Auto Body Repair: What To Expect When Your Split Leather Seats Are Repaired

If you have an old car or a luxury car, and you notice that the leather seats are beginning to crack and/or split, it may be time to take the car into a an auto body repair shop. Here, the upholstery technicians can put your leather seats back together, good as new. Here is what you can expect from this particular auto body repair.

The Leather Is Oiled

Just like an old catcher's mitt in baseball, leather seats lose their suppleness and ability to stretch and flex when left unoiled and sitting in the hot, dry sun. The first step your leather repair technician will take is to oil the leather seats really well, then let the oil sink into the thirsty leather. When the leather has absorbed enough oil, it will stretch, which is a necessary property for the next step.

The Leather Is Stretched and Stitched or Bonded

Next, the leather repair technician will gently stretch the leather over the opening created by the splits and cracks when the oil was dry and hard. Very carefully, he or she will use an upholstery tool with a little needle and special thread for sewing leather, and stitch the leather splits closed. (If the leather cannot quite reach across the split because of the foam padding underneath, a little of the foam may be removed or replaced with thinner foam padding prior to the stitching.) Smaller cracks and little splits are oiled until they can stretch a little bit, and then a special leather bonding agent is applied to "glue" the small cracks back together.

Total Reupholstering for Really Bad Splits

As for any really bad splits in your leather seats, or damage caused by sharp implements slicing through the leather, the seat is removed, in its entirety, from your vehicle. It is then reupholstered completely with a matching colored leather so that it looks as though it is original to the vehicle's interior. Then the seat is reinstalled. Often, if there is damage to the foam padding underneath or the foam is falling out and getting picked apart, the leather repair technician/upholsterer will remove the old foam padding and replace it with fresh foam padding before reupholstering the leather.

The Final Rub-Down

After your leather seats have been fully restored, the technician will do a final oiling and then a rub-down so you are not sliding across a greasy seat. The final rub-down also includes a sealant, which helps prevent dust from sticking to the oiling and keeps the leather smooth and supple for a little while longer. You may want to revisit the shop every few months for leather seat maintenance, or purchase a kit that will let you do this on your own.

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