Which Is Better: Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel Or Leather?

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel Or Leather

Carbon fiber steering wheels are quickly becoming the new trend in the automotive industry, but how do they stack up against leather? We’ll take a closer look at carbon fiber and leather steering wheels to see which one is better for your needs.

In terms of grip, leather offers a much better grip action than carbon fiber which tends to be a lot smoother and easily greasy-feeling. While leather will require regular cleaning and conditioning, carbon fiber steering wheel will often only need vacuuming. However, it is important to note that both the leather and carbon fiber can become hot when they get a lot of direct sunshine on them.

I have a lot more details packed for the remaining parts of this article. Keep reading to find out more.

What Is A Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel?

Carbon fiber steering wheels are made from high-strength fibers that make them much lighter than standard steel or aluminum wheels.

Carbon fiber steering wheels are made from woven carbon fibers and resin, which make them lightweight yet durable.

They are also strong enough to withstand the rigors of racing. Although the carbon material unlike leather which is natural is very durable and usually comes with up to a 5-year warranty.

Carbon fiber is used in automobiles such as on lightweight sports cars like Ferraris where performance is key.

However, it was never until recently when these types of materials have really gained traction in other areas of the auto world due to advancements in technology and manufacturing processes.

Carbon fiber is incredibly strong and weighs much less than steel, but it’s also expensive to manufacture because of its complex production process.

Despite the high cost of manufacturing, carbon fiber steering wheels are still a popular choice among automotive enthusiasts who love performance over anything else.

What Is Leather Steering Wheel?

Leather has been around for centuries in one way or another and is considered by many as the car’s luxury material due to its durability and aesthetic appeal.

The reason why leather steering wheels have become so popular since their introduction into automobiles was that they were far more comfortable compared to previous wheel options which were hard plastic, wood, or metal (which got hot in direct sunlight).

But even though leather is arguably better for comfort it also has a drawback in that they are much heavier than most other materials.

Which Is Better: Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel Or Leather?

These steering wheel materials come with different pros and cons that should be considered before making a purchase decision. Let’s take a look at these two materials side by side taking into consideration certain key factors like price, durability, grip, wear resistance, etc.

1. Durability

The steering wheel is one of the hardwearing parts of a car so you would want the material you pick out to be able to hold up however long your car is going to last.

How do leather steering wheels and carbon fiber compare in terms of durability?

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel

  • Carbon fiber is made of very strong fibers that are woven together to make a light yet durable steering wheel.
  • Although carbon fiber is lightweight it can still stand up well against impacts and wear over time, which means you would have very few problems with this material during the course of your car’s lifespan assuming there aren’t any issues with manufacturing defects.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • On the other hand, leather has been around for many years so we know its durability is pretty much inside out. Leather is made up of fibers that are layered together and naturally have a strong construction.
  • It lends its strength from being the protective layer of the animal’s skin, so it makes perfect sense that this material can hold up very well over time.
  • Leather also has a certain degree of flexibility and does not crack easily under stress, which means this material will not break or crack like a carbon fiber steering wheel.

2. Price

Another thing you need to consider when you’re on the market for a new steering wheel or an upgrade is the price.

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel

  • Carbon fiber is an expensive material to produce and it is also the reason why these steering wheels are usually more expensive than leather by a significant amount.
  • The main reason why carbon fiber steering wheels are a lot more expensive than most other materials is that it is a complex and time-consuming process when it comes to manufacturing.
  • Carbon fiber steering wheels are also more durable than most other materials because of their complex weaving process, so you’re getting your money’s worth when it comes to durability.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • Leather is also not a very cheap material to produce and so it tends to also be very expensive as well.
  • This steering wheel is usually more expensive than the other materials because of its durability and luxury appeal, which also makes it a very popular choice for many car manufacturers.
  • The main reason why leather steering wheels are expensive is because of the process that goes into making these materials, which takes a lot of time and effort.
  • I will say both the carbon fiber steering wheel and leather are both very pricey, so I would recommend steering clear of any cheap options if you want to get the most out of your investment.

3. Grip And Comfort

How much grip action you have on your steering wheel goes a long way to determine your driving experience with your car.

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel

  • In terms of grip, carbon fiber steering wheels are the second-best of the two materials.
  • Carbon fiber is a very light material and has an outstanding grip, which makes it perfect for smooth driving.
  • Carbon fiber also does not have any pores or seams in it, so the grip is very tight when you have gloves on and a very smooth feeling without them.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • Leather steering wheels in fact offer the very best grip. This is because leather steering wheels come with natural pores on their surface which allows them to easily grip your hand without the worry of slippage.
  • A leather steering wheel is also very smooth to hold and it does not irritate your hands after extended use.
  • With time and neglect, the surface of your leather steering wheel could get shiny and very smooth causing them to become slippery.

4. Wear Resistance

Wear resistance basically means how well these two materials age with time. So how does leather compares to carbon fiber steering wheels in terms of wear resistance?

Leather Steering Wheel

  • When it comes to wearing resistance, leather steering wheels are the superior option of the two materials. This is because leather has pores or seams in it which minimizes friction on them.
  • Leather that is being taken care of properly will not dry, crack, or break after long periods of use.

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel

  • In terms of wear resistance, carbon fiber steering wheels are the second-best option behind leather. This is because carbon fiber is a very lightweight material that can easily be worn down or damaged with time.
  • Carbon fiber steering wheels are also not very strong when it comes to resisting cracks or breaks because of their very lightweight nature.

5. Care And Maintenance

It is also important to know what it will take to maintain your steering wheel and how much you should expect to pay for it.

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel

  • Carbon fiber steering wheels generally require less care and maintenance. All you do is wipe them clean with a microfiber towel to keep them looking good.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • Leather steering wheels, on the other hand, requires a lot more babying to ensure it maintains its luxurious look and feels. You will have to clean and condition it regularly to keep your steering wheel in good shape.
  • Leather has a tendency to dry out over time, which is why you have to treat it with special oils and cleaners to keep them looking good.
  • If you do not properly care for your leather steering wheel, it can become very stiff and uncomfortable to use.

6. Overall Look And Design 

The aesthetic appeal of your steering wheel adds to the overall beauty of your car’s interior. Let’s take another look at how carbon fiber steering wheels compare to leather steering wheels.

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel

  • In terms of look, the carbon fiber steering wheel is very shiny and plastic-looking. It comes in a variety of colors to choose from, but the black with the dotted white design tend to be the most popular.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • The look of the leather steering wheel is simply that of luxury and elegance.
  • They are usually available in a variety of colors and stitching to create a classy contrast.

7. Weather Resistance

Last but not least, how the steering wheel holds up against different environmental conditions is also another factor you must consider so that you will be picking out what’s best for your needs.

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel

  • Carbon fiber steering wheels offer a very high level of resistance to water and dust because they are simply designed with plastic.
  • However, carbon fiber steering wheels are also very sensitive when it comes to high-temperature levels.
  • This means that the carbon fiber steering wheel has the tendency to become very hot during the summer days and extremely cold during the winter.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • The leather steering wheel fares much better when it comes to maintaining its comfortability in different weather conditions.
  • Leather steering wheels are known for their ability to maintain a comfortable temperature even when the weather is hot or cold.

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel Or Leather – Summary

Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel Leather Steering Wheel
Durability Carbon fiber is made of very strong fibers that are woven together to make a light yet durable steering wheel Leather is made from animals skin which is also very durable and can last up to 50,000 miles
Price Expensive Pricey
Grip And Comfort Very smooth Grippier
Wear Resistant Not resistant to scratches, cracks, or breaks Develops patina
Care And Maintenance Little to low maintenance Some amount of maintenance is needed
Overall Look And Design  Shiny and glossy-looking Luxurious and elegant-looking
Weather Resistance Sensitive of high temperatures Maintains comfortable temperature during hot or cold


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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