Upholstery Question

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I need to repair the front seats on my '02 Cougar. I've bought the replacement foam, and I now need to make a decision about repairing a couple of leather panels on the two seats that are wron. I've found a shop that will install the foam and replace the leather with new pieces for $450. The same job with synthetic leather would be $300 at this shop and another I found. The second shop argues strongly for the synthetic, since it's cheaper and needs less maintenance. I'm inclined to put the leather back in, but if the synthetic is better in some respects, and cheaper, I'm open to the synthetic. Any opinions?
 
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How long do you intend on keeping the car? What kind of conditions will it see. (Will it always be parked in the sun, and will it be a daily driver)
 

Kestas

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They are doing wonderful things with synthetic material and simulating leather upholstery, plus it wear like iron. I don't know if this technology has filtered down to the upholstery shops. It's worth a look though.
 
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While I agree that the synthetic leathers have really come a long way since the vinyl days. But there is one thing to really consider - breathability. If you are replacing leather surfaces that are on the side or any area where your body doesn't touch than go with synthetic. Actually most OEM leather seats use synthetic on areas which do not touch the body (the seating surfaces where your butt and back touch). BUT - if you are replacing parts where you sit on I strongly recommend real leather. You will sweat and be uncomfortanble on anything except real leather. I have really nice leather sport seats in my Corvette and they are comfortable even in the hot Texas heat. BUT - I bought some real nice ($$) synthetic leather seat covers to protect them. The fit so tight and match every original stitch and curve of the seats. You cannot tell they are even there. They look and feel like leather but after a few miles driving, I am hot and clammy even with the a/c on. The whole car is cool, but my but and back are clammy and there is no air breathing like with leather. Just something to think about.
 

ET16

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 Originally Posted By: StevieC
How long do you intend on keeping the car? What kind of conditions will it see. (Will it always be parked in the sun, and will it be a daily driver)
I imagine I'll keep the car for another five or more years. It's parked outside and I drive it almost every day.
 

ET16

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 Originally Posted By: GMBoy
While I agree that the synthetic leathers have really come a long way since the vinyl days. But there is one thing to really consider - breathability. If you are replacing leather surfaces that are on the side or any area where your body doesn't touch than go with synthetic. Actually most OEM leather seats use synthetic on areas which do not touch the body (the seating surfaces where your butt and back touch). BUT - if you are replacing parts where you sit on I strongly recommend real leather. You will sweat and be uncomfortanble on anything except real leather. I have really nice leather sport seats in my Corvette and they are comfortable even in the hot Texas heat. BUT - I bought some real nice ($$) synthetic leather seat covers to protect them. The fit so tight and match every original stitch and curve of the seats. You cannot tell they are even there. They look and feel like leather but after a few miles driving, I am hot and clammy even with the a/c on. The whole car is cool, but my but and back are clammy and there is no air breathing like with leather. Just something to think about.
Thanks for this information. The pieces to be replaced are where you might expect: the outer seat and back areas that you come into contact with getting in and out of the seats. You're in contact with these areas some when you're seated, but I don't remember how much.
 

ET16

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 Originally Posted By: Kestas
They are doing wonderful things with synthetic material and simulating leather upholstery, plus it wear like iron. I don't know if this technology has filtered down to the upholstery shops. It's worth a look though.
The material that I was shown was very impressive.
 
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Couldn't you get an OEM seat from a junkyard for less? I got a complete seat with nicer upholstery for my Fiesta once but found the seat frame was bent from the car being rear-ended. But I was still able to swap the upholstery.
 
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ET16

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I've looked around a little, but so far I haven't found anything.
 
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Back in 1980 most mercedes cars came with this synthetic stuff called MB-Tex that everyone just assumed was leather-- it was that good. Hopefully the upholsterers have a sample you could sit on.
 
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 Originally Posted By: eljefino
Back in 1980 most mercedes cars came with this synthetic stuff called MB-Tex that everyone just assumed was leather-- it was that good. Hopefully the upholsterers have a sample you could sit on.
My family had a 1984 300D-Turbo - stock (including MB-Tex upholstery) save dealer-added pinstripes. While the bucket seats seats were fine (I thought they were a bit hard but the contours helped) I once had to sit in the rear-middle from the Los Angeles area to Las Vegas. The 3 "adult" passengers got the remaining bucket seats. So not only was I about to puke from being a teenager with fewer visual aids to reduce motion sickness, but I had the benefit of a sore butt from sitting on that rear hump. It felt like sitting on a slightly rounded wooden stump. Everyone else in our party about my own age on that trip was in another car to boot, so I was bored to death.
 
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 Originally Posted By: eljefino
Back in 1980 most mercedes cars came with this synthetic stuff called MB-Tex that everyone just assumed was leather-- it was that good. Hopefully the upholsterers have a sample you could sit on.
My '97 C230 also had this MB-Tex. When I traded the car at age 11 with 89,000 miles on it (tranny went out), the material looked like new. Some stitches in the headrest had come loose, but the material, which was easy to clean, looked great. If you have the option, and can afford it, you could get sheepskins or sheepskin inserts for the actual seating areas. They protect the seats and are cool in summer and warm in winter.
 
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 Originally Posted By: eljefino
Back in 1980 most mercedes cars came with this synthetic stuff called MB-Tex that everyone just assumed was leather-- it was that good. Hopefully the upholsterers have a sample you could sit on.
MB tex is still availabe and is actually in more new E350's than leather!
 

ET16

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 Originally Posted By: GMBoy
 Originally Posted By: eljefino
Back in 1980 most mercedes cars came with this synthetic stuff called MB-Tex that everyone just assumed was leather-- it was that good. Hopefully the upholsterers have a sample you could sit on.
MB tex is still availabe and is actually in more new E350's than leather!
This doesn't surprise me. I'm growing less fond of leather in cars. It doesn't really hold up as well as it should, and with the coatings they use now, it's also difficult to treat.
 

Kestas

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Agreed. I just spent $1000 (parts only) to recover the leather on the driver's seat of my 95 Mercedes E320. I just don't see the big whoop on leather.
 
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 Originally Posted By: Kestas
Agreed. I just spent $1000 (parts only) to recover the leather on the driver's seat of my 95 Mercedes E320. I just don't see the big whoop on leather.
A few years back I noticed the car I lusted after when I was in high school - a MB 190E 2.3-16 with the Cosworth engine, dog-leg gearbox, and Recaro seats. I suppose the leather is difficult to keep perfect. It was somewhat cracked. Although the leather was otherwise intact, it made the burst seams more apparent. I'm not sure if I would still lust after it now. Modern cars seemed to have caught up at far cheaper prices.
 
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