How to restore a steering wheel

restore a steering wheel (1)

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What is the best way to restore a steering wheel? Our guide gives detailed instructions for leather, plastic and wood steering wheel restoration.

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For a comfortable and safe drive in the car, it is important that the driver has a comfortable seat, a spacious interior and a reliable steering wheel. The leather interior gives the vehicle prestige and prestige and underlines the high status of the owner. A leather steering wheel plays a special role. It is comfortable and pleasant to feel natural material in your hands during the control. This is an additional joy and security. Even a well-maintained plastic steering wheel can be pleasant to use. But no matter how economical the owner is, no matter how attentive he is to his own means of transport, the steering jacket loses its original appearance over time. However, you can easily restore a steering wheel to near new condition.

Ways to remedy steering wheel defects

Wear of the coating, loss of the original type of leather requires the elimination of the defects that have occurred. These include: the appearance of stains, small cracks, scratches. If large holes or torn parts are visible on the surface, restoring skin to the steering wheel becomes problematic. In this case it is better to use the services of a specialized studio to create a new banner. With minor errors, you can restore the steering wheel cover in the following ways:

  1. Use the services of an auto repair shop. This option will incur significant financial costs. You have to pay for the material and the services provided.
  2. Put a cover on an old cover that causes some inconvenience to the driver. A thicker steering wheel increases the range and makes driving difficult.
  3. The most reliable and inexpensive way to remedy the defects is to restore a steering wheel with your own hands, which requires several hours of work and little financial investment to buy materials.

Even a beginner who does not have the appropriate skills can master this task and restore a steering wheel. A simple process can be done in your garage, carefully prepared for it.

Restoration materials

To restore the appeal, to protect the coating from the negative effects of the external environment, to expand the functionality, you have to buy everything you need. A large number of car dealerships do not restrict buyers when it comes to choosing leather care products. Complete kits with instructions are sold. Each component can be selected individually:

  1. Putty or “liquid skin” that fills in small mistakes and makes them invisible.
  2. Polish restoring the surface.
  3. Cleaning supplies.
  4. Degreaser.
  5. Fine and coarse sandpaper.
  6. Special adhesive tape for painting.
  7. Water-based colorants.
  8. Airbrush, brush or airbrush.
  9. A swab of foam.

When you have gathered all the necessary funds, you can start with the first phase of the work to restore a steering wheel, which is to prepare for the main process.


It is not necessary to remove the steering wheel for restoration work. This process is time consuming and carries the risk of damaging the steering mechanisms if the driver is unable. To protect the cabin, you can glue the front panel with a plastic film attached with adhesive tape. This protects the surrounding parts from color contamination.

To qualitatively restore the leather on the steering wheel without jeopardizing the paint on other surfaces, you must remove the steering wheel without damaging the mechanisms. To do this, the disassembly must be carried out carefully and in the following order:

  1. Disconnect the negative pole from the battery. This prevents a short circuit.
  2. Align the wheels and bring the steering wheel into the “straight” position.
  3. Remove the screws and remove the plugs.
  4. Loosen and lift the screws on the steering wheel cover.
  5. Use a screwdriver to loosen the connectors to which the airbag cables are attached without touching the airbag capsule.
  6. Mark the position of the rudder by marking it and the main shaft.
  7. Loosen the nut and remove the steering wheel.
  8. Use a screwdriver to remove the plastic and the panel from the steering wheel.
  9. Carefully cover non-removable parts with adhesive tape.
restore a steering wheel

Steering wheel restoration

The second phase to restore a steering wheelbegins with a thorough inspection and analysis of any damage to the surface of the steering wheel. To do this, it must be washed well with a soft foam sponge so that all defects are visible. After you have identified the defects and determined the workload, you can proceed with the recovery:

  1. Take sandpaper P400 or P600 and treat the surface.
  2. Matt the second time with fine-grain emery paper to remove the old paint and increase the adhesion of the new paint to the skin.
  3. Degrease the surface.
  4. Putty “liquid skin” discovered defects.
  5. To apply a reducing agent to a surface, rub into the skin. Let it dry and repeat the process (the number of layers depends on the skin condition).
  6. Grind the restored surface.

If the coating is not very worn, you may not need a steering paint after the restoration. After removing cracks, dents and scratches and thorough treatment with “liquid skin”, the steering wheel gets an aesthetic appearance. If this is not the case, continue with the staining procedure.

Painted leather

The choice of paint to restore a steering wheel depends on the quality of the material from which the steering wheel braid is made. If the steering wheel of a car is covered with vegetable-tanned leather, it is advisable to use soft dyes. Chrome tanning requires a harder dye.

Water-based paint – perfect for all leather types. The leather steering wheel can be easily painted with any application method. Spray painting is the easiest. After preparing the surface, the dye is sprayed onto the entire surface. So that the layer lies evenly, the can should be kept at a distance.

After the composition has dried, the surface should be polished. The process is repeated until the perfect result.

There is an easier way. If it is possible to use an airbrush, this will help save material and apply an even layer.

You can do the procedure with a brush, swab, or sponge. Each additional layer is applied evenly to the cleaned and sanded surface without waiting for the final drying. This method is called wet painting.

After drying completely, the surface is treated with a matt or glossy closure. You can operate the freshly painted steering wheel in 12-14 hours.

Painting the steering wheel with your own hands gives the vehicle an attractive appearance, good condition and a long service life.

Restored steering wheel care

Correct maintenance of the vehicle interior and careful handling of the steering wheel cover prevent undesirable defects on the surface of the steering wheel. However, if the steering wheel has lost its originally ideal appearance and it is no longer pleasant to come into contact with, it is necessary to remove scratches, cracks and scratches in good time as the first step to restore a steering wheel. 

To prolong the life of the restored surface, you need to constantly monitor its condition, clear it of dirt and treat it with special soft, delicate products: car shampoos, lotions or wet wipes.

With a soft sponge dipped in a solution with shampoo, you need to clean the surface of dirt. You can use a toothbrush in hard-to-reach places. If the solution is very dirty, let it stand for a few minutes. Then rinse and wipe dry with a soft cloth.

Wet wipes remove small impurities and moisturize the leather. This method is practical because no preparation is required. Children’s cleaning wipes are particularly popular with drivers. You are always at hand. You can get out at any time and wipe the surface.

Regular maintenance does not require a lot of time and money, avoids greasy, sticky and other soiling phenomena, extends driving pleasure considerably and holds onto a well-kept leather steering wheel of excellent quality.

A few years ago, high-quality painting of the steering wheel of a car was problematic. Nowadays, however, there are technologies that allow you to do this work quickly and efficiently thanks to special techniques and the latest paint and varnish materials.

The steering wheel can be painted without taking it out of the car. First, you need to glue all the elements that are not to be painted on the steering wheel itself and cover the area of ​​the torpedo with a cloth, paper or foil.

So what does it take for high-quality steering wheel painting? Let’s find out …

Prepare the steering wheel for painting

The steering wheel must be carefully prepared before painting. Its appearance will depend on it and it must be impeccable. Preparatory operations to restore a steering wheel are carried out in the following order:

  1. Peeling and shabby spots on the steering wheel with old paint must be cleaned with emery (P-400 or P-500);
  2. Shine is removed with gray tape or emery (P-1500) (so that the paint adheres well);
  3. Degrease the steering wheel;
  4. Use of a leather cleanser
  5. Degrease and rub with microfiber.

If the old coating no longer withstands the sandpaper so well and strong irregularities remain, the steering wheel can be filled with a special paste to remove cracks, scratches and signs of wear that are present in a car dealership. Usually this paste dries for 30 minutes and is cleaned with the same emery or adhesive tape. Color can be selected according to a special catalog in the store.

Painting the steering wheel

The restored steering wheel must be painted to refresh the colors of soft and flexible materials. For this you need (a spray) and a compressor. Then you need to cover the steering wheel with a matte finish for leather and vinyl. This can be done almost immediately (wet on wet). It remains to unpack the steering wheel and to ventilate the interior.


When the paint gets on the glass, it is easy to remove with the 646th solvent. In this case, care must be taken to ensure that the solvent does not get on the steering wheel as it will damage fresh paint.

Painting a car with your own hands, including the steering wheel, obviously takes time and some knowledge of. From a financial point of view, however, this is far more profitable than maintenance at a qualified service station, especially if you have the simplest spray gun and the simplest compressor.

restore a steering wheel

Plastic steering wheel restoration

Not all vehicles are equipped with a leather steering wheel. In the commercial sector, steering wheels are usually covered with soft plastic. However, they wear out over time and lose their original appearance.

It is not difficult to apply the plastic to the steering wheel work surface, but such cosmetic repairs will not be enough for a long time. Any paint during active use of the car is wiped off. However, to restore a steering wheel, plastic steering wheels are also painted, for example, during the preparation of the pre-sale.

Before painting, it is very important to degrease the contact surface of the steering wheel thoroughly. There is always a lot of fat on it because the bike is held with the palms of your hands. Degreasing plastic is best done with alcohol. Acetone solvents can attack plastic!

Cleaning with alcohol is carried out at least three times. First, dirt and large fat deposits dissolve. All of this is removed with a cotton swab until it no longer gets dirty. Next, you need to take a clean swab, dampen it with alcohol and wipe the steering wheel again, then let the plastic dry and repeat the process.

Despite the fact that the plastic is soluble with acetone, paint in spray cans can be suitable for painting. However, it must be used from a great distance and in very dosed amounts. So much paint is sprayed on in one pass that the solvent evaporates within a few seconds without having time to act on the polymer. If you apply layer by layer, you can paint over all the scratches.

It is difficult to say how long such a paint will last on the plastic shell of the steering wheel. Everything depends on the quality, the number of layers and the type of plastic. The highest quality painting is done with pre-sanding with fine emery. The rough surface of the plastic adheres better.

Dealing with wooden cladding

In elite vehicles, steering wheels with elements made of natural wood can be installed. They rarely wear out because they are protected by a very high quality paint. However, if the driver wears rings on his fingers, the paint can be scratched.

restore a steering wheel

You can try polishing a small scratch on painted wood to restore a steering wheel made of wood. To do this, it is first sanded with sandpaper and then the surface is optimized by gradually reducing the grain size and polishing with paste. If the scratch is too deep and visible, the steering wheel must be thoroughly restored.

Deep scratches on the paint must be completely sanded. This work can be done manually on the steering wheel, but it is easier and faster to grind a portable drill with a nozzle of a suitable diameter. For a good result, it is better to matt the entire element – then the new paint is perfect.

The use of high-quality polyurethane paint is recommended for painting a wooden steering wheel. This is the most durable, wear-resistant material with sufficient elasticity. Cheap paints wear away quickly and can also tear, peel off and so on.

Steering wheel care

The steering wheel often assesses the condition of the entire car. Shabby steering wheel on cars with low mileage is suspicious. However, there are several ways to maintain a good steering wheel appearance.

If the driver wears rings on his fingers, it is better to protect the steering wheel with a leather cover. The constant contact of the steering wheel with the metal will certainly have consequences. The cover can be replaced at any time while the contact surface of the steering wheel remains unaffected.

Which element of your car do you touch most often? Door handles or gear levers are of course also exposed to external influences, but mostly your hands are on the steering wheel. As a result, the coating deteriorates quickly: stains on fingers, scratches and scratches occur. And now you are not at all satisfied with the look of your wheel. 

There are many ways out of this situation. The easiest and most expensive way is to buy a new steering wheel. But why buy a part for a lot of money when the previous one works as it should? Some get braids on the steering wheel or put on covers, although this is also not a universal solution: most of them disturb the interior of expensive cars. In fact, it is very easy to paint the leather steering wheel in the correct order:

The choice of color and materials

When it comes to choosing materials for bike restoration, you have two options: economical or professional. Everything depends on your budget and your ambitions. If you don’t want to spend large sums on updating an element of a car that only you are dealing with, it is enough to buy a regular skin reduction product. This tool is not very expensive and is available in many auto cosmetic stores. However, it also has disadvantages, the biggest of which is fragility. Such a coating quickly detaches from the steering wheel due to the constant contact with the hands. And particularly inferior products also paint their palms.

Some drivers make even more deviations: they buy products that are intended for leather but do not belong to the auto cosmetics class, for example creams for leather jackets, shoes and even nail polishes. This approach also has a right to exist, because creams are quite capable of fulfilling their main task – to paint over traces of wear on the steering wheel.

However, if you don’t want to correct the color of the steering wheel every month and don’t have to deal with the money problem, check out professional tools. It is no more difficult to apply than shoe polish, and it gives a much higher quality and more durable result.

Such professional products typically include liquid leather used to repair leather, automotive paint, and various care products for smoothing and polishing to remove scratches. And with the help of absorbent products, you can remove oil stains that are deeply anchored in the leather.

If you want your steering wheel to feel matt and velvety after painting, use a special matt finish. It eliminates the gloss effect that does not always look appropriate in the vehicle interior.

When choosing the right paint type, pay attention to the material from which the steering wheel is made. As a rule, the paint manufacturers state the type of skin tanning for which the respective product is used. Remember that vegetable or combi tanning requires colors with a softer composition than chrome tanning.

Based on the above, you can create the following materials and tools that you need when restoring the steering wheel:

  • liquid leather repair solution;
  • color suitable for the leather type;
  • leather cleaner or shampoo to remove sweat stains;
  • degreaser;
  • a set of screwdrivers for dismantling the steering wheel;
  • a set of different grit sandpaper;
  • masking tape;
  • protective film for the interior.

Preparation phase

It is recommended to disassemble the part before starting work. This way you can be sure that you are not painting over anything in the cabin. If disassembly is not possible for any reason, carefully close all adjacent areas, including the control panel and the knitting needles and keys on the steering wheel, with adhesive tape and film.

But it will be much more reliable and convenient to remove the steering wheel and remove it from the passenger compartment.

Steering wheel removal

To remove the steering wheel with your own hands, you only need a set of screwdrivers. Caution: When you do this for the first time, there is a risk that some mechanisms in the steering wheel will be damaged. The disassembly process can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle. We will offer the most versatile method suitable for most foreign cars.

  1. First disconnect the battery terminals. The steering wheel must not be supplied with power at the time of disassembly.
  2. Turn the steering wheel at an angle of 90 °. It should be in a straight position.
  3. Take out the airbag. To do this, insert a screwdriver one after the other into the holes on the rear of the steering wheel and bend out the springs that hold the cushion.
  4. Carefully pull the center of the steering wheel together with the pad. You will see that special locks do not give her full access. They can be easily bent with a flat blade tool. Remove this element aside after disconnecting the connectors with wires.
  5. Disconnect the plug next to the middle screw.
  6. Remove the center screw that secures the steering wheel.
  7. Carefully pull the steering wheel toward you.

Congratulations! You have already done half the job: disassembled the steering wheel. Now you can start to restore the cover.

Steering wheel restoration: leather

Before painting the steering wheel, you have to restore the leather material yourself. The duration of this process depends directly on the condition of the coating: if there are many dimples and scratches, you need to tinker with it to bring the steering wheel back to its original shape.

  1. Arm yourself with P600 or P400 sandpaper and treat damaged areas with care. If there are many, remove all varnish in this way.
  2. Use a fine-grained abrasive and use it to sand down the entire surface of the steering wheel. You need to get a matte finish. Gray tape is good for this purpose.
  3. If the steering wheel has large oil stains, apply a special absorbent and wipe it off.
  4. Now you have to restore the leather cover. Use liquid skin for this. Apply to damaged areas, dry and then polish with a fine abrasive until uniform.
  5. In addition to liquid skin, there are other aids to remove unevenness, e.g. B. Putty paste. The principle of the application is the same: smooth the coating and then remove the residues with sandpaper.
  6. If wrinkles form on the skin, smooth them with a special conditioner and polish them.
  7. Degrease the part with a soft cloth moistened with a special tool.

Many drivers make the same mistake: they apply too much degreaser. This makes the skin wrinkled and starts to crack even harder. Do not wait too long after degreasing the surface: You should start painting almost immediately, otherwise the coating will become greasy again and the paint will stain badly.

Painting a leather steering wheel

Automotive leather paints are usually available in two forms:

  • aerosol
  • liquid

The choice of product type depends entirely on your preferences. On the one hand it is more convenient to apply the paint in the form of a spray, on the other hand with a brush, sponge or a small roller.

Applying paint with a brush has certain advantages: you can control the flow of the medium, making painting cost less. If you do not want to disassemble the steering wheel, you must completely close the interior including the windshield and seats to use the sprayer.

The paint is applied in several layers until the desired effect is achieved. It is completely optional to wait for the previous layer to dry. Therefore, the dyeing process does not take longer than half an hour. If desired, apply a matt effect as a top coat. Like the rest of auto chemicals, it can be bought in most auto shops.

If there are still drops of paint on the dashboard or glass, use solvent No. 646. It removes stains and does not damage the coating.


Someone might think that car steering is far from the main thing in car care. In addition to the messy appearance of the cabin, there are also other problems: Allergy sufferers can react strongly to excessive dust that accumulates in the micro-folds of the leather coating.

In order for the steering wheel surface to remain clean and intact for a long time, it must be properly maintained. It is not enough to wipe your hands with damp cloths before you grab the steering wheel: in any case, small grease stains remain on the coating, which become noticeable over time. To thoroughly clean the surface, regularly use special products for car skin care. If desired, such a tool can be replaced with a normal solution of water with car shampoo. To remove dirt, apply a small amount of the product to the surface, wait 10-15 minutes, and then wipe it thoroughly with a soft cloth. This process takes no longer than 20 minutes.

If you wear rings, they can scratch the leather. There are two options: either remove the metal jewelry or repeat the process of restoring the steering wheel as needed.

Even if you purchase the most expensive, high-quality steering wheel cover restoration, the amount spent is many times less than when you contact a garage. Restoring and painting the steering wheel is by no means the most difficult process in car care. Follow our instructions carefully to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Sooner or later, every driver has to deal with problems such as wear on the steering wheel surface and loss of the original appearance of the material, especially if this material is leather. In this case, a sensible solution could be restoring the steering wheel in a specialist workshop. But what if you don’t want to pay too much for such services and want to know how to clean and paint the leather steering wheel with your own hands to do restoration work in your own garage? This approach may be more rational and is available to every driver. All you have to do is have free time, read this article and prepare everything you need to work.

No matter how clean your steering wheel cover is, it needs to be cleaned over time. In order to extend the life of the leather surface and delay the restoration and painting, you can properly care for the leather surface and remove the dirt in good time. Yet sooner or later the number of scratches and scratches will increase so much that drastic restoration measures will be the only right decision. We explain in detail how you should be careful and how you can restore the previous appearance of the steering wheel yourself.

Correct care of the steering wheel with leather cover

Have you noticed at some point that the steering wheel of your car has lost its appearance, which is why the driving process has become less and less pleasant? In this case, appropriate measures must be taken. For example, you can restore the steering wheel surface to its original condition and maintain it in this form through proper and timely maintenance.

If the leather coating is very well preserved, but its appearance is slightly damaged, you can limit yourself to the use of special cleaning agents when restoring. When buying car cosmetics in the store, this is quite easy to recognize: The packaging usually says “skin cleaner” (or similar) and instructions are given on how to use it to remove dirt from the leather steering wheel. You may also need a toothbrush and a clean, soft cloth.

Most types of leather have similar properties, so the following list of actions can be used as a general guideline:

  1. First spray on the surface to be treated.
  2. Wait a few minutes – during this time the liquid will dissolve the pollution.
  3. Now you should wipe the surface with a cloth and spray again.
  4. The next step is to remove dirt from all inaccessible areas with a toothbrush.
  5. Wipe the steering wheel dry with a clean cloth.

After cleaning, it is recommended to treat the coating with a special impregnation and conditioning agent. The first remedy prevents the destruction of the skin under the influence of sweat, dirt and other aggressive factors and the second – ensures a long elasticity of the material. You can purchase a cleaning composition that contains the necessary protective components.

For those car owners who are unwilling to spend money on buying cleaning products in-store, it would be a good alternative to prepare the composition with their own hands. Warm water and shampoo dissolved in it are suitable as washing ingredients. Just don’t add too much shampoo so that the surface of the steering wheel doesn’t get sticky after editing. Applying such a solution should be similar to how to maintain a leather steering wheel using storage tools.

No need to dismantle the steering wheel during normal maintenance. It is only necessary to prevent liquid from getting onto the spokes, the steering wheel buttons and the dashboard. For protection, use a plastic film that you attach with adhesive tape.

Restoration of the leather steering wheel through painting

With the right care you will extend the lifespan considerably. But even in this case, wear and tear and small scratches on the surface appear over time, which do not impair the appearance of the steering wheel and thus the aesthetics of the interior of the entire vehicle. Therefore, motorists are right to ask the question: How can you restore a leather steering wheel with your own hands if the usual precautionary measures are not sufficient? This will be discussed later.

Painting a leather steering wheel can be done at home – there is nothing particularly complicated. All you need to do is choose the right materials and follow the recommendations. By the way, if you don’t want to disassemble your steering wheel during the restoration, all operations can be carried out directly on site. Just be sure to protect the instrument panel from color. Even so, it is much more convenient to work with the steering wheel removed and the result is better.

Preparation for painting

Before you need to prepare the surface. To do this, you need to buy a set in a specialty store intended for the restoration of leather goods. If there is no such set, you can purchase each component individually. We describe what to do next and how to clean the car’s leather steering wheel.

So in the preparation process you need:

  • polish;
  • skin cleansers (white spirit, also called mineral turpentine works well);
  • different types of sandpaper with different grain sizes: 400, 600, 1000 and 1200 pieces;
  • putty for the skin (“liquid” skin);

Surface restoration begins with sanding to remove dirt, grease and old paint residues. It also improves fresh ink adhesion. First, use P400 or P600 sandpaper to remove the paint. Then the skin must be sanded with fine-grain sandpaper (P1000 or P1200).

The next step is putty. For this purpose, many experts and car enthusiasts prefer the use of “liquid” skin. However, you can hide dents and scratches with a special putty and buy them at any place where auto cosmetics are sold. Very small defects are covered with a polishing agent. Wait 20 minutes after treatment of the damaged areas is complete and sand the surface where the restoration composition was applied.

You must then degrease the surface with white spirit (or another cleaning agent). However, keep in mind that after processing with sandpaper, the skin begins to intensively absorb the cleaning composition. Therefore, wipe the steering wheel with a clean rag. The last phase of the preparation is to protect the steering wheel spokes and buttons on it from the ingress of paint particles with the same plastic film and the same adhesive tape. Now you can continue with painting.

Paint steering wheel leather

Before you paint the leather steering wheel with your own hands, you should decide on the type of paint used. Which composition is the best? According to experts, it is advisable to use a water-based paint suitable for leather – it is suitable for all leather surfaces. To paint a steering wheel, usually no more than 20-30 grams of the prepared paint is required. The hue can be selected by mixing different colors.

You can apply paint to a leather coating with a foam swab. However, if you have an airbrush, it is preferable to use it, as in this case the paint will be evenly distributed and used more sparingly. It is better to apply 2-3 layers of paint and not wait for the previous layer to dry – apply the next one immediately. This painting method is called “wet” and allows you to control the process of absorption of color into the skin. After completing the painting work, it makes sense to apply a layer of paint that guarantees the safety of the surface of the leather steering wheel for a much longer time.