Rips and tears in upholstery are not only unsightly, once they start, they only get bigger. You can throw a set of cheap covers over them to get by, but the damage will continue unless you address it. Full seat cover replacement is expensive, especially for vehicles that are not “mainstream” classics like 1960s muscle cars and classic trucks. Professional repairs are equally expensive and require the vehicle to be down anywhere from a few days to several weeks.
The other option is repairing those ripped or torn seat covers yourself.
It is not as hard as you may think, and the results can be really good if you take your time. We recently repaired a damaged leather seat out of a 2007 Acura using one of these Permatex Ultra Vinyl & Leather Repair Kits.
And we have to say it turned out very nicely.
The exact Permatex kit we used, part number PTX-81781, is designed to repair vinyl, leather, and vinyl-plastic (think dash material) upholstery and trim.
It comes with an assortment of master color bases, three grain pattern sheets, two sheets of repair fabric, repair adhesive, hardener (for hard vinyl repairs), and a heat spoon. Professional upholsterers use an industrial grade heated spoon or spatula to make this type of repair. The heated spoon also speeds up the drying process to minutes as opposed to overnight.
The kit’s seven color compounds allow you to mix up the correct color to match the rest of the material. For our Acura’s black seat, we mixed the black compound with some white and blue to match the original color, including the fading that naturally occurs.
The Permatex Ultra Vinyl & Leather Repair Kit is best for smaller seat repairs such as cigarette burns and two inch or smaller tears, or for blending seams in large repairs. You can use it to repair longer tears or missing pieces of upholstery, but you must work in sections and will need extra fabric. You can use scrap material or purchase some at a local fabric store.
If the seat foam under the tear is worn, you may need to build it up. Our seat had some foam degradation. We fixed that with a small piece of generic automotive trunk carpet material (technically it was subwoofer box carpet) that added enough bulk to replicate the missing foam.
The Permatex Ultra Vinyl & Leather Repair Kit has enough material to handle larger repairs on hard vinyl like a dash or door panel. Cracks that are a quarter inch or smaller can be filled with the included materials. Larger cracks in a dash pad can be filled with fabric or closed-cell foam, but the better solution is a bit of structural expanding foam that is cut down and sanded to fit. If the foam is badly damaged you will probably have to remove the pad and fix it on the work bench.
The original seat for our Acura had a 6 x 12 inch section of leather missing, so we picked up a used seat that only had a couple of small tears that are easier to fix. In the end, our repair looks really good and blends in well when looking at the entire seat. With practice, you too can get professional results with a DIY kit that’s pretty darn cheap.