Used cars always come with a certain amount of wear and tear. The smart used car buyer can weigh the relative importance of the things that are cosmetic vs functional and then decide if the is worth the price.

In the case of my 2015 Mazda3 sport Grand Touring, there were two things that I immediately noticed and decided to ignore. First, rear bumper has been decorated with a number of rather large scratched, which are ugly but won’t keep the car from running as designed. Maybe someday I’ll be lucky enough to have someone back into my car in a parking lot and their insurance company will have to pay for a replacement.

The second piece of really notable wear still kind of confounds me. I don’t know how it happened, but the leather on the left side of the steering wheel is really worn out. My running hypotheses are that the previous owner either 1) really like rings and worn two or 3 on each finger of their left hand or 2) was the world left-handed arm wrestling champion whose signature move was called “The Grip of Death.” I’ll never know the truth, but I do know that the scratchy leather looks crummy and really annoys me.

The Crippler was here.
Close up of the damage

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I explored a few possible solutions to this problem. First I looked into a leather restoration solution, but I didn’t find anything that looked promising. Instead, I decided to purchase a leather steering wheel cover that would fit over the wheel. For only about $8.00 on Amazon, I figured if it looked cheap I wouldn’t be out too much money.

So I placed my order and, once my Lemonbest Universal Car Steering Wheel Stitch on Wrap Cover, I threaded my needle and got to work. The cover is made of decent-quality leather with a nice feel to it, soft but not fragile. To attach it, first you have you have to slip it onto the steering wheel. The fit is rather tight, so my fears that it would slip along the wheel when I tried to turn immediately went away.

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After you have it positioned, you need to stitch and stitch and stitch and stitch until you’ve gone all the way around. “Stitch” appears in the previous sentence because it took me a loooong time to finish. In fact, the whole process took me about three hours, long enough that I had to move the car because the sun had gone down too much and couldn’t see what I was doing. I will admit that I’m not the best when it comes to sewing. I can reattach the buttons on my clothes, but that’s about it. Maybe somebody with more skill could do it faster, but three hours is what I needed.

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The end results was very good, though. The color of the leather matches perfectly. Except for the two out-of-place stitches that I had to put on the bottom of the wheel to make the leather fit tightly and a little bit if overlap with the spokes on the side of the steering wheel, you wouldn’t even know that the cover didn’t come out of the factory (unless maybe you looked really closely at the stitching and saw my amateur handiwork). Fit is tight generally tight across the whole wheel although it is a bit loose behind the spokes, which you cannot see but can feel with your fingertips when you hold onto the wheel.

I needed to use these two stiches to hold the leather tight on the bottom. A better craftsman probably wouldn’t need these.

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It’s just a little overlap, but I notice it.

So would I do it again? Yes, in fact I probably will sometime soon. Eiseng makes a similar product that is cut specifically to the shape of a Mazda3 steering wheel. The $8 Lemonbest cover was the proof-of-concept. Now that I know it works and my meager sewing skills are enough to attach it, I will probably upgrade to a unit that fits a little better.