Over the weekend, I was cleaning and restoring interior. Overall, it was in very good shape with few notable problems:
-After 17 years in Texas sun and heat, leather up front (I think this is due to the fact that windshield was never tinted) was a bit dried up, which resulted in it starting to harden, losing its pliability and becoming a bit cardboard-like. This also resulted in some very slight top coat wear and cracking that needed attention.
-interior had a faint unpleasant smell, which I can only attribute to one of the owners smoking? Though it was definitely not a fresh (or very pronounced) smell, more like – somebody smoked in the car at some point maybe few times? It was definitely not a smokers’ car, but a bit of smoke smell lingered.
-Finally, there were few interior pieces that were broken, needed attention, or just a thorough cleanup.
Over the course of the last week and this weekend, I have addressed most of the stuff above. First, the entire interior has been given a good cleaning – and by good cleaning I mean – disassemble everything you can, get into every crevice, steam clean the carpets, vacuum every nook, wash everything with shampoo, damp cloths and such. Lot of q-tips and tooth brushes were sacrificed….
After everything was thoroughly cleaned, I decided to tackle the odor. Honestly, by the time all the cleaning was done, there was not much of it left as most of it was probably trapped in the carpet, seats, and interior surfaces that were thoroughly cleaned by that point, but a hint of it still remained. I wanted it completely gone by the time I would start on leather, so I got my trusty 3500mg industrial strength ozone generator fired up and blasted the interior and trunk (just folded the seats) with it for 2 hours.
I left the car opened up overnight for ozone to dissipate, and it was minty fresh in the morning!
While I still was waiting on few parts to arrive, I decided to tackle leather. Overall leather was in good shape for 111K miles being baked under Texas sun. But like I mentioned above, needed some love. It was a bit hardened and a bit worn…
The best leather softener and conditioner I have found over the years is Leatherique. I have brought back absolute cardboard back to life using it. Mind you, it the leather is really hard, it will take a LOT of it and may applications to soften up. This one was not bad at all, so I have drenched every leather piece of the car in Leatherique, put garbage bags over the seats, and let it bake in the hot Texas heat overnight. 12 hours later, I have removed the bags, reapplied conditioner again to the spots that visibly soaked it up, and left if for another 5-6 hours. Everything was cleaned up with Prestine Clean and then soft clean slightly wet microfiber and let dry overnight.
Results were good, and leather felt nice and supple for the most part. I will do another application at 6 months and over time, it will be back to 100%. Now it was time to fix the wear. I have used 75% Fiebing’s Oil dye and 25% atom wax mixture applied with a soft sponge and massaged into the leather (wear gloved, the dye WILL dye your skin for a LONG time, ask me how I know!), then buffed with slightly damp microfiber to knock down shine. After completely dry, was sealed with Lexol leather protectant. Leather looked great again!
Not the best lighting, but I will make some better shots sometime later. Best thing about Leatherique is that not only does it make the leather supple again, it makes it smell great. Pretty happy with how this one turned out.
More on the interior to come!