This problem was listed as the 7th worst problem on CarComplaints.com's Top Vehicle Problem Trends of 2012.

Common Complaints for Honda's Seats

How bad are these seats? Some owners have become quite friendly with their local chiropractor, even though they never scheduled a session before owning their Honda. Others have refused to take long trips because they know it would take "days to recover from the back pain." In some extreme examples, we've even heard stories of people trading in their brand-new cars, willing to take thousands of dollars in depreciation loss, just to avoid another commute in their Honda. Now that's bad.

Here are some of the most common complaints when it comes to Honda seats:

  • "My Legs Fall Asleep" After just 30 minutes of driving, drivers complain that their legs fall asleep, their butts become numb and their hips start to hurt. Unfortunately many owners only found out about this problem after buying the car, saying that the test drive was never long enough for the issue to present itself.
  • "The Head Restraint Hurts My Neck" Most modern cars are equipped with head restraints that are used to prevent whiplash in the event of an accident, but not all restraints are created equal. Honda has used a head restraint design that is pushed so far forward that some owners say the only way they can drive is with their chin down, almost touching their chest. After only 20 minutes this leads to neck pain, back stiffness and a strong urge to push your car off a cliff.
  • It's Like Sitting on CInder Blocks" Get past the head restraint, poor lumbar support and overall design and you're still left with a stiff seat that many compare to sitting on plywood or cinder blocks.

This is horrific. It feels as if Honda made these seats out of picnic tables with a troll or watermelon in the back -- Brandon G, Whitman, MA

The Worst Honda Vehicles For Uncomfortable Seats

So what are the worst years for this problem? If you own an Accord, it's every year from 2008-13. The jury is still out if Honda has learned their lesson for the 2014 model year.

Other Honda's that have received complaints for uncomfortable seats and head restraints:

What Owners Are Saying

After a week of unrelenting agony from the uncomfortable driver's seat, I sold the car back to the dealer at a big loss. I tried the 2010 seat, but it was the same problem — a combination of unbelievably bad seat shape, hardness, and that pressure plate in the back that is hooked up to the active head restraints. Try a simple test at home. Put yourself in the most uncomfortable, awkward position and hold it for one hour. If your back feels fine, then you will enjoy the Accord. -- jem52, Gaithersburg, MD

I seriously can't believe I put myself in this position. I have been complaining of lower back and hip pain for the last few weeks. I soon realized the seat is digging into the back of my thigh causing pain in my hip. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO THE SEATING WILL NOT BE COMFORTABLE.If I lean back the front is to high, leaning forward you dip too much. -- kinghassan, Boston, MA

The seats in my 2010 Accord are HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD. They are incredibly uncomfortable and I am ANGRY. The stupid lumbar rams me in the lower back, the headrest pushes the back of my head, and where my butt sits feels like concrete. --In Pain, Nashville, TN

Head Rests versus Head Restraints

A man with an unpleased face sits with his head against a Honda head rest

Remember the term head rest? They used to be installed in cars to give your head a gentle place to relax as you cruised down the road. Modern cars don't have headrests ... they have head restraints. And as the name suggests, they are not there for your safety to protect you against whiplash, not your comfort. In fact, According to David Zuby, senior vice-president of the IIHS[1]:

"Some people are finding (the new restraints) uncomfortable ... Our goal is to make sure head restraints provide protection in rear-end crashes. If a head restraint isn't behind and close to the back of an occupant's head, it can't prevent a `whiplash' injury in a rear-end collision."

In other words, a safe head restraint is critical to a manufacturer getting high marks in the IIHS safety tests. And in order for it to be safe, it almost has to be touching the back of your head. The problem is we're all built different and for some the head restraints actually push their heads forward.

So why are Honda's head restraints so much worse than others? It could be a number of things: the position, the material, the angle and the inability to make any adjustments come to mind.

Actions You Can Take & Possible Recourse

Honda doesn't consider this a problem ... yet. Can consumer pressure force them to make a change? There's now an online petition to force Honda to replace the driver's side seat bottom and upright.

  1. Head rest image from AutoMedia.com ↩︎

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Honda generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

What Owners Say About This Problem

The driver's seat sucks. This 2008 Honda Accord is by far our best car for long trips, in terms of long term reliability of the car and gas mileage, but we still choose to drive our older car that has had some mechanical problems because the driver's seat in the Accord is so unbearable and leaves your back in pain for days.

2008 Accord Owner in SC

Just few minutes driving causes EXTREMELY painful legs, back, neck. The pain is unbelievable and feels like those very hard knife stabbing type sharp pains. After driving the car I am pretty much laid up for days!

2010 Accord Owner in NC

I have a love, hate relationship with my 2009 Accord EXL V6. As long as I am not traveling more than 50 miles round trip, I love to drive this car, any thing over 50 miles is Chiropractor time. It's not just the drivers seat, the passengers seat is even worse.

2009 Accord Owner in FL

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA