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2009 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought my Forester used about 4 years ago, great condition other than the leather on the steering wheel was badly peeling. I researched it then, found posts on it but the only solution seemed to be to put a wheel wrap on it. I did find one in excellent condition on ebay, swapped the pieces over (I didn't need the paddle shifters) and was all set... until a few weeks ago, when this one started peeling. It went from a couple of small spots to ugly in just a few weeks time. Anyone found any good solutions since then, or do I need to start shopping for a new one again? I thought about a leather repair kit, not sure if it will work.
 

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Was the original steering wheel l already peeling or while you owned it?

On the "new" old one, where did it start peeling this time? Is it where you hold the wheel (guessing 12 o'clock position)?

I've seen wheels peel and others remain in excellent condition throughout the years. I personally have never had one peel on me. Something I have seen that is common however (just in my experience) is peeling from the top of the wheel. Maybe the material is simply better suited for wear in the 9 and 3 positions. ....that's where I hold it in my case.

Other factors can be sweat for instance. Some people have sweaty hands and not everyone's sweat is necessarily the same pH level, etc. Folks can also use lotions or things like sunblock without washing their hands which (particularly the latter) can really wreak havoc on those surfaces.

Obviously, we could be talking about a problem with the '09 MY's steering wheel too but there are things you can do to help mitigate some of these problems.
 

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2009 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Was the original steering wheel l already peeling or while you owned it?

On the "new" old one, where did it start peeling this time? Is it where you hold the wheel (guessing 12 o'clock position)?

I've seen wheels peel and others remain in excellent condition throughout the years. I personally have never had one peel on me. Something I have seen that is common however (just in my experience) is peeling from the top of the wheel. Maybe the material is simply better suited for wear in the 9 and 3 positions. ....that's where I hold it in my case.

Other factors can be sweat for instance. Some people have sweaty hands and not everyone's sweat is necessarily the same pH level, etc. Folks can also use lotions or things like sunblock without washing their hands which (particularly the latter) can really wreak havoc on those surfaces.

Obviously, we could be talking about a problem with the '09 MY's steering wheel too but there are things you can do to help mitigate some of these problems.
The original was peeling badly prior to my buying it. It was mostly peeled all along the right side. This one has started peeling around the 1-2 o'clock position, as you say around the top, but only on the right. Yeah, I sometimes hold it there, but more often I hold it with my left hand around 9-10 or 11-12, and there is no peeling there - yet. I thought this might have been caused by my increased use of hand sanitizer right after I get into the car from shopping, but I don't know why it only peeled on that one area. And when it started, it accelerated quickly.

Anyway, not looking so much at cause but at solutions. A new-from-Subaru wheel is way expensive.
 

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2018 Forester 2.5iLimited CVT
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Obviously, we could be talking about a problem with the '09 MY's steering wheel too but there are things you can do to help mitigate some of these problems.
And those things would be what?
 

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@GMAX

If it is not a quality issue with the materials, then those mitigative measures would be periodic wipe downs of the leather, making sure to wash your hands if you use sunscreen, not using products that can damage these surfaces and so on. ......using the right products, etc. If you have sweaty palms, wipe down the wheel more often. Even using a water dampened, wrung out, cotton towel can help get rid of harmful residue.

....but again, if the wheels are failing due to an issue with their quality, there's only so much you can do.

I've owned cars where other drivers have experienced peeling wheels and mine never did. I just made sure to do what I could to maintain them and keep them out of contact with substances, etc. I know can damage the surface.
 

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Anyway, not looking so much at cause but at solutions. A new-from-Subaru wheel is way expensive.
I know there are services that will wrap your wheel with new hide. You can also get fancier leather wraps you can install yourself that require stitching the hide onto your wheel. Not as good as a professional job but obviously cheaper and arguably better looking than other cheaper alternatives.

Aftermarket could also be a solution but then there's the airbag.

Personally, if it were me, I'd get in touch with my old colleague who had a local leather worker who would wrap wheels and have her do mine. It might cost more but would look professional / OEM, look and feel great.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i Limited CVT
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There’s not much you can do about peeling except wrapping or a cover. Total replacement is expensive. I use Meguiars leather cleaner and conditioner. Maintenance from day one.

The sweat and oils in our hands will degrade the wheels material. Idk if it’s real leather.

I diy my cars so I wash my hands constantly. This helps a lot. Clean the steering wheel periodically with Dawn dish liquid soapy water and dry then use Meguiars.
 

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Folks can use what works for them but personally, I would avoid most dish soaps. If you're looking for a DIY detergent you might have laying around the house, I'd reach for Woolite instead. Still, I would prefer other, purpose-made cleaners but Woolite is less alkaline than Dawn is. .....most Dawn soaps have a pH of 9 while Woolite is close to 7 (neutral). There are other pH neutral soaps out there though but Woolite mixed ~10:1 is a common go-to because of it's gentle nature.

Dawn is a common go-to in detailing circles as well but most use it to help strip off wax and/or polishing oils / residue. It's quite an effective cleaner in that respect. I just wouldn't use it on coated leather which leather wrapped steering wheels, shifters, seats, etc. which what is most cars these days.

In most cases if you're doing wipe downs, a water dampened cotton towel is enough. .....and then periodic treatments with a protectant if you wish. Just be sure it's not a product that will make the steering wheel slick, etc. I prefer Leather Master Products from Leather World Technologies personally. ....although there are a lot of good cleaners and protectants / "conditioners" out there form other reputable lines.
 

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2009 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the advice! Yeah, the "leather" steering wheels feel nice, but seriously the surface layer is paper thin and I guess that's why it is vulnerable to so many things. I think that's a good idea to look for a shop that will wrap the wheel (if it costs less than a new one). I am pretty handy, but I honestly doubt I could make one of those hand-stitched covers look good... different skill set than my usual mechanical or electrical work.
 

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I am pretty handy, but I honestly doubt I could make one of those hand-stitched covers look good...
You might be able to find genuine leather ones. I've seen one do it from scratch, fully custom as he went, artist at work. The ones I'd be happy to try are fake leather, but made to measure. You effectively only need to pull the stitches already in place together. I've seen some videos on YouTube I doubt has ever sewn anything else, but still did ok. My main worry is how to tie the ends.
 

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i swapped a sti wheel in mine, but sitting outside in the FL sun its peeling too. lots of people have had good experience with www.eastdetailing.com wheel wraps. heard it takes about 3+ hours but its cheap and you can find coupon codes all over the place to make it even cheaper.
 

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Can clean and condition all you want but having the entire front windshield film applied with ceramic tint will take away the UV degradation which I believe is the biggest culprit for interior issues. I also had the sunroof glass done which really reduced the heat transfer.
 

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The front windscreen already blocks 100% UVA/B as does the moonroof. Cleaning, maintaining and avoiding contact with substances that can harm these surfaces is still the best way to mitigate premature wear / failure so it shouldn't be so easily dismissed. No amount of UV protection will help with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wouldn't that also be a potential issue if you have eyesight? I know you're "supposed to" get it recalibrated if you have to replace the windshield. I can't imagine that putting a film on it would be any different.
 

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I would assume (yeah, yeah, never assume, donkey out of u and me)... but you could / should be able to apply the "tint" (even clear) to the entire inside of the window, EXCEPT for a cut out where the Eyesight camera unit it. Just like when we used to have those little "boxes" at the rear window for the 3rd brake lamp (CHMSL). Then there is no requirement for Eyesight calibration and no issue with any distortion that could be caused by those window "tint" materials.
 

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I gotta say - however - that on my now almost 8 year old Forester, no issues with the leather steering wheel wrap degrading or peeling... And I live in the deserts of So Cal - current temp (today) at 110 and full sun. On my previous vehicle (2008.5 Mazda 3) -also no issue with steering wheel leather falling apart in 5+ years... Same for my 2001 PT Cruiser that started life in Florida, lived in Las Vegas (NV) and Long Beach (CA) before coming to the Palm Springs area... And the 1994 Chrysler Town & Country has always lived in the dry deserts of Vegas and Palm Springs...
 

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You can find less expensive versions of the exact same thing on Aliexpress, and they come with everything you need. It just takes patience and ideally you remove the steering wheel to do so. With airbags and clockspring that requires a bit of attentiveness, and the power to be disconnected. I did it on my former X trail, and it was nice that it could be sewn directly over the existing worn leather cover and the end result is a slightly thicker steering wheel that feels nicer than stock.
 
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