Leather Car Seat Repair – Step by Step
A new car has that new leather smell which make them so attractive. Yet, over time the smell fades and the car becomes more about its functionality than it does about that original draw. It is not uncommon for automobiles to have tears and rips within the leather, even if the vehicle is relatively new. And while you may think that putting a piece of tape over the tear, a seat cover, or any number of “homemade” solutions is the best option, such is not the case. It is best to know how to conduct proper leather car seat repair. Here is a step by step guide on how to go about performing such repairs.
Step one: Evaluate the severity of the job
The first step which must be taken when you have a repair job is to realistically evaluate the severity of the job at hand. If you find that the tears are minor or that the leather is slightly discolored, then a reconditioning of the leather may be your best option or a leather repair kit may be the best solution. However, if you find that the tear is more than 3 inches in length, the best solution would be to take the vehicle to a specialist and have them repair the area. Areas which have severe discoloration should be taken to a professional leather artisan or upholstery service to be re-dyed and refurbished. While it may be idealistic to perform the leather car seat repair yourself, it may not be realistic. Know your boundaries and seek advice when needed.
Step two: Fixing minor discoloration on leather car seats
Determine if the stain is a stain or if the discoloration is the result of removal of color/dye from the sun, wear, or undesirable lighting conditions. For additive stains, you will want to try to remove as much of the stain as possible from the leather. The longer it sits the harder it will be to remove the stain. Once you have attempted to remove the stain, then you will need to use a leather restoration kit or a leather conditioner. Keep in mind that on additive stains you do not want to continue to build up the area with external components. If the stain is stain is set in the car seat, then the only real way to perform leather car seat repair would be to add dies and try to blend the area to match the rest of the seat.
Discoloration which is the result from lighting, the sun, or from wear can usually be refurbished through the use of leather conditioners and cleaners. Again, the longer that the discoloration sits, the harder it will be to bring out the natural look of the leather without using dyes. However, if a dye is to be used, apply a small amount and let the dye dry. It is best to use an aniline dye over a pigmented dye. Just keep in mind that some leather car seats have a clear coating which could hinder the dye from seeping into the pores. Check with your vehicle’s manufacturer to find out more about the particulars for the leather seating.
In both cases, you will want to let the conditioner, cleaners, and dyes fully dry and then buff the surface with a clean non-abrasive cloth.
Step Three: Repairing Tears
Tears in leather are problematic to say the least. Once the tear has occurred, it is natural for the surface to want to pull further apart. When you repair your leather car seat, you will need to use a sealer/glue which is not primarily PVA but rather polyurethane based. PVA glues are similar to school glues in their chemical makeup. Using such on a vehicle’s seat may give a temporary fix, but the first time a person in blue jeans scrapes against that area, the seam is very likely to open up. In some instances, you can apply a patch to such areas. When doing so, place the patch on the underside of the seat leather (the interior) if possible. By doing this you remove the aesthetic eyesore that a leather patch can create.
When applying glue to a leather tear first ensure that the area is clean of any dirt and debris. If there is any fraying of the leather, you will need to remove the frays from the tear using precision tools (do not yank upon any loose threads as this could increase the tear and cause further damage to the area). Second, try to see if the rip will fit together without causing excessive tension. If you find that the tear pulls, then the tension of the leather may be too high to perform a self-repair. However, if you can easily push and hold the tear together then you can apply the glue. Do so sparingly. Smooth out the surface and if needed apply dye coloring to the surface to further camouflage the damaged area.
Step Four: Stitching issues
The final area where you may find needing repair on your leather car seat would be in the stitching. It is quite common to see threads and glue become weakened and warped over time. When you notice that the seams are starting to fray, carefully cut the string and use the proper tools to remove the stitching from the problematic area. Clean the surface with cleaner and let dry. Once the cleaner has dried, hand sew the seam, applying glue to help reinforce the area. It is suggested that you use leather needles to perform your stitching. Some leather repair kits offer stitching needles. If your kit does not, you can find them in about any leather or craft shop.
Big problems need professional help
For any other problem to the leather car seat, it is best that you seek out the services of a professional. Also, take note that the warranty of your vehicle (if applicable) may cover repairs to the leather seating in some instances. Before you do any repairs check your warranty as well as your owner’s manual. Any repairs which you feel are beyond the scope of your abilities should be handled by a professional leather artisan or upholstery professional.