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Seat Upholstery F.A.Q.s

Restoring the look of your seats involves more than just putting on a new seat cover. This page tries to answer the most common questions about seat upholstery.

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Questions? Call (805) 921-0100 or (800) 222-9577, Monday - Friday, 8 am to 5 pm PST. Click to e-mail us anytime!

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Q. Can I replace my seat upholstery myself?

A. Possible but highly dependent on the seat. Replacement of the seat upholstery requires the removal of the seats from the car, disassembly of the seat mechanism and removal of the old upholstery. Components serviceability would then be determined, the padding may have to be repaired or replaced and the springs may need some repair. Different seats require different methods of installation, gluing, hog rings or integral clips or combination of several methods may be involved. Usually installation of complex seat upholstery is best left to professionals. Most seat kits are fairly simple to install with no special tools, except the usual things like hog rings and pliers. If you have doubts about your capabilities consult a professional trimmer.

Q. How can I tell if I have leather or vinyl seat upholstery?

A. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between leather and vinyl just by looking at the face of the material. Manufacturers intentionally make vinyls to look like leather. However, by turning the material over (after removing it from the seat) the difference is obvious. Vinyl will have a knitted back with a regular pattern, while leather will appear to be suede.

Q. My seats sag, feel lumpy or the springs are sticking through. What can I do?

A. Most automobile seats are comprised of 3 major components. 1. steel frame or spring assembly, 2. shaped pad (either foam or rubberized horsehair) and 3. upholstery (either vinyl, cloth or leather). The shaped pad is usually the culprit. If the upholstery is still serviceable, it is possible to remove it and change the pad. Usually however both the pad and the upholstery have deteriorated and must be replaced. Skilled do-it yourselfers should have no problem with this job, most people however will find that it is best left to the professional. Be aware that reproduction or trimmer built pads may not give the same feel as factory pads.

Q. The insert or pleated area in the center of my seats has torn. What can I do to repair it?

A. It is possible to replace just the embossed or perforated center section of almost any seat as those center pieces tend to be a separate section. You will however need to have a sewing machine and know how to use it. Cost of installation as well as the condition of the surrounding upholstery must be taken into consideration as compared to replacing the entire seat upholstery. Re-sewing of old vinyl and leather materials can also weaken them. If in doubt get a professional opinion.

Q. Should I replace the upholstery with the same material?

A. Usually yes. Any upholstery can be replaced with a different material but not all perforations or embossings can be duplicated in a different material. Also note that most automobiles retain more of their value when original materials are used in restoration or repair. We can supply most vinyls, leathers and cloths to match door panels or rear seats.

Q. Can I change the color of my upholstery without replacing it?

A. It is possible to change color of vinyl or leather upholstery using dyes. Although, it is usually not advisable to make drastic color changes because of the possibility of scratches or wear through that reveals the old color. Best results are obtained when colors are freshened instead of replaced. Great care in cleaning is essential for good adhesion of the dye.

Q. Can I replace just one part of my car's upholstery?

A. Yes but with caveats. Because we use original materials and have most of the factory colors, it is possible to replace for example just the drivers cushion cover or even just one section of a cover. It should be noted that colors tend to fade over time and textures change as well. A perfect match can not always be achieved. Consideration should be given to the cost of installation as well as the condition of the rest of the components. Labor cost may be duplicated if any of the additional components fail while installing just one section of the cover and thus forcing the installer to do it all over again.

Q. I only have 1 small hole or some color has worn off. Can it be repaired?

A. It depends. Mobile detailers are available in most major city areas and they can tell you if it's fixable. They can usually repair small tears in vinyl, or cloth and can refinish the color of leather or vinyl with dyes. Vinyl repair kits are available at most auto parts stores, although colors are surely limited. Used car dealers are usually a good source for the name of of a detailer near you.

As for worn off colors, dyes can usually fix faded colors and matching factory colors is not a problem with our wide selection.

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Over the years, different terminologies have been used for the same parts. To minimize confusion we've collected many of the different names to give customers some reference to the different Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Fiat and Jaguar trim parts that vary in terminology around the world.

Convertible top = soft top, rag top, head, hood, hooding, soft window Targa top, retractable top, vinyl top, top boot, convertibles arriba, converteerbare boven
Carpet = rug, rugs, carpet kit, carpet set, molded carpet, cut and bound carpet.
Seating = seat kit, upholstery kit, leather upholstery, sport seat, recaro seat, vinyl seat, cloth seat, sitzkissen, perforated, perforiert, embossed, sitzpolsterung, imbottitura sedile, asiento tapizado
Sealing = rubber seals, weatherstrips, weatherseals, door seals, window seals, gaskets, dichtungsrahmen
Panels = door panels, linings, trimmings, coverings, sun visor, sunvisor, sonnenblenden, headliner, himmel bespannung, encabezando
Trunk = boot


Leather = hide, side, skin, cowhide, leder, cuero, Connolly, Roser, Bridge of Weir, cuoio, split
Carpet = Abetone, Dorsett, FTV, feintuft, loop, cut pile, Wilton, perlon, tufted, automatico de alfombras, teppich, tapijt, tapis
Vinyl = Spradling, China General, Freudenberg, MB Tex, ambla, leathercloth, rexine, hardura, ICI, vinyle, naugahyde
Topping = Happich, Stafast, STF, Aresma, Sonnendeck, Sunfast, dobby, lienzo, leinwand
Seat Pad =  rubber fiber pad, foam pad, gummihaarauflage, almohadilla
Sunvisor = sonnenblend, pare soleil, domenica visiera, zonneklep