How To Restore Car’s Steering Wheel Without Buying a New One

Dec, 2017
How To Restore Car's Steering Wheel

There are many things that can have an impact on the aesthetics of your car. For the interior, aside from your car’s leather seats, one more thing that will be easily noticed is the steering wheel. Often made from soft and supple leather, the latter can be easily 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 to buy a new one. That being said, if you want to learn how to restore car’s steering wheel, I got you covered in the rest of this post. I will teach you to bring back the shine and beauty of your steering wheel at a cost that is easy on the wallet.

What You Will Need to Follow this Tutorial

To bring back the best appearance of your steering wheel, here are some of the materials that you will need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Marker
  • Sharp blade / cutter
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean cloth
  • Ruler
  • Leather/vinyl
  • Nylon thread
  • Needle
  • Glue

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Restore Car’s Steering Wheel

This section will provide a detailed discussion of the restoration of the steering wheel. If you want a visual guide to the things that I will tackle below, a good starting point is to watch the short video below:

Removal of the Steering Wheel

The entire restoration process is not only pretty much straightforward, it is also cheap. Here are the easy steps that you have to follow, starting with the removal of the steering wheel.

  • Take out the steering wheel. Remove the key from the car to prevent the steering wheel from moving as you take it out. Turn the steering wheel until you hear a pop, which means that it is already locked.
  • Open the hood and remove the battery connections. This is an important step as this will make sure that the airbags will not be triggered. Wait for at least ten minutes, and at this point, you are ready to take out 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 at the side and open it using a screwdriver. There should be bolt on both sides. Loosen these bolts.
  • Now that the bolts are removed, take out the airbag from the steering wheel. You need to proceed with caution so that you will not accidentally break the wire that connects the airbag to your battery. Just press the clip and slide it out.
  • The next wire that you have to remove is the one that connects all the cruise 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, which is the one that secures the steering wheel in its position.
  • Make an alignment mark. This will make sure that you will return the steering wheel in its proper position once you are done with the restoration.
  • Take off the steering wheel. In some vehicles, you can simply pull it out. However, in the case of some models, you need to have a puller set. You do not have to buy a new one. Since you will use it just one time, consider renting from a mechanic in your neighborhood.

Cleaning and Restoring your Steering Wheel

After removing the steering wheel, you can now work freely on a table. The steps below cover the main part of this task:

Restore Car’s Steering Whee


  • Remove the old wrap from the steering wheel. Simply run a small sharp blade along the edges to cut the thread that holds the leather.
  • Clean the traces of rubber and dirt that you can find on the steering wheel. Mix water and dish soap. Place in a spray bottle and apply. Use a clean cloth and apply pressure to rub off as much as you can.
  • After some patience and elbow grease, your steering wheel should be good looking by now. At this point, you can already have it installed if you prefer.
  • Once you are done cleaning the body of the steering wheel, proceed to put the new leather cover. Choose a material that is as close as possible to the color of the rest of the interior.
  • Cut the leather based on the size of cover that you have earlier removed. 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, but you can no longer add more material if the measurements proved to be shorter or narrower than what you need.
  • Fit the leather around the wheel, starting at the center. Tape the other end for a snug fit.
  • Start sewing on the edges of the material. This is not as easy as it seems. Start by making markings on the leather, especially on where the seams will be. Use a nylon thread with the same color as your chosen material.
  • Because you cannot sew on the part of the steering wheel with a spoke, use a glue for the materials to hold up together.
  • By now, you are 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.

Pro Tips

More than following the steps mentioned above, you also have to keep these things in mind:

  • The installation of a cover is an instant way to restore your steering wheel. Choose a cover that matches the other parts of the steering wheel and one that you feel comfortable with when gripped.
  • Sanding the steering wheel is also a good way to clean it beyond just spraying water and dish soap. However, make sure to not sand too much as this can minimize grip.
  • Cracks are also common problems in the aesthetics of steering wheels. You can opt to sand them or 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.


Now that you are done reading, I hope that you learned how to restore car’s steering wheel. It requires patience, but if you know how to do it right, you can be assured of optimal outcomes. This is a cheap way to have new-looking steering wheels without the need to purchase one. It is an essential for a sleek and clean interior of your car.

Have you tried restoring a steering wheel before? How did you do it? Do you have other tips? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.