Let's face it, your life revolves around your car. And one of the main staples of luxury vehicles is leather interiors. There's nothing quite like a supple leather seat to make you feel warm and comfortable.
Yet, the majority of us neglect to educate ourselves about leather care. We simply let the upholstery go until it cracks, tears, or starts to look dull and aged. If you want to retain the value of your investment and enjoy high-quality leather seats for a long time, please read our tips on how to care for and repair leather car seats.
How to prevent tears and cracks
When it comes to retaining the value of your pristine leather seats, a few things are required, nothing fancy, just some common-sense maintenance. It’s always better to maintain the factory-quality craftsmanship than to hope you can repair it later. With that said, here are a few simple tips to keep your leather soft and crack free...
1. Clean and condition your seats
If you want to keep your seats soft and supple, you need to clean and condition your leather frequently. Once a month would be good maintenance while every three months would be considered as basic care. Finding a high-quality leather conditioner made specifically for automobiles is better than using saddle soap or other general leather care formulas like mink oil.
A vehicle application is formulated with consideration for a broader number of factors such as UV radiation, interior temperatures, humidity, and the type of activity that seats will experience on a daily basis.
2. Take care with heavy and sharp objects
If you refrain from hauling heavy and sharp objects or otherwise jeopardizing your seats with heavy boxes, your interior will thank you. Many people don’t realize how delicate leather is and how easy it is for leather to tear when you exert enough stress on a specific point.
The velocity of the automobile and sudden braking are enough to cause a rip just from the inertia of a heavy object jumping out of place. Your car seat leather is not a thick rawhide like they may use to make saddles or cowboy boots so it's very delicate. Placing heavy or sharp objects in the trunk or at least on top of a protective blanket can save your seats.
3. Avoid direct sunlight
Another tip is to keep your car out of direct sunlight. Not only is the UV radiation bad for paint, but it also takes a toll on your leather and dries it out. You can block direct sunlight by using front and back window shades, parking in shady areas, keeping your vehicle in a garage or under a car cover, and tinting your windows.
Tools you need to repair leather car seats
Because there are numerous methods to repair leather seats, there is no specific tool-set. With that said, you may need any of the following below.
Warm soapy water
Clean microfiber cloth
600 grit Sandpaper and sanding block
Matching leather swatches
Repairing cracks in leather seats
You’ll need to find a leather repair kit with a dye that matches your upholstery. You can then wash the area thoroughly with the warm soapy water and rinse clean. Then grab a clean rag and you can use it to apply denatured alcohol. The final step is to dry the area using a clean microfiber cloth.
Once its dried, sand the cracked leather area lightly to create a bonding surface for the liquid leather to adhere. Now, you can apply the liquid leather into the crack and let it dry. Use a wet sponge to wipe the liquid leather off any undamaged leather surfaces.
After the first layer dries, continue applying layers in the same order until they match the height of your seat leather. You can always sand it down if it’s raised too high and smooth it out with a fresh coat.
The final step will be to add a thin layer of diluted liquid leather over the entire seat to blend the repair in. You can do this by diluting it by 30 percent with water. Once the repair’s fully dried, you can use a leather conditioner to make all the leather suppler and more elastic and malleable when you put stress on the repair areas.
Repairing tears in leather seats
Tears are most easily repaired using a patch and fill method. The first step is to cut off any of the rough edges of the torn area. Once the leather is completely flush with the seat surface again, you can sand it like you would with a crack repair. Next, you will push a piece of wax paper into the hole so that the edges sit behind the leather. This wax is to protect the cushions from absorbing the leather adhesive that you will apply next.
You first have to cut your leather swatch so it's slightly larger than the hole size. Some car owners choose to cut off small pieces of the extra leather under the seat to get the leather swatch. You then sand slightly around the tear to create an area for the adhesive to bond. Next, use a leather adhesive to secure the patch into place. Finally, lightly go over the area with a heat gun to lock in the bond - being sure not to burn your seats.
Repairing holes in leather seats
Repairing small holes from cigarettes or punctures is even easier than repairing a tear or crack. If the hole is small enough, you can simply fill it in with liquid leather as you would with a tear. If it’s larger, you will use the patch method to fill it and apply a filler such as liquid leather to smooth out the seams.
The great part about using liquid leather is that it acts both as a filler and an adhesive. This means that it doesn’t require complicated steps to get the best result. It’s ideal for smoothing out the surface, blending, and making the repair hold up. In all these repairs, you will want to follow the patch kit instructions carefully and refrain from sitting on the repaired seats until they are thoroughly dried and cured.
Although you can repair leather and make damage less noticeable, it may be better to let a professional do the job for you. For most car owners, it’s a question of practicality and how you plan on holding on to the vehicle. If you have an afternoon to spare, you can repair the leather car seats yourself. If you have a little money and don’t want to fuss with it, then we can repair your seats. Either way, there’s no need to have cracks, tears, or holes in your seats if you don’t want to.