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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 08-11-2006, 04:25 PM   #1
kinggrimwood
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Wink HOW TO tell if its real leather. PIX

It is a common question that people ask if the leather is real or not. Maybe this has been posted before but i've never seen a sticky for it.

First and foremost, PREMIUM Pkg does NOT promise leather. SPORTS pkg does NOT promise leather.

YES, you can tell by looking at it!

Please read the text above each picture indicating what you are looking at.



First, Take the basic front seat. There is a fold in the LEATHER. leatherette does not have this fold. Please examine the difference between the two photos. The first one has leather, the second does not.




The same exact thing goes for the back seats. As follows, the first one has leather, and the second one does not.




On a sport seat it is difficult to tell. The below picture does have leather. If looking to see if a car with sports pkg has leather, it is important that you look at the rear seats as it is much easier to tell on the back seat.



This is accurate information for any year e46. This is according to the Sales manager at Kuni BMW in portland, OR. It's the same on any recently made BMW. He assured me that this is accurate and true information. Many times leather will not show up on the history report, and unless you can get a hold of the original invoice, this is the easiest fastest way to determine real leather. I hope this helps.
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Old 04-13-2007, 04:51 PM   #2
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330i, xi and 330ci w/ premium package will have leather, model years 2003+

Leather is STD on 330cic, model years 2003+

It is only the 325i,xi - 325i, xi wagons and 325ci, cic where leather is a stand alone option and not in the premium package
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Old 04-29-2007, 10:23 AM   #3
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from what i was told by a dude at the raliegh bmw dealership, the gray interiors are always real leather, black and tan are the ones that are grounds for being pleather.
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Old 05-02-2007, 11:56 AM   #4
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There's an even easier way to tell: if it's cracked, faded, stained, creased and generally just looks like crap, it's leather. Leatherette, being a synthetic material, will have an uncanny "factory perfect" appearance and feel even in an older car. It does not age or wear quickly from exposure to water or UV radiation. Leatherette will not stain, wrinkle, or fade.

As the E46 models age, you'll find that the mediocre quality leather BMW uses in the 3er will begin to show itself without the need for looking at flaps in the seat, or feeling the texture, or anything else.
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Old 05-02-2007, 10:40 PM   #5
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So it was a waste for me to use leather cleaner on my freakin leatherette seats?
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:30 PM   #6
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I was just going to ask that! What is the recommended cleaner for this? I guess i got leatherette. Oh well, its looks good and nobody knows the difference. They all say how good the leather looks!
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Old 05-06-2007, 08:16 AM   #7
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So it was a waste for me to use leather cleaner on my freakin leatherette seats?
Yup.

You should be using Vinyl cleaner. The moisturizers and conditioners in leather treatments won't do anything but dirty up your vinyl. However, if you;re just using foaming cleaners an such, that will work fine.
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:36 AM   #8
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are all steering wheels leather?
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Old 05-17-2007, 09:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akhbhaat View Post
There's an even easier way to tell: if it's cracked, faded, stained, creased and generally just looks like crap, it's leather.
Here's an even easier way than that to tell! I found this buried in my trunk. I am not the first owner of the car and always just assumed I had leatherette because my seats aren't soft like leather. But at the same time they're only slightly faded and with no cracks, just a few creases. So after discovering this I went out and bought some leather cleaner and conditioner


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Old 05-17-2007, 09:55 AM   #10
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nice.... i was always a little unsure... good to konw i have the real deal
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Old 05-17-2007, 10:03 AM   #11
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yeah man! i never even bothered trying to clean my seats for the 2 years i've had my car. and now i'm like oh crap i better clean these things! haha
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Old 05-17-2007, 12:39 PM   #12
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Is the information in the original post correct? I have the "fold" in the seat but I'm 90% sure that it is not leather. It doesn't feel like leather and it doesn't smell like leather.
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Old 05-17-2007, 12:43 PM   #13
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I can't believe this thread is back. Why is it so hard for people to tell between leather and letherette.

It is obviuos is day when you look at it. Looks different, feels different, heck even smells different.
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Old 05-17-2007, 01:52 PM   #14
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Is the information in the original post correct? I have the "fold" in the seat but I'm 90% sure that it is not leather. It doesn't feel like leather and it doesn't smell like leather.
same with me. mine doesn't smell and the seats are rather hard, not soft like other leather seats i've sat in. i've seen the leatherette in a new car at the dealer and it's a lot nicer than my leather! lol
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:04 PM   #15
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Crud...sorry for continuting this post. I think I have leather, but am not totally sure. I have the "fold" and Premium Package on my 2002 330i. Actually my seats look exactly like the first picture (seat with the "fold") in the very first post in this thread. I can't really smell the leather.
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Old 05-18-2007, 02:40 PM   #16
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^^^Yeah man you have leather! Mine don't smell either, my car just smells like the dirty shed where I store it in the winter haha
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Old 05-30-2007, 11:22 AM   #17
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Is there any real replacement for having the real thing...not!
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Old 06-07-2007, 11:42 AM   #18
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leatherette > leather

I've always liked the leatherette better. It just feels more comfortable to me.
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Old 06-14-2007, 03:37 PM   #19
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Another item of note, BMW does not (that I know of) produce leatherette in gray. Only in tan and black. So, if you have gray you have leather.
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:49 PM   #20
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The premium package doesnt include real leather. You have to specify whether you want leather or not and just how darkryan posted, you are charged extra for the leather. I bought my car with the sport package and premium package and still had to pay extra for real leather. Although it is true, leatherette is so much more comfortable. This weekend i had the new 328i as a loaner while mine was at lauderdale bmw, and the seats were soooo comfortable and soft LOL.
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