Nothing beats the luxurious look, feel and smell of leather car seats. Unfortunately, normal wear and tear can take its toll on the leather over time and cracks and tears can start to appear. However, it is possible to repair some of this minor leather damage by yourself.
Before attempting any leather repairs, you should first assess the damage. How big is the tear? Does the rip border a seam? If the damage is not near a seam, there’s usually enough clearance on both sides for you to be able to glue a patch underneath the leather. However, if the tear is bordering a seam, you most likely will have to glue a patch over the affected area.
It’s also important to decide if you want a quick fix or a perfect restoration. If you don’t mind it looking a little off, you can do it yourself. However, if you want it to look brand new or if the damage is severe, you may need to contact leather repair professionals.
For those who are willing to try a little DIY, here are a few ways you can repair leather car seats by yourself.
- Leather Repair Kit
You can purchase a leather repair kit at your local hardware or automotive store. The kit will usually come with instructions and all the materials that you’ll need. This includes adhesives, backing cloths and filler.
When purchasing a repair kit, make sure you choose one that comes with a colorant that matches the leather. Look up different repair kits and find the one that closely matches your car seats. If you can, buy a repair kit made by the same manufacturer of your vehicle.
After you’ve assessed the tear, clean the seat by using mild soap and a soft rag. Make sure you rid the leather surface of dirt, dust and crumbs.
Next, cut any hanging threads from the edges of the tear. Slide a canvas backing cloth underneath the leather and then apply a small amount of adhesive to the edges. A collar stay can be a useful tool for applying the glue to the underside of the leather.
If you want to, you can use weights or clamps to ensure that the cloth is firmly attached. Regardless, allow the adhesive to dry completely before moving on.
Once the glue has dried, start building up layers of leather filler. Use a palette knife to apply the filler into the tear. Make sure that the previous layer has dried before adding the next one.
Keep doing this until the filler is slightly above the surface. Once dry, sand down the area with a fine-grit sanding block, wipe the seat with a damp cloth and then apply the colourant.
To prevent the colourant from getting rubbed off, cover the affected area with a sealant.
- Applying a Patch over the Tear
When buying a leather patch, make sure that the texture matches your seats. If you want to, you can also dye the patch the appropriate colour. To save you from having to find the exact colour code and texture, you can also use the extra pieces of leather that come with some vehicles.
First, cut the patch into a suitable size. Make sure that it is slightly larger than the tear. This will ensure that it covers the entire affected area and attaches properly to the leather.
Before applying the adhesive, put a piece of wax paper behind the tear. If the glue comes into contact with the foam and hardens, it can stiffen the foam and ruin its sponginess. Wax paper, plastic and other non-porous sheets will prevent the adhesive from hardening the foam that’s underneath the leather.
Next, apply adhesive to the edges of the patch and gently press over the tear. Make sure the tear is entirely covered. If possible, use a clamp or a weight to ensure that the patch is properly attached to the surface. Try not to use the seat until the glue has dried and the patch is firmly in place.
- Liquid Leather
Liquid leather is an adhesive compound that can be purchased in many upholstery shops. Before going through with the repair, test out the liquid on another spot on the seat to see if the colour matches. Additionally, you can provide the color code of your seats to the distributor so that they can give you the exact hue.
After everything is ready, give your car seats a decent scrub. Use a leather cleaner or a soft rag to remove dirt or crumbs from the surface.
Next, dilute the liquid leather and, using a sponge, apply it to the general area of the tear. Make sure to use a damp cloth to wipe off the substance from the unaffected areas. This will make sure that the liquid is left only in the tear. Let the liquid dry before applying another coat.
Once the affected area has dried, apply an even coat of leather liquid to the whole seat. This ensures that the colour stays consistent throughout.
Finally, to prevent the leather from cracking, apply a leather conditioner with a soft cloth.
- How to Prevent Further Damage
The sun can be leather’s worst enemy. If you’re not careful, too much exposure to sunlight can cause your leather car seats to crack and fade. To prevent this, make sure you put a sunshade across your windscreen when your car is parked outside. Alternatively, you can park in an area where your car isn’t exposed to the sun.
Using leather conditioner often can also prevent your leather from cracking. Apply the conditioner to the seats after you’ve cleaned them. It is ideal to give your car seats a decent cleaning every six months or so.
Lastly, avoid putting sharp objects like small knives, keys and tools in your pockets. Such items can puncture the leather and cause tearing. If you have to have these in your pockets, you can also cover your seats with a thick towel or blanket.
It’s worth reiterating that the methods outlined above are only suitable for minor damages. If the leather has a severe tear or if you just want it to look brand spanking new, it’s best to visit a professional upholstery shop to get it repaired.