Automotive Leather Repairing

I keep my cars for a long time. All the cars I own have leather interiors. After a decade of wear and tear, the leather finish sometimes crack and wears off. Replacing a leather interior for an old car is prohibitively expensive, usually running in the several thousands of dollars. Sometimes the car isn’t even worth that much! So what’s a guy to do?

I’ve read about various leather treatments and have tried most of them. There’s no saving dry, hard, cracked leather if you ask me. However, if your leather is still pliable, but there are cracks in the surface finish, there is hope. I came across a company called Leather Magic on the web. After reading lots about them and also viewing their YouTube video, I thought I would give it a try. This is my experience in pictures.

I ordered the deluxe kit for $59.95 with a few dollars shipping. I think it came to about $71. The color of my car interior was “Light Beige” so I ordered the color with the same name on their color page for Volvos. So far so good.

So I decided to try this on my front passenger seat first. Since it needs to sit for 48 hours after the repair, I figured I could still drive the car if I needed to. Here’s what I had to deal with.

The outside bottom panel has a lot of cracks in it.

So the first order of business was to clean it well. I used a light detergent (same as I use when I wash my car) and a nylon scrub brush. I must say that I was surprised how much dirt was removed by this simple process.

First order of business is a good scrubbing.

A light sanding with the provided 220 paper after the prep solution was applied.

This magic white stuff was quiet tacky. Multiple layers filled the cracks.

The photo above shows, the repair compound being scraped into the cracks. Between each coat I had to sand it lightly and get rid of the dust. After about 4 passes (it took a long time), the surface felt pretty smooth. OK, it’s time to color it.

The colorant (special paint) seemed a pretty good match.

After two coats with the foam brush, not much was covered...

After 3 coats, it was starting to look a lot better.

Five coats later and I think I am done.

It was getting dark as I had worked at this for about 3 hours now. I took the last picture with a flash and noticed that the color of the new area and the old area was not really matching so well. It looks like I’ll have to re-color the whole seat for a perfect match. However, look at the repair area! It looks like it’s new leather!

I showed this to my family when then came home, and they thought I had replaced the leather! So at the end of the day, here’ s my analysis.

  • It works pretty darn well.
  • It takes a long time…. 3 hours for the part I did.
  • The color match was pretty good, but in certain light, you can see a difference. Plan on coloring the whole seat.

So that’s it. I can say that I am pretty pleased with it. We’ll see how it holds up over time. I am supposed to wait 48 hours and then go over it with a leather conditioner. I’ll report back later and let you know.

About song

Tech guy in the silicon valley. If you need anything else, look on the blog. It's all there.
This entry was posted in How To, My Rants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Automotive Leather Repairing

  1. Jeff Taylor says:

    Hello Song
    Looks much better than having the worn cracked leather. I would just color the whole bottom of the seat so you do not see the difference in color. I have not ever used anything like that. Let me know how it holds up. I am curious to know if the cracks will reappear.
    Thanks
    Jeff

  2. song says:

    Update on my experiment. In different lighting you can tell that the color match isn’t quite perfect. I am contacting the company to see if I can get another color matched to an interior piece (headrest) that I am going to send them. I decided I didn’t want to continue on unless I had a better match.

  3. Adam says:

    My seats are the same type and condition as yours. Is one deluxe leather kit (for $59.95) enough for all 4 seats, just one, how much is needed? What other supplies are needed from them?
    Thanks Adam

  4. song says:

    Adam, the amount they give you is enough for 2 complete front seats. If you are just doing bottom cushions, it may be enough for the front and back. I’m going to do my complete front seats and then the bottom cushions of the back seats. I think I’l probably need to get one more bottle.

    So far I have just brushed on the color with the foam brush. That uses a lot less then if you are going to spray. However, the finish is not as even. I am going to go ahead and spray to get an even coat over my brushed color. So I will for sure need more.

    As for the contents of the kit, they give you everything you need to recolor, fix cracks and even a few tears. I didn’t need the tear patches or glue. I am also planning to use my own air brush instead of the Prevail sprayer that is included in the kit. My airgun will do a much finer job.

    I’ll need to order more pre-treatment solution, colorant, and conditioner. That’s it. The other stuff I don’t need.

  5. Simon says:

    My seats are worse than yours i bought it from the pound and all the seats were torn up the threads aren’t connected together but it is cracked so i might buy this but what shill i do about the threads

  6. Simon says:

    oh also found out that my car has tape or light taupe so if your car is an s40 ya

  7. song says:

    Just an update folks. A few months down the line and the seats are holding up well to almost daily use. I must say that a few hairline cracks have appeared in the new finish, but you have to look pretty closely to see them. They appear to have formed in the creased areas of the seat, but not the repaired parts. My conclusion is that the repairs are very strong, but the “topcoat” cannot hide existing creases or cracks. They re-appear in the same place. It’s still a far cry from how they were before.

  8. Pingback: dash repair - The Acura Legend & Acura RL Forum

  9. LowPSI says:

    Great DIY. Any chance we could get updated pics? Thanks!

  10. song says:

    @LowPSI – sure I can do that this weekend I think. Overall, it’s holding up pretty well. Some of the most severe creased areas have cracks re-appearing. It’s been about 6 months now and most of the areas look good. I’ve also noticed that the re-finished areas feel more “tacky” than the original finish. I’ve since ordered a gloss surface finish from Leather Magic that is supposed to reduce that tackiness and give it a semigloss finish. I haven’t put it on just yet though. OK, more info after I take the pictures.

  11. LowPSI says:

    I bought a kit for myself and had them custom color match my seats. Excellent service and excellent color match. The process went pretty much as you described it. Thank you for your DIY! (I would add pics if I could.)

  12. Lindsay says:

    That looks Great ! I live in Australia can I buy this product hear or where would suggest I try to get some ?

  13. Danny Yunker says:

    Song,

    Your project looks great. You mentioned though that small cracks were beginning to appear in the creased areas after a few months. This is almost always caused by a build-up of dirts and oils in these small creases. The “Leather Prep” that came with the kit is meant to remove this “grime”. But, a bit more attention needs to be given to the creases in the leather. Thorough scrubbing using plenty of “Leather Prep” will remove this foreign matter and cause a much more permanent bond. Additional sanding may also be required during the prep stages. This is a step where: If you think you’ve done enough…a little more will help!

    You can solve the slight cracking by washing the cracked areas with leather prep to remove the color finish, lightly sand the creases by folding the sandpaper to a narrow edge and sand directly into the center of the creases, and reapply a thin layer of the color coat.

  14. song says:

    Danny, thanks for the insight. It’s been about 9 months now and I have refinished for a second time the areas that were especially bad. It didnt take nearly as long this time, although I didn’t have time to break out the airgun. I just used the foam brush, which didn’t leave anywhere as nice a finish.

    Quick question, are you just a user of this product or do you work for them? You seem to know a lot about it. 😉

  15. song says:

    Lindsay, I just bought this direct from their website. Just type http://www.leathermagic.com. You should give them an email or call and they can help you I am sure.

  16. Raymond says:

    Excellent repair. I am planning to do the same as you with my 98 V70. But I noticed I have some seam separation in the leather as well. Did you deal with this in your repair?

  17. song says:

    @Raymond, I did have a slight seam separation on the side bolster on the driver side. It’s not in these pictures. I just used some clear nylon line and pulled it together, then I used the Leather Magic on top of it. It looks respectable. The kit I have does come with a patch and cement for repairing rips, but I am not so sure how it would work on a seam. I didn’t use the patch yet. A seam is a lot trickier, but I think it should be possible.

  18. Zephyr says:

    My seats are in the exact same condition as yours were before you restored them and are the same color too. Would you be able to tell me what color you used? There seems to be so many to choose from and I can see (in another post) that you actually sent them a headrest to get a better color match.

    Regards,

    Zephyr

  19. Zephyr says:

    @Lindsay: I’m in Australia too. Just wondering if you managed to find leather magic somewhere in Australia or did you end up ordering from their US website?

    Cheers,

  20. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  21. Wil says:

    Song this is just so wonderful! Just bought a 2002 V70XC and recalled your post from a few days ago when I was l searching for leather repair while ooking at a XC90 with some marred seats. The “new” to me car has a rear seat that looks to have been scratched a bit by a baby seat or perhaps a booster seat .. so with your guiding post, going to try to fix it! Thank you for your hard work and thinking of us when you decided to post!

    Cheers from Minneapolis!

  22. song says:

    @Wil – glad I could help! I was so frustrated trying to get help with repairing my seat that when I found something, I was certain it would be helpful for others. Now I know it to be true! I’ve gotten a lot of emails and other responses. Heck there’s even been a few spam attacks!

    My wife had an XC90 now and I used this same kit on it for imperfections with great success. I started earlier on hers so the repairs are much easier since the leather is in better shape. I’ve yet to find anything better. Also this kit works great on leather steering wheels. I’ve noticed a lot of volvos with nasty work leather steering wheel covers. This will fix it right up.

  23. Michelle says:

    Great input, suggestion and effort. Thank you for the idea and updates!

  24. Craig Kman says:

    I honestly believe there is a skill to writing and submitting articles that only several posses and frankly you have it. Best Regards.

  25. Patrick says:

    Hello Song.
    I just came accross this blog by chance. Thanks so much for your time and patience. I shouldn’t worry too much about the colour difference if it is very near the original as the Sun will play a big part in fading it in. Also it doesn’t have to be perfect if it looks good and you will always know when you see it that the labour put in was worth it. On another volvo related issue. I am driving a 89/240. Would like to move up to a 2002 V70. Would appreciate any advice on how the volvo owner would compare the v70 to the 240. Thx. & Regards from Ireland.

  26. song says:

    @Patrick – I have never owned a 240 so I can’t be much help for you. There is a website called Matthews Volvo Site that has great forums for Volvo owners and I am sure someone there would have insight for you. I’d go give that site a visit.

  27. Pingback: leather seats - A5_OC

  28. Free Offers says:

    I enjoy you because of all of the effort on this blog. My aunt loves managing investigations and it is easy to understand why. All of us know all regarding the powerful way you produce worthwhile thoughts by means of this website and recommend response from people about this subject so our favorite daughter has been being taught so much. Enjoy the rest of the year. You have been performing a dazzling job.

  29. Connor says:

    I came across your site and I have the same scenario as you. I have done much searching for the best solution to cracked leather and this definitely looks the best. I was just wondering how your seats have been doing since you did the repair? Did any of the color come off over time? Have you had to reapply anything since?

    Thanks!

  30. pedal karts says:

    Great weblog right here! Also your site lots up fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your associate link for your host? I want my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  31. I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this web site. I’m hoping the same high-grade site post from you in the upcoming as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own website now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a great example of it.

  32. James Lasie says:

    Wow, nice site, i am glad to have found it 🙂

  33. song says:

    Connor, if you search my site and read the various replies you will see the answers to your questions. Bottom line is that it works well for 6-9 months and then I find I need to re-do the process again. This would apply to the highest wear areas like the seat bottom. The sides bolsters are in much better shape. I can do it much faster now since I know the drill. So in the end, I can’t say this is a permanent fix, but it’s pretty good for the price.

  34. I feel that is one of the so much important information for me. And i’m happy reading your article. However should observation on few general issues, The site style is perfect, the articles is really great : D. Just right activity, cheers

  35. ????? ????? says:

    Currently it sounds like WordPress is the top blogging platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

  36. profollica says:

    Not bad at all, well written, you go to college or something?

  37. e-ticaret says:

    Nice weblog here! Additionally your web site rather a lot up very fast! What host are you using? Can I get your associate hyperlink to your host? I want my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  38. e-ticaret says:

    You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  39. Jim says:

    I would like to try this product on my seats. Just wanted to know how the seat stand up to everyday use. Is the product flexible, does the repaired areas fatigue or show signs of cracks reappearing?

  40. song says:

    Jim, I have posted a follow up to this on my blog. If you read through the thread, I think you’ll come across it. The bottom line is that the repair appears to last for about 7-9 months. The product is flexible, but sometimes the creases are so pronounced that they reappear in the repaired area. For the cost though, I’ve found nothing better.

  41. Heike Batiz says:

    Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about http://www.thehuangs.com » Automotive Leather Repairing .

  42. frank says:

    Didn’t you oil use oil after prepping the leather, then clean and apply filler/dye

  43. song says:

    Frank, the filler would not stick well in the cracks if you oiled the leather before the repair. The filler is like a liquid vinyl. It has to bond with the leather fibers in order to fill in the cracks. Even then, it has a hard time lasting more than about 7 months in areas like the drivers seat. I do use conditioner and a “gloss remover” after the repair is done. The gloss remover seems like a sealant to me. If I don’t use it, the repair area is sticky and picks up lint and dust quite easily. In any case, in answer to your question, the prepping is to remove all oils, dirt, dye, etc. After the repair, you condition it like normal.

  44. Burnout says:

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more
    of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will
    certainly comeback.

  45. Leopoldo says:

    It’s awesome to pay a quick visit this web site and reading the views of
    all mates on the topic of this post, while I am also keen of getting
    experience.

  46. what are the aesthetic benefits of having casement windows in my home says:

    Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out.
    Please let me know where you got your design. Many thanks

  47. song says:

    I just modified some options in a WordPress theme that I downloaded. I think it lists the name of the creator at the bottom somewhere. You can find a lot of great themes out there.

  48. Richard says:

    Hi Song,
    I too used LM on my ’95 BMW. It has been about 4 years and just starting to show wear on the passenger side – drivers’ side a different story. It did last about 2 years, daily driving and garaged at bedtime. I will be ordering more of their “topcoat” – I look at the whole process as regular maintenance. Leather seats in a car is not like a leather sofa in the house. So, if I have to “every-so-often” touch-up the seats, so be it. You take care of what you have and it takes care of you. On a new care with leather, to make them last, you still have to maintain them. The cost of a complete all-new leather job on both seats is around $1200 on the low side. So, for less than $100 I think it looks pretty good. I want to send some before & after photos – how do I do that?
    Thanks for your site!

  49. song says:

    Normally folks upload the photos to some service and then place a link to it. There are lots of free hosting services like Google drive or yahoos photo service (Flickr). If you want, just send them to me and I’ll post it! I’m at songzunhuang@gmail.com.

    Like you, I consider this normal maintenance. I’ve never gotten mine to last more than 9 months without looking bad again.

  50. Richard says:

    Song,
    I think the key to making them last longer with LM is to treat them like a baby, at least my wife tells me that’s how I treat them. I used my airbrush, 4 coats initially, when I re-do them I am going to do what you did-get into the cracks with more detail.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *