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4 months ago

How to Repair Leather Car Seats Using Everyday Tools

leather seats repair

Leather is a great upholstery material to have, it gives your car a premium look, makes the seats comfortable and is just nice to look at. However, it is a relatively vulnerable material and even slight misuse can damage it. 

You can easily repair your leather car seats using everyday tools. In this article, we’ll help you to learn how to repair leather car seats. 

We have divided the blog into three parts depending on the damage, so you can directly go to the one that concerns you:

  • How to repair scratched leather car seats
  • How to repair torn leather car seats
  • How to repair holes in leather car seats

Before we discuss the solutions to these common damages, let’s first have a look at what causes them in the first place and how you can avoid them.

DISCLAIMER: You should only attempt the repair if you feel that you can handle it. Follow all the instructions that come with the materials you buy for the repair. If you feel you cannot repair it yourself, consult a professional.

What Causes Damaged Leather Car Seats

1. Exposure to the Sun

Just like anything else in a car, prolonged exposure to the light and heat of the sun is detrimental to leather. 

The UV radiations and heat of the sun break down the structure of the leather at a microscopic level, making it brittle. It can lead to the leather tearing apart upon regular use. 

If you have to park in the sun for a couple of hours, it will not damage the leather, but exposure to the sun on a daily basis can eventually make leather fall apart.

2. Cigarettes

Leather is particularly sensitive to the kind of temperatures a cigarette burns at. If a cigarette or its ash falls on the leather seat of a car, it will ruin it.

3. Sharp Objects 

Sharp attachments on clothes like buttons on jeans, and other objects like keys and key rings, can very easily make their way through the leather, leaving it severely damaged. 

4. Leather Aging

Leather gets brittle as it ages. After about five years from manufacture, it can get fragile enough to be torn or scratched with regular use.

5. Heavy Loads 

Putting heavy loads on the seats repeatedly and for long durations can lead to the leather being subjected to more stress than it can handle and eventually it will give up.

Now that you know what causes leather to give in, you can better protect your leather seats from getting damaged.

1. How to Repair Scratched Leather Car Seats

A scratched leather seat is one that has surface damage and the leather is not entirely torn apart. Such seats are easy to repair. 

Things You’ll Need

  • Leather glue
  • Leather filler 
  • Leather shiner
  • 500 and 1000 grit sandpaper
  • Rubbing alcohol
  1. Clean the Site

Use rubbing alcohol to clean the area that you are going to be working on. 

Make sure the rubbing alcohol doesn’t come into contact with any plastic trim piece of the car as it can damage, decolorize, or even dissolve plastic.

  1. Apply Leather Glue

Once the affected area is completely clean, apply the leather glue generously on the scratched area of the seat. You can use gloves but even if you do it with your bare hands, the glue will peel off the skin easily.

  1. Peel off the Extra Glue 

Let the glue cure for the time specified in the instructions and then peel off the excess glue from the seat. 

You might need to repeat steps 2 and 3 a couple of times to fully repair the area.

  1.  Sand the area down 

Once you have completely covered the area, sand it down with 500 grit sandpaper to make a slightly rough surface for the filler. 

Do not sand too hard, you just need scratches to make the filler stick to the leather.

  1.  Prepare the Filler 

Leather fillers come as a set of different colored pastes. 

You need to mix them to get a color that most closely matches that of your car’s leather. This will take a couple of tries, so don’t give up.

  1.  Apply the Filler 

Once the filler is the correct color, apply a thin layer of it on the affected area. Be sure you completely cover the area and the scratches that you made. 

  1.  Sand Down the Filler Down

Sand down the filler with 1000 grit sandpaper to give it a smooth surface. You’ll notice that the area will be dull as compared to the rest of the seat. We’ll correct that in the next step.

  1.  Apply a Polish/Shiner

A leather shiner that matches the color of your car would be ideal. Otherwise, you can use any neutral leather shiner, even the one you use for your shoes. Just make sure it isn’t used for dark leather.

Use it just as you use leather shiner on your shoes and this will restore the leather to almost the same condition as before the damage.

That’s how you can repair the leather that’s not entirely torn apart. If the damage is more severe, the next method is the one you want to follow.

2. How To Repair Torn Leather Car Seats

If the leather is completely torn, you’ll need to provide structural support to it. 

The repair strategy will be to strengthen the area first and then fill the actual tear to make it flush with the rest of the seat. 

Things You’ll Need

  • Leather glue
  • Leather filler
  • A piece of denim
  • 500 and 1000 grit sandpaper
  • Rubbing alcohol
  1. Clean the Surface

Use rubbing alcohol to clean the torn surface of the leather and the surrounding area. 

  1. Cut a Piece of Denim

Cut a piece of denim so that it is as long as the tear and goes at least two inches towards every side of the tear, perpendicular to it.

  1. Glue the Denim to the Leather

Place the piece of denim under the tear and apply a generous amount of leather glue to secure it to the underside of the leather. 

  1. Prepare the Filler  

As the leather glue cures, prepare the filler to match the color of your leather upholstery. 

  1. Fill the Crack 

Use a plastic spatula or scraper to fill the crack with the leather filler. Make sure the crack is fully filled and the filler is a bit higher than the profile of the seat.

  1. Sand Down the Filler 

Let the filler cure and then sand it down with 1000 grit sandpaper to make it flush with the seat. 

  1. Apply Polish/Shiner

Lastly, use a leather shiner of matching or neutral color to shine the leather. 

That’s how you can repair ripped leather seats in a car. 

3.   How To Repair Holes In Leather Car Seats

If the hole in the seat is smaller than 5 mm, you are in luck. Just grab liquid leather from an auto parts store and apply it to the hole as instructed. Make sure you get the liquid leather in a color that matches your car’s interior. 

The exact method differs from product to product, so follow the instructions that come with the liquid leather that you buy. Generally, it is simple and takes only a couple of minutes.

Repairing a Large Hole in a Leather Seat 

If the hole in your car’s leather seat is larger than 5 mm, there’s no way of repairing it completely. The best you can do is to prevent it from expanding and prevent the foam underneath from peeking into your nice and luxurious interior. 

Things You’ll Need

  • A piece of matching leather
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Leather glue
  1. Get the Right Piece of Leather

This is the trickiest part of the whole process. It is next to impossible to get the exact same piece of leather, but there’s a trick to it. 

Remove one of the front seats or the bench of the rear seat. Under the seat, you’ll find some excess leather. You can cut a piece of leather for the repair from there.

  1. Clean the Area 

Use rubbing alcohol to clean the area surrounding the hole you are going to repair. 

  1. Glue the Piece of Leather 

Use leather glue to paste the piece of leather over the hole. If some of the glue exudes out, you can peel it off once it cures. 

  1. Sand the edges  

The sharp edges of the leather that you just pasted will give the seat an unsightly look. 

Use 1000 grit sandpaper to smooth a bit so that there’s no obvious edge of the leather.

In case your leather seats are not torn or scratched and you just want to know how to clean them to look brand new, don’t forget to check out our previous post on this topic.

Before You Go

Cracked leather seats are one of the worst things that can happen to any car lover. However, contrary to popular belief, you can fix leather seats without replacing them. Well, at least if the damage is not colossal. 

We have discussed the three main types of damage that can happen to leather seats and the methods that you can use to fix them. So, the next time you find a crack in your leather seats, don’t lose your cool. Try these methods instead!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can leather seats be repaired?

Yes, if the damage is not too much, you can repair leather seats to near-new conditions.

Can perforated leather seats be repaired?

Yes, they can be repaired; just make sure the leather glue does not come out of the perforations when you attach a patch under the leather.

How do I clean and restore leather car seats?

If you want to clean and restore your leather seats to make them look new, read this detailed post.

What is the best way to repair leather car seats?

It depends on the type of damage to the seat that you are repairing. You can read the methods for each type of damage above.