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Suede vs Leather Steering Wheel: Guide On Which Is Best!

The steering wheel is one of the most important parts of your car. It’s what you use to turn the vehicle in the desired direction and it can make or break your driving experience. If you have never given much thought to what type of material your steering wheel should be made from, then it’s time that you read this article!

In this guide, we will cover everything there is to know about suede and leather steering wheels so that you can choose which one is best for you and your budget.

So, Suede vs. Leather Steering Wheel: Which is best? In terms of resistant, durability, and resistance to wear and tear, leather steering wheels are the best while suede steering wheels are generally budget-friendly and will offer you a better grip action.

There is a lot to love and hate about these two materials as both have their unique strengths and weaknesses. To learn more about how leather steering wheels compare to suede steering wheels, keep reading this article.

1. The Grip

One of the first and most important factors you want to consider when choosing between a suede steering wheel and a leather steering wheel is their grip.

Suede Steering Wheel

  • Suede steering wheels are generally grippier than leather steering wheels because the suede is often made from a rougher and thicker material that will grip your hands better.
  • Suede leather usually has more texture than leather, so it grips the driver’s hand much more easily. This makes driving easier due to the amount of control you would have on the steering wheel.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • I wouldn’t say leather does not have a good grip at all. It actually has almost the same level of grip as suede. But, because the textures you often have on suede leather are usually profound suede steering wheels may seem grippy with a lot more comfy feel.
  • Leather steering wheel often has a more luxurious feel to them than their suede counterparts due to its smooth surface that will usually be softer on your hand when you’re driving for long periods of time.
  • It’s like comparing silk sheets with microfiber sheets; they both are soft but one is generally smoother while the other has more grip so you sleep better at night…in theory anyway!

The Verdict:

Leather Wins!! due to how long-lasting its grip is. Suedes’ grip is short-lived.

But honestly, if I set my bais for leather aside, I feel both have just about the same amount of grip and will both also lose their grip with time.

But with proper care and maintenance such as wearing gloves (for suede steering wheels) and regular cleaning & conditioning (for leather steering wheels), you will be able to maintain the grip action for however long either material lasts for you.

2. Durability

Another equally important factor to help determine which among the two is good for you is how durable suede and leather as materials for steering wheels are.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • Leather steering wheels are by far more durable than suede steering wheels for a lot of reasons.
  • It’s more durable because of the material type, so it can withstand a lot more force than suede and can last over 50,000 miles.
  • What this means is leather as a material has two surfaces; the side you will see on the steering wheel is the grain side and the underside (the side you don’t see) is the flesh side.
  • The grain side you see is super resistant and is the side that protected the skin of the animal it was sourced from.
  • Another reason is that leather is thicker and heavier which helps absorb shock when you’re driving.
  • Finally, it has some elasticity in its fibers to help stretch out over time if your hand leaves indentations on the steering wheel after prolonged use.
  • All these factors make for durability against abrasion from repeated use or exposure to weather conditions (hot summers).
  • In fact, studies have shown that even with regular wear and tear up to six months at a time, despite being wrapped tightly around spokes, leather still retains its shape much better than suede does!

Suede Steering Wheel

  • Suede steering wheels, on the other hand, have a softer and more pliable feel to them because of the way they’re made.
  • To create suede, the grain side (the most resistant part of leather material) is removed leaving behind the internal fibers of the leather – hence the velvety nap.
  • The resulting material has a distinct softness that makes it less resistant to wear than regular leather. Despite being less durable than your regular leather material, suede is often preferred by people who drive with gloves to help increase its lifespan.
  • You can expect your suede steering wheel to have its best qualities and performance up to about 5000 miles.

The Verdict:

Leather steering wheels hands down Win on durability!

3. Source of Material

The world we live in today has become understandably very ethical and you might be asking yourself where suede and leather materials come from.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • Leather is primarily made from animals skins with the most popular being cowhide and has been in use for many years.
  • When you hear the term leather, it means a variety of materials that are animal hides that have gone through an extensive process to create a material that will not decay or decompose.

Suede Steering Wheel

  • Suede is also sourced from the skins of real animals just like leather! Surprise surprise! If you did not know, now you know.
  • The difference is suede leather is basically what is left after full-grain and top-grained leather have been made or split.
  • Let me step back a little. Leather comes in layers which are split to make different types or qualities of leather.
  • The first layer that is split becomes full-grain leather, the next split then becomes top grain leather and any layer left without the grain layer is what is often known as suede.
  • So both suede and leather are all from animals but have different treatment processes.

The Verdict:

If you want your steering wheel to be animal-free, then suede and leather are not what you would want as both are obtained from the meat industry.

However, there are synthetic leather and suede leather that you could get if this is an issue for you.

4. Care And Maintenance

How you will care for and maintain the material on your steering wheel is an important factor you must be clear about so that you will know the amount of time, money, and effort you will need to maintain your steering wheel.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • Compared to suede steering wheels, leather is more expensive to maintain and care for. Leather requires a lot more upkeep than suede steering wheels, as the leather will require cleaning, conditioning, and protecting to maintain its pristine look – which will mean spending up to about 100 bucks on leather care products.
  • Although the initial cost of leather care products may be pricy for leather how frequently you clean, condition, and protect your steering wheel will be about 3-4 times every year.

Suede Steering Wheel

  • Usually, the way you will care for and maintain your suede steering wheel is simply using a suede brush to remove any accumulative dust, dirt, or debris from its name.
  • Essentially, all you will be doing is brush the suede name and you’re essentially done cleaning.
  • Also, to increase its resistance to moisture, you can basically purchase a 15 dollar suede spray and you’re all set.
  • But because suede is a lot more susceptible to dirt, dust, and stains you might want to clean and protect it every day or every other day to keep it in top condition.

The Verdict:

Leather steering wheel Wins!!

When it comes to maintenance leather will need a lot more cash upfront but maintenance is essentially not how you will care for suede as you will do a lot more TLC for suede.

5. Resistance To Wear And Tear

How the steering wheel holds up to wear and tear is the next factor to compare these two materials by.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • Leather steering holds up very well with time as it ages. The surface of the leather steering wheel may become a bit shiny in a process that is called patina.
  • Also, the color of the leather steering wheel will become richer and darker with time.
  • Both patina and leather’s ability to become richer and darker with time are two of the most common properties of real leather and are generally appreciated by most leather enthusiasts.
  • Among the two, the main concern is when the leather develops a patina. This is because the leather tends to feel slippery when in this state so cleaning using things like soap and warm water to remove the shine is very key to being safe on the road.

Suede Steering Wheel

  • When it comes to resistance to wear and tear suede is less likely to hold up when compared to leather. In other words, suede will not last as long and would need to be replaced more often than leather steering wheels do.
  • However, the upside of this is that you are less likely to slip on a suede-covered wheel in comparison with a leather one because there is no shine or sheen from these hides.

The Verdict:

Another Win For Leather

When it comes down to it leather will be a lot more wear-resistant than the suede steering wheel. You can expect a suede steering wheel will hold up and will remain wear-resistant only if you would wear gloves every time your use it.

6. Price

Next, you must consider the price points of these two types of steering wheels so that your choice will make financial sense to you.

Leather Steering Wheel

  • The price of a leather steering wheel will be on the higher end. This is usually influenced by the fact that only the best of the best leather is often selected and used.
  • In which case leather with the least amount of blemishes such as dents, scuffs, or scratches will be selected for the leather steering wheel.

Suede Steering Wheel

  • Suede on the other hand is sometimes cheaper because inferior quality leather can be split to make suede leather.

The Verdict:

Suede leather is generally Budget-friendly!

Final Thoughts

This guide will help you make a wise and informed decision when you have to choose between a leather steering wheel and a suede steering wheel. Below is a summary of how suede steering wheels compare to the leather steering wheel.

Leather Steering WheelSuede Steering Wheel
GripLeather steering wheel has a good grip but in wet conditions leather’s ability for traction may be reducedSuede steering wheels are generally grippier especially when new
DurabilityCan last over 50,000 miles easilyPerforms best up to 5000 miles
Source of MaterialSourced from animals with the grain side retainedSourced from animals but grain side is removed
Care And MaintenanceRequires cleaning, conditioning, and protecting 3-4 times a yearRequires brushing with a suede brush and protecting with suede spray
Resistance To Wear And TearLeather steering wheels develop a patina with timeLoses its nap with time
PriceLeather is generally more expensiveBudget-friendly

Macwilliam K. Appianing

Hi! I’m Macwilliam, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leatherwork 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!

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