Most car interior leather and motorcycle seats are fully finished, and there are a couple of reasons why it cracks. Cracking usually occurs when the protective coating on fully finished leather is worn down or when there has been a manufacturer problem.
Cracked leather car seat
1. Body oil and dirt can cause leather to crack -
It is very easy for dirt and oils to collect on the surface of leather. Together, these act like a fine sand paper, breaking down the protective layer on fully finished leather over time, eventually leading to visible cracks at the surface. Once the protective layer is broken down, the leather underneath, which is incredibly porous, soaks up the dirt and oil sitting on its surface causing further abrasion and damage.
2. A manufacturer problem can cause leather to crack -
Tanneries put a layer of dye and a protective top coating on cow hide (almost like paint on drywall) to make fully finished leather. Leather has a lot of give and will stretch and move as people sit and slide around on it, so the manufacturer needs to stretch it properly before they put on the dye and protective top coating. If they don’t stretch it well, the leather will quickly stretch more than the dye can handle, and the coating will crack.
Once leather is cracked, a leather repair professional can typically fix it, however, it is much cheaper and easier to clean and take care of your leather seats from the start than to deal with cracking after it happens.
We’d be happy to answer any additional questions you have. Please post questions in the comments below, and, if you want to show us a photo of a specific piece of leather, either post it on our Facebook page or contact your local franchisee.
You may notice that, over time, your soft leather car or motorcycle seats become dry or faded. Many people attribute this to wear and tear, but it is actually caused by heat and light from the sun. Because the leather in your vehicle is likely to be exposed to a lot of sunlight and heat in parking lots, vehicle manufacturers use leather that is highly resistant to sun damage in their seats.
Motorcycle seat faded by the sun
Most car seats are made from fully-finished leather, and it tends to hold up a lot longer in the sun than other types of leather. But, even the strongest of leathers will be damaged by heat and sunlight over time, so it’s a good idea to clean and protect your seats 6-8 times a year to boost their resistance to damage.
You can also try using window shields in a car or covers on a bike to keep some of the light and heat off your leather if you park in the sun for extended periods of time.
It is also a good idea to seek out parking spots in the shade instead of in direct sunlight.
How to fix dried out, faded leather
You can have a leather professional re-dye faded leather for a reasonable cost. But, once the natural oils found in leather are gone, they’re gone for good. Leather professionals can do a number of things to make it look better, but there is no way to truly restore it to its previous condition. That’s why preventative maintenance is so important!
We’d be happy to answer any additional questions you may have. Please post your thoughts in the comments!
My customers are confused about different types of leather – either because they aren’t sure what they should look for when it comes time to buy new furniture, or because they have a problem (like a scratch or stain) that needs to be fixed. This quick guide should help you understand the big picture. If you have other questions, leave them in the comments below!
1. Fully-Finished Leather:
Fully-finished leather, seen frequently in furniture brands like Lazy Boy, Palliser, Natuzzi and Elite as well as in automotive interiors, has a durable surface finish that resists scratches and staining. Fully-finished leathers make up approximately 85% of leather used for furniture and 99% of leather used in the automotive industry today.
There are a plethora of leather products available to clean and repair auto leather. Some of these can be great tools for car owners, but others contain harmful chemicals that will do more harm than good for your car.
Here are some good tips on what to look for when shopping around for leather products:
1. Make sure the product you are using is designed specifically for the type of leather you are using it on. Products are usually made for aniline, semi-aniline or fully-finished leather. The vast majority of auto leather is fully finished – it has dye and a protective layer that make it more durable than other types of leather. Different types of leather soak up products in different ways, so not all leather cleaners will work for all kinds of leather.
2. The finish on auto leather is completely different from that found on jackets, shoes and purses. Be sure that you get products designed for upholstery.
3. Don’t use products on your leather if the container says they are designed to be used on both leather and plastic products. These likely contain elements that will cause long-term damage to leather.
4. Do not use any products that contain any alcohol or acetone. Alcohol will damage the protective top coat on leather, and acetone will break down the leather dye, removing the color.
5. Be wary of do-it-yourself dying products. Finding an exact color match is sometimes difficult for professionals, and most DIY dye kits lack what you need to make your repair look good.
There are also a lot of wives’ tales about household products that people use to repair leather. Some of these have merit, but others will really harm your leather. Before you try out a household product on your auto interior, check out our post on frequently recommended leather remedies that ruin leather.
Any thoughts on good/ bad car leather products? Share them in the comments!
We’ve all done it—left our car windows open or our tops down in the rain. Good news is – a little bit of water, if cleaned up quickly, isn’t likely to hurt your leather.
In fact, most car leather has a protective layer that will help prevent immediate damage. This coating is designed to give you enough time to clean up a small drink spill before it soaks into your leather. So, if you quickly go outside to roll your windows up after the start of a rain storm and wipe your seats off, you should be fine. But, if you let it sit for very long, the water can make your leather seats a little stiff. The same can happen to leather when you spill liquid on it and don’t clean it up quickly.
How to fix stiff leather
Massage is the best way to soften up leather that has become stiff from water damage. Unless the damage is severe, it should soften up after you knead it for a few minutes.
How to clean up liquid spills in the car
For small water spills, wipe up all excess water and let your car seat dry naturally. If you spill a liquid on it that is not water, use a damp towel with distilled water to wipe up the mess, wiping away all excess liquid and letting the seat dry naturally.
What to do if your car gets flooded
When water has flooded your car and your leather seats, a whole new problem arises – the contaminants in the flood water can damage the seat’s interior and leave a foul odor. This usually means the seat’s cushioning needs to be replaced. That can be a large expense. However, if the seat doesn’t smell bad after you allow it to dry out, chances are good that you can get a leather professional to repair the damaged leather for a reasonable price.
Post any additional questions in the comments, and we’d be happy to answer them for you!