Introduction: Reupholstering a Steering Wheel

Picture of Reupholstering a Steering Wheel

A step by step on how to restore an old steering wheel.

Items required.

1 x Old steering wheel
1 x long strip of cardboard/card stock
1 x long strip of leather/suede/alcantara

Tools required

Sewing Machine

Step 1: Inspection

Picture of Inspection

Steering wheel seen better days?
You can reupholster the wheel on or off the car.
Taking it off makes things a bit easier, but is optional.

To remove your steering wheel:
Please proceed with caution...
Head to your local mechanic if you're having trouble.

*Disconnect the battery*
Unplug the necessary cables (airbag etc)
Remove the horn cover (Screws behind the steering wheel)
Remove the bolt on the center of the wheel.
Remove steering wheel.

Step 2: Removing the Original Cover

Picture of Removing the Original Cover

Snap detail pictures of the stitching before you remove the original cover.
Take note as to how the cover is put together.
In this case the original cover had a machine stitch 4mm from the seam edge.
The machine stitched edge is then hand sewn together.

To remove the original cover, use a blade or a seam ripper to dismantle the stitching.

Tip: Mark where the patterns fall on the steering wheel with a white pencil.

Step 3: Original Wheel Cover Off.

Picture of Original Wheel Cover Off.

Your wheel cover should look like this.

Step 4: Create Patterns

Picture of Create Patterns

Flatten the original wheel cover out.

Put it against your cardstock/cardboard.

Trace the pattern directly.

When you cut the pattern out.
Cut on the inside of the traced line
(so you don't enlarge the pattern)

Transfer the pattern onto your choice of leather/suede/alcantara
cut the leather to size.

Tip: If you don't feel comfortable cutting a fresh piece of leather,
try it on scrap fabric first!

Tip: You only need to trace 1/2 of the pattern. Flip it for the other side.

Step 5: Ready to Wrap

Picture of Ready to Wrap

Use your sewing machine to pre-stitch 4mm from the seam edge.

Also connect the ends of the leather pattern with a closed seam.

Step 6: Slide the Cover On.

Picture of Slide the Cover On.

The new cover should fit pretty snug onto the steering wheel.

Step 7: Checking Fitment

Picture of Checking Fitment

Remember those lines you scribed in with your white pencil.

Check to see if your pattern fits in those lines.
(You shouldn't have to, but trim if necessary.)

Step 8: Start Stitching

Picture of Start Stitching

Start stitching from the middle spoke so there won't be alignment issues as you stitch your way up to the top.

Step 9: Patience

Picture of Patience

This is tedious work but it pays off!
Almost 1/2 way.

Step 10: Finished Details

Picture of Finished Details

Some close ups.

Step 11: Install New Wheel

Picture of Install New Wheel

Happy motoring!


mattbearman made it! (author)2017-02-17

Awesome tutorial, thanks! My fiancée and I followed this guide when we retrimmed the steering wheel in my Toyota MR2 project, and it came out great.

One thing I will add is that if you're using a material that only stretches in one direction (like Alcantara) be sure to cut it so that it stretches around the circumference of the wheel, otherwise it wont fit, as we found out on our first attempt.

You can watch our retrimming on the latest episode of our build log -

Epolicious (author)2014-12-08

Wow, looks great. I'd love to do this to my 4-spoke e38 wheel

riho.puusepp (author)2014-10-22

Can you send the measurements and pattern of this steering wheel. I have the same one in my e34 but I got it without old leather.

dmensionz (author)2013-10-17

Would like to know how to do the M color stitching; blue and red

twistedsymphony (author)2012-10-25

This was a great guide, but I was also interested in how to do the stitching... for those that are interested I managed to find a baseball stitching guide here:

sconner1 (author)2012-09-04

Great job.
I wish there were more detail on how to do the stitching.

madmikeee (author)2012-07-09

where did you learn to do that cross stitch around the inside perimeter? Any links to help in learning how to do that?

cheerio (author)madmikeee2012-07-09

I am also interested in the stitch that you used in the inside to secure the new cover. Also, what thread did you use for the sewing and the securing? It looks pretty thick. Thanks for posting this.

jondneumann (author)2012-07-09

Wow. Great job! and nice choice on the material.

AlternativeSpeed (author)2012-07-09

This is awesome, great instructable. I'm trying to think of a material to substitute leather/suede. I would like to stay away from vinyl or other petroleum derived material as well. Does anybody have any good ideas for a natural, animal friendly material that feels good and would hold up to steering wheel abuse?

mastermakoko (author)2012-07-09

nice!Im gonna do this on my Nissan

Cabe (author)2012-07-08

This and the gear gator are both impeccably well timed! I have been looking at ways to tidy up my sim racing wheel, I have an old "The Other Luxury German Marque" rim that's seen much better days to mod onto it. Wanted to re-trim the gator to match.

Many thanks, cracking job.

Timmybighands (author)2012-07-08

Clean looking e30! And excellent work on your wheel. I may give it a shot... Where did you find the material?

Xolin (author)2012-07-04

Very nice!

Now...can you do mine..? :-)

About This Instructable




Bio: If it breaks, fix it. If it works, take it apart. If it can be bought, make it. If it doesn't exist, create it.
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