Leather is a beautiful material. It looks great, feels luxurious, and can last for years with proper care. But it’s not invincible! There are many things that could cause your leather to crack on your car seats, armrests, or dashboards in cars. This article will go over 8 of the most common reasons why this might happen.
So why does leather crack in cars? The most common reasons why leather cracks in cars are due to exposure to direct sunlight or heat, body oils, due to wear and tear, leak from car sunroof, or poor repair work done. These conditions can cause the leather to dry out and crack, especially if they are not cleaned or cared for properly.
I will be discussing these in more detail in the remaining parts of this article and share some tips on how to prevent and fix cracks on your car leathers whether they are on the shift knob, seats, armrests, and any other parts of the car interior with leather installation.
1. Poor Quality Leather
One of the common causes of crack on leather in cars is the quality of the leather material itself. This is true in every way as the worst type of leather cracking in cars is from a poor grade of leather on car seats or armrests.
Low-quality leather materials will wear down quickly and won’t be able to withstand regular use. It may even begin to break apart after just one season!
If you’re not sure where your seat came from originally, try looking at the tag inside for details like “imported” or “made by.” You can also call customer service if it’s still under warranty and ask them how they sourced their materials.
It might be worth upgrading your set since high-quality leather will last much longer than lower grades with little to no cracking.
Of all the leather materials that will give you a heck of problems with cracks is faux leather. This is because faux leather is a type of synthetic material. It never gets the chance to breathe or dry out, which causes it to crack and peel at an alarmingly rapid rate.
The tricky part is that faux leathers are made to imitate the exact qualities of real leather. This means that you should always be on the lookout for this because some manufacturers use these materials instead of real natural ones.
2. Wear And Tear Over Time
Another reason why leather cracks in cars is caused by wear and tear due to regular use.
Leather is a natural material, so it will age with use. This means that if you’re constantly using your car seats- whether for work or just to drive around on the weekends – then there’s a much greater chance of cracking and splitting over time than someone who uses their car less often.
This is why many higher-end leathers actually come with warranties: they know they can’t prevent the natural wear and tear from day-to-day use but do offer replacements when needed.
The same goes for other materials in cars like metal surfaces; even though these won’t necessarily be covered by manufacturers, frequent driving will cause them to lose paint or become rusty more quickly than an infrequent driver.
Because too much wear and frequent use can affect the number of cracks you will have on your car leather, it is important to show a lot of tender loving care in the form of cleaning, conditioning, and protecting to keep your leather safe and healthy.
3. Extreme Heat
Although leather is a very resistant and durable material extreme heat can cause it to lose its color, dry out and crack.
The leather itself is a natural product that has high levels of fat content which makes it vulnerable to heat from the sun or other sources.
This is because when there’s too much time in direct sunlight without protection the natural essential oils in the fibers of the leather can start to break down and result in cracks on your car seats.
So it is important to manage how exposed the leather in your leather is to the sun and find ways to shield your seats from direct sunlight.
For example, you can use window tints or put on a coat of wax paste-like Briwax® which has UV protection properties.
Useful tip: You should regularly clean leather with products that are designed for this purpose such as Leather Honey, Lexol Care Cleaner & Conditioner, Armor All, etc., so it will stay in top condition.
4. Body oil
Generally, the leather in leather is hard-wearing due to the amount of use they get. Due to their hardwearing nature, the leather in the car tends to absorb a lot of our body oils and sweat.
This will cause the rich essential oils in leather to seep out and leave the leather more prone to cracking.
This because our body perspirations contain salts from the salt in our sweat, which will cause a chemical reaction with the leather.
This can be avoided by regularly cleaning your car’s interior so that oils and dirt are not allowed to build up over time on any fabric paneling or seats.
Useful tip: you should use a vacuum cleaner or damp cloth for this purpose, as they do not allow water droplets onto the surface of the leather seatings
Another great product that could help reduce cracking on your car leather, try using a conditioner such as Lexol Care Cleaner & Conditioner regularly so that your seats stay in top condition.
5. Problem With The Leather Manufacturing Process
There are instances where the leather manufacturer processes the wrong type of hide for their product. This can cause cracks to appear on your car leather a lot faster than it normally will.
Wrongly tanned hides can also result in cracks because they are either too dry or too wet when being processed.
Another common mistake manufacturers make during the tanning process is that some manufacturers use a petroleum-based chemical to help soften up the hide and make it more pliable.
The addition of these chemicals to the raw animal skin does not allow any moisture from perspiration to escape freely. As mentioned before, body sweat contains salts that react badly with certain types of skins such as lambskin, etc., causing them to crack over time due to salt content build-up.
Last but not least, another common blunder on the side of the leather manufacturer is the type of dyes that are used during the production of the leather. Some of these dyes contain certain chemicals that are not suitable for an animal’s skins and can cause the leather to get damaged a lot quicker.
This prevents moisture from escaping and therefore causes cracks on top of all other factors like too dry or too wet hides before being processed.
6. Harsh Dyes
Leather is such a versatile material that it can be molded, shaped, and colored into various colors and styles. The color of most natural leathers is often altered using dyes.
There are two main types of leather dyes that are often used. These are acid dyes and basic or water-based dyes.
Acid dye is considered to be the most durable type of leather dye, but it’s also more likely to cause cracks in leather than any other type of dye.
This is because acid dyes are known for drying out the essential oils in hides and also sometimes react with other components in the fibers of the leather – which can sometimes lead to drying and cracking.
Basic or water-based dyes are the safest type of dye as they won’t react with other components of the material.
However, these types of leather dyes also have a shorter lifespan and usually need to be reapplied often in order to keep up their original color.
7. Using Harsh Cleaners
Leather as a material needs to clean from time to time.
However, it’s important to make sure that the type of cleaner you use won’t is pH suitable in order to avoid cracks in the leather.
Basic alcohol cleaners are usually safe for most types of leather and can be used on a regular basis without causing any significant damage or cracking.
On the other hand, harsh alkaline chemicals should only be used once every so often with caution as they’re much more likely to dry out natural oils in the leather which will lead to cracking over time.
Similar products might include bleach and ammonia-based cleaners – both of these have been known to cause both natural types of leather and leatherette material from becoming brittle if they come into contact with too much moisture at one time.
The key takeaway here is those harsh cleaning substances when applied to leather will come with ingredients that are too strong or contain chemicals that can cause dryness which in turn makes it more susceptible to cracking after being exposed to things like heat – such as from direct sunlight.
It’s important to note that this type of damage will often show up on other materials around your car that are also made out of leather – such as seats and steering wheels for example.
8. Improper Care And Maintenance
Another reason why leather cracks in cars will be due to the lack of improper care and maintenance.
Leather as material needs a lot of babying in order for it to last and serve you for a really long time.
So if the leather in your car is not exclusively taken care of and treated right, then it’s going to show in a form of cracks.
Most people will usually drive their cars and often forget how hard-wearing their leather seats, armrests, etc are. Each time you use your car you use your leather car seat, and other leather upholstery in the car.
As mentioned before, one of the worst things you could do to your leather interior is applying harsh chemicals on them and also wash the car with water that is too hot, as these things can cause additional damage to the leather material.
And let’s not even mention how using fabric softener will make the seat look almost brand new. But all this comes at a cost because over time there might be some change in color or texture which may not happen right away but gradually after prolonged usage.
So always remember to read labels when purchasing any type of cleaner and check if they are safe for use around your leather car materials.
Also, read about the recommended cleaners you’re to use for your car leather.
Can leather cracks be fixed?
Before you decide to get your car’s leather fixed, it is important that you find out the cause of the cracking first.
If there are cracks because of exposure to harsh chemicals or water with high temperatures, then a quick fix can be done by applying some moisturizer and conditioner on them.
If not, then chances are they’re due to prolonged usage which might make them permanent over time. So essentially, whether or not you can fix a crack on your car leather will be due to what caused the cracks.
15 Tips On How To Prevent Leather Cracks In Cars
If you’re wondering how to prevent your car’s leather from getting cracked, here are some things that can be done:
- Use a microfiber cloth for cleaning. It is only advised not to use paper towels or any other material with which it might cause the surface of the leather to dry up and crack.
- Also, do not expose your car’s leather materials to harsh chemicals such as soaps and detergents because this will make them weak over time.
- If possible, try using natural products instead like vinegar or dish soap without fragrance since these ingredients won’t penetrate deep into its coverings where they could weaken it even more in return due to water exposure than usual.
- You also want to cover your car leather surfaces from time to time so that it has rest periods.
- Do not go for car seats that are too soft because they will not be able to take a lot of wear that can make them to easily crack.
- And lastly, avoid sitting on the edge of your seats because this will make them sink in and break over time.
- Do not enter or allow anyone to enter your car with wet clothes. This can cause water seepage through cracks that are already present in their seat covers.
- It’s also important for you not to leave anything on the inside of your car overnight where it could collect moisture from condensation or dew formation during humid periods. This is so that the leather maintains its durability levels.
- Never use anything abrasive to clean your leather because this can cause damage and in some instances lead to cracks.
- Don’t forget that the inside of a car can get really hot, so never leave wet items on the floor or seats overnight. This could dry out if there’s no airflow.
- Do not expose your leather upholstery pieces to direct sunlight for extended periods of time as this can result in fading over time due to heat exposure which again might lead to more cracking down the line too.
- If you want to minimize the risk of your car leather cracking, make sure that you give it regular attention.
- Do not use anything abrasive on your seat and if there are any stains or spills then try using a mild soap solution first before tackling them with something more chemical-focused (this will help prolong the life of the stain). The same goes for stubborn marks too – they should be tackled gently as well with plenty of patience.
- Fix the creases on your car leather timely before they turn into cracks and peels.
- Keep cars cool by rolling windows up when not using them so the seats can properly air out. This helps prevent dirt or debris from entering and ruining newly dried seats.
How To Fix Car Leather Cracks
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to fix car leather cracks.
- Leather Repair Kit
- Mild Dish Soap
- Microfiber Cloth
- Warm Water
- Fine Grit Sandpaper
- Prepare the surface where you want to fix cracks in car leather.
- You would want to vacuum or use a dust brush to remove any debris or dust particles from the surface of your car leather.
- You also want to vacuum the affected spots of the leather with an upholstery attachment for deep creases and cracks.
- Put 2-3 drops of mild dish soap into warm water. Make the solution mixed properly.
- Use a microfiber cloth to soak some of the solution and wring it out.
- Now begin to clean the surfaces of the car leather. This will help to remove any dirt, debris, heavy grease, etc. Do not scrub. Be as gentle as possible.
- Also, you always want to rinse out the area of the leather where you have cleaned to remove any soap residue. You can do this by dampening a clean microfiber cloth with clean water, wringing it out, and then using it to wipe the surface of the leather.
- Allow the cleaned leather to air-dry lightly.
- Dampen your microfiber rag with denatured alcohol and rub it over the cracked areas.
- Now wipe the areas dry with a microfiber cloth.
- Leave the leather to air-dry completely.
- After the leather is dry, lightly sand the cracked areas of the leather with sandpaper.
- Usually, the most suitable sandpaper is included in the leather repair kit you will get. However, make sure it it’s super fine.
- Again use the microfiber cloth to wipe over the surface of the car leather again and leave it to dry.
- Now read and follow the application instructions in your leather repair kit.
- You want to carefully read and understand the contents in the repair it and how to use it to restore your cracked leather in your car.
- A pretty standard application process for sealing cracks will include applying the sealant in the kit to the cracked areas of the leather.
- Using the sealant will help to fill out and smoothen the cracks on the leather.
- You want to follow the instructions on how to apply the sealant or filler to the leather – as some products will come with additional application steps for the sealant or filler.
- After you have successfully filled out the cracks, apply the leather dye included in your package.
- You want to make sure the color in your repair kit matches the color of the leather interior of your car.
- Make sure to keep your car window glasses rolled up while the dyes dry to prevent dust and debris from entering the car and settling on the fresh dyes.
- Leave the leather to completely air-dry.
- Condition your leather with your regular leather conditioner like Honey Leather Conditioner.
- Leave the leather to completely air-dry before use. Viola!
Although you can personally dyi your car leather cracks problems on your own in the comfort of your home, sometimes the best way to fix cracks will be through an auto detailer who specializes in this type of work.
To conclude, this article has discussed the possible causes of leather cracking in cars and how to fix them.
Although knowing what causes leather cracks in cars and how to prevent and fix them is important, I will like to add that leather will change.
With time, leather will have creases, scuffs, scratches and as users, we need to embrace these changes that inevitably occur on leather as these changes combined give the leather character.
I hope this article has been helpful to you you.