For those that don't know, Wet Okole covers are made of waterproof neoprene. Invented in Hawaii, they were originally meant for surfers (and other beach lovers) to add a waterproof barrier to any stock seat. The neoprene covers are available in just about any combination of colors you can imagine, including many special design options. To match the black/white theme of our FJC TRD, we opted for the basic black covers with white piping.
The install itself is not terribly difficult, but it's not the easiest mod you'll ever do. It took us about 2 hours from start to finish, but just like anything else now that we know what to do it would take much less time in the future. Wet Okole doesn't ship the covers with any instructions, but a quick visit to their website yielded 'universal' instructions that worked out OK. While they do have detailed instructions for some vehicles, they have yet to include the FJ Cruiser in that list. We were able to use the universal instructions for the headrests and front bucket seats, but we didn't find any matching instructions for the rear, so we had to figure it out.
Wet Okole shipped our set of covers with the optional ($34.95/side) heaters built in. We expect these to come in very handy on cold Colorado mornings. Each seat heater (bottom and lower back) requires it's own 12v power supply (cigarette lighter style). If you want to use this feature often, it may be wise to hard-wire the leads to a switch on the FJ panel.
These covers literally just slip on to the stock FJ seats, with a couple of exceptions. The covers won't slip over the armrest on the seats, so you'll need to remove them before you can install the cover. This also makes it easier to install the armrest cover, so it's pretty painless. The universal bucket seat instructions mention that you should remove the plastic moulding along the bottom of the seat, but we weren't comfortable popping that piece off (it seemed to take too much force & we didn't want to break anything). We were able to loosen the plastic by removing the screw at the back of the seat (on the drivers side), and pushing the cover back behind it. After tightening the seat down the result is a very good fit.
A quick note about the rear seats. Since the FJ has a rear shoulder belt in the middle of the seat, the preferred method of installing the covers is to unbolt that belt and run it through the pre-cut holes in the cover. We tried to remove that bolt, but without an impact wrench it wasn't budging. We took the opportunity to mod the cover by cutting the flap that velcros to the back of the cover. This worked very well for us and doesn't effect the fit of the cover at all.
The only other issue we noticed with the install is that on the front seats the cover bunches slightly where the top flap hooks to the bottom of the seat (see photo). This part of the top seat cover has hooks that you pull tight and hook to the underside of the seat, since there are only two hooks the middle of the cover bunches slightly. It's not a big deal, just something to be aware of.
We've only had the covers on for a few days, but so far we really like the fit and finish. They're sharp and make the stock FJ seats much more comfortable. We haven't had our dogs in the truck yet, so we're not sure how the dog hair will work on these seats. We asked our friend Tomas Dawson from MyFJCruiser.org his thoughts on the Wet Okole covers:
“I installed Wet Okole seat covers in my FJ Cruiser in January of 2009. The seat covers have been holding up well. We have 2 dogs that travel with us and their claws have not damaged the covers. My only issue is with the driver’s bench cover which has a tendency to shift right and left.”
Regarding dog hair:
“They do get dog hair in them. However this seems to be a problem with most seat covers. I use a Bissel cleaner on them.”
You can read more about Tomas & his FJ Cruiser at www.MyFJCruiser.org.
We're excited to be able to include the Wet Okole seat covers in our upcoming comparison (July 2010 issue). There's no doubt that the durable waterproof neoprene design will help them withstand anything we can throw at them.