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Leather Seat Maintenance

c1054c1054 Posts: 5
edited March 2014 in General
I will be taking delivery on a 1999 Windstar SEL
in a few weeks. I have never had leather seats
before. How should I maintain them? I hope to have
this car for many years.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Here's a few ideas:

    1. Keep combs and big wallets out of your back pocket.

    2. Treat the leather every 4-6 months with a product called HIDE FOOD, made by the Connolly leather company...this is a cream that you work into the leather and is better than the liquids.

    3. Don't ever let a dog on the seats or they'll be history in a week. (cover the seats)

    that's really about all you can do with modern leathers, they really don't endure as well as the old days, but if you take good care, the seats should remain attractive for 5-7 years, maybe longer if you're really diligent.
  • pblevinepblevine Posts: 858
    You can also use the Zaino leather products to clean and condition your seats.
  • c1054c1054 Posts: 5
    MR_SHIFTRIGHT - One of the reasons I bought leather was because I was told by many friends that with proper maintenance, they should last longer than cloth. What do you know about the quality of leather used in Fords and other mass-produced vehicles? Also, I intend to put a towel between my child's carseat and the leather surface. Is this sufficient protection, or should I invest in a full seat cover? Thanks for your advice.
  • I'm assuming that you're putting the child seat in the back seat. If so, you might want to double check the material of the seat. The back seats in a leather equipped Cobra are VINYL, not leather at all. Just another one of my little gripes, along with:
    no power seat for passenger
    no light under the hood
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    No, c1054, I don't think one could say that leather seats are more durable than cloth...I'd guess in most cases quite the opposite...the synthetic cloth materials they use these days are pretty durable...leather is for the most part an aesthetic choice, and that's fine, too...I have leather in my car, and I generally like it, and I must say that after 10 years it doesn't look bad at all...but it's had very good care.

    American leathers dress very nicely but they don't seem to be the best...Scandanavian also looks good (no barbed wire!)but again, not so durable...just look at any 10 year old Volvo or Saab. I'd say the English still have the nicest grades and best finishing techniques...that's why I recommended HIDE FOOD, since Connolly Leather knows what it's doing.

    Actually, modern leathers in general are heavily treated with fire-retardent and sometimes sprayed coatings and stains and really don't have the feel and texture of the fine leathers of old...of course, modern drivers might not like the way natural leather wears (soft wrinkles) and stains (one cup of coffee and your old 1930s leather is brown forever). Personally, I love natural leather---it doesn't always "look" so tidy, but has wonderful durability. I've seen leather seats over 50 years old that still look wonderful, in that old wrinkled darkening kind of way...soft as soft can be, and no rips...Moroccan is like that.
  • Hmm, Interesting. I've got my first leather seated new car on its way - a Toyota. What about Japanese leather?
  • I have the same question like 'bondeson'. In your opinion, does Lexus use good quality leather say in the LS400.

    I also noticed some other cars either in the parking lots or the so-called pre-owned certified cars at the dealers that the leather has a very shiny look to it. Does it mean that the owners of these cars didn't take good care of their leather and they all turned shiny eventually ?

    Right now the leather of my car doesn't have that shiny look and I'd like to keep it that way if all possible. Thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well, leather hides are graded by the processor and then some companies choose the highest grade and some the secondary grades and some the cheapest. My friend's Lexus just had the leather redone (not cheap!)and he got well over 100K miles of use on the original. Generally, no modern leather has the overall durability of the old days, so you'd have to guess that the durability of the leather used today is pegged more or less the price of the car when new. You are not going to get BMW 740il grade leather on a Camry.

    I don't see any reason why a Lexus interior couldn't go ten years with good care...but you have to be realistic...the leather in a car used sparingly by one person is going to last a lot longer than one used as an airport limo.

    Quality of stitching is important, too...

    I thing the important thing is to keep the leather from drying out...once it's dry, it's toast, and it'll start to break down rapidly.

    Seems to me, and I'm speculating a bit here, is that these days with all the artificial coatings on leather, that a certain compromise has been exchange for natural suppleness and breathability, these 'treated' leathers give you a certain time span no matter what you do...I don't think they respond as well to conditioners like in the old days. But every little bit of care helps, as does protection from direct sun and water.
  • I have checked sev. search engines and none have come up with a site that sells the Connolly leather cleaner you have mentioned. There are no Rolls Royce dealerships near us, so can't walk in and get it either.
    Do you know where I can find HIDEFOOD and the cost of it?
  • I wish I could remember the precise sources, but I do seem to recall reading a couple of places where the leather in Lexus LS400s (at least the earlier models) didn't weather very well. I can vouch for it personally from my 90 model-year (which I no longer have).

    As for products, I have recently read many accolades for a range of products from a company called, "Leatherique" which is sold only mail-order (I think). Anyhows, after seeing so many positive remarks, I ordered the stuff and it just arrived today. Unfortunately, it'll probably be at least a week or so before I get a chance to try it. I'll try to remember to post my results.
  • What is best to clean leather seats to remove dirt? I am afraid to use standard household cleaners for fear of damaging the finish.
  • ruskiruski Posts: 1,566
    sebarge - yesterday I searched for "HIDE FOOD" on Altavista and found a lot of sites that sell it.
  • lanceh,

    When did you notice any problem with your 1990 LS400 ? Where kind of problem did you see: the leather cracked, faded, turned color etc... Btw, did you apply moisturizer on a regular basis ?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    HIDE FOOD is found easily in my area (California)'s about $10 a jar, but lasts a long time...any good auto parts store should have it.

    Yes, you want to be careful how you clean leather...check in with your shoe store and ask them what they use on $300 Italian shoes...since modern leathers are often color-dyed, you need to be careful about what you use and how hard you scrub...I've used different products that are called leather cleaners and they seem alright...I just don't like the results of those runny liquid conditioners...prefer the creams.....
  • ruski... thanks, will try Altavista. And will search as you printed above, HIDE FOOD.

    Mr. Shiftright... you just live in a good area. :-) It's not sold around here in my part of TX, and no auto place has it. Oh well, on to try search engine Altavista.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well, if you search and can't find it (oh, they MUST sell it in trendy San Antonio...c'mon!), e-mail me and I'll send you some (for which you will pay me, I might add). You'll like it.

    mr. Shiftright
    <<A HREF="http://[email protected].">[email protected]>
  • ruskiruski Posts: 1,566
    the best way to search for it on Altavista will actually be to use double quote marks, "HIDE FOOD". Then it will find only this combination of words for sure. HPH.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    or you'll get a whole lot of information about raccoons...which reminds me of the interesting story of the time a raccoon got into Automobile Magazine editor Mr David E. DAvis's Ferrari and completely destroyed the car's leather interior, for which he shot the beast, I think, and incurred some wrath from readers...or maybe he just threatened to shoot it in print...anyway, he scoffed at his critics and thought the animal deserved to die for its crimes. I have no comment.
  • Overall, I meticulously maintained my LS400, but to be fair, I only treated the leather about twice a year. I guess given my warm climate (TX), I should have done it at least four times a year.

    The wear was in the form of worn lines along creases which formed in the driver seat. The other seats looked very good. The deterioration became most apparent, I seem to recall, somewhere around 70-80k miles.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Same exact thing happened to my friend's Lexus, but more extensively throughout the car...he's a real estate agent and drives people around all day.
  • paul29paul29 Posts: 178
    I have a 91 LS400 which had a problem with the front seat leather , the area which was reported in the magazines at the time was the upper side bolsters on which the leather cracked . Lexus replaced both on warranty .
  • What about the Lexol products? I used them on a Maxima I had but did not own the car long enough to see if the seats held up better.
  • markbuckmarkbuck Posts: 1,021
    I got the upgraded naugahide in my new truck. Salesman said it was better than cow hide. What kinda animal is a nauga and what treatment should I use on it?
  • vivonavivona Posts: 410
    Ditto on the question about Lexol. I just bought the cleaner and the conditioner and would like to know how well the products work for others.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I personally did not notice any benefits with Lexol, it seems more like a quick conditioner that one would use on shoes. It didn't seem to affect the leather at all, but perhaps it was doing some good I just couldn't see. I tried some side by side treatments and that's why I switched to Hide Food, but this is, of course, not scientifically based info.
  • Two weeks ago, I bought A new Maxima GLE with leather seats. I wanted to know how soon I should apply a leather conditioner to the seats. I bought Turtle Wax Emerald Series Leather cream & wonder if it's a good product to use. Thanks.
  • HenryHenry Posts: 1,106
    I had trouble finding Hide Food also. But you can find it at any Jaugar dealership.
    Aurora with Leather owner.
  • I wipe my leather seats with Murphy's Oil Soap & water, dry them, then treat them with a Meltonian leather cleaner & protector. I picked it up in a local shoe shop. My concern is drying & cracking. This is my first (tan) leather interior and I'd like to keep it looking great.
  • I haven't bought my car yet, but the one I am looking at has leather seats included at no charge. Sable LS Premium pkg. I've never had leather. Can I expect it to last 8-10 years? If the car is a good one, I intend to hand it over to my son in about 5 years. Just how much care/maintenance is required? As a single Mom, car cleaning/maintenance is not a high priority (don't get me wrong- I make sure they are mechanically maintained), Looking for some advice here folks. . . .
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Leather needs LOTS of good maintenance or it will never last 10 years and still look good...mostly the problem is a) many cars don't use a top grade leather and b) owners let the leather dry out, and then it cracks and is unsaveable.

    Best thing you can do is treat it at least 4 times a year with a good, rich conditioner...especially in areas near the back window,(sun damage) and where the driver's seat is contacted on the side facing the driver's door.
This discussion has been closed.