(I know this is a re-post from here (http://318ti.org/forum/showthread.php?t=25597) but I did more repairs and re-did the black seats as well as panel and steering wheel refinish/repair and wanted to post a more complete DIY.)
The dove Vader seats in my coupe were cracked, torn, worn through in spots, and filthy.
The black Vader seats I put in my ti a year ago were hard and had some cracking.
So what to do? These seats are becoming rarer and more expensive everyday and the newest examples are over 10 years old, so a refresh was the best option for my seats…
Here are the products and tools I used;
Leather Master leather filler, Leather World Dye Colorant, and Leather World Finishing Conditioner, all available at http://www.leatherworldtech.com/Prod...productid=DLRK
A good quality paint brush and several disposable brushes
A craft store compressed-air paint sprayer
Several grades of sandpaper (from 200 to 400 grit)
Soft, lint-free cloths
Assorted tools to remove and disassemble the seats (16mm socket, torx bits, screwdrivers.
Removing and disassembling the seats is the way to achieve the best results. You can try doing this with the seats in the car, but it will be a lot more difficult to achieve the same results.
1. Disconnect the battery to prevent the dreaded SRS Airbag warning light. (Wait at least 15 minutes before unplugging the wires from under your seats.)
2. Remove the headrest from the seat. It will pull right out, but could require some force. This can be done easiest by getting in the back seat and pulling the headrest off (don’t hit yourself in the face!).
3. Unbolt the 2 16mm rear bolts and the 2 16mm front nuts that hold the seat rails to the floorboards.
4. Tilt the entire seat assembly back to expose the electrical connections, and unplug all the connectors (Airbag sensor, seat belt receptacle, seat heater wiring, etc.). Now you are free to remove the seat from the car, but be careful, as they are heavy and awkward.
1. To remove the lower seat section off the seat frame, remove the 2 Torx screws on the front and 2 plastic pins in the back (which I just broke off, as the pins are not designed to come out).
2. There are 4 more Torx screws holding the extendable thigh support to the lower seat frame, which also need to come off. Flip the lower seat section upside down toward the front of the seat to expose and remove those screws, then lift out the entire lower seat section.
3. I also removed the back clamshell from the seats during this process. This is held in place with the headrest (already removed), two torx screws on the lower corners of the seat back, and the side lever(s) that flip the seat forward. The side levers and trim are both just pop off items, done carefully with a small, thin flathead screwdriver or prybar. Both should come straight out. (If the Bowden release cable is broken, now is the time to replace that, since you have full access.)
The lower section of the passenger side in my ti had split two seams and was hard as a rock, but still salvageable… Here’s what I did to restore it;
1. Repairing the seam splitting...
Remove the lower seat section from the seat frame. Remove the 2 Torx screws on the front and 2 plastic pins in the back (which I just broke off, as the pins are not designed to come out. I replaced them with #13 sheetrock wall anchors and screws, so I could easily disassemble them at a later time).
There are 4 more Torx screws holding the extendable thigh support to the seat frame, which need to come off. Flip the lower seat section upside down toward the front of the seat to expose and remove those screws, then lift out the entire lower seat section.
Turn the seat over and you will see the pins that the leather is stretched over to hold it in place. For this repair, I un hooked the leather from the pins along both sides and around the front, leaving the leather attached with 3 pins in back and 4 in front. I then unwrapped the leather off the side bolsters to expose the seams that were split.
Using heavy duty nylon thread and a couple of different leather/mattress needles, I carefully restitched the seam using the existing holes in the leather from the original seam. Also there is a white fabric sleeve that holds a metal rod on the underside that needed to be attached to that seam as well. If I skipped one little stitch hole, it would show when I was done, so I had to be very thorough and careful. One side had completely split from front to back, and the other side had only split a few inches. This took me 2 or more hours just to re-stitch. (This is a case where I felt it was worth doing by hand, rather than taking to a shop to be machine re-stitched, as any more stitch holes would just further weaken the leather and it could tear after a short while.) Then I re-wrapped the leather over the seat to examine the results. Not bad, but there was still one more repair to do before re-attaching the leather.
As you can see, the metal rod had been pulled out of the channel in the seat foam due to the hardening of the leather, and that had to be fixed. Using Zip-ties and Channel-Lok pliers, I pushed the rod (on both sides) back down into the foam and ran Zip-ties through the seat foam and tightened the ties (with the pliers) all the way, which pulled the rod back into place and somewhat restoring the original look of the seat.
I have tried nearly every leather conditioner out there and the only thing that works to soften the leather is Lexol or Leatherique. Neither is cheap. But you get results. And it takes work. I tried applying the treatments to the seats according to the directions, but the black leather in my ti was too hard to absorb properly. Leatherique said that “Cardboard hard leather would require several treatments. I tried this process for 3 days, soaking and massaging the treatment into the seat, but no real results. The treatment only soaked in a little where the finish had cracked, so I decided to “break” the surface with sandpaper to get the treatment in so it could soften, and then I could re-surface the leather.