As someone who has driven a car for many years, I know the importance of having a steering wheel that is comfortable and functional. After all, it’s what keeps us in control when we’re behind the wheel.
One of the most common materials used to make steering wheels is leather, but unfortunately, this material can become shiny over time from frequent use or improper care. This can be an eyesore and detract from the overall look of our vehicle’s interior.
That’s why it’s important to understand why leather steering wheels get shiny so that you can take steps to prevent it from happening.
In this article, I will discuss five different reasons why your leather steering wheel might be getting shiny and how you can stop it from happening again.
9 Reasons Steering Wheels Get Shiny
Here are some of the main reasons why leather steering wheels become shiny:
1. Frequent Use (Patina)
The most common reason for a steering wheel to get shiny is due to frequent use. Whenever you grab the steering wheel, oils and sweat from your hands transfer to the leather surface.
Over time, these oils and sweat accumulate on the leather, leaving your steering wheel looking glossy and shiny.
My father had an old Chevvy Impala with a leather steering wheel, and we used to joke that it had become so shiny because so many different people had handled it over the years.
2. Natural Oils in the Leather
Another reason why your leather steering wheel may be getting shiny is due to the natural oils in the leather itself.
Leather is a natural material that contains oils, and these can rise to the surface of the leather due to temperature changes or prolonged use.
These oils form a glossy layer on the leather, making it look shiny. This is usually common when the leather steering wheel has seen a lot of use and wear.
Not only does this result in the leather steering wheel looking shiny, but it can also make the wheel sticky with an uncomfortable grip.
3. Improper Cleaning and Conditioning Products
Using improper cleaning and conditioning products can also damage the leather surface of your steering wheel and cause it to become shiny.
Also, if you use improper practices like over-conditioning or conditioning too frequently, it can lead to a buildup of oil on the surface which will make the leather look glossy.
It’s important to use gentle cleaning products and to only condition when needed in order to maintain the natural beauty of your steering wheel.
4. Sunlight Exposure
Another common cause of shiny leather steering wheels is exposure to sunlight. The sun’s UV rays can fade and damage leather over time, leading to a glossy appearance.
Remember I talked about having oils from the leather itself rising to the surface? Well, sunlight can also cause these oils to rise faster.
So it’s important to keep your car parked in the shade and away from direct sunlight as much as possible in order to prevent your leather steering wheel from becoming shiny.
5. Excessive Friction
Excessive friction can also cause your leather steering wheel to become shiny. Whenever you grab or use the steering wheel, the steering wheel gets rubbed.
Over time, all the friction the leather steering wheel has received will take its toll and cause the leather to become glossy or shiny.
While this is part of a natural aging process, it can be avoided by using gloves or installing a steering wheel cover so that direct friction on the leather is not happening.
6. Poor Quality Leather
Another possible cause of a shiny leather steering wheel is poor quality leather. If the leather used to make your steering wheel is of low quality, it may not be able to withstand wear and tear, as well as higher-grade leather.
This means that the surface of the leather will start to break down faster, resulting in a glossy, shiny appearance.
7. Unfinished Leather
Unfinished or uncoated leather can also cause a steering wheel to become shiny. Unfinished leather lacks the protective oils and waxes that are found in finished leather, leaving it more vulnerable to wear and tear.
This means that the surface of unfinished leather will also break down faster and give off an unnatural shine over time.
8. General Wear and Tear
General wear and tear can also cause your leather steering wheel to become shiny. If you use your car often or if the steering wheel is heavily used, it will naturally start to show signs of aging.
This includes a glossy shine on the leather surface which cannot be avoided completely. The best way to prevent this is to use steering wheel covers or handle covers regularly.
9. Accumulated Dirt and Sweet
Finally, dirt and sweat can also be a cause of the leather steering wheel becoming shiny. These substances contain oils that will accumulate on the surface of the leather if not cleaned regularly, resulting in it having a glossy look.
The best way to avoid this is to clean your steering wheel with a gentle cleaner once or twice every month. This will help keep the leather in great condition and prevent it from becoming shiny.
Overall, there are several reasons why your steering wheel may become shiny. The most common causes include excessive friction, improper cleaning and conditioning, sunlight exposure, poor quality leather, unfinished leather, general wear and tear, and accumulated dirt and sweat.
How To Remove The Shine On Leather Steering Wheel
To remove shine from your leather steering wheel, you can try the following steps.
Step One: Clean the leather
- First, use a mild leather cleaner and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use a soft, lint-free cloth or leather cleaning brush to gently clean the surface, paying extra attention to shiny areas.
- Remove any dirt, oils, or residues contributing to the shine.
Step Two: Use a Leather Degreaser
- If you still notice the shine after cleaning your steering wheel, you can try using a leather degreaser that is specially made for removing oils and residues from leather.
- Get a clean cloth, apply some leather degreaser onto it, and gently rub it onto the shiny spots of your steering wheel using circular motions.
- Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid using too much force as it can harm the leather.
Step Three: Rinse and Dry
- To remove any residue left by the leather degreaser, rinse your leather steering wheel with a clean, damp cloth.
- Once done, use a dry and soft cloth to dry the leather completely.
- Make sure to avoid using heat sources, such as a hairdryer, as these can damage the leather.
Step Four: Apply a Leather Conditioner
- After cleaning and drying the leather, use a high-quality leather conditioner to make the leather soft and moisturized again.
- Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and apply the conditioner evenly on the entire steering wheel, covering the previously glossy parts, too, with a clean cloth.
Step Five: Buff the Leather
- Once you have applied the leather conditioner, take a clean and dry cloth to buff the leather steering wheel in circular motions gently.
- This will aid in removing any extra conditioner and provide further polishing to the leather, giving it a matte finish.
Repeat if necessary: If the shine is still there after the first try, you should repeat the steps several times until you get the desired outcomes. Don’t use aggressive chemicals or abrasive materials that can harm the leather, and be patient throughout the process.
How To Prevent a Steering Wheel From Becoming Shiny
In order to keep your leather steering wheel looking its best, it’s important to take measures that will help prevent it from becoming shiny. This includes:
1. Regular Cleaning:
To maintain your leather steering wheel in good condition, you should clean it regularly. This will remove dirt, oils, and sweat that accumulate over time.
You should use a mild automotive leather cleaner that is explicitly designed for this purpose, and carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Avoid using any harsh or abrasive cleaners, as these can cause damage to the leather.
2. Avoid Excessive Hand Creams or Lotions:
Excessive use of hand creams or lotions while driving may transfer oils to the leather steering wheel, causing it to become shiny.
To prevent this, either minimize the use of hand creams or lotions or thoroughly wipe your hands before touching the steering wheel.
3. Keep Hands Clean:
If your hands are dirty or greasy, make sure to wash them before driving. This is because oils and dirt from your hands can transfer to the steering wheel and cause it to become shiny over time.
4. Use a Leather Conditioner:
To prevent your steering wheel leather from becoming shiny and cracking due to dryness, it is recommended to apply a good quality leather conditioner periodically to keep the leather soft and supple.
5. Use a Steering Wheel Cover:
To avoid your leather steering wheel from accumulating oils, dirt, and sweat that can cause shine, try protecting it with a fabric or microfiber steering wheel cover.
6. Avoid Prolonged Exposure to Sunlight:
You can use a car shade to prevent your steering wheel from becoming shiny due to prolonged exposure to the sun. This will help protect the leather from fading and cracking, thus preserving its look for longer.
By following these tips, you can help prevent your leather steering wheel from becoming shiny and maintain its appearance for longer.
Regular cleaning, conditioning, and protecting your steering wheel from excessive dirt, oils, sweat, and sunlight are key to keeping it looking fresh and clean without becoming shiny.