Leather is a very durable material that looks great and holds up well on car seats. No matter how good it is though it can get cut or ripped leaving you with a challenging problem to solve. Car seats get a lot of abuse and any fix to a tear is going to need to be able to withstand some serious abuse. If you have plenty of cash to throw at the problem you can have an upholsterer replace the seat covers or maybe even replace a single piece of leather. It obviously won’t be cheap though. There are a few good alternatives that are worth checking out before you either spend a large amount of cash or decide to ignore the problem. We should point out that the alternatives to replacing your entire seat cover or replacing a section of leather are not going to look flawless. They’re going to look passable. That’s the honest truth. If you want flawless you’re going to need to shell out the big bills to make that happen. These fixes are going to primarily be to help prevent the situation from getting worse while also improving the visual appearance of the rip or tear. Let’s cover the best alternatives.
If you’re looking for the easiest solution possible this is it. Self-adhesive patches are very easy to apply and come in a variety of colors to allow you to get a reasonably close match to the color of your leather seats. Depending on the size and location of the tear you’re dealing with this could be an excellent solution. If the spot is more prominent and you’re picky about the appearance you may want to opt for a different solution. It should hold up extremely well in all but the most abused spots that are difficult to fit a patch over. Another point to note is that some manufacturers also sell more than simple patches. They sell stylized patches that can look quite appropriate over a rip or cut.
If you want a solution that is a bit less noticeable then a leather repair kit is a great option. It isn’t simply a liquid bonding agent. It includes a fabric backing that provides some real strength to bonding the pieces of leather back together. The bonding material is mixed by you to exactly match the color of your leather. This process is going to be a bit more involved than simply slapping a patch over the problem area but it will result in a much less obtrusive result that should hold up reasonably well unless the spot you need to repair receives a lot of abuse. Beware that matching colors exactly can be difficult and you should likely aim for a reasonably close approximation. If you’re not dealing with a difficult to match seat color you’ll have an easier time. A black seat for instance isn’t going to be nearly as difficult as an ox blood color. Also, you may want to order 2 kits since working with the material can be a little challenging. You also may want to purchase more than one kit if you have a particularly large rip to fix. One kit will be good for 6 inches at best. All that said, if you have the patience to attempt to match the color as well as the desire for a less obvious fix then this is a good option to try.
A unique approach to color matching a patch is trimming a piece from beneath a plastic trim panel or elsewhere unseeable on your seat. This will require a bit of scouting around your seats to find a section that you can trim off that won’t be visible. Depending on the size of the gash or hole you may have trouble finding a piece large enough to cover it completely. If that’s the case you may want to go a different route. If you’re able to find a good sized piece in an inconspicuous location you’ll simply need to get a quality leather adhesive like Tear Mender.
You may find that the leather on the edges of your seat really isn’t leather but a vinyl. It’s common for manufacturers to use real leather for the seat face but to switch to cheaper color matched vinyl for the sides and other less prominent locations. For our purposes of patching ripped leather this is actually good news. Vinyl is much thinner than leather and will make a much better patch. A thick section of leather will be more likely to wear poorly on a heavily abused location.
You may find that none of the previously described options seem like a good fit for you and your particular problem. Getting a decent set of seat covers is a very inexpensive alternative that can make your worn seats new. Seat covers are very popular and get high marks from many owners. Seat covers are generally very easy to install and for the money they really make an incredible difference in the look of your vehicles interior. It should be pointed out that if you do decide to get some seat covers you’ll still need to deal with the rip or tear if it’s in a heavily abused location. A self-adhesive patch could be a good inexpensive and easy fix that will get covered by the seat covers.
Seat covers aren’t right for everyone. It can be hard to find some that fit well with your specific vehicle or the look may not be what you’re interested in. If you have a fairly minor tear in your seat this could definitely be overkill. For some people this may be the ideal solution.
Finding that you have a rip in your leather car seats is depressing. It’s a problem that is not easy or cheap to fix flawlessly. You’re going to have to weigh your options and decide on what compromise is best for your car or truck. Most people will find that a patch is going to be the best solution. It’s typically quite durable, easy to apply, and it many cases isn’t terribly bad looking. If the car you’re attempting to fix is a daily driver you’re going to most likely want to go with the most durable solution that will help prevent the rip from getting any worse.
Again, the best solution is to work with an upholsterer to replace the damaged section or completely replace the seat cover. It’ll set you back quite a bit but it will look perfect and stay that way for a good while. If you’re keeping this car or truck and it’s your passion it may be worth it. Otherwise, a simple patch is going to be your best option.