How To Restore Your Car’s Steering Wheel (Looks Brand New!)

How To Restore Your Car’s Steering Wheel (Looks Brand New!)


Hey guys, ChrisFix here! Is your steering wheel worn out? Maybe the leather or the rubber around the edge is cracked or faded just like this? Well, today I’m going to show you how to refinish your steering wheel… so it goes from this ugly cracked steering wheel, to this gorgeous restored steering wheel! And the whole process is inexpensive and its pretty easy to do And because I’m going to be removing the steering wheel, I’m also going to show you how to replace the airbag or the controls on the side of the steering wheel… Just in case if yours are broken. So lets get started! There are a few other options to make the steering wheel look better… such as getting a steering wheel cover. It just stretches over the steering wheel, and it should fit tight, just like that. But personally, I don’t like the look of these, and this just doesn’t feel good…. So this is isn’t the option for me. The next option is to find a used steering wheel from like a junkyard or online… that’s the same color and it’ll work in your model car. This is actually the option I was trying to go with; I found a bunch of steering wheels online, but none of them were this color. I went to my local junkyards as well, and they did have one that was this color… but the same problem was happening: the steering wheel was all cracked. So depending on the car and the color of the interior you have, that might be a good option for you. But in this case, it wasn’t gonna work for me So there’s one more thing that you could do… and that is get leather and rewrap the steering wheel yourself. So the first thing that we need to do so that we could wrap our steering wheel… is remove the steering wheel, so let’s get started. When you remove the steering wheel, you don’t want the steering wheel to move at all… so make sure you remove the key, and then turn the steering wheel so that it locks. Now it’s locked in place. Next, we’re gonna want to pop the hood. And you want to disconnect the battery and wait about ten minutes… so that there’s no power going to the airbag. And after ten minutes, we are ready to remove the steering wheel. On most vehicles, what you’re gonna want to do is you’re gonna go to the side or underneath the steering wheel… and you can pop off the trim piece with a flat head screwdriver just like that. Then, there’s an 8mm bolt that should come out pretty easily. Good! And there’s one more bolt on the other side as well… so remove the cover, crack that bolt loose… and the bolt comes right out! And with both of those bolts out, now we could just pull on the airbag. Be careful because the airbag connected by a wire right here you don’t want to pull too hard. Now we want to remove this harness which connects to our airbag… and to do that, there’s a little clip back here you just press down on the clip… and then slide the pigtail out, just like that. And there’s one more wire we have to disconnect, and it’s this one right back here, this black one… which connects all the cruise control buttons. All you need is a flat head screwdriver… bend that clip down, and then that pulls right out. Now that everything’s disconnected… we have to remove this one bolt, right in the middle… that holds the steering wheel in place. and this is a T50 Torx… And the bolt comes out pretty easily… So just unscrew it all the way. And if we take a closer look, there is thread locker on this bolt, so we want to be sure to keep this in mind… when we screw it back in later on. And with the bolt removed, before you go and try to yank the steering wheel off… we have one more thing we want to do. It’s very important. We want to get something to make our alignment mark… and make a line where the steering wheel and shaft meet… that way when we remove the steering wheel, and then we go and wrap it… and then we put the steering wheel back on, we could align this up so our steering wheel will stay straight. Otherwise, your steering wheel might be crooked when you go and put it back on. So with the alignment marked, now we can remove the steering wheel. Some steering wheels will come right off. This steering wheel, and many others, need a steering wheel puller… and this is what a puller set looks like. A lot of times your parts store will rent this for free, or in this case I just bought it because it was inexpensive. I’ll leave a link to this puller set in the description so you could check it out. Before we use the puller, screw in that T50 torx bolt that we removed before just a couple of turns… so it’s in, but loose. Next you want to find the correct bolt size from the puller set. and these black bolts fit nicely. And I’m going to screw these bolts right into these holes, which is designed specifically for using a puller. Now, your puller comes with a bunch of different attachments. In this case I’m going to be using THIS attachment, which will fit nicely over our bolt. Then we can grab our two bolts, and tighten them down by hand so we don’t cross-thread them. Now we can start tightening this down, which should pull the steering wheel right off. (Sound: “pop”) And with that pop, the steering wheel is now loose, and we could remove the puller. Also, don’t forget about that torx bolt. And then now, our steering wheel should come right out….Perfect! Now if you need to replace a clock spring, that’s THIS, right here… But this video isn’t on how to replace a clock spring. It’s on refinishing our steering wheel. So let’s get to it! And the whole point of removing the steering wheel is so we can work comfortably on our workbench… Which is a mess….(sound: “snap”) Now let’s get started! The first step is removing the old leather wrap from the steering wheel. Using a small sharp blade should do the trick. Just run it around the seam to cut the thread holding it together… and it should peel right off! Beautiful! Our old cover came off in one piece, so we can use it as a template for our new cover! Next, we want to clean off the rubber and glue off the wheel. I’m just going to spray it down with some dish soap and water to get it all wet… and then rub off as much as you can. And some of the thicker rubber is going to have to get peeled off. Some rubber comes off easily, and some needs a good amount of rubbing. And with a little bit of elbow grease, check that out! That looks pretty good the way it is! If you really wanted to, you could leave it this way and install it just like this. It’s definitely tempting, but I want to show you guys how to wrap the steering wheel… so let’s move to a larger table. Alright, so we have a nice large surface to work on… and the first thing I want to cover are the materials you’re going to use. You want to use either a quality leather, or a quality vinyl material… and once you pick out your material, you want to make sure that you can color match it with the interior. I thought this was going to color-match well… but when I took a closer look, this is too light… so I found a material that actually matches the color a lot closer, and I think this is going to look great! So now, let’s spread out our material! And this is going to be really easy because we have our old piece of leather from the steering wheel cover… that we can use as a template. But before we even do that, one thing I want to teach you guys is that all material has something called “grain.” It’s actually kind of like the grain of wood. You can see this is going WITH the grain… (&) this is going AGAINST the grain. Well, if you look closely at the fibers in the material, there’s two different grains. There’s a lengthwise grain which has almost no stretch to it… and then there’s the crosswise grain, and it has a lot of stretch to it… and the reason why I’m mentioning this… is because you want to be able to stretch the material over your steering wheel… so that it has a nice tight fit with no wrinkles. And to do that, we’re going to do something called “cutting along the bias…” so instead of going on the lengthwise or the widthwise (or crosswise), we’re going 45 degrees on the bias. Now that you see the importance of cutting along the bias, set up your template so it fits the material… trace a straight line, and use a sharp scissor to cut on that line as straight as you possibly can. The straighter your line, the better the finished product is going to come out. Alright, now with that cut to length, let’s line up the old cover and get a width. The old cover is about 80mm wide, so to play it safe, I’m going to cut the width to 105mm… because you could always cut away extra material, but you can’t add material once it’s cut. So mark a straight line all the way across and let’s cut this out. When you’re cutting, try to cut on that line as straight as possible. The straighter the line, the better the fit-and-finish will be when we wrap the wheel. With our new cover cut out, we’re going to have to sew the two ends together, which will make a seam. I want my seam to be at the bottom of the wheel, so we want to find the center of the steering wheel. The center is really easy to find on this wheel… because the rubber has a casting mark right at the center. So I’m just going to mark all the way around the wheel just like that. Good! Now let’s mock up the material on the wheel by stretching it around the outside of the wheel. Using some tape helps hold one end in place as you stretch the other end… and pull it tight so it fits snug around the steering wheel… and the two ends should meet at the red line. Perfect! Alright, now check that out! That is looking good already! Okay, so now we have our total length of the material we’re using. Now we need to figure out the width. But the one thing about this steering wheel is the spokes are wider than the rest of the steering wheel. So we know the circumference for our normal part of the steering wheel… but we want to add a little bit extra material for when we’re doing the spokes. So I’m just going to mark on the inside here where our spoke starts getting thicker… and I’m not going to cut that material to the correct width until we start sewing. Good. So all four of our spokes are marked up. Now we can take this apart… and next, let’s mark the width on our new cover. Remember, the old cover was 80mm wide, so I’m going to mark this an extra 5mm… so the whole cover will be about 85mm wide, except the areas with the spokes, which is slightly wider. Again, trace straight lines, and then cut the material as straight as you can. Okay, so that looks pretty good. We have the extra width for the spokes… and the rest of the material is cut to the proper width. Now we want to mark the line that we’re going to actually sew on… which is going to be 5mm from the edge of the material… and we want to mark 5mm away from the edge around the entire strip. Next, to get even spacing between the stitches… I”m going to markeach spot that I’m going to push the needle through. We’re doing a baseball stitch, so a common spread is about 1/4 in. apart… and you’re going to want to do both sides the same exact way. It should be a mirror image. And then at the end where our seam is going to be… you want tighter spacing between the dots, because it’s going to look better. So I’m going to spread these out 1/8 in. Take your time and do this part accurately, because it makes the rest of this job super easy… and all that’s left is sewing it together! We’re going to be using a nylon thread, which is stronger than the typical sewing thread… and I’m using a brown thread that matches pretty well. Also, you want to use a curved sewing needle… which makes sewing the steering wheel so much easier than a straight needle. So let me show you how to set up the needle. Just get the end of your thread… slide it throught the hole of the needle… and with the thread through the needle, bring the two ends of the thread together, and tie it into a knot. And now, we can start sewing. We’re going to want to start with sewing the two ends of our cover together. So match up the two ends, and when it gets matched up pretty good… you could use a paper clip to hold these in place. Sewing this is simple. You just push the needle through the holes and pull it tight to the knot. You can see how the knot acts as a stopper and prevents the thread from pulling through… and be sure to trim any thread sticking out of the knot. Now we simply sew back and forth, and back and forth… pushing the needle through each mark we made to keep it evenly spaced. It’s really that simple! There is nothing to it! At the end, slide the needle under one of the previous spots you sewed, and tie a knot. Now you can cut the thread and tie another knot with the two separate strings… and then make a final cut…Good! And let’s see how we did!…Not bad, that looks pretty good. You can see how the seam creates a hump on the inside… So right where the seam’s going to sit on our red line… we’re going to cut a small channel for the extra material to sit in. And check it out, that fits right in! And it feels smooth! Perfect! Now let’s get the cover over the steering wheel! If you don’t have somebody to help you, a piece of tape could hold the cover in place… as you stretch the rest of the cover over the wheel. And check it out! That looks amazing already! So now, we’re going to sew the cover to the wheel. You want to use two curved needles, and these are set up with thread and ready to go. I like to start at the seam and work in one direction. So get one needle and start from the inside of the material and push the needle through to the outside. Do the same with the other needle on the other side.. and for your first stitch, you want to push the bottom needle through the top hole… and the top needle through the bottom hole… that way, you pull them together and it closes the gap. Next, we’re going to be doing something called a “baseball stitch”… which is easy to do and looks great. So we’re going to start with the top needle and find our first black mark on the bottom, and push it through. Then grab the bottom needle and find the first black mark on the top, and push it through. Just like that! And you’re going to repeat this process for the entire wheel! Use the top needle, find the bottom mark, push it through… Use the bottom needle, find the top mark, push it through, pull it tight. It’s tedious, but easy! And you’re going to do this until you get to your first spoke. Alright! And when you get to your first spoke, you’re going to stop sewing. And this is coming out really nice. So at the base of this spoke, there’s a little lip. So I’m going to mark a centimeter off that ridge… and then cut the extra material off, because we don’t need all that. Next, you’re going to cut little slits into the material, which is going to help it fold over… and then we’re going to use some leather glue and glue behind this spoke. Now fold over the extra material over so it creates a clean seam that follows the spoke. Just like that! And with leather glue, you’re going to apply pressure for about a minute until it holds it in place. As that side dries, flip it over, and let’s tie off the end of our thread. Any time you tie off the thread, you’re going to push both needles from the outside to the inside… so that the thread ends up on the inside when you tie your knot. Having the thread on the inside is going to hide the knot under the material. Once you tie a good knot, cut the end and tuck it in. Then we can glue the back and press it in place… and don’t worry. This glue cleans up really easily when it’s wet. And that’s all there is to it! Now we can start sewing on the other side, and follow the same exact process I just showed you. Some tips to make the wheel come out even nicer… is when you tighten down your stitch and the material doesn’t want to fold over correctly… don’t leave it that way. Use a pick and push the material into the stitch so it looks good Also, as you sew, it’s important that you continuously pull the thread so it clenches the stitches down. You want these stitches to be tight. If they’re loosening up, you can use a piece of tape, which will help hold it in place. Alright, when you get to your next spoke, the same process applies. You’re going to cut the slits into the material, add some glue, trim any long pieces, and then fold it over. Then tie off the thread, cut it, and tuck it under the material so you can’t see it. And I gotta say, this is looking pretty good! I’m impressed! Next, we can get the big loop done. I know I said it before, but this is so easy to do! The hardest part is having the patience to do all the sewing. But the more you get done, the better it looks, and the more excited you are to finish it up. So all we have left is to do this spoke, then sew a little bit… then do the last spoke, and sew to our seam, and we are done! And you already have an idea of how you have to do this. It’s just stitching, a little bit of gluing, a little bit of cutting… I already showed you the other side. I’m not going to waste your time and show you this side… So with a little bit of editing magic…(Sound: “snap”) we’re coming to the end with our final few stitches. For the last stitch, get as close to the seam as you can, and push the needle from the outside in. Then tie a knot, and I’m actually going to use a dab of glue here and pull that knot tight into the glue. The glue cleans right up, and dries clear, so you’re not going to see it. And be sure to tuck the knot under the material so you can’t see it. Good! And with that, we are DONE! That is how you restore your steering wheel! We have to get this back in the car. And this is my favorite part; the installation! So now, make sure you get your wires and slide them through the steering wheel… and then slide the steering wheel onto the steering shaft. Next, you’re going to want to bolt this down, but to make some extra room… let’s go plug in our horn and cruise control buttons. Next we’re going to tighten down the bolt that holds the steering wheel in. But remember, we want to add some medium-strength thread locker, right (on)to the threads of the bolt… which will prevent vibrations from loosening this bolt up. And remember that mark we made before? Well it helps us align the wheel before we tighten it. There we go…and now it’s aligned. Now we can hand-tighten the bolt, and then use a torque wrench… and in this car, torque it down to 33 ft-lbs of torque. (Sound: “Click-Click”) Now we can add our airbag, and be sure to reconnect the wires so you hear a click. (sound:”click”) and then the airbag fits right in. Now we can add our two bolts, one on each side, that holds the air bag in… and then on this car, we torque it down to 50 in-lbs. Good! And don’t forget about that little cover that clicks right into place. We’ll do the same thing on the other side, torque down that bolt, add the cover, and we are DONE! So there we go! You got one more thing you need to do. Make sure you reconnect that battery. After that, you’re completely finished… and you have a nice, new, REFINISHED steering wheel! This steering wheel looks AMAZING! Check this out! That color match is spot-on, and it looks professional! This looks like I took it somewhere and had it done, except I did it at home. For about $40, I bought everything, from the needles to the thread to the material… and I’ll be sure to link everything in the description so if you want to replicate this, you can do it yourself. This is probably one of the most rewarding fixes I’ve done on a car. Every time you get to go into your car and use it, you’re going to have that awesome feeling… that direct connection to your car, because, well, YOU made it nice! And as always, hopefully this video is helpful. If it was, remember to give it a thumbs up. And if you’re not a subscriber, consider hitting that subscribe button! And if you end up tackling this project, be sure to send me any pictures on Instagram or Facebook. I’d love to see it!

About the Author: Michael Flood

100 Comments

  1. Шов корявый,везде перетяжки,складки..Лучше бы кожевникам отдал,которые сделали бы так,что не отличишь от заводского..

  2. for $40 i can save my time and mental health by just buying a racing wheel, you'll be adding a roll cage in the drifstang anyway, so the will would go either way

  3. Если бы мне сделали такой руль, это был бы последний поход сюда. Шов снизу не ровный, кожа по бокам смята… Просто плохо сделано
    If I had made such a steering wheel, this would be the last trip here. The bottom seam is not even, the skin on the sides is wrinkled … Just poorly done

  4. You are an incredible content creator. Gives me goosebumps. It's not good for amateur level, it's great for ANY level. You are a PROFESIONAL. I've been watching you since 80,000 subs, I have several accounts and I'm subbed with one of them. Your production is as impressive, if not more, than your knowledge simply because you are a trained professional mechanic, so in that aspect, it's expected. You really know your shit.

  5. I just figured it out at 5:00 is what a base model car has but when you get a nicer package they just rap the same steering wheel

  6. Hey chris I have a 2002 Ford mustang v6 and me my fiance lo e the car and I decided to make a project out of it for her and I and thanks to you we are redoing the steering wheel thank you for your incredible vehicle keep it up my dude

  7. Why didn't you use glue all around the length? In any case your videos are great!:) ps – you probably couldn't imagine there are some guys who improve their English level by looking your channel. At least I do:)

  8. What would happen to the pleather/naugahyde if you hit it with a heat gun, afterward? I wonder if it would shrink tightly.
    Really great share – Every used Ford Explorer or Expedition needs this operation – the steering wheels all look like poop.
    Now, how do you reupholster the front leather seats that are always worn out??? This is the bigger downfall of every used Explorer/Expedition.

  9. Looking to repair my worn out wheel but I see I have to sew and glue and all that poop so I think I will just cut the old leather off, clean it up and be done with it. Personally I thought it looked better with no wrap on it.

  10. Are you certain that vinyl will hold up to the sun and weathering and what not? I'd hate for you to have invested all that time refurbishing upon material that won't go the distance your efforts are totally worth going far out on.

  11. Chris is so much more than a mechanic. I have done a lot of my own mechanic work but sew a new steering wheel cover!!?? No way. You da bomb man.

  12. Не ну это хуйня полнейшая так гавнисто шов сделать это пиздец. Чувак если ты попросишь сделать видос с моей работой я сделаю и ты поймешь что у меня произведение искуства))))

  13. We are opposites, I dont like the feel of a skinny steering wheel, I need to have a cover on there even if the steering wheel is mint, the cover gives it a nice thick feeling. 😀

  14. I basically subbed because I also have an sn95 Mustang lol. But I like all your videos and I'm glad I found this channel. My Stang is a 1995 v6, I put a cold air intake into it and underdrive pulleys so far. It feels faster after those two mods and after changing all the fluids. I hit a curb trying to drift it lol, and bent my rear left axle shaft and had to replace it with my dad, now I know how the differential works and how to put new rear end differential fluid in, it's not fun let me assure you.

  15. I have been on Youtube since it started. I have helped build a channel to 1 million subscribers. I am now 24 and am starting my own company based around car restoration. Your videos are what Youtube should be. Excellent detail, elaborate explanations with quality supporting visuals. I consider myself a competent individual, and yet I learn something new from literally every video that I have watched of yours. This comment was inspired by your description of how grains in fabrics work, even showing a extreme-zoom shot to explain visually. Thank you for putting this channel and these videos together.

  16. So I saw where you only disconnected the ground wire to battery and not the live. Is that the only one you have to disconnect? Cause my car has a professional sound system hooked up and the live wire disconnect is nothing like I’ve ever seen before.

  17. Wow got headache while seeing this video thats why in my country they are taking 200$ to repair while from junkyard you got it @50 $ 😁

  18. came out great for a diy now all i need it's a lot of patience or a professional to do it but knowledge is good to have no matter what thanks for sharing

  19. For the air bag to blow out the sensor needs to be connected. So before you pull out the airbag DISCONNECT THE SENSOR!!! Be careful if you try to do this!

  20. 15:26 – and that's the cherry on top of all that magnificent work, great job Chris, keep up the genius work

  21. I've done similar projects before and use a clamp to hold the material tight while I'm stitching. Thanks for all the videos man I've learned a lot.

  22. You can probably make some money by buying a $5 or $10 steering wheel at the junkyard, restoring it with this video and sell it "refurbished new" for like $50 and make profit.

  23. my steering wheel isnt ruined, but this showed me how I can customize mine with vinyl and different color stiching. thanks!

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