How to Do Auto Upholstery Repair Yourself

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  • Beginner
What You'll Need
Upholstery glue
Auto upholstery patch kit

Auto upholstery repair can be very expensive if you take your vehicle to a professional upholsterer. The fact is that sooner or later, you’re going to need some kind of auto upholstery repair. Although you can’t do all the repairs yourself, there are several that you can manage without spending much money. It will keep the interior of your car or truck looking much better.

Step 1 - Identify the Type of Rip

A rip is more than a rip when it comes to auto upholstery repair. A rip in the middle of the seat needs very different treatment to one close to a seam. Much depends on the pressure that’s exerted on the area around the rip as you sit. It also depends on the type of material of the upholstery. It can be hard to use glue to join some fabric upholstery, for example, although it can work well with the less porous vinyl or leather.

Step 2 - Use Glue

Where you have a rip near a seam, you can use upholstery glue for your auto upholstery repair as long as the material can be pulled together. You will need a patch of material underneath. Choose something very similar in color to your upholstery so it will blend in well.

Put glue on half the patch and slide it under the rip. Pull down on one side of the rip so it’s tight, then press down on the patch. With quick-drying glue, the process will only take a few minutes. When one half is dry, apply glue to the other half of the path and pull the remainder of the materials over it, working the rip closed as tightly as possible so you can’t make out a joint or seam. Press down on the material and hold it until the glue has dried. This auto upholstery repair will work best in a part of the upholstery that doesn't get a lot of pressure and wear.

Step 3 - Use a Patch Kit

If you have a rip in the middle of a seat, you’ll need to use an upholstery patch kit for your auto upholstery repair. This uses heat, rather than glue, which gives a stronger bond under pressure. Measure the rip, and cut your patch to the appropriate size. It needs to extend at least 2 inches on all sides of the rip to ensure the rip doesn’t extend later.

Slide the patch under the rip. Have a hot iron ready. Pull one side of the patch toward the middle, then press down with the iron. It will only take a few seconds for the patch to adhere to the material. Test to see how tight it is. Pull the other side of the material closed, and use the iron on it.

Step 4 - Wear

If your upholstery is becoming worn, as it might from the constant pressure and rubbing of a baby car seat, an approved auto upholstery protector can save it. It’s a very simple auto upholstery repair.