Sun damage and exposure to other elements can damage your steering wheel, causing cracks to form. Not only are the cracks in your steering wheel unsightly, but the cracks can age your car. Here are some strategies you could use to restore your cracked steering wheel and preserve the life of your car.
Determine the Steering Wheel Material
First, you need to figure out just what kind of material your steering wheel is made out of. Fortunately, most steering wheels are made of a plastic exterior that is fairly easy to repair. However, some steering wheels are made of metal or other materials that can be more difficult to repair. Before you make any decision on how to repair your steering wheel, make sure you understand what materials you’ll need to fix.
Image via Flickr by Mandie S
Evaluate the Extent of the Damage
While it’s possible to repair small steering wheel cracks, more extensive damage may require professional assistance or replacing the steering wheel. In general, the thickness of the cracks and their location have a lot to do with how well they’ll be repaired. For instance, you may not have the best results if you’re restoring a steering wheel crack where you regularly rest your hands. The surface might be slightly uneven or sharp if you’re not able to sand it properly.
Thoroughly Clean the Steering Wheel
Before getting a quote for a professional repair or attempting a DIY restoration job, you need to thoroughly clean your steering wheel. Some of what appears to be cracks may be dirt or other markings. If possible, remove your steering wheel from your car so you can clean the front and back of the wheel. Use a strong but car-safe cleaning product that is intended for consoles or other plastic components of your car.
Consider a DIY Epoxy Solution
It is possible to restore your own steering wheel using a DIY epoxy product that you get from an automotive parts and supplies store. Apply the epoxy product to the steering wheel according to the package instructions. Be sure to apply the epoxy using a steady, but firm hand to promote even coverage.
After it has had the appropriate time to dry and cure, sand it using a fine sandpaper or sanding tool created specifically for automotive applications. When you’re finished sanding the steering wheel, clean the wheel thoroughly to remove any debris. Then go ahead and re-install the steering wheel into your car. Check out the steering wheel once it’s in place to ensure that you are happy with the work.
Replace the Steering Wheel
If the damage to your steering wheel is extensive or you don’t like the final appearance of your DIY epoxy steering wheel restoration project, you can always replace the steering wheel or hire a professional restoration company to do the work for you. Just make sure that you find a professional with a portfolio of work you’re comfortable with. When it comes to automotive restoration work, experience can make a difference.