M3 Steering Wheel Refresh

If your leather steering wheel is shiny or slightly sticky, you need a good cleaning. If it is also a bit faded, that can be refreshed as well. See this post for detailed instructions.

Visit Colourlock.com and buy a Leather Fresh kit for your vehicle. They color match most OEM leather. You’ll want to also get a scrub brush and a sanding pad. If your steering wheel is in really bad condition, also get some leather cleaning spirit. All in, you might spend about $100, but compared to a new steering wheel, that’s a bargain.

Start by masking off the trim. (If you’re black trim is also in bad shape, consider recovering it with 3M film.) You won’t make a huge mess, but you do want to cover the instrument cluster and your lap. Wear gloves. The chemicals are not harsh, but they will dry out hour skin.

Mask

Start by using the cleaner and the brush. You’ll want to clean the entire steering wheel a couple of times. Keep cleaning until you don’t get any discoloration on the towel you use to wipe it off. If the wheel is in really bad condition, use the leather cleaning spirit as well (in a well ventilated area.) Once dry, lightly sand the entire wheel, paying special attention not to sand the stitching or sand too much. You just want to rough up the surface and knock down any imperfections. If you wheel has been refinished before, take special care not to sand too much, especially if it is a heated wheel. When finished, clean again with the leather cleaning spirit. Let dry.

Refreshed Matt FinishLeather Fresh is a leather dye that dries quickly to a matt finish. Work a small area at a time and dab it on with the sponge, don’t paint it on. Use a heat gun on low or a hair dryer on high to dry the dye. It can be handled as soon as it is dry, but wait 24 hours before applying any protectant. You’ll want to apply 2-3 light coats over the entire wheel and more where it was heavily faded. Give yourself about an hour for the entire project.

Restoring Old Leather Steering Wheel

If your leather steering wheel is looking tired — a little shiny, white grime in the grain — and just won’t clean up, it may be time to refresh the leather.  Colourlock makes a kit that is easy to use and very effective at bringing the leather back to near original condition. You’ll just need a stiff cleaning brush, some towels and masking tape in addition to the kit. Allow 30-60 minutes from start to finish.

Start by masking-off any plastic trim and clean with a brush. As you work your way around the steering wheel, look for deep scratches or other imperfections in the leather. If the steering wheel isn’t hasn’t been terribly neglected, a good cleaning maybe all you need.  It this case, it needed the full treatment.

The next step is to remove any remaining grease, oil or conditioners before refreshing the surface color.  Usually shiny leather is a sign of grease and oil build up from the years of grubby hands grasping the wheel. Wear gloves and use leather spirit to remove any remaining surface contaminates. This will leave the leather very dull looking. 

Lightly sand the leather to increase surface adhesion and reduce areas of shine. Take care to avoid the stitching. Carefully sand any rough spots, scratches or other surface imperfections. Clean again with leather spirit. At this point you may be thinking, “What have I done?” but carry on.

Start with areas of the heaviest sanding and apply the Colour Fresh according to the instructions. Use the sponge to apply with a dabbing motion. Apply in sections and use a heat gun or hair dryer when complete with each section. As soon as you see the dye change to a dull sheen, it’s dry to the touch. Apply two coats to the entire steering wheel. Areas of heavy damage or more sanding will likely need additional coats. 

Allow to dry overnight and apply a light coating of UV protectant. Let it soak in and then buff it to a dull sheen. Now stop eating in your car.