Your car is probably one of your most important investments. It gets you to work and back, helps transport your children and friends, and gets you where you want to be. As your vehicle ages, the steering wheel material can start to break down and crack, making it uncomfortable to handle. So let’s talk about leather steering wheel covers and how they can make driving more comfortable.
A leather steering wheel cover is a flexible fabric that protects and enhances your grip in your car. Leather steering wheel covers are made from trimmings of various leather types, qualities, and colors and can cost around $6–$260, depending on the brand and model.
Are you looking for a more comfortable alternative to your vehicle’s steering wheel? Is your steering wheel looking a little worse for wear? Let’s check out some tips and examples of the best models and brands of leather steering wheel covers.
What is a Leather Steering Wheel Cover?
A leather steering wheel cover is a stretchy fabric made of leather or faux leather to protect the steering wheel for comfort or aesthetics. These are typically used on steering wheels in vehicles that do not have leather interiors, and those that do that perhaps need to hide uncomfortable or unsightly worn spots. Leather steering wheel covers are stretchy and soft, made to feel comfortable to the touch while driving.
History of Leather Steering Wheel Covers
The steering wheel cover, originally patented in the U.S. in 1952, was invented by Sr. Ralph E. Oberlin in 1948. The leather product manufacturing industry has created high levels of waste in the past but has reformed to utilize leather materials as efficiently as possible.
According to researchers Trebuna, Kiment, Edl, and Petrik, part of the trimmings for leather interior seats are the fabric used to create leather steering wheel covers and armrests, hence reducing waste.
Using a leather steering wheel cover protects your hands from cracks and worn spots, making it more comfortable to handle the steering wheel.
Types/Styles of Leather Steering Wheel Covers
Leather steering wheel covers come in many different types and styles, some even brand-specific to fit steering wheels perfectly. Leather steering wheel covers are made of various types of leather. Some are wrap style, while others are universal. And they’re not just for cars and trucks — but boats as well.
Many styles are available, from solid black to contrasting black and red or wood grain. You could also have a leather steering wheel cover custom-made by a leather goods company or order a universal cover through a mass merchandiser. The choice is yours! Types of leather used for steering wheel covers can include:
Pros and Cons of Using a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
Let’s discuss some pros and cons to help you order a leather steering wheel cover.
Pros of a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
Steering wheels are in constant contact with our hands and whatever has been on them. Over time this can cause cracks and wear down the material. Using a leather steering wheel cover protects your hands from cracks and worn spots, making it more comfortable to handle the steering wheel.
The grip is improved, the material is very durable, and the leather steering wheel covers are made to last. Plus, you can transform the way your car’s interior looks with the addition of a nice-looking leather steering wheel cover.
Cons of a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
Tanning has been used for conditioning leather for practical uses with materials including chromium, aldehydes, and vegetable extracts. According to researchers Zeiner, Rezic, Ujevic, and Steffan, chromium tanning of leather and prolonged exposure through the skin may cause health effects ranging from skin irritation to liver damage.
Thankfully tanning procedures have evolved over the years, but it’s best to purchase from a trustworthy manufacturer. It can also be tricky to fit a steering wheel cover just right, so accurate measurement is necessary. Then installation can be tricky with maneuvering the cover precisely and snapping it into the right place.
Characteristics of a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
Typical materials for steering wheel covers include leather, synthetic materials, and cowhide. Some leather steering wheel covers are all genuine leather, while some are part leather, part suede, and part rubber grip.
Manufacturers begin with leather that is cleaned, treated, and tanned for color and durability.
Most steering wheels are 14–17.5 inches in diameter. To measure your steering wheel, place your measuring tape on one side of the steering wheel and stretch across from the middle to the other side. The grip can be measured by wrapping the measuring tape around one side of the steering wheel, much like you would grip with your hand.
There are several variations to leather steering wheel covers, from luxury comfort to leather viscose, large grip to slim suede.
How Leather Steering Wheel Covers Are Made
Manufacturers begin with leather that is cleaned, treated, and tanned for color and durability. The leather is then trimmed and stitched together, sometimes with other materials for grip or color contrasts.
The inside is padded with cushioning material and the edges (circumference) fit with rubber or elastic to hold the shape and fit around the steering wheel, holding it in place. These processes may be done by hand or by machine.
Cost of a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
Cost of a leather steering wheel cover varies greatly depending upon the material, the look, and the manufacturer or brand. You could purchase a universal microfiber faux leather material kit to sew yourself for about $6, needle and thread included with easy installation (as long as you know how to sew).
Or you could go with a microfiber leather steering wheel cover for about $260. You’ll pay more for ergonomics, Napa leather, environmentally friendly materials, and luxury touches like fancy stitching.
Tips for Choosing a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
Not sure how to choose a leather steering wheel cover? We’ve compiled a list of some tips to help you along the way:
- Aesthetics – how does it look in your vehicle?
- Diameter – measure appropriately
- Ease in application – is it a tight or loose fit?
- Material – genuine vs. faux leather, suede, rubber
- Price – cheap vs. premium
- Color – match vehicle interior or favorite color(s)
- Hand grips – non-slip, patches of different material, comfortable
- Practicality – will the feature distract while driving?
- Safety – snug fit, non-distracting, no drifting
Examples of a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
- A DIY stitch leather steering wheel cover is sewn on by hand with the stitches on the inside or back of the steering wheel. It is also called a leather steering wheel wrapping kit.
- A D shape leather steering wheel cover is made specifically for wheels with flat bottoms.
- A universal leather steering wheel cover comes in pre-made forms that match steering wheel diameters. Using a rubber or sturdy elastic lining, these are stretched into place over the steering wheel.
Popular Brands/Makers of Leather Steering Wheel Covers
- Valleycomfy – makes universal steering wheel covers resistant to heat and cold, skidproof, durable, and comfortable.
- BDK – makes genuine leather steering wheel covers super thick, very comfortable, heat resistant, breathable, and uniquely contoured for grip.
- Aully Park – makes universal leather steering wheel wraps that offer a vintage look, are easy to install, non-slip, and very comfortable.
Personal Preferences for a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
I asked friends and family what options (color, material, price range, etc.) they would look for if they were to buy a leather steering wheel cover. Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the poll about leather steering wheel covers.
|Leather Steering Wheel Cover Preferences||Times Selected|
|Prefer genuine black leather||21%|
|Prefer leather and rubber due to cost and comfort||14%|
|Prefer faux leather||14%|
|Prefer gray leather due to the cost||14%|
|Prefer dark leather for comfort||7%|
|Prefer brown suede leather||7%|
|Prefer lighter color leather with no patterns or distractions for ergonomic||7%|
|Prefer genuine gray leather due to the cost||13%|
Leather Steering Wheel Cover Care and Maintenance
How to Clean a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
A leather steering wheel cover can be washed with a leather cleaner or soap and water and a soft cloth. It’s best not to use harsh chemicals like bleach or sanitizing wipes, only mild soap. Also, avoid getting the leather too wet to prevent damage.
How to Maintain a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
The best way to maintain a leather steering wheel cover is to clean it periodically, usually about every six months or when visibly dirty. Use a leather conditioner with a soft cloth after every cleaning and as needed. Protect the leather from sunlight to prevent cracks and fading.
How to Store a Leather Steering Wheel Cover
Storing a leather steering wheel cover means keeping it clean and protecting it from dirt and sunlight. Use car shades and keep windows closed to keep dust out. You may also drape a plastic bag over the steering wheel to protect it from dust.
Check out this helpful video to learn more about installing a leather steering wheel cover using the most common type of stitch.
Should I cover a leather steering wheel?
You can cover a leather steering wheel if you’d like improved comfort, grip, and durability, and to protect the material from dirt and oil from hands and environmental factors.
Can you leather wrap a steering wheel?
Yes, you can purchase leather wrapping for a steering wheel in an auto products store or online. You can also have a specialist leather wrap a steering wheel for about $150–$450.
Are leather steering wheels real leather?
Yes, some leather steering wheels are covered in real leather. Faux leather is also available if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly option.
How do you protect a leather steering wheel?
A leather steering wheel should be cleaned and conditioned about every three months to keep it looking nice and feeling soft.
How long do leather steering wheels last?
With proper maintenance and protection, a leather steering wheel can be expected to last about 10–15 years.
Leather steering wheel covers are a great investment for the car that runs great and looks great but needs improvement to the steering wheel material. They’re a great way to maintain comfort and safety without spending an arm and a leg. Which steering wheel cover style would you choose?
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