Caring For Your Truck’s Leather Interior

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Leather seats are the ultimate when it comes to truck upholstery. Comfortable and classy, leather is also unfortunately a little harder to keep looking good over time than simple vinyl or fabric. Not only does the sun conspire to burn your legs (and behind) if your truck is left exposed to its hot rays in the afternoon, but the UV light and heat can cause the leather to crack and fade over time, leaving a wrinkly-looking mess that might eventually tear.

Keep your Tundra leather interior looking new.

Keep your Tundra leather interior looking new.

Obviously, depending upon the climate you live in, it can take a long time for your leather to end up in that kind of condition. With a little bit of effort, however, you can take some steps now to prevent your leather seats from ever succumbing to decay.

While it may have been chemically treated, dyed and then stretched over the frame of your seats, leather is an organic material and as such requires care and attention over its lifetime in order for it to remain supple and soft. Some people use generic cleaning products on every nook and cranny of their interior, but unless you are the kind of person who would throw a leather jacket in the washing machine, then it’s easy to see that this isn’t the best solution.

Care tip #1: Use leather conditioner.

Lexol is a company which has a solid reputation in the field of leather care. One of their most universally praised products is their 1015 Leather Conditioner. Designed to be used in conjunction with one of their leather cleaning products, Lexol’s 1015 replenishes the natural oils that are removed by cleaning products along with all of the dirt. These oils are vital to maintaining the leather’s ability to stretch and maintain a smooth appearance, as well as resist heat damage, and they need to be replenished every time the leather is cleaned.

Applying Lexol 1015 Leather Conditioner is as simple as spraying it onto your seats and gently kneading it in with a somewhat damp cloth. The product needs to sit on the leather for around half an hour, and then you can wipe it off with a towel and let it dry. This last part can take up to three hours, so make sure you won’t need your truck during that period. It’s also important to avoid applying to hot seats or while the leather is in direct sunlight, and avoid using the product on suede, which requires a different type of treatment.

Care tip #2: Avoid the Sun.

Did you know that concentrated UV light is often used to sanitize medical instruments? It turns out that UV (ultra-violet) light is so toxic to organic compounds that only a few seconds of exposure is enough to kill all micro-organisms.

Since UV is so powerful (and so good at breaking down organic molecules), you should prevent UV light from hitting your truck’s leather interior whenever possible. The easiest method is to park indoors or in the shade during the daylight hours, but if that’s not an option, purchase some sort of sunshade. It’s not that one hour of UV light will hurt your interior, but if your leather is exposed to hundreds or thousands of hours of UV, it will fade and crack.

Care tip #3: Oil is your enemy.

Next time you get in your truck, go ahead and spill a glass of water on your leather seats. If you’ve done a good job of cleaning and conditioning the leather, the water won’t hurt one little bit. If you’ve got a wash rag nearby, you can dump coffee, soda, gravy, and/or wing sauce (sounds like a helluva meal, no?) and the leather will survive A-OK provided you wipe it up quickly.

However, drop one little bit of mineral oil on your leather interior (preferably somewhere where no-one will see it), let it sit for 1 minute, and you’ve got a stain for life. Scrub all you want, but you’ll always be able to see a slight discoloration. Depending on how long you let the oil sit, you might also see the spot “etched” into the leather.

The lesson? Oil is bad – at least if you don’t like stains. Having said that, it’s important to recognize that skin oils will, over the course of a few years, stain your leather seats as well. SO…maybe it’s a good idea to put a towel down before you jump in your leather interior in your swim suit.

One more note about leather conditioner: It might not be able to restore faded and cracked seats to their former glory, but careful application throughout the ownership of your truck should prevent your leather from ever reaching such a serious state of decline. Application is recommended 2 or 3 times a year, depending on how often you clean your seats, and it should be all the protection that your leather seats need. Check out Lexol’s 1015 for less than $10.

Filed Under: Maintenance Tips


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  1. Mickey says:

    Just bought this product and will give it a try. Funny thing I bought it at a Tampa Toyota dealership and the one I use here in JAX doesn’t have it. So I will bring it with me to ask the part dept to order it.

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