How To Save Money On Fixing Car Leather

Car seats can easily fall prey to wear and tear. Here's how to fix rips and cracks in leather without taking your vehicle to the shop.
By Alison Lakin, Associate Editor
Hyundai Genesis Coupe Seats
It’s amazing how quickly leather can go from looking luxurious and expensive to looking ratty. After a couple years’ worth of seat time, the leather in your car can crack and rip if it hasn’t been properly cared for. Rather than running to get it fixed, keep most of your money in your wallet by doing the repair job yourself. It’s such an easy fix, we guarantee you’ll be shocked (and mildly horrified) at how much the shops charge.

Wear and poor maintenance are the leading causes of cracked leather. After repeatedly getting in and out of your car and leaving it to bake in the sun on those hot summer days, susceptible leather becomes brittle. To fix it you’ll need a few items.

First thing’s first, a bit of soap and water is needed. With it, give the area a good clean to rid it of any dirt and grime, then pat it dry with a cloth. Next, grab some alcohol pads. These further clean the area as well as remove any remaining oils from the leather. Make sure to let the surface dry thoroughly. Without these two steps, the compound needed to seal the cracked leather can’t attach itself properly to the material.

Lastly, you need a leather repair kit that includes the exact color match of the leather. Most providers have charts that allow you easy access to the right hue. You’ll find most kits are priced below $50, and they include all the necessary products to complete your restoration from this point on.

The repair compound found in the kit can now be spread on your newly clean and dry leather. Make sure you fill all the visible cracks. You can wait for it to completely dry, which takes a couple hours, or use a hair dryer (keep it at least 18 inches away from the leather) to speed up the process. Then coat the finisher over the surface followed by a leather conditioner over the entire leather area.

Sometimes you’ll find that you need to repair a tear in the material, not just cracks in the
surface. If this is the case, the ripped edges must be cut away to leave a clean hole. Cut enough extra fabric from a tucked away location (under the seat works best) to fill the hole with it. To create a perfect match, outline the hole using tracing paper and then cut the extra material to fit tightly within the cut away area. You can then proceed to use the leather repair kit as established above.

Easier than you thought, we know, but it is still a process that we’re sure you don’t feel inclined to do every weekend. To avoid spending time on repair work and save money in the long run, purchase a leather protectant. They’re usually around $6-10 and, if regularly used, can keep your car’s leather looking healthy for years.


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