Love 'em or hate 'em, leather car seats are often the ultimate sign that you have a quality ride. Try to look past the fact that leather can get dreadfully hot during the summer months and you might actually appreciate the level of luxury these types of seats can bring to your vehicle.
Even with the use of car covers, without proper maintenance, however, your leather seats will eventually fade and crack under the intense rays of the sun. If you want your leather seats to look as fresh as the day your car rolled off the lot, then it would behoove you to perform proper maintenance on a regular basis.
Is it even possible to prevent leather car seats from cracking or tearing? While there's no way to completely protect your leather seats from this type of damage with 100% certainty, there are ways to mostly prevent significant damage.
There's nothing wrong with parking in a hot parking lot when you're running in to do some grocery shopping, but exposing your vehicle to the sun's rays for long stretches of time, such as parking in your driveway with no awning to protect your vehicle from UV rays, can eventually lead to cracks in your leather seats.
First and foremost, if you can avoid parking in the sun then do so. However, if that's not possible than using a sun shield is the next best thing. Sun shields are made of a material that reflects UV rays away from the interior of your car, not only keeping the interior nice and cool, but also protecting your leather seats from sustaining damage that could eventually lead to discoloration and cracking.
Tinted windows are also a valid option. While they're not as effective as sun shields, they still provide a layer of protection between the interior of your vehicle and the harmful rays of the sun.
The sun isn't the only thing that could cause your seats to tear and crack. You also have to avoid sharp or bulky objects that could poke and prod your seats. Always be aware of the types of objects you intend to transport within your vehicle.
For example, avoid putting heavy duty tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers on your leather seats while driving. You might think your seats are safe from certain types of objects, but youmight just be surprised by the amount of damage a relatively blunt object, such as a wrench, could do to your leather seats when you slam on the brakes.
Other items to avoid putting on your seats include metal boxes, pet carriers, etc. Furthermore, you should also be aware of the types of items you have in your pockets. Even your house keys can be the worst enemy of your leather car seats if you're not careful! If you must transport an object that has the potential to damage your seats, place a padded blanket down first.
Maintenance is a huge part of protecting your leather seats from cracking. Just as you should wash and detail your vehicle on a regular basis, you should do the same for your seats.
Before you begin, vacuum as thoroughly as you can. Make sure to bring along a special extension to vacuum all the various nooks and crannies along the edges of the seat -- you want it to be completely free of crumbs and specs of dirt.
Next, apply a generous layer of leather conditioner. As you do this, avoid letting the conditioner form into a pool. Now wipe the conditioner into the seat until it has been spread evenly. The best leather conditions not only moisturize your seats, adding protection against cracking, but they also provide protection against UV rays and discoloration.
No matter how many precautions you take, there's no possible way to protect your vehicle from cracks completely. There's no telling what kids, pets, or a drunk uncle may do as you're trying to get from point A to point B. The most important thing is to repair the damage as quickly as you can before it worsens over time.
Here are a few tips to fix tears on leather seat. Before jumping in, here's what you'll need to get started:
If your leather seats are cracked in any way, shape, or form a leather repair kit will be one of the best tools in your arsenal to patch it right up. Leather repair kits are relatively cheap depending on where you look.
Before making a purchase, ensure the leather dye within the kit matches the interior of your vehicle. Otherwise, you'll run into even bigger problems than a cracked seat!
Begin by wiping down your seats with warm soap and water. When this is finished, rinse your cleaning cloth thoroughly. Then, soak it with denatured alcohol and run itacross the cracked areas on your seat. Use your microfiber cloth to dry the seat when you're finished.
Once the seat has dried, use the sandpaper to sand away the cracked areas. Now use the microfiber cloth to wipe up any moisture that may have seeped into the crack. When you've accomplished this step you'll be ready for the auto leather repair kit.
Read the instructions carefully, but in most cases, there will be a leather dye in the kit that you'll apply to the cracked areas of your seat. When you're finished, sit back and admire your work. The cracked area should match the rest of your seat. If you did a good job, you'd never know the crack was there in the first place!
Before jumping into your vehicle, let it sit for a while until it dries. If you can park in an enclosed space, such as a garage, that's recommended. However, keeping your windows up during the drying process is highly recommended to avoid debris flying in and mucking up all of your hard work!
Generally speaking, tears tend to be more substantial to repair than cracks. Where cracks tend to be contained to a single area, tears can run across the entirety of your seat. Here's what you'll need to repair a tear in your leather seat:
Before you begin, keep in mind that no matter what you do (short of outright replacing the seat), your work won't look 100% perfect. Still, repairing a tear will at least minimize the overall impact of the damage.
With that being said, there are two ways you can go about repairing a tear in your leather car seat. You can either sew together the torn edges of the seat, or you can sew a new piece of leather either over or under the torn edges.
If you opt to sew the edges together, begin by using your scissors to snip away any loose hanging threads. This next part may take a bit of practice to get just right, but thread the needle and place it onto the underside of one of the ripped edges.
Then run the needle across to the other torn side and create a stitch before pulling it back to the side you started with. Use a thimble to push the needle. Repeat the process of running the needle back and forth across the edges until you've closed the tear.
The smaller the stitching, the less noticeable the repair will be, so keep that in mind during this process. Once you've finished and inspected your work, tie off the knot on the underside of the leather so it won't be seen.
If you opt to go with the alternate option, start once again by cutting away any loose threads with scissors. Now take your leather strip and place it either over or under the tear. Placing it under the leather of the seat is recommended, but this all comes down to your personal preference.
Now use the aforementioned stitching method to stitch the leather strip in place. If you prefer, you can also use a leather adhesive. Once again this comes down to preference.
Once you've finished, look for gaps and fill them in with leather putty. Finish the job by painting the leather with dye that matches your car seat to help it blend in better.
On a final note, if you decide to go with the adhesive method rather than the sewing method, start by positioning the leather piece underneath the tear in the seat. Lightly brush the adhesive on the tear (focus heavily on the edges) and then press down onto the leather strip.
Rough spots are almost impossible to prevent, so make sure you have sandpaper handy to smooth them down. Also, have a washcloth as well as a microfiber cloth on hand to wipe up any residue. Don't forget to add dye if necessary to help the leather strip blend in better with the rest of the seat!
While cracks and tears are the bane of every leather seat's existence, it would be a travesty if you ignored the possibilities of holes forming as well. Holes tend to be small -- a puncture from your keys or even cigarette burns can punch holes through your leather car seats.
Thankfully, patching a hole isn't that difficult, especially when compared to repairing a crack or a tear. If the hole is big, go with a piece of leather to patch it up. If the hole is small liquid leather may be the best item for the job. Both options are quick and straightforward.
When patching a larger hole, find a piece of leather that matches the color of your seat. Then cut it into the right shape to fit right over the hole. Now use leather adhesive to stick it in place, and that's all there is to it! Just give it a few hours before using the seat, and you should be good to go!
When using liquid leather for smaller holes, start by purchasing a product from a popular brand. The how-to-use instructions should be printed somewhere on the container. Simply follow the directions and wait for it to dry before applying a healthy layer of leather dye to help it blend in. When you're done apply conditioner to make your seats shine!
Leather seats are truly a luxury for any vehicle, so you should do everything within your power to protect them front sustaining damage. However, if this does occur (as seems to inevitably happen no matter how hard you try), you now have the tools to fix up your leather car seats, so they still look brand spanking new!