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Old 02-02-2010, 11:08 AM   #1
JmAbshire
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M3 Steering Wheel Refinish DIY

My steering wheel was in pretty bad shape and desperately needed to be restored and refinished to its original factory feel and look. Replacement or having someone do a rewrap at a upholstery shop would be an expensive option that would literally break the bank. However with a little work I refinished with excellent results!

I purchased the Leatherique steering wheel kit for $27 (http://www.leatherique.com/) and had absolutely phenomenal results. I was very impressed the products themselves and with the little amount of effort it took to make the wheel look and feel new again (estimate about 6 hours over 5 or so days). Of course I spent the majority of the time prepping the wheel, and I have a lot of experience shooting paints/stains, your skill level will determine the end result. That's just my disclaimer, don't let that discourage you, this is truly an easy DIY.

What you'll need:
Leatherique Steering Wheel Kit (includes 4oz of each of the following: Prepping agent, Black Dye, and Klear Kote)
Leatherique Rejuvenator oil (If you have leather you should have this stuff on hand at all times, the most amazing cleaner available in my opinion)
Leatherique Pristine clean (Same as above)
A few sheets of 600, 1000, 1500 grit sandpapers
Crack Filler (Used if you have any problem areas that don't come smooth after you hit it with your 1500 grit)

1.A few days before I started the actual refinishing of the wheel, I did a rejuvenator oil and pristine clean treatment to hydrate and clean the leather. Once I pristine cleaned the wheel, I let it dry for a few days.

2.Unhook negative battery terminal, and removed the steering wheel. Pretty straight forward, there's a good DIY here http://kinmak.com/?page_id=88

3.Once the wheel is off I removed all of the electronics and trim plates. (see above link)

4.I sanded the wheel with some 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper with the prepping agent to remove all of the original glaze, oils, and die. The prepping agent did an excellent job removing the old dye; make sure you wear gloves!

5.Once I did a round of 600 grit, I moved to 1000 grit, then to 1500 grit. The wheel was now silky smooth with the exception of 1 o'clock. From the pictures one will note some pretty nasty damage at this and the 8 o'clock positions. The 8 o'clock position was easily sanded and blended perfectly, not so with the 1 o'clock position. Not to worry I have some crack filler on hand from a previous repair for a screw driver in the back pocket incident that I don't want to talk about. I applied it onto the damaged area and press it into the area with a plastic applicator. I let that cure for about 3 hours and went back at it with my sanding regime 600, 1000, 1500. Problem solved, worked perfectly! I let the filler and dye cure for 24 hours.

6.Next, mask off with paper/tape around anything you don't want to get dye on, for me that was the interior of the wheel and the rear vinyl etc...

7.From the directions you can wipe the dye on, but for a more factory finish I decided to spray (I have a decent HVLP setup). I realize most DIY'ers won't probably have this, but It'll definitely take your results to the next level, gave me a very smooth and consistent professional finish, plus its very fast and uses significantly less product. The wiping/blotting technique on the leatherique site has been used with great success as an alternative to spraying.

8.Shot 3 coats, fine mist each time. I thinned 4:1 with distilled water for those who will spray. After this my fix to the 8 o'clock position was completely undistinguishable like it was never there!

9.I Let the dye sit for another 24 hours, and then applied a coat of Klear Kote. I applied the Klear with piece of (clean/lint free) T shirt and wiped it on, being careful to do in a uniform way to reduce buildup and streaks.

10.Let that sit for another 24 hours and reinstall the wheel. That's it..

The biggest issue anyone might face is, unless you have an old wheel, you'll be out of a steering wheel for at least 3 days while your dyeing and refinishing the wheel, plan accordingly. From a product standpoint I used 1.5oz of dye, .5 oz of Klear Kote, and about 3oz of the prepping agent. So with the exception of the prepping agent I could do another couple wheels with the amount of product I have left.

Hope you find this useful!

Jason

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Last edited by JmAbshire; 02-03-2010 at 06:04 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-02-2010, 11:12 AM   #2
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Great results.
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Old 02-02-2010, 12:53 PM   #3
Navin323i
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Great writeup!

Question though... I envisioned just applying the dye to my steering wheel and not removing the wheel.

Is it possible to do this without having to remove the entire wheel? I have a few spots on my steering wheel where it's a bit worn - can't see it unless you look behind the wheel around the 12 o'clock position.

Below is a pic of my steering wheel...

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Old 02-02-2010, 03:46 PM   #4
JmAbshire
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Originally Posted by Navin323i View Post
Great writeup!

Question though... I envisioned just applying the dye to my steering wheel and not removing the wheel.

Is it possible to do this without having to remove the entire wheel? I have a few spots on my steering wheel where it's a bit worn - can't see it unless you look behind the wheel around the 12 o'clock position.

Below is a pic of my steering wheel...

Pretty sweet wheel man... depending on the damage (if you have to use any filler) you might not have to take the wheel off, but.... the wheel is pretty simple to remove, and you'll end up doing a better repair job just because it won't be as hard to position your self and keep your interior clean IMO.

I would opt for removing the wheel you'll be happier with thre results in the long run.

Jason
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:06 PM   #5
Navin323i
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JmAbshire View Post
Pretty sweet wheel man... depending on the damage (if you have to use any filler) you might not have to take the wheel off, but.... the wheel is pretty simple to remove, and you'll end up doing a better repair job just because it won't be as hard to position your self and keep your interior clean IMO.

I would opt for removing the wheel you'll be happier with thre results in the long run.

Jason
Thanks Jason! It's a carbon fiber AC Schnitzer steering wheel that unfortunately has been long discontinued... fortunately I found and bought the last brand new one in the world almost 4 years ago.

Another reason why I didn't want to remove the wheel is due to medical reasons on my end (heart condition plus pacemaker) and didn't want to pay someone to remove my wheel and reattach it later.

In my case here I just have a few "touch-up" spots that would need to be dyed. What is the purpose of the filler that you were mentioning?
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Old 02-02-2010, 05:29 PM   #6
JmAbshire
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Originally Posted by Navin323i View Post
......In my case here I just have a few "touch-up" spots that would need to be dyed. What is the purpose of the filler that you were mentioning?
The filler is for if the leather has been damaged and can not be sanded smooth if you can hit it with some 600,1000,1500 and it becomes smooth then you're ok. The other thing is for the dye to adhere to the wheel you'll need to remove the old dye/oils etc.. in that area or section for your particular wheel. This is primarily why I would remove the wheel due to the mess you'll have with a leather dye prepping agent or deglazer. Also chances are the new dye will not match the existing wheel color due to natural aging, fading, etc. so you'll be able to tell where you made the repair. You probably want to do all the leather areas at the same time regardless of it it needs it or not. That way it'll all match.

hope that helps Jason
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:59 AM   #7
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I added a few more pictures.....

Last edited by JmAbshire; 02-03-2010 at 06:04 AM.
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Old 02-04-2010, 08:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by JmAbshire View Post
The filler is for if the leather has been damaged and can not be sanded smooth if you can hit it with some 600,1000,1500 and it becomes smooth then you're ok. The other thing is for the dye to adhere to the wheel you'll need to remove the old dye/oils etc.. in that area or section for your particular wheel. This is primarily why I would remove the wheel due to the mess you'll have with a leather dye prepping agent or deglazer. Also chances are the new dye will not match the existing wheel color due to natural aging, fading, etc. so you'll be able to tell where you made the repair. You probably want to do all the leather areas at the same time regardless of it it needs it or not. That way it'll all match.

hope that helps Jason
Thanks Jason... that definitely helps! Since you're local to me I may contact you later on (in case I have more questions) once I actually undertake this project.
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Old 02-04-2010, 12:32 PM   #9
JmAbshire
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Thanks Jason... that definitely helps! Since you're local to me I may contact you later on (in case I have more questions) once I actually undertake this project.

Sure thing man....
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Old 05-24-2010, 06:56 AM   #10
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Can you provide more detail on what crack filler is and where to get it? Also, do you have any suggestions on how to re-dye the wheel without coloring the tri-stitch stitching?
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:26 AM   #11
JmAbshire
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Can you provide more detail on what crack filler is and where to get it? Also, do you have any suggestions on how to re-dye the wheel without coloring the tri-stitch stitching?
The crack filler is used to repair any cuts, rips, or any other damage for that matter in the leather. You fill in the damaged area, let it cure for about 4 hours or so, then hit it with some sandpaper to level it off. It then can absorb dye at the same rate as the leather and is indistinguishable when the job is complete and done properly. The best stuff is from Leatherique (link below) youíll not need any more than 2oz.

http://www.leatherique.com/products.html

Unfortunately you will not be able to pull off not messing up the stitch color .... even if you donít spray and use the blotting technique. When you use the prepping agent as a lubricant to remove the dye, all of the old dye is going be everywhere and will stain pretty much everything it comes in contact with. Just to hard to not get it on those threads.. Sorry man...


Good luck
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Old 09-08-2011, 09:32 PM   #12
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I'm guessing the dye doesn't match stock exactly?
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:55 AM   #13
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any updates on the longevity of the dye?
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Old 09-09-2011, 05:54 AM   #14
JmAbshire
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Dye is holding very well, every once and a while I do a quick pristine clean wipe down and that's it, stuff is rock sold.

As for the match, the dye is black with a glosser finish than stock, but I'm thinking that's why its holding up better.

Jason
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Old 09-09-2011, 06:06 AM   #15
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Thinking about covering the trip stitch with tape and the dying. Is the a noticeable difference if that is done.
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Old 09-09-2011, 06:50 AM   #16
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I didn't have the multi colored stitching if that's what your talking about, it would be very hard to make it look good and not get any dye on it, best to dye everything IMO
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