Should Barbara tweak her headrest, to make room for her long mane?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 2007

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm a member of a forum discussion board, the Long Hair Community. Which, of course, means that I have long hair (mine is past my waist). Anyway, one member mentioned that she removed the headrest from her driver's seat because it wouldn't accommodate updos (y'know, where the long hair is put up in a bun). I'm just wondering if it's OK to do this. It seems like she might get whiplash, but so long as her head doesn't snap loose and roll around the car, I figure it's OK. I've noticed that in my mom's car, I have to sit slightly forward on the seat (leaving a space between my back and the seat back). If I were to sit with my back to the seat, the headrest pushes my head slightly down. This bugs me, as I can't see the traffic lights while driving. So I recline the seat back a little. And that leads me to my question: Would it be possible for someone to adjust or change a headrest so it will accommodate long hair in a large bun? Like maybe put a hole in the headrest? Anyway, I listen to you guys every week. I don't learn anything about cars, but y'all sure are entertaining. - Barbara

TOM: Just so you know, Barbara, my brother's a member of the No Hair Community.

RAY: We're sympathetic to your hairy situation, Barbara, but we really can't advocate messing around with the headrest. I mean, if it were a footrest or a butt rest, maybe. But the "rest" that's there to protect your head? I wouldn't mess with it.

TOM: I know you dismiss a little whiplash as not that big a deal, but if you've ever had a neck injury, you know that you'd trade your long hair in a second to be rid of it. And if your head were to snap off and roll around the floor of the car, well, try combing your long locks THEN, kiddo!

RAY: Old Volvos and Saabs used to have holes in their headrests - to enhance visibility. But they've switched over to solid headrests now. And some cars have headrests that adjust slightly back and forth, which might be enough for you. So you might want to seek out one of those.

TOM: I'm sure somebody COULD make a headrest with a hole in it if they wanted to. We know that carmakers are installing video screens in the backs of headrests, so obviously there's a way to make them structurally strong enough without being solid. I just don't know if there's a demand for it.

RAY: So while you're waiting for someone to introduce an updo-friendly car, Barbara, you might try buying an additional cushion for your seat back. They sell everything from plain old sheepskin cushions to heated massaging cushions to put behind you. That might move you forward just enough to allow some room for your updo but not so much that it makes the headrest ineffective. The headrest has to stay pretty close to the back of your head in order to do its job.

TOM: And then, of course, you always have the option of wearing a ponytail, and swinging it over your shoulder while you drive. Then you can put it up in a bun when you get out of the car. Just make sure, before you step out, that you haven't caught any of it in the six-CD changer. Ouch! Good luck, Barbara.

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