Steering wheel re-dye

This is a project I did a few years ago but have not documented until now. When I bought the 308, the leather on the back of the steering wheel was cracked, rough and faded with the sun.  The leather was rough enough that it actually detracted from the driving experience, the worst of it exactly where I laid my left hand. The choice was to have the wheel either recovered or restored.

Ferrari 308 worn steering wheel leather

I could not find anyone locally with the right experience to recover my wheel to factory specs, so I decided to investigate steering wheel restoration. One of the biggest names in leather restoration is Leatherique. Leatherique sell products to clean, prepare and re-dye leather. They sell a specific kit for renovating leather steering wheels comprising small amounts of cleaner, dye and top coat. The main disadvantage of re-dying leather with products such as Leatherique is that any stitching also gets dyed. The stitching on the 308 steering wheel is supposed to be white but mine was already black so being covered in more black dye was not an issue for me.

The first step was to thoroughly clean the leather and wheel.

Ferrari 308 Momo Steering WheelPerhaps the most surprising step of the renovation was sanding the leather. According to the Leatherique kit, the cracking on my steering wheel was most likely just in the lacquer and the leather underneath would be in good shape. I was not sure I believed this as the cracking seemed quite deep but after sanding away the existing dye so that the leather colour was just starting to fade, I could see there were no more cracks visible. I ran some crack filler, which comes with the kit, over the area but there were really no cracks to fill.

Ferrari 308 leatheriqueThe next step is re-dying with the black dye supplied by Leatherique. I masked off the spokes and sprayed four or five thin coats of dye followed by 3 coats of the supplied top coat that looks a little like thin PVA glue. The finished result was remarkable. The leather looked brand new again, with a smooth, satin finish.Ferrari 308 Redyed leatherI am  not sure I would ever want to use Leatherique on a large area like a seat but for a steering wheel, their $25 kit gives a very high quality result. Furthermore after 4 years and several thousand miles, the re-dyed leather does not show any signs of wear.
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