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Leather Upholstery - Replace, Upgrade, Or Restore

Leather seats on a new car may require option packages you don’t want. We discuss quality leather seat covers which provide value, style, and quality.

Leather has always been a valued commodity in the automotive world because of its many advantages that no other material can provide. Since the earliest horseless carriages rolled the streets, engineers specializing in vehicle interiors have been on a perpetual quest to create man-made upholstery materials that improve on leather. And some of them have even been durable, comfortable, absorbent, or easy to clean the way leather is.

Rolls-Royce Leather Upholstery
It’s hard to imagine anything other than leather upholstery in a Rolls-Royce – for good reason.

But none of the synthetic inventions over the years have been able to fully capture all of these benefits as successfully as leather does. And they're not even in the same ballpark when it comes to the pleasant aroma and prestige that good leather exudes. It's hard to imagine the interior of a Rolls-Royce, Bentley, or Jaguar without leather, isn't it? Few things reflect classic good taste while looking and feeling the way leather does.

Advantages Of Real Leather Material

Clean Leather Upholstery
OEM Leather Upholstery

Unlike synthetic materials, leather breathes - meaning it can absorb and release moisture as needed relatively quickly. This prevents the stickiness and clammy skin feeling that comes from sitting on vinyl or other plastic-based seat upholstery. Leather also lasts longer than cloth upholstery because it's flexible, yet tough enough to resist tears and punctures.

Leather also fares much better against cloth when it comes to dirt and spills, because leather seats can usually be cleaned with a damp cloth, combined with a mild cleanser when necessary. The color of leather doesn't fade as easily as other materials, because the color dye is actually absorbed into the leather skin during tanning processes. So its natural hue remains on wear areas of the seat, and doesn't scrape off when accidental scuffs occur.

In decades past, OEM leather upholstery was only available from the factory on luxury brands, while most other vehicles made do with cloth or vinyl. While leather upholstery is more commonplace today, it's still only offered on top trim versions of non-luxury vehicles - ones that cost much more because they only come packaged with expensive options that not everyone wants or needs. Buying a non-luxury car usually comes down to value and pricing. Unfortunately, optioning it to the point of including leather seats usually defeats the point of buying a non-luxury car in the first place.

We understand the appeal of leather upholstery, and we know how it can add many enjoyable miles to any vehicle. So if you've been wishing your car or truck was equipped with leather seats, we can help you make the transformation. And if the existing leather on your vehicle has become worn, the kits we offer in the Automotive Upholstery & Leather Seats section of our website will make a most suitable replacement that's equal to or better than the quality of your OEM upholstery.

CARiD has partnered with several respected leading manufacturers of high-quality automotive leather to offer complete leather upholstery kits. It is important to make the distinction here that our topic refers to replacement leather upholstery, and not leather seat covers.

Process Of Complete Replacement Of Existing Upholstery
Leather kits are not mere slide-on seat covers. They are a complete replacement of your vehicle’s existing upholstery.

There is nothing wrong with seat covers; in fact, leather seat covers are a popular upgrade for many customers. However, let's distinguish "covers" from "upholstery". Seat covers are intended to slip on and off easily over existing upholstery, and may or may not be available in the exact shade of your choosing. Leather upholstery does not slide on temporarily – instead, it permanently replaces original seat material which must be removed.

In some cases, as you'll see below, this replacement upholstery is available in custom designs and color combos that are simply not available anyplace else. These upholstery kits are meant to be professionally installed. In the scope of this article, we'll look at kits for newer vehicles, and kits for older classics.

Adding Leather Upholstery Increases Overall Vehicle Value

Adding leather upholstery to a newer vehicle will increase its resale value, whether you sell privately or trade it in. So, you'll recoup a good portion of a leather upholstery kit's upfront cost down the road. According to respected industry pricing experts at Kelly Blue Book, leather seats can make a significant difference. For example, we compared average reported resale values of both a two-year-old Audi A4 Premium sedan and Honda Accord EX-L sedan - both with 36,000 miles. Reported private sale values of those vehicles equipped with leather seats were over $500 higher than identically equipped models without leather seats, and reported trade-in values were almost $450 higher.

Identical Late Model Vehicles Equipped With Different Quality Upholstery
Of any two identical late-model vehicles in good condition, the one equipped with leather upholstery will always be worth more.

Moving to popular four-year-old vehicles with 48,000 miles, we found both a Chevy Suburban LT and Ford Mustang GT resulted in private party resale values of almost $300 more, and trade-in values of approximately $250 more. And if you're adding leather upholstery to a vehicle 5-10 years old, it's reasonable to assume that such value increases will remain stable without declining - especially given the fact that your leather seating will have a new-car look and feel, because you just recently installed it.

Leather Upholstery Kits For Newer Vehicles

Katzkin Custom Leather Seat Choices
Katzkin custom leather seat choices.

We offer a great selection of complete Katzkin leather upholstery kits for newer cars of 2012-on vintage which replace your vehicle's existing seat fabric. Katzkin leather interiors are cut from the finest grades of leather that often exceed some OEM specifications. Plus, Katzkin is already a trusted OEM supplier of leather interiors to automakers such as Fiat-Chrysler and the Ford Motor Company.

Katzkin Factory Design Leather Upholstery Interior Kits
OEM-look leather upholstery kits are available on our Katzkin Factory Design Leather Upholstery Interior Kit page.

If you prefer a factory OEM look, take a look at the choices on our Katzkin Factory Design Leather Upholstery Interior Kit page. If your tastes lean toward custom designs with multiple colors, highlighted stitching, and accented piping, we've got a wealth of choices on our Katzkin Custom Design Leather Upholstery Interior Kit page.

Katzkin Custom Design Leather Upholstery Interior Kits
Shown here are several of many Katzkin Custom Design Leather Upholstery Interior Kit choices.

Katzkin is an official licensed partner with renowned automobile customizer Chip Foose Designs, with seat upholstery designs created by Chip Foose that display the official Foose logo. During the selection process, our website will link into Katzkin's site, where you'll be able to see the variations available for your specific year, make, and model. In some cases, you'll be presented with a choice of seating surfaces that are either "flat" (smooth and taut) or "gathered" (loosely tufted).

Flat/Gathered Style Leather Textures
Some Katzkin kits offer you a choice of "flat" or "gathered" style leather textures.
Opting For Leather Seats
Opting for leather seats on a new car often requires the purchase of expensive option packages you don't want.

When it comes to newer vehicles that Katzkin specializes in, consider that the cost of installing one of our leather kits on a car you're about to purchase will probably be much less than ordering a new vehicle similarly equipped, because you won't need to purchase other option packages to get leather upholstery. Whichever kit you decide on, our up-front purchase price includes the cost of professional installation. You will see a screen image of a map; key in your zip code, and all the local authorized installers will be pinpointed. Select one that is convenient to you, and schedule the installation, comfortable in knowing that the labor is prepaid.

Locations Of Katzkin Leather Upholstery Local Installers
Type in your zip code and you'll be presented with a choice among local installers for your new Katzkin leather upholstery.

Leather Upholstery For Classic Vehicles

We sell leather seat upholstery replacements and upgrades from OPGI for 1960s-80s General Motors vehicles that may or may not have been available with leather seats originally. Each seat features fabric-backed foam, di-electrically sealed vertical pleats, and professional stitching.

OPGI Replacement Leather Kit Upholstery For Classic Cars
We offer leather kit upholstery replacements from OPGI for select classic cars.

We also have a range of leather upholstery kits from PUI Interiors. These feature the words “seat covers” in their title, but are actually OEM-style replacement leather upholstery sold in front and rear sets for select classic vehicles. For both the OPGI and the PUI Interiors leather, the upholstery requires professional installation.

Related Seating Components

Should you or your professional installer need related seating components such as pre-shaped seat cushion foam pieces, seat mounting brackets, special pliers, extra material rolls, seat back panels, seat frames, or seat trim, you can find all these things in the Automotive Upholstery and Leather Seats main page of our website.

Leather Upholstery Variety

Now that you know that a leather interior is within your reach, what are you waiting for? Visit our website, or give us a call seven days a week. Most of all, have fun picking out the color and pattern for your vehicle's new upholstery!

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