There are many things that can have an impact on the aesthetics of your car. Inside your car, aside from your car’s leather seats, one more thing that you may have noticed needs conditioning is the steering wheel. Often made from soft and supple leather, it can be prone to wear and tear. It can peel and crack, making it look unsightly.
Fortunately, an ugly and damaged steering wheel can still be saved. You do not need to spend money on a new steering wheel, unless you want to. That being said, if you want to learn how to restore your car’s steering wheel, you'll find helpful information in this post. Getting back the shine and beauty of your steering wheel at a low cost can be rewarding.
What You Will Need to Follow this Tutorial
To bring back a new look for your steering wheel, here are some of the materials that you will need:
- Sharp blade / cutter
- Soap and water in a spray bottle
- Clean cloth
- Ruler (maybe)
- Nylon thread
- Socket set
- Steering Wheel Puller (maybe)
- Thread Locks
*Items you may need if you are planning on restoring your steering wheel. MOST IMPORTANT ITEMS **
** Steering Wheel Stitch on Wrap
** Leather Glue
** Leather Sewing Kit
Phillips and Flathead Screw Drivers
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Restore Car’s Steering Wheel
This section will provide a detailed list of the restoration steps needed for a steering wheel. This video is a great visual guide to help you learn all the steps below, with many tip for what to do along the way:
Removal of the Steering Wheel
The entire restoration process takes a while and many steps, but with the right equipment you can do it yourself and feel pride in your accomplishment. Most often, it can be cheaper than buying a new or used steering wheel and the finished product will be a matter of pride for years to come. Here are the easy steps to follow, starting with the removal of the steering wheel.
- Lock the steering wheel. Remove the key from the car to prevent the steering wheel from moving as you work to take it out. Turn the steering wheel until it locks in place.
- Open the hood and remove the battery connections. This is an important step as this will make sure that the airbag will not be triggered. Wait for at least ten minutes, and then you are ready to take apart the steering wheel.
- Depending on the vehicle that you have, there are different ways to remove a steering wheel. In most cases, you need to look behind and to the side of the steering wheel and remove an covers to gain access to the bolts. You can use a screwdriver. There should be bolt on each sides. Remove these bolts.
- Now that the bolts are removed, take off the airbag from the middle of the steering wheel. You need to proceed with caution so that you will not accidentally break any wires that connects the airbag to your steering wheel. Detach the wires clips (a screwdriver may help) and separate them, so the air bag can come off.
- The next wire that you have to remove is the one that connects all control buttons on the side of the steering wheel.
- After disconnecting the wires, the next thing that you have to remove is the bolt that you can find in the center of the steering wheel, which secures the steering wheel in place.
- Make a mark to show where the steering wheel should slide on when you return the steering wheel back into position after the restoration.
- Take off the steering wheel. In some vehicles, you can simply pull it off. However, in the case of other models, you need to have a steering wheel puller set. You may not need to buy a new one. Since you will be using it only one time, consider renting from a mechanic or store in your area.
(Information obtained from - ChrisFix Video)
Cleaning and Restoring your Steering Wheel
After removing the steering wheel, you can now work freely on a table to restore your steering wheel. The steps below cover the main parts of this task:
- Remove the old wrap from the steering wheel. Simply run a small sharp blade along the inside edges to cut the thread that holds the leather cover on.
- Clean the traces of rubber and dirt that you can find on the steering wheel. Put some soap and water in a spray bottle and apply to the wheel. Use a clean cloth and apply pressure to rub off as much as you can.
- After some patience and scrubbing, your steering wheel should be looking clean. You might want to install the steering wheel as is, or continue to install a leather cover if you prefer.
- Once you are done cleaning the steering wheel, proceed to put the new leather cover on. Choose a material that is as close as possible to the color of the rest of the steering wheel and you car interior.
- Cut the leather if needed, and use the old cover to trace the correct size. Trace a straight line and cut the material as straight as you can. You can always cut wider or longer since you can easily cut more off if needed, but you can't add more material if the measurements proved are too short or narrow than what you need.
- Fit the leather around the wheel so the ends come together at the bottom. Tape the ends together for a snug fit around the wheel.
- Start sewing on the edges of the material. This is not as easy as it seems. Start by making markings on the leather, especially where the seams will be. Use a nylon thread the same color as your chosen leather or vinyl you've chosen. Or use a leather wrap kit that's already cut.
- Because you cannot sew on the parts of the steering wheel with spokes, use a glue for the materials to hold it on the wheel.
- After a time the gluing and sewing will be done. Bring the steering wheel back in the car. For a more detailed instruction on how to do this, go back to the video at the beginning of this post.
(Information obtained from - ChrisFix Video)
More than following the steps mentioned above, you also have to keep these things in mind:
- The installation of a steering wheel cover is an instant way to restore your steering wheel. Choose a cover that matches your car interior and the steering wheel. Find one that feels comfortable when gripped.
- Sanding the steering wheel is also a good way to clean it beyond just cleaning with soap and water. However, make sure not to sand too much, as this can minimize the ability to grip.
- Cracks are also common problems with many steering wheels. You can opt to sand them and use a filler for restoration.
- If you are going to apply paint, such as spray paint, degrease the surface first so that the paint will cling.
Recovering your steering your steering wheel is possible for most steering wheels. You may need to learn some new skills, but that's half of the fun. It requires patience, but if you the right tools, you can be assured of a good outcome. Learning how to restore a car’s steering wheel can be fun.
This may be a cheap way to get your car looking new again, give it a restored feel. Hopefully all will go as planned as you get your car looking great. Have you tried restoring any other part of your car? Look for more articles about keeping your car in great condition.
Article Revised - 2 / 2020