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Old 05-09-2017, 11:45 AM   #1
hiptech
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OEM Seat Leather Wear

After owning multiple generation Accords I never took much notice of the leather types. Since all my cars were purchased new they've each received the same care and detail products equally. So yesterday while cleaning our 00EXV6 interior I sort had an epiphany about the leather.

Because this car was once my dad's it still has sheepskins on the front seats. And due to numerous other priorities it went over a year without the leather being cleaned or conditioned. So after pulling off the sheepskins I was surprised to see how well the leather was holding up.

Perhaps due to the fact the car spent it's first 13 years in LA where the heat isn't as oppressively long lasting or maybe the sheepskins acting an ultra-violet shield or my dad's fastidious habit of keeping it garaged (mostly) and my visits allowing me to detail it (or all the above). But here it is no wear, no rips, no scuffs and looking remarkably new.

I realize almost every car company applies leather to the top seating surfaces (mostly) but there is a growing trend to use softer leather usually in higher end models.

So here is the question, is there a correlation between leather softness and durability?

I recall reading somewhere that all car makers struggle with leather. Generally the softer the leather the faster it wears. Since our Gen 6 Accord's leather feels more like vinyl than leather could this be the reason it has held up so well?









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Old 05-10-2017, 09:51 AM   #2
Jarrett
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The location of the stitched seams can also play a large role in how well the sea covers will hold up. If they can move the seam off of a stressed point and allow the leather to take the strain instead of the seam itself, then it will last longer. The vinyl side of the seam always seems to be the worst side as the thread holes in the stitching have created tons of weak points that enlarge and tear.

As for the '90-'93 Accord leather, specifically, it's just garbage. I don't really know why, but it just was. Any cars that have good-appearing leather are really stiff. Sure, they're old, but these seats have just peeled away in resentment of the car.
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:14 AM   #3
hiptech
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarrett View Post
The location of the stitched seams can also play a large role in how well the sea covers will hold up. If they can move the seam off of a stressed point and allow the leather to take the strain instead of the seam itself, then it will last longer. The vinyl side of the seam always seems to be the worst side as the thread holes in the stitching have created tons of weak points that enlarge and tear.

As for the '90-'93 Accord leather, specifically, it's just garbage. I don't really know why, but it just was. Any cars that have good-appearing leather are really stiff. Sure, they're old, but these seats have just peeled away in resentment of the car.
I think you're on to to something Jarrett...

The CBs have piping or a round bead between the leather panels and of course these seem to be located in the most vulnerable areas. Naturally the piping has cracked after so many years but has held the panels together remarkably well. Mostly because they've eliminated the holes in the adjoining panels which has helped hold them together longer without tearing.

Many newer cars seem to have eliminated (except for some makes who use contrasting colors) the piping all together. Instead they (and Honda) have gone with a double or French stitching between panels (see 2nd pic).

As you mentioned these create more holes or stress points that essentially become weak spots. Complicating this further is joining 2 dissimilar materials (leather and vinyl) which breath, wear and react to ultraviolet and heat differently. It's no wonder so many people are so dissatisfied with their seats. I can only imagine how well (or badly) leather dashboards will hold up...

I'm now of the opinion if Honda (or any car maker) chooses stiffer hides it's most likely is in the name of economics and wear. The sad part is replacing leather in cars is very expensive, too expensive. I'm not completely sure why since good quality after market hides aren't nearly as costly. My guess it's in the name of QC and profit.
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Old 05-11-2017, 12:11 AM   #4
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There are several factors in automotive leather.

The cheaper, mainstream leathers are less plush, have more blemishes, have more aggressive graining, and have a much more durable top coat. All of this helps the leather survive day to day wear from the mainstream consumer, but makes it feel plasticky. BMW uses a very stiff leather for its standard models that is very durable but not very soft, it almost seems like PVC. That's likely due to the amount of correction and filler used in the process.

It seems that the 98-02 leather seems to be a mid-grade leather, it's smoother and has a softer hand. It still has a pretty good level of top coat though.

Higher grade leathers, aniline and semi-aniline, have much less finish and are a higher grade hide. As a result they are much softer and supple but also less durable and show wear much more readily. Due to warranty claims and JD power owner satisfaction surveys and the like, many "premium" mainstream vehicles are moving away from these grades unless it's to be in truly luxury trim levels. An example is the King Ranch F-150, over the last decade the leather has gone from a very premium aniline leather to a mid grade leather and then to a standard leather with unique grain and color. The older "chapparel' leather was like a residential leather recliner, but aged and stained very quickly. A quick google search will show how it ages. Ford, at the time, baked cost for 2 warranty claims for the seat trim into the vehicle pricing.

As far as piping, the older piping executions have larger cores and make them a little more prone to wear. Newer executions have smaller cores and are usually made of PVC since it is less prone to ingress/egress wear. Many vehicles have moved to unique decorative sew styles in that location as it is less prone to wear.

Current IP leathers use a chrome-free tanning process that allows the leather to be more UV stable and be less prone to shrink that helps them survive the higher solar loads in that position of the interior.
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