Steering wheel/shift knob leather replacement

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Thanks to Don Mallison. Steering wheel, gearshift and interior leather care, repair.

The shiny leather surface on the steering wheel and gearshift of our SHO’s and other cars so equipped has a finite life. Seat leather will usually last longer than the steering wheel or gearshift because it doesn't get the dirt and oils that our hands put on the upper leather surfaces.

Keeping leather clean is essential to extending its life. I have found that Lexol’s two part system of cleaner and conditioner is the best care you can give leather, but don't forget to do the steering wheel and gearshift at the same time.

My wheel and gearshift knob both lost their gloss about the same time after about 6 years and 130,000 miles. I tried leather conditioners, Mink oil and any number of remedies, but once these surfaces get that suede like roughness, nothing will help except replacement or covering them.

A good leather shop can repair the shift knob, and maybe the steering wheel, but good leather costs a LOT and getting it as nice as the factory is not easy.

I even tried one of the companies that go around to dealerships are repair interiors. They used a filler on the leather, and then painted and clear coated both items, but within a day, they were getting my hands totally black and the roughness came right back.

You can buy a new knob from Ford or do what I did, buy a Momo (or other brand) aftermarket knob.

For the steering wheel, getting a new one is also going to be expensive, so I went looking for the best steering wheel cover I could find. After being grossed out by the hard and ill-fitting stuff at most parts and discount stores, I finally found WHEELSKINS at the SEMA show in Vegas. I became a dealer for them and put one of their covers on my 89 SHO two years ago. The Wheelskins covers are top quality leather that come in 5 standard sizes and can even be custom cut for any wheel including busses and semi trucks down to tiny race wheels. They come in 9 colors that should match any wheel out there. If you have ever tried a cheap cover, you know they don't fit most wheels, they are hard to put on and when you try to lace them up tight, they tear. I have tried and have never torn a Wheelskins cover. And they are guaranteed to fit. The leather is so supple you can feel all of your stock wheels finger grips and any lines or molding marks in the wheel. Wheelskins are $34.95 plus tax and shipping,(slightly higher for larger than standard wheels) a lot more than the typical under $10 cheapie, but you get what you pay for in this case. If you can't find them locally, I will be happy to sell to SHO owners for $34.95 complete to your door. E-mail me at dmall@mwonline.net or call at 309-444-9683.