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Old 05-25-2012, 08:15 PM   #1
msdss
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2002 WRX
Silver

Default '02 WRX steering wheel, will ANYTHING get this thing clean??

I've tried 3 times now to get the stock steering wheel on my 02 WRX clean with no luck at all. I spray down my micro fiber, rub the steering wheel, and my cloth is now completely black. Can someone recommend something to really kick the **** out of the dirt on this thing? I would wager it's never had an actual thorough clean in it's entire lifetime.
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Old 05-26-2012, 06:44 AM   #2
Back Road Runner
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It's not dirt. It's the plastic degrading. the steering wheel is wasting away. My 02 Forester is the same. Does the steering wheel get kind of tacky on wet days?
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Old 05-26-2012, 10:56 AM   #3
msdss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Back Road Runner View Post
It's not dirt. It's the plastic degrading. the steering wheel is wasting away. My 02 Forester is the same. Does the steering wheel get kind of tacky on wet days?
I'm not really sure. I'm in Austin Texas so I only see wet days about 3-4 times a year. I didn't think any part except the center was plastic, the wheel itself felt like a type of vinyl or maybe even leather. I considered buying a new steering wheel, but $300 is a bit steep to solve my problem.
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:45 AM   #4
Cliff P
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Crystal White Pearl

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You're talking about the wheel portion, or the perimeter of the wheel (the hand grip)?

If so, it's the material that has been cleaned with harsh chemicals that's degrading. Every steering wheel I have had that was "leather wrapped" has had the same issue. Over time the oils from hands will eat away at the material if not kept up. When you're trying to clean the "dirt", your actually stripping away the surface.

About the only thing you can do is buy a decent steering wheel cover, replace the wheel, or have an upholstery shop cut the seam and replace the OEM leather wrap.
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Old 05-26-2012, 11:47 AM   #5
msdss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliff P View Post
You're talking about the wheel portion, or the perimeter of the wheel (the hand grip)?

If so, it's the material that has been cleaned with harsh chemicals that's degrading. Every steering wheel I have had that was "leather wrapped" has had the same issue. Over time the oils from hands will eat away at the material if not kept up. When you're trying to clean the "dirt", your actually stripping away the surface.

About the only thing you can do is buy a decent steering wheel cover, replace the wheel, or have an upholstery shop cut the seam and replace the OEM leather wrap.
I bought the car used, and from the looks of it, and the rest of the mods he did, he wasn't one for upkeep. I guess it's time for a new wheel. If I do buy a new OEM wheel, do you have any advice to keep this kind of deterioration from happening?
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:03 PM   #6
Cliff P
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Clean it with leather cleaner/protector when you clean your interior. The steering wheel is probably one of the most common items people don't clean. They'll clean everything else around it to include the center (airbag cover), the steering column, etc. They just don't bother with the wheel itself because they probably use greasy cleaners and don't want it on their hands.

I use Meguiar's Gold Class Leather/Vinyl cleaner:
http://www.meguiars.com/en/automotiv...vinyl-cleaner/

Then after use their conditioner:
http://www.meguiars.com/en/automotiv...r-conditioner/
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Old 05-27-2012, 12:18 PM   #7
Kean
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Pictures would definitely help. Having said that, unless the "black" that is coming off of the steering wheel is actual crud that is on the surface of the urethane layer (most automotive leather is finished these days), then I would agree with the others that the coating is likely compromised and the substrate is exposed. If that's the case, a cover or replacement is probably your only choice.

One question though.... What are you soaking the MF towel with to clean? As far as what you should be using, just wiping the leather surfaces down with a water dampened cloth will go a long way to keeping the leather looking good and lasting much longer. Dirt/soiling is one of the worst enemies in this case (sweat, body oils, lotion residue, dirt from body/hands, transfer from clothing, etc.). Regular cleaning is essential to proper maintenance.

Personally, I currently use Leather Masters products but there are other good product out there as well (and what folks consider "good" can be arguable). I use their cleaner with a horse hair brush and their protectant for periodic cleaning/protecting. ....I prefer water based products that won't leave oils or other residue that (IMO/IME) tend to attract contamination more than protect against it. ....and the idea of conditioning/feeding modern finished leather is whole different discussion.

When I sold my 8 year old WRX in 2010, the steering wheel and other leather bits still looked great. ....the same with my wife's '08 Forester with 100k on the odometer.
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:51 PM   #8
EJ207RSTi
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Take degreaser and spray it onto steel wool, take carpet cleaner and spray onto the wheel. Then scrub with the steel wool. This will work on any hard plastic surface or leather seat.
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