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Steering wheel leather cracks

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On the bottom left of my steering wheel, I noticed it feels a little rough. I am usually careful exiting/entering my car, and my clothing does not have any sharp rivets or accesories that will do this. Got the car at the latter half of 2020, will the leather crack eventually? I use a sunshade all the time and this is my daily driver, just wondering if this seems like normal wear and tear (from the fingers)?
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Wow, sorry to see that, that is definitely not normal. My car is a 2015 and my leather steering wheel still looks new, no cracks or flaking. I’m guessing this is typically where you rest your hands when driving? How many miles are on your car? Have you ever used any cleaners on it?

Don’t get me wrong, if not taken care of correctly this leather will crack eventually but this appears pretty extreme. This looks like interiors I’ve worked on but the vehicles were typically 6-10 years old.

I would opt to take it to the dealership and see if the steering wheel can be switched out under warranty. That’s messed up.
 

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You have rubbed something against the steering wheel hard. Could be several things like an edge on your ring caught while turning the wheel, or from dragging something over it when getting in like a coat zipper that was caught between you and the wheel. To me, that looks like it was done while entering the vehicle and you dragged something across it hard based on the two light lines that follow the wear around the wheel. I don't think that will cause the leather to crack because of that any more than normal. An interior guy might be able to smooth it over with a leather repair kit.
 

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If leather is allowed to dry, it will crack. I use Zymol leather conditioner monthly on my leather. Oils from your hands are also not great on leather.
This isn’t due to leather drying out, you could put nothing on this steering wheel for two years and it would look the same. The leather in our cars is not really leather, and it comes factory with a protective plastic coating. So when you’re conditioning your leather it’s just sitting on top of the protective coating. That protective coating will eventually wear away though, so that’s why it is good to put protection over it but it doesn’t need conditioning.

You are right about hand oils though, not great for interior components.

It could be an abrasion from a ring, maybe a rough ring…I still think it’s a cleaner. I had a lot of clients use disinfectant wipes in their car which is a super great way to speed up the aging and deterioration and in many cases caused this very thing, especially when the pandemic hit.
 

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You have rubbed something against the steering wheel hard. Could be several things like an edge on your ring caught while turning the wheel, or from dragging something over it when getting in like a coat zipper that was caught between you and the wheel.
This is exactly what causes this. I don't think a ring would do that much, this was a good lick. It almost certainly happened on an entry or exit. It's easier to do than you might think.
 

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The steering wheel on my 2017 Ram got that way. Back when the plague was an everyday concern I used hand sanitizer a lot. It dried my hands out so bad that I stopped using it but the damage to the wheel was already done. The wheel had to be replaced under warranty because it stopped heating. No problem with the new wheel.
 

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For leather use Neatsfoot oil.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the responses. If I rule myself out, the only other people allowed in the driver's seat would be the oil change mechanics at the dealership. How would that stick though, I don't have any "proof", plus it does look like abrasion started it perhaps. I do have a ring but it is a plain, smooth ring with no catching going on. I will have to evaluate tomorrow when I drive, it is a possibility. It may have started with an abrasion and then got worst with time and use. Does anyone think I can claim this under warranty, probably not huh. I did see some videos where the interior repair guy fixes it with alot of sanding and dye, and the pros would do the whole wheel to match. As for cleaners, I only swipe the dash maybe three times a month with some kind of interior cleaner like Armor All but very sparingly, the leftover might go on the steering wheel but usually not.
One more thing: is this really leather? Looks like "pleather" now that I look at it more, kinda foamy looking in there. I'm bummed but at least it's on the lower bottom left of the wheel where I can't see it all the time, lol.
 

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This isn’t due to leather drying out, you could put nothing on this steering wheel for two years and it would look the same. The leather in our cars is not really leather, and it comes factory with a protective plastic coating. So when you’re conditioning your leather it’s just sitting on top of the protective coating. That protective coating will eventually wear away though, so that’s why it is good to put protection over it but it doesn’t need conditioning.

You are right about hand oils though, not great for interior components.

It could be an abrasion from a ring, maybe a rough ring…I still think it’s a cleaner. I had a lot of clients use disinfectant wipes in their car which is a super great way to speed up the aging and deterioration and in many cases caused this very thing, especially when the pandemic hit.
I wasn't aware of a plastic coating used on automotive leather. My upholstery shop informed me years ago about how the harsh sun in the Florida climate will dry up the natural oils in good leather, and strongly recommended a good leather conditioner such as Zymol. I've used in in my 2007 Ford F150 ever since, and the leather seats and steering wheel have stayed crack free and soft to date.
 

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Thanks for all the responses. If I rule myself out, the only other people allowed in the driver's seat would be the oil change mechanics at the dealership. How would that stick though, I don't have any "proof", plus it does look like abrasion started it perhaps. I do have a ring but it is a plain, smooth ring with no catching going on. I will have to evaluate tomorrow when I drive, it is a possibility. It may have started with an abrasion and then got worst with time and use. Does anyone think I can claim this under warranty, probably not huh. I did see some videos where the interior repair guy fixes it with alot of sanding and dye, and the pros would do the whole wheel to match. As for cleaners, I only swipe the dash maybe three times a month with some kind of interior cleaner like Armor All but very sparingly, the leftover might go on the steering wheel but usually not.
One more thing: is this really leather? Looks like "pleather" now that I look at it more, kinda foamy looking in there. I'm bummed but at least it's on the lower bottom left of the wheel where I can't see it all the time, lol.
I think I’d try the warranty route. Mine is a ‘15 and I have a wedding band, not a single wear spot. That looks pretty harsh of a split.

I wasn't aware of a plastic coating used on automotive leather. My upholstery shop informed me years ago about how the harsh sun in the Florida climate will dry up the natural oils in good leather, and strongly recommended a good leather conditioner such as Zymol. I've used in in my 2007 Ford F150 ever since, and the leather seats and steering wheel have stayed crack free and soft to date.
Yep! Huge misconception that modern leather in cars need conditioning. That doesn’t mean all leather though, in some like the Ford’s King Ranch uses aniline leather, super porous and use the wrong cleaner or protectant and you ruined your seats.

Your shop is correct about the sun, the heat can really screw up leather and cause shrinkage. I highly recommend sun shade, love mine from Weather Tech. Windshields by law block around 99% UV rays but the side and rears do not so Zymol will help since it does have UV protection.

So keep it up and use whatever leather or interior detailer because those will help as you know, 2007 F150 with crack free leather is awesome! Keep it up.
 

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I have a 2022 dodge charger scatpack bought in June 2022 and this is my secondary steering wheel they replaced same exact spot bottom left leather is cracking. My second one replaced 2 weeks ago is cracking same spot. I don't hold wheel there nor do I wear a ring or barely touch that part of wheel. This is definitely a manufacturer defect. Going to soon be my 3rd steering wheel since June of 2022
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If I try to claim it as a defect and they work on it, what do they do, disassemble the steering wheel off and replace the whole wheel or the airbag part stays...how long did they take to do it?
 

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During these trying times, most people are using lots of hand sanitizer numerous times a day. That almost looks like what's going on here.
 
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