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Car Interior Repairs

Within the interior of a car, there are many different kinds of material, and many different kinds of damage that can occur.

In an ideal world there would be a perfect 'invisible repair' solution for all of them, but unfortunately this is not the case. A successful repair on something like a cigarette burn can depend on the kind of material it is on, where it is in relation to seams and folds, if it is on a high wear area or hidden away. Luckily, there is often more than one solution too, and if we can't help, we are happy to refer you to somebody who can... usually a coach trimmer or upholsterer.

On the next few pages you will see some examples of different kinds of damage and the types of repair that can be done to tackle them, however, we strongly recommend that you take some photos of the damage on your car and send them to us using the form further down the page. There is no obligation and we will advise you of the best methods of repair.

Cigarette Burn Repairs

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Cigarette burns can appear virtually anywhere on a car, but usually they do tend to end up on the seats. There is a invisible Smart Repair method for dealing with these, but it's not one we are keen on because it's not very hard wearing. On older cars a hole can be sewn up, which is hard wearing but not invisible. So if you have a cigarette burn on a fabric seat we will most likely refer you to an Upholsterer, an example can be found here. However, if the burn is not in a high wear area such as the back of the seat or on the headlining, then we may very well be able to repair the area as long as the damaged surface is appropriate. Velour, tightly woven fabrics, leather and textured plastic and vinyl can be repaired. Coarse Woven fabrics, plastics with very even patterns, and suede can be far more problematic -- this is why we suggest you send us a few photos, we are happy to take a look and give you free advice. Keep in mind though, that even if we can fix your cigarette burn, it may not be worth traveling a long way to get us to do it, so you may wish to get out a needle and thread and have a go yourself!
Send us a photo and we will tell you the best way to fix it.

Ripped Fabric Seats

Unfortunately, if your fabric seats suffer a rip, there is no invisible repair that can be done to fix it. Usually the best method of repair is to get a Coach Trimmer to take the seat apart and Sew in a new panel of fabric to replace the damaged one. Coach trimmers and upholsterers can work wonders, and repairs are not as expensive as you might think -- an example can be found here. However, in some cases where this is not economically viable and the damage isn't too severe, we can sew up the area in situ.
Send us a photo and we will tell you the best way to fix it.

Holes in Carpets

Holes in carpets seems to becoming quite a common problem, there are generally two causes that we see, the first is caused by high heeled shoes wearing the area under the accelerator, the other cause is simply very light weight carpets wearing through. We have an video example of car carpet repair. The former is fairly easy to fix on any car that has reasonably thick carpet with long unlooped fibres. It's also relatively inexpensive.
Send us a photo and we will tell you the best way to fix it.

With cars that have worn carpets, the best solution is to make up 'carpet sets', these are basically a set of mats that are sewn in on top of the existing carpets. Again, this is not something we do here but we can refer you to a coach trimmer. As a third alternative, just a good set of car mats that look like they belong will hide thinning carpets. We get our car mats from Autostyle as they make them to your exact specifications.

Damage to Vinyl (PVC) Seats

Fully Vinyl seats are a rare thing these days, but what most people don't realize is that on the majority of leather interiors, only the seat faces are leather, the bases and backs are plastic and PVC. You can repair rips and holes in vinyl that you would never attempt on leather, because Vinyl tends to be in low wear areas, and because it is often easier to work with. It can be patched from behind and the face filled and repainted, often leaving an invisible repair. The exception to this is when vinyl is passed it's shelf life... it can 'go off', at which point it becomes prone to cracking and tearing and then having a trimmer replace it is the only option. However, this is something we rarely see as it tends only to happen when PVC is used for the facings of a seat and gets lots of exposure to the sun.
Send us a photo and we will tell you the best way to fix it.

Rips or Gouges in Leather

Leather has an inherent strength which unfortunately, once broken will never be strong again. We can repair rips in leather but the repair wouldn't last very long, so in almost all cases where leather is ripped through, we would recommend having an upholsterer replace the damaged panel.
If the leather is gouged, scuffed or scratched but still retains it's strength, then it is an ideal candidate for repair. The method is to fill the damaged area using a flexible filler, and then refinishing the whole face of that seat. This is especially useful for seats that have been damaged by buttons and buckles.
Send us a photo and we will tell you the best way to fix it.

Worn Leather

It's amazing how quickly certain areas of your leather upholstery can wear. It's not unusual to see the driver's door-side bolster begin to look tatty after only 6 months! On a car that does lots of mileage, it's not unusual to see the leading edge of the seat base worn after a year. In such cases, it is usually only the colouring wearing off and this can easily be rectified by refinishing the seat.
On older cars, the leather, and often the stitching begins to wear through weakening the leather. It can become dry and cracked and the leather panel required replacement at a Coach Trimmers.
Send us a photo and we will tell you the best way to fix it.

Damage to Dashboards and Door Cards

This would be a far easier subject to address if there wasn't so many different materials involved with dashboards and door cards!
Normal plastic dashboards can usually be repaired unless they have intricate uniform textures or printing, such as polka-dot, in which case the finish is impossible to replicate by hand. Rubberised coatings are also problematic as are printed areas of plastic with logos or graphics on them - luckily these areas are usually removable inserts that can be replaced with new parts.
PVC and leather is usually repairable as a smart repair. There are specialist companies that can refurbish walnut panels on dashboards and doors... unless they are actually screen printed plastic in which case replacements are a better option.

Scuffs, scratches, gouges, holes and wear are usually repairable, but cracks caused by shrinkage on sun damaged dashboards are not... unless it is a last resort! A replacement dashboard is preferable, but on some vintage cars where spares are in short supply, it can be done but goes beyond the realms of just 'smart repair'.
Send us a photo and we will tell you the best way to fix it.

Head Lining and Fabric Hoods

On modern cars, headlinings can be made of many different materials, coarse weave nylon, velour, vinyl, printed cardboard or hard plastic to name just a few. Unfortunately, some of these are virtually impossible to repair, even to make an improvement. But as the cost of a replacement is hugely expensive, a smart repair is always preferable. As for Fabric hoods, there was a time when coach trimmers were happy to deal with them, but as the mechanisms that make them work have become so complicated it has become too labour intensive to dismantle them for repair unless it is something you specialise in. Unfortunately, they do get damaged and they can suffer from wear, especially the stitching coming apart and the rear windows falling out.
Send us a photo and we will tell you the best way to fix it.

Note: What is the difference between a 'Coach Trimmer' and a 'Vehicle Upholsterer'? Absolutely none at all! Those within the motor trade tend to use the former label, while the general public tend to use the latter.

Ask the Experts
 We are always happy to help, so please ask us your questions [more]

We have assembled a panel of experts from across the industry with a combined experience of over 200 years. You can find out about the experts here, and read the code of conduct they follow here.

Any questions sent to us are posted in the Q&A area of our site so that they can help other people... We do strip out any personal information but please put your e-mail or number ONLY in the correct fields so we can keep them hidden. Once we have answered your question, we will email you.

IF YOU DON'T HEAR FROM US AFTER A COUPLE OF DAYS... it may because our email to you ended up in your spam filter or was blocked by your mail server. You can always look on our Q&A section to see if your answer is there. We don't work Sundays or Bank Holidays, and it can take us a couple of days to catch up with enquiries at the beginning of the week. If you are in a hurry, you can always give us a call.

If you don't have a photo don't worry, you can still send us your question, just be aware that we may not be able to give you a good answer if we can't see what we are being asked about. If you can't supply a photo, please give us a description. You can also send us your photos and questions even if you have no intention of using our services. We don't mind at all!

Photo Tips - Try to get one good close up of any damaged area, and then one shot which clearly shows the location... try and get in the nearest 'landmark' like a wheel arch or headlamp. When taking photos of dents, try taking them from a distance and zooming in. Use the reflection of a wall or fence to help show the dents. If your camera has problem focusing on chips or scratches, stick a piece of tape next to the damaged area and focus in on that, this will also help us get an idea of scale. When sending us photos of wheels, send us examples of the worst of the damage and one full picture of the face of the wheel so we can see what kind of finish it has.

The more information we have, the easier it is to answer! So you can include information such as the age of your car, and even your location - after all we might be able to recommend somebody closer.

Posting Links Please avoid posting links to photos, it causes us problems! If you would like to show us a page on another website, please just paste in the URL address -- DO NOT use HTML or BB script to try and make it an active link, if you do your message will be rejected by our spam filter.

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This page was last updated on Sat, 19 October, 2013
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