By Jim Kerr

Every October, members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada gather together to test new vehicles and select the best on the market. A number of those journalists, including myself, also attend presentations from the manufacturers showcasing the best new technologies in the automotive field. This year, one of the technologies caught me by surprise. I hadn’t expected very much of it, but when shown how it worked, I was truly impressed. The technology is named YES Essentials.

YES Essentials is an optional cloth seat material offered on the Dodge Caliber and Nitro, Jeep Compass and Chrysler Sebring. Expect to see it on other models soon. It is a low cost option, priced at only $115 and may be the best buy in the marketplace. What makes YES Essentials so special? It is the fibres in the seat material. Three patented polymer technologies (AlphaSan®, ShockShield™ and StainSmart®) have anti-microbial, anti-static and anti-stain qualities that make the seats as easy or easier to wipe clean than leather seats.

Many drivers prefer the warmth and comfort of cloth seats but find that leather seats are much easier to keep clean, especially if they have young children or have the hectic lifestyle that often finds them dining in their car. The YES Essentials material was engineered by Milliken & Company of South Carolina and Chrysler has the exclusive rights to it for two years.

YES Essentials is different than spray-on seat protectants such as Scotch Guard. Those products do help, but are not an integral part of the fibre and wear off after a short period. Repeated applications are needed to keep stains at bay. YES Essentials is there for the life of the material and it can repel almost all common stains. Spilled liquids are soaked up by most cloth seat materials, but the YES Essentials material causes the liquid to bead and run off. Blotting with an absorbent cloth is all that is needed for many liquid stains. Coffee, ketchup and mustard can be wiped right off.

YES Essentials anti-stain seats
YES Essentials anti-stain seats. Click image to enlarge

Food stains such as french fries, crayon or ground in clay soil also wipe off. If there is any residue left, a wipe with some warm soapy water (1 part detergent to 10 parts water) and a damp clean cloth is all it takes to make the seat material look like new. Even permanent marker pen can be removed with warm soapy water with a couple minutes of wiping. Didn’t notice the marker right away? It will release itself over time even if not cleaned off.

There are a couple stains that can’t be removed from a YES Essentials seat such as paint, urethanes, varnishes, gum and dried nail polish, although wet nail polish can be removed if cleaned quickly. Other than gum, these are not common stains found on automobile interiors. Do not use any solvents to remove stains, only warm soapy water.

While the anti-stain characteristics of the material may be its best quality, the seat is also anti-microbial. Bacteria doesn’t grow on the material, so spills such as milk that used to leave an unpleasant odour inside the car every time it was parked with the windows closed on a hot day simply don’t anymore. Wipe up the milk or other food particles and the seat material will prevent bacteria from growing. No more odours. This anti-microbial technology has been used in water lines and food packages. Now it is available in the seat material.

Finally, the anti-static properties of the material reduces static by 50%, so you don’t get those nasty shocks as you get in and out of the vehicle.

While the cost of YES Essentials is low, the benefits are high. The vehicle is easier to keep looking good and clean interiors always increase the resale price of an automobile. YES Essentials may not look like much because it doesn’t have high tech electronics or complicated moving parts, but it is definitely high tech. A technology we can use every day.

How did it get its name? Every time one mother at the company took her children through the drive-through for fast food, she would tell them NO condiments so the interior wouldn’t be stained. When the YES Essentials material was developed, the answer to every question she asked about the material was “YES, it can to that.” The name stuck.

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