Saturday, November 21, 2009

Leather steering wheels disintegrate


My Miata came with a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Which makes no difference to me, except on warm, humid days. Especially on dewy mornings in the spring, summer, or fall; even worse if I left the top down overnight.

What happened? Well, the leather (I think it's leather, anyway) would get moist and start to come off on my hands. I could merely grab the wheel and gross black shit would stick to my hand. It would look like I had an afternoon under the hood, but without the thrill of actually swearing at every stupid bolt under the hood fixing something. Once dry, everything was fine.

My attempt at a cheap repair involved, easily enough, baseball bat grip tape. This stuff is sold at most sporting goods stores as exactly that, though it also works for sports injuries. They label it "athletic tape," and it comes in a small variety of colors, about $4 a roll. I suggest something bright and garish. Amanda bought me one in orange. One roll is enough.

This stuff is easy to use and looks fairly good when you're done. I suggest getting a full overlap as you wrap it: The black shows through with just one layer.

Since it's also made to attach to body parts, you can remove it later on when you get tired of the color without destroying your steering wheel. It's a good low-buck upgrade, and it'll keep the black shit off your hands.

UPDATE: Looks like it lasts about 20k miles before getting 100% nasty.

2 comments:

  1. Dont know if you get notified of comments or not. My wheel is falling apart too, did you think about taking the leather off before wrapping it?

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  2. I do get notified of comments. :)

    I didn't think about taking the leather off, no. It seems like it would be a hassle, and I don't know what it looks like under there. Since this athletic tape is pretty thin, I'd worry that the wheel wouldn't be as chunky or feel good to grip if I took the leather off. I'm pretty sure it would be considerably thinner and not look very good under the leather. So unless you went with something much more substantial, say, tennis racquet handle wrap, I wouldn't take the leather off. And racquet tape is much pricier.

    I don't know how badly yours is coming apart (if you're losing big chunks at a time, that's much worse than me), but I wouldn't take the leather off.

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