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Steering Wheel Restoration

You've spent countless hours on bodywork and paint, your car's engine is spotless, and the interior looks perfect...well, except for that cracked steering wheel. If you're in that situation, you have several options: live with the cracked steering wheel, try to locate a good used steering wheel, purchase a reproduction or aftermarket steering wheel, or repair your existing steering wheel. For many, locating a good used steering wheel is difficult, and reproduction steering wheels (if available) are pricey. This leaves you with the options of either living with a cracked steering wheel, or repairing the existing steering wheel.

Repairing a cracked hard plastic or rubber steering wheel is a lot easier than you might think. To make the job even easier, Eastwood offers two steering wheel restoration kits (#52054 and #52194Z) that include detailed instructions.

To get started, you'll first need to remove the steering wheel, and clean it with dishwashing detergent and water. After you've washed it, spray with PRE Painting Prep to remove oily residue that may have come from your skin. For any cracks, you will want to use a triangle file to "V" the crack. (Tip: a Dremel-style tool also works well.) This will allow you to completely fill the crack with the PC-7 Epoxy. Mix the PC-7 following the directions on the back of the can. Slightly overfill the crack with the PC-7. (Tip: wet your finger with water to smooth out the PC-7.) Allow the PC-7 to dry for 24 hours.

After the PC-7 has thoroughly dried, start smoothing it with 240-grit sandpaper, and finish with 320-grit sandpaper. Spray it again with PRE to clean the surface. Be sure to not handle the steering wheel with your bare hands, as this may contaminate the surface with oils from your skin. You are now ready to apply a primer.

Use Gray Self-Etch Primer to apply several light coats to smooth the surface. Once it dries, you're ready to apply your topcoat. The self-etching primer creates a great base for almost any topcoat finish (epoxies are not recommended). Our vinyl interior dyes work well as topcoats over the Self-Etching primer.

Here is a "before" picture of a steering wheel that we recently restored.

This image shows the cracks the steering wheel had. This steering wheel had been repainted by a previous owner, so we sanded the finish off to get to the bare rubber. Note that the old paint was hiding the extent of the crack. Once we removed the paint, we could see the full extent of the damage, We "V"-ed the crack to accept the PC-7 putty.

This image shows one of the cracks filled in with the PC-7, and then sanded with 240-grit and 320-grit sandpaper. Next, the steering wheel was wiped down with PRE and primed.

Here is the finished product. After the steering wheel was primed, it was painted with ivory white base coat, and then top-coated with a Urethane Clear Coat.