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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I am the last person to ask about detailing as I'm a "wash it twice a month and forget it" type. But one thing I'm picky about is the leather interior, and its from my career as a product developer for GM and Lexus. Vendors of interior colors came in twice a year to talk about various colors and trim materials in hopes we'd place an order. They'd of course educate us on various leathers as well.

If you've ever looked at a leather interior and seen the leather split, or a seam blew out, know with the shame of shames that it could have been avoided. Here's how.

First the threads. When you drive with the windows down, air with grit in it is coming into the car and landing on the seats. When you hop in with grit on your clothes, grit is left on the seats. It's essentially invisible to the eye but consider it "sharp dirt" and you'll understand. Through movement of the car, seat and occupant, the sharp dirt ends up in the grooves where the threads are because these are the low spots that get filled with grit like a crevice on a kitchen counter or a pleat in an air filter. It embeds in there and each time you get up and sit down it saws away at the thread and the hole it goes through in the leather. Chop chop, cut cut, until one day you kneel on your seat (super bad form, by the way - don't let a windshield replacement guy or detailer do this) and the seam blows out.

The solution is easy. Whenever you vacuum your car, use the crevice tool to vacuum out the seams and pull that sharp dirt.

Second the leather itself. New leather has oils and waxes in it to allow it to stretch as you sit in it and move. All the holes with threads in it stretch a bit to spread the load of your carcass. Hit a normal everyday bump and pull a vertical G and your 150lb body exerts 300lbs on the seat. Hit a big bump at 1.5-2 Gs and so on. So, it takes a lot of stretching and force, which it can handle because the material is pliable and stretchy.

These oils dry out with the driver's seat the fastest as your jeans and clothes absorb it out like blotting with a towel over the years. The leather gets harder and so does not stretch but begins tugging on the seams. Remember those seams you've filled with sharp little cutting bits? Yeah, those seams. And the leather panels also suffer with force.

So you can replace those oils and waxes to make even badly dried leather pliable again but it takes some time and effort. Here's what I do.

I use Griot's Garage products - Interior Cleaner cleaner spray to gently remove the dirt from the leather when it's cool. I do this on a hot day so I can then back the car out into the hot sun. Let the interior get warm, then I apply Leather Rejuvenator. This product is not kinda like the right stuff - it is literally the same stuff your leather had infused into it when it was new from the factory. You will instantly realize this when you are done and the next day you open the door and your car smells exactly like new leather. No perfumes, no added scents. It's amazing.

Anyhow, I use a rubber glove and rub it all over the seats by squeezing a bit onto my fingers and rubbing it in like I am applying suntan lotion on one of the kids. You'll probably know where E46 seats fail from looking at internet photos. Be sure to liberally soak those areas to help relieve the pressure points that obviously lead to the tearing there. Once it's spread all over, I shut the doors and leave the car in the hot sun for an hour. Come back out and wherever it's still shiny, the leather is saturated for this treatment. Dull areas can accept some more, so spread some there and leave it again for an hour. Then rub off the excess.

It works great. For evidence, we have 3 leather cars with over 200k miles and the leather is soft and fully intact. I just did this on my new to me creampuff E46 with sport seats and it went great. When I acquire a car, I treat it as soon as possible and then again a month later. After that, really up to whether the car is garaged and how heavily it is used, but an annual treatment from then on will continue to soften it over the years. Enjoy! A leather interior can be a joy but it sure can suck when the leather starts to come apart.
 

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I am just about to finish my 5 day leatherique treatment, 2 days ago I cleaned and rinsed the leather and it looks amazing... reapplied more oil to get the cardboard like leather to its natural supple feel.

If you want to put in a lot of elbow grease for amazing results, I would advise getting the letherique kit on amazon.

Very good right up though and I’ve pretty much done the same thing just a little longer.
 

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I am just about to finish my 5 day leatherique treatment, 2 days ago I cleaned and rinsed the leather and it looks amazing... reapplied more oil to get the cardboard like leather to its natural supple feel.

If you want to put in a lot of elbow grease for amazing results, I would advise getting the letherique kit on amazon.

Very good right up though and I’ve pretty much done the same thing just a little longer.

+1. Have been using it for years. Love it


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