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      02-23-2013, 04:31 PM   #1
Thebigbus
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Refinish Steering Wheel

Ok bear with me.

I've used pretty much all methods to try and remove the "sticky/tacky" feeling I get when gripping the steering wheel for even a few minutes. I've used soap/water, Leather Master Strong Cleaner, and even Leather Master Degreaser.

There is still an obvious difference between the top of the steering wheel, which is slick, and gets "sticky", and the bottom of the wheel, where the dry, matte look from the factory is still intact.

I think I'm to the point of trying to refinish the top of the steering wheel myself.

Leather Master sells a "Top coat" that is matte, and I think this is all I really need, as the color hasn't faded.

#1, does anyone have any experience re COATING leather to get that matte look and "dry" feel back to it? I'm wondering if I'll have to lightly sand the top portion of the steering wheel that I want to recoat? That makes me darn nervous...

#2, how can I find out which type of "top coat" BMW actually uses on our steering wheels? If I could find that out, maybe I'd be able to get the right product. Otherwise, I think I'll try the Leather Master finish on a scrap piece of leather and see how it turns out.

I just can't take this sticky feeling any more. It removes so much of the pleasure from driving....

Last edited by Thebigbus; 02-23-2013 at 05:26 PM.
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      02-23-2013, 05:24 PM   #2
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      02-23-2013, 05:29 PM   #3
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i would just buy a new wheel
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      02-23-2013, 05:42 PM   #4
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You need one thing...and that is the only thing that will work v v v

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=768340
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      02-23-2013, 06:48 PM   #5
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If you've tried all manners of cleaning, I'd just get the wheel recovered or use the opportunity to try a new wheel all together.
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      02-23-2013, 07:17 PM   #6
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I use leatherique once per year, slather the stuff all over the wheel and cover it with a plastic bag, sit in the sun for several hours, then remove all the gunk with their pristine clean. This usually gets rid of the sticky/tacky feeling and restores the matte softness to the wheel.
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      02-24-2013, 05:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekurgan View Post
I use leatherique once per year, slather the stuff all over the wheel and cover it with a plastic bag, sit in the sun for several hours, then remove all the gunk with their pristine clean. This usually gets rid of the sticky/tacky feeling and restores the matte softness to the wheel.
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      02-26-2013, 08:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple Derple
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Originally Posted by thekurgan View Post
I use leatherique once per year, slather the stuff all over the wheel and cover it with a plastic bag, sit in the sun for several hours, then remove all the gunk with their pristine clean. This usually gets rid of the sticky/tacky feeling and restores the matte softness to the wheel.
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For you guys who found this to be successful, had you tried any other product before that? Like leathermasters as suggested by OP?
I have not used anything else because I had the products purchased for the seats and just used a bit for the wheel at the same time; worked for me.
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      02-26-2013, 12:23 PM   #9
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And your wheel really is back to new looking? How many miles on your car and how bad was it to begin with? Only reason I ask is my wheel is shined up like crazy and leather masters treatment didn't do much for it unfortunately, tho it helped a little.
The car has just under 20k and it was in ok condition. Previous driver was also a 9/3 driver like myself, so the top and bottom were pristine. The 9/3 areas were shiny and the leatherique caused whatever dirt/salt to be released. The entire wheel looks and feels new, almost as soft as my E86M wheel.
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      02-26-2013, 05:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ///M Power-Belgium View Post
You need one thing...and that is the only thing that will work v v v

http://www.m3post.com/forums/showthread.php?t=768340
you really love that stuff huh
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      02-26-2013, 06:15 PM   #11
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Thanks for the replies. I am just to the point where I think, based on looking at the wheel and seeing how it now reacts to moisture, I really think the finish is actually worn off. The Leather Master stuff (Strong cleaner plus degreaser) is supposed to be equivalent if not better to the cleaning of Leatherique...so I'm at a loss.

I noticed when I wiped the shiny areas with a cloth and some isopropyl alcohol, color was transferred (Not grease or dirt, as it's super clean now). So, this lets me know that the finish is pretty much shot.

I ordered the "Soft Finish Top Coat" by Leather Master, and will give that a try. Have no idea if I have to "prep" the area prior to appylying, like one would if re dying, etc. We'll see....this is something that I've researched for weeks now, and there's not a lot of good info out there, and it's hard to get some of the leather finishing places to respond to me. :-/
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      02-26-2013, 10:22 PM   #12
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Well if nothing else helps, it may be new wheel time.
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      02-26-2013, 10:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Well if nothing else helps, it may be new wheel time.
True...will have to wait a bit on that one...financial reasons and all I'll just drive with gloves, LoL
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      02-27-2013, 10:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purple Derple View Post
I have the same findings with my wheel. The leather is very polished at 9 and 3 and leather masters strong cleaner results in color transfer. After treating the wheel with leather masters strong cleaner, conditioner, and protection cream, the wheel acquires more of a matte finish, however it never returns to the new look. I think the pores were too clogged for too long and the leather itself has permanently constricted. The finish in some places is wearing off altogether. Car has 45k miles. Too much contact with the steering wheel with oily hands I guess. I don't know how people with alcantara wheels do it.

The shift boot is worse off with a lot of the finish having worn off and permanent polished look. The rest of the leather in the car has held up however.
Precisely.

Maybe the Leather Master "Soft Finish Top Coat" (Matte) will work and give it that smooth, DRY, Matte look again. We'll see. I should be getting it in the mail in the next couple of days.

All the other leather in the car looks great, aside from some small scuffs/scratches here and there, and of course aside from the driver side bolster wear, but that is a given. haha
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      02-27-2013, 12:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thebigbus View Post
Thanks for the replies. I am just to the point where I think, based on looking at the wheel and seeing how it now reacts to moisture, I really think the finish is actually worn off. The Leather Master stuff (Strong cleaner plus degreaser) is supposed to be equivalent if not better to the cleaning of Leatherique...so I'm at a loss.
Leather Master and Leatherique work in completely different ways. Leather Master is water based while Leatherique is not.

The M3 Steering wheel is an un-coated analine leather which responds to products like Leatherique very strongly. Leatherique simply will never work on coated leather surfaces. Every leather surface in modern BMW's today is un-coated analine, meaning that the Leatherique product will actually penetrate and do what it is intended to do, rather than work on the surface.

I personally don't like the Leather Master products much at all on BMW's, and find Leatherique to be far more effective and impressive.

If the steering wheel is not consistently cared for, it is going to be a almost impossible to return it to a 100% new look as all the oil and dirt may have actually abraded away at the leathers surface. A weekly wipe down would really aid in prolonging this from happening, but it is inevitable in the end.
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      02-27-2013, 01:00 PM   #16
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I do a weekly/bi-weekly wipe down of the wheel with Meguiar's Interior Quick Detailer. It cleans up the wheel, maintains the matte look/feel and gives some UV protection. Otherwise I just try not to drive with my hands dirty or oily. Oils from food and sweat settle into the leather and make it glossy.
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      02-27-2013, 01:19 PM   #17
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Leather Master and Leatherique work in completely different ways. Leather Master is water based while Leatherique is not.

The M3 Steering wheel is an un-coated analine leather which responds to products like Leatherique very strongly. Leatherique simply will never work on coated leather surfaces. Every leather surface in modern BMW's today is un-coated analine, meaning that the Leatherique product will actually penetrate and do what it is intended to do, rather than work on the surface.

I personally don't like the Leather Master products much at all on BMW's, and find Leatherique to be far more effective and impressive.

If the steering wheel is not consistently cared for, it is going to be a almost impossible to return it to a 100% new look as all the oil and dirt may have actually abraded away at the leathers surface. A weekly wipe down would really aid in prolonging this from happening, but it is inevitable in the end.
This is incorrect. BMW leather is "semi-aniline," meaning it has a urethane coating as the outermost layer. "Full aniline" lacks a protective coating over the color coat. Very few modern cars utilize full aniline leather. You are correct about Leatherique being oil-based, and oil-based products should never be used on BMW leather. Water-based products like Leather Masters are what need to be used.

Regarding the steering wheel issue in the OP, the most effective way of removing contaminates from any leather surface in our cars is through steam cleaning. Steam will pull embedded contaminates off of the steering wheel and onto the towel attached to the steam nozzle. It's much more effective than cleaning the wheel by hand w/ a water-based cleaner. The steering wheel in this picture looked glossy and was full of body oils prior to being steamed. The factory, matte-look was restored:

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      02-27-2013, 01:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipsisNA View Post
This is incorrect. BMW leather is "semi-aniline," meaning it has a urethane coating as the outermost layer. "Full aniline" lacks a protective coating over the color coat. Very few modern cars utilize full aniline leather. You are correct about Leatherique being oil-based, and oil-based products should never be used on BMW leather. Water-based products like Leather Masters are what need to be used.

Regarding the steering wheel issue in the OP, the most effective way of removing contaminates from any leather surface in our cars is through steam cleaning. Steam will pull embedded contaminates off of the steering wheel and onto the towel attached to the steam nozzle. It's much more effective than cleaning the wheel by hand w/ a water-based cleaner. The steering wheel in this picture looked glossy and was full of body oils prior to being steamed. The factory, matte-look was restored:

Yep, there's definitely a urethane coating on most automotive leathers, our cars included.

That steering wheel looks great. I'm not really sure where/how to get a good steam clean around me, though...I will ask my detailer.

If there is already color transfer, however, it seems like the urethane coating is prob gone, right?

In that case, do you think it prudent for me to try testing a reapplication of the top coat?
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      02-27-2013, 01:54 PM   #19
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Yep, there's definitely a urethane coating on most automotive leathers, our cars included.

That steering wheel looks great. I'm not really sure where/how to get a good steam clean around me, though...I will ask my detailer.

If there is already color transfer, however, it seems like the urethane coating is prob gone, right?

In that case, do you think it prudent for me to try testing a reapplication of the top coat?
A lot of detailers don't have steam machines because they're typically not in high demand, but industrial equipment rental stores might have steam cleaners (sometimes they're known as "vapor machines"). That could be an option for you.

If color transfer is occuring then most likely the urethane is worn in some places. You can test this by putting a drop of water on the leather and seeing if it saturates the leather. If the drop rolls off the leather, then the urethane is still there. Worst case scenario is you can have an upholsterer recoat the steering wheel for you, but that would be costly.
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      02-27-2013, 01:59 PM   #20
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The wheel in the E9x M3 is very strange compared to the past, and the Z4M Coupe wheel, which was HUGE in comparison, was soft for years, it never seemed to absorb anything and stayed matte for the 4 years I had the car.

I will agree to a point about the water-based cleaners for some of the BMW leather, but leatherique does do its job, oil-based or not. If you follow the directions, the results are stunning.
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      02-27-2013, 02:32 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipsisNA View Post
A lot of detailers don't have steam machines because they're typically not in high demand, but industrial equipment rental stores might have steam cleaners (sometimes they're known as "vapor machines"). That could be an option for you.

If color transfer is occuring then most likely the urethane is worn in some places. You can test this by putting a drop of water on the leather and seeing if it saturates the leather. If the drop rolls off the leather, then the urethane is still there. Worst case scenario is you can have an upholsterer recoat the steering wheel for you, but that would be costly.
Yeah, more than I wanna spend at this time. I figure if I can't fix it with the top coat, I will just save up and get a new wheel eventually.

I tried the "steam towel" method early on, and it did remove a lot of grime, but obviously not what a steam cleaner would. But honestly I think the wheel is pretty darn clean at this point after all the cleaning with a soft tooth brush and many different cleaners. LoL.

Will try the top coat and report back. Hopefully I won't ruin the wheel.

Do you think I should prep the area in any way with a VERY light sanding, or just apply the top coat over what is there? I don't want to risk ruining anything...
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      02-27-2013, 03:17 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipsisNA View Post
This is incorrect. BMW leather is "semi-aniline," meaning it has a urethane coating as the outermost layer. "Full aniline" lacks a protective coating over the color coat. Very few modern cars utilize full aniline leather. You are correct about Leatherique being oil-based, and oil-based products should never be used on BMW leather. Water-based products like Leather Masters are what need to be used.

Regarding the steering wheel issue in the OP, the most effective way of removing contaminates from any leather surface in our cars is through steam cleaning. Steam will pull embedded contaminates off of the steering wheel and onto the towel attached to the steam nozzle. It's much more effective than cleaning the wheel by hand w/ a water-based cleaner. The steering wheel in this picture looked glossy and was full of body oils prior to being steamed. The factory, matte-look was restored:


Leatherique is perfectly fine to use on BMW leather and works far more effectively than Leather Master does if used correctly. You are correct, the Novillo leather is a semi-aniline, my mistake. Semi-aniline still absorbs moisture even though it is not supposed to as much.

Steam cleaning works great.
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