Caring for leather personal experiences!

Discussion in '360/430' started by rob4092xx, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. eclipsisNA

    eclipsisNA Southern California

    Feb 9, 2009
    LA & OC, CA

    All modern luxury cars have aniline leather, for a more detailed understanding of how they're supposed to be cleaned, read through togwt's post here:
  2. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    Phoenix, AZ
    I sent an e-mail to the owner of Leather Masters asking questions about how to care for the leather in our 360's. He told me the leather in our cars is in fact urethane coated and that NOTHING will soak in. Nothing can get past the coating!

    The only advice he had was to keep the leather clean with Leather Master Foam (Mousse) Mild Cleaner. Then wipe off with a damp cloth.

    That is it! To wipe dust and such off, he advised to use a damp microfiber towel...that is it!

    Conditioners, oils, etc., may give a feel that they make the leather softer but he said it is impossible since the leather is coated. The owner said he has owned several Ferrari's and is familiar with the type of leather in our cars!

    More specifically, he wrote the below in one of our e-mail exchanges:

    "With all coated leathers the key to longevity is ensuring 2 things, the first is that the oils that are inherent in the leather when it is tanned are retained and that the PU coating remains intact to prevent the ingress of liquids and simultaneously seal those inherent oils in. Nothing you put on the PU coating is going to penetrate. The key to maintaining the dash is to ensure that you prevent UV damage (very difficult) and oxidization of the PU, again quite difficult, however the cleaner in our Auto interior care kit does contain chemicals designed to lessen these issues. Protection cream will do no harm and will indeed prolong the life of the PU.

    Leather Masters Vital is designed for Aniline Leathers that have faded. We would routinely mix colored pigments with Vital as a restorer for faded areas of aniline leathers. Anilines by the way are dyed all the way through and have no surface protection which makes them very susceptible to staining and the absorption of liquids and grease etc. These are never used in auto interiors.

    By applying Leather Master Protection Cream to the surface of a PU coated Leather is, bizarrely, protecting the PU by lessening the effect of abrasion, dye transfer and degradation due to bodily oils and such like. Vital has no protective qualities. I would recommend our Auto Interior Kit which we sell bucket loads over here to car enthusiasts and especially to those with leather interiors that are heavily used. My last BMW 7 series had over 100,000 miles on it when I traded it for a new one last year and the driver’s seat was like new. I am currently trialing a new product for auto seats that looks like it will do the job even better!

    By the way I had a 78 308GTB back in the 80’s and believe me maintaining the leather in them in those days was much more of a challenge!! In fact keeping them on the road was a challenge!"
  3. jpk

    jpk Formula Junior

    Have to correct that broad statement about aniline *never* being used in auto interiors. I have a Ford F-150 King Ranch, which does indeed come with aniline leather seats. You can tell the difference between the King Ranch leather and even Ferrari seats because you cannot see any grain or imperfections in the Ferrari leather, because it is indeed coated. The King Ranch shows all of the animal skin imperfections and feels completely different. It also will not bead water and will stain instantly from any oils (food or body).

    However, thanks for the tip on Leather Masters vital. I've got some fading on some of the seat bolsters because I used a bad leather cleaner conditioner given to me on some bad advice when I didn't have any King Ranch conditioner on hand. Will check that product out.

    Sorry got slightly off topic with something not Ferrari specific, but just wanted to jump in for those two points since this thread is already broad ranging.

  4. PhilNotHill

    PhilNotHill Two Time F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Jul 3, 2006
    Aspen CO 81611
    Full Name:
    #54 PhilNotHill, Oct 30, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
    I read the instructions re Leatherique and it scared me to death. Afraid I would do much more harm than good. Heat the seats with a hair dryer before application? I have never used it.

    there is some cracking on the outside bolster on the driver's seat. wear and tear from my big rear. it is very dry here.

    the quest goes on.
  5. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    Phoenix, AZ
    I used Leatherique on my C6 Corvette seats several years ago and did the plastic bag/put in the sun thing like the instructions say. The seats felt softer...for about one day up until I sat in them for a few drives. Then, they collected dirt faster than before and my windows were a mess. Even the carpet seemed to collect dirt more...maybe from evaporation of the Leatherique since it's gotta go somewhere when it evaporates in a hot, sealed car???

    Leatherique reminded me of "3 in 1 oil" my father used to put on everything when I was a kid...same consistency, color, feel, etc.

    I still have a full bottle of Pristine Clean and Leatherique!
  6. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    Phoenix, AZ
    #56 rob4092xx, Oct 31, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2012
    Not to change the subject but remember 3 in 1 oil???? It came in the metal can with the plastic tip??? My Dad oiled everything with it! Brings back the same memory of Vick's Cough Syrup. Didn't matter if I had a cold, stomach ache, head ache or hang Mom always gave me a teaspoon of Vick's Formula 44 Cough Syrup....yuck!

    To this day I cannot drink a micro-brewed beer as the taste reminds me of Vick's!

    Okay...enough of reminiscing of the 60's...back to automobile leather!
  7. wingfeather

    wingfeather F1 Rookie

    Feb 1, 2007
    rock bottom
    Leather is treated with oil when it is produced, so I'm not sure why anyone would think it's a bad thing to keep it oiled.

    For those worried about damaging their "delicate" leather, let's recap the production process (it's not exactly a dainty, gentle process):

    To get from a salted hide to a piece of leather ready for use in a sofa takes 10 working days!

    The steps below show you what tanneries have to do to turn hides into leather:


    Raw hides and skins must be preserved to stop them deteriorating before the leather-making process can begin. Methods of preservation include salting, chilling, freezing and the use of biocides.

    Cured hides or skins are soaked in water for several hours to several days. This allows them to reabsorb any water they may have lost in the curing process or during transportation. It also helps to clean them of salt and dirt.


    Painting is a method by which wool can be removed from sheepskins using a sulphide based mixture.


    Liming removes the epidermis and hair. This also results in alkaline swelling of the pelt to cause a controlled breaking of some of the chemical crosslinks of the collagen .


    After liming the pelt is passed through a machine to remove fleshy tissue from the flesh side. Hides may be split into layers at this stage or after tanning.


    The principal action of deliming is to gradually neutralise the alkali in the pelt, avoiding rapid changes in pH which could lead to distortion or disruption of the tissues.


    A long delime can significantly improve the removal of any remaining lime, scud (miscellaneous debris) and residual components broken down during liming. Bating - based on the use of enzymes - completes this process so that the pelt is flat, relaxed, clean and ready for pickling and tanning.


    Weak acid and salt solutions are used to bring the pelt to the weakly acid state required for most tanning processes. Stronger pickling solutions are used to preserve pelts so that they can be stored or transported in a stable form over periods of several months.


    Solvents or water-based systems can be used to remove excess grease before tanning.


    Tanning converts the protein of the raw hide or skin into a stable material, which will not putrefy and is suitable for a wide variety of purposes. Tanning materials form crosslinks in the collagen structure and stabilise it against the effects of acids, alkalis, heat, water and the action of micro-organisms. The main types of tanning materials are :

    Mineral tannages

    Most leather is tanned using salts of chromium.
    Aldehyde and oil tannages

    Tanning with aldehydes and oils produce very soft leathers and this system can be used to produce drycleanable and washable fashion leathers and also chamois leather.

    Vegetable tannages

    Various plant extracts produce brown coloured leathers which tend to be thick and firm. This type of tannage is used to produce stout sole leather, belting leather and leathers for shoe linings, bags and cases.


    A splitting machine slices thicker leather into two layers. The layer without a grain surface can be turned into suede or have an artificial grain surface applied.

    A uniform thickness is achieved by shaving the leather on the non-grain side using a machine with a helical blades mounted on a rotating cylinder.


    Neutralising removes residual chemicals and prepares the leather for further processing and finishing.

    Additional tanning material may be applied to give particular properties which are required in the finished leather.


    The dyeing of leather into a wide variety of colours plays an important part in meeting fashion requirements. Some leathers are only surface dyed, while others need completely penetrated dyeings, as is the case with suede leathers.


    Fatliquoring introduces oils to lubricate the fibres and keep the leather flexible and soft. Without these oils the leather will become hard and inflexible as it dries out.


    This process reduces water content to about 55% and can be achieved by a number of machines, the commonest being like a large mangle with felt covered rollers.

    Setting out

    The leather is stretched out and the grain side is smoothed. This process also reduces the water content to about 40%.

    Final drying

    Leather is normally dried to 10-20% water content. This can be achieved in a number of ways and each method has a different effect on the finished leather:

    Staking and dry drumming

    A staking machine makes the leather softer and more flexible by massaging it to separate the fibres. To finish off the leather may be softened by the tumbling action inside a rotating drum.

    Buffing and Brushing

    The flesh surface is removed by mechanical abrasion to produce a suede effect or to reduce the thickness. In some cases the grain surface is buffed to produce a very fine nap, e.g. nubuck leathers. After buffing the leather is brushed to remove excess dust.

    The aims of finishing are to level the colour, cover grain defects, control the gloss and provide a protective surface with good resistance to water, chemical attack and abrasion.
    Final grading

    Leather will be graded before despatch to the customer. This grading may consider the colour intensity and uniformity, the feel of the leather, softness, visual appearance, thickness, design effects and natural defects such as scratches.
  8. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    Phoenix, AZ
    You forgot the last step in automotive leather.....

    Urethane Coating

    A fine coat of clear urethane is sprayed onto the leather surface to protect it and seal out dirt, spills and body fluids.

    Nothing (including oils) can penetrate past the urethane coating!
  9. Esoteric Auto Detail

    Esoteric Auto Detail Formula Junior

    Dec 14, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    Leatherique is a water-based product, not oil-based ("oil" is just in the name...not the composition").

    It works extremely well on old and new leather for both deep cleaning and conditioning.

    If anybody speaks against it, either (a) they've never actually used it to test the actual results, or (b) are basing their theory on the incorrect assumption that it is an oil-based product.

    I can use any product that I want...I choose to use Leatherique because it works! :)
  10. Trent

    Trent Formula 3

    Dec 10, 2003
    Indialantic, FL
    Full Name:
    #60 Trent, Nov 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    +1. They even changed the name from Rejuvenator Oil to just Leather Rejuvenator to reduce confusion.


    I will add;

    (c) the leather could be damaged and rubbing it with anything wet would cause damage, discoloration, etc.
    (d) bad luck could cause a-typical results

    If you are in doubt, take an old pair of stiff leather gloves and treat them 2-3 times per directions. You will be amazed that they can be brought back to life.

    *Leathrique rejuvenator products can not perform miracles and will not make you look younger. If your leather needs to be re-dyed it will not help. But I have rejuvenated old leather, then re-dyed (leatherique dye just because they had the color code, good prices, and needed some more stuff anyway), then the final product looked amazing and was soft and new. I have posted before and after pics many times here in my threads. The seats looked almost new. (1981 308 GTBi FL Car for 15 [hard] years of its life)

    My re-dye "did" perform miracles IMO.
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  11. Noblesse Oblige

    Noblesse Oblige F1 Veteran

    Nov 7, 2011
    Three Places
    Let me try a different thought. My problem with leather in Ferraris has not been keeping the leather supple and soft. Rather it has been wear, esp. around the bolsters where there is constant friction. Unlike the German cars I have owned whose leather is tough as hell, the coloration in Ferrari leather is very delicate. And if you get wear around contrasting stitching, it cannot be redyed in place. It must be rewrapped. To date I have found that the best strategy, in addition to just minimizing contact between me and the leather, is to use a treatment that reduces friction; that is, make it slippery so that any contact is less abrasive to the leather. One product that does this pretty well is Mothers Leather Conditioner. Yes, cheap non exotic Mothers.

    Go ahead, tell me I'm crazy.
  12. 993man

    993man Formula Junior

    Sep 20, 2009
    New Zealand
    Full Name:
    All I know is I applied Leatherique and my seats looks great now.
    In fact, I'm doing it again because I confess that after 2 days I got inpatient and wiped it off.
    I wanted to drive the car.
    I'm doing it again
  13. RobD

    RobD Formula 3

    Nov 10, 2003
    +1 Mother's does leave a slick finish. It's a good OTC product...just don't use it before hitting the track or you may slide out of the seat, lol.
  14. Noblesse Oblige

    Noblesse Oblige F1 Veteran

    Nov 7, 2011
    Three Places
    Good point :)
  15. Arnie

    Arnie Formula Junior

    Oct 5, 2011
    New Jersey
    German leather also wears out the bolsters and making it slick will not prevent it. I have an 89 turbo and the bolsters look new. You have to change the procedure you use getting in an out of your car. To protect the leather put your left hand on the bolster and as you get in slide your ass on your hand instead of the bolster and there will be no wear on the bolster. To get out left hand on the bolster rotate your body and step out. This will work slick leather will still wear from Jeans and belts.
  16. Spider360Matt

    Spider360Matt Formula Junior

    Mar 14, 2012
    not entirely true...I get different wear signs using that technique. In doing this you can crush the bolster under your weight and rather than wearing the lether you wrinkle it and the bolster loses its shape. That said, Im 240lbs and 6'4"; effectively doing a gymnastics routine every time I enter the car.

    Are you sure that German cattle arent thick skinned and the their Italian counterparts are more 'delicate'? ;)
  17. HighandDry

    HighandDry Formula Junior

    Jul 24, 2012
    Full Name:
    LOL since you have a spider, you should just jump over the door and into the seat.

    I'm not too concerned about bolster wear. It's usually in an isolated area and away from the stiching. A leather guy can re-do it for 500 bucks and it will look brand new.
  18. rob4092xx

    rob4092xx Formula Junior

    Mar 8, 2010
    Phoenix, AZ
    The re-dye of your seats looks absolutely awesome! Great job!

    I am not sure the leather glove example is an accurate example of what to expect for automotive leather. Auto leather is urethane coated to prevent moisture from discoloring the leather. Unless this coating is worn off, much like it looks like it did with your old seat, there is no way conditioner can get through it to the leather. A leather glove is uncoated leather and will absorb any type of liquid.

  19. ReinD

    ReinD Formula Junior

    Sep 16, 2010
    First, thanks for sharing and all that you've done to help educate us. Bravo!

    I think it's really tough for people to make the "right" choice when there is differing (conflicting) information. As you and the other authors pointed out, everyone learned it from someone or through trial and error, so whatever advice we're getting is based on that expert's experience. It really comes down to what expert you're willing to believe.

    Everyone's situation is different. I'm sure some seats get dirtier/more heat/more spills/more rubbing than others - and I'm sure that some seats need more attention than others. And for some who don't plan to keep their car longer than the next model, I bet their seats don't get cared for at all!

    What would be interesting to read at this point, are stories from owners or detailers who did it wrong. They used the wrong stuff and completely screwed up the seats. But how long did it take for people to notice that they're doing it wrong? Right away? 1-2 years? 4-5 years?

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