How to Replace Leather on a Steering Wheel

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Leather steering wheel (Photo: @TatianaMara via Twenty20)
Your steering wheel will likely be one of the first elements of your vehicle to experience noticeable wear and tear. Not only are steering wheels constantly being handled, they’re also exposed to corrosive UV rays beating down through the windshield.
If your leather wheel has seen better days … or if it’s literally falling apart, you may want to consider wrapping it or replacing the leather altogether.
If you’ve decided on the latter, here are the steps you need to take to replace the leather on your steering wheel.

Remove the steering wheel

The process of removing the steering wheel is different for every vehicle. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions. If you are not comfortable removing the wheel on your own, take it to a mechanic for help.

Remove the old leather

Start by detaching the old leather from the steering wheel. Cut the threads along the seams using a utility knife. Make sure you are being mindful not to damage the steering wheel.
You should also try not to ruin the structural integrity of the old leather. If you manage to keep it intact, you can use it as a guide to cut the new covering.
Once you’ve successfully removed all of the seams, gently pull the leather off the wheel.

Clean the wheel

Before you can start working on the new covering, make sure the steering wheel is clean. For this step, mix warm water with a couple drops of dish soap. Spray this solution on the steering wheel and wipe it clean with a cloth. Afterward, use another clean cloth to dry the steering wheel completely. It’s important to note that the steering wheel must be completely dry before applying the new leather cover.

Cut up the new leather covering

Lay your new leather material on a flat surface and place the old leather covering on top to use as a guide. Make sure to flatten it as much as possible. Trace its outline.
Once you are done with that step, use sharp scissors or a scalpel to cut your new steering wheel cover.
If the old leather is too damaged to use as a guide, search for steering wheel templates online.

Test the fit

Before making any stitches, place the new leather cover over the steering wheel to ensure that the measurements are correct. If not, make the necessary adjustments before continuing on to the next step.

Sew the ends together

Using a binder clip, hold the ends of the leather strip together. Make sure that the underside of the leather is facing out. Now, sew the ends together using a nylon thread and a curved sewing needle. Make some loops with the thread until you’ve reached the opposite end and finish with a knot to secure the stitching.

Sew the leather to the steering wheel

For this step, you’ll need two curved sewing needles and more nylon thread. Place the leather strip on the steering wheel and stitch the edges together to secure it in place. Start at the ends you’ve already sewn together and make your way around the steering wheel by making baseball stitches. When you reach a spoke, trim the material to ensure it aligns with the edge where it connects to the steering wheel.

Secure the spoke edges

Use some leather glue to ensure that the leather around the spokes is secured and smoothly attached — this will give your steering wheel a clean appearance. Apply small drops around the edges and apply some pressure for 10 seconds to make sure it sticks.

Reattach the steering wheel

Now that you are done giving your steering wheel a handsome new look, it is time to put it back where you found it. Remember to regularly apply a leather conditioner to your wheel to ensure your wheel stays in great shape for years to come.