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Sticky Steering Wheel? (Is It Leather?)

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My recently acquired Focus (2002 1.6 Ghia) came back from the garage the other day with a really tacky steering wheel. I just assumed it was some grease/grime, tried cleaning it to no avail (it was pretty dirty it turns out). Tried degreaser, still sticky. Tried WD40 (as it's good at removing sticky residues), still sticky. I've scrubbed it to buggery!

So two questions:

Any tips on removing the stickiness?

And, to guide me on what to use, is the steering wheel leather on this model or just leather effect plastic? (some google search suggestions were that, if leather, a leather cleaner/conditioner might do the job)

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A focus mk1/mk1.5 Ghia did have a real leather steering wheel. The lower spec mk1/mk1.5 versions did have a plastic or artificial leather steering wheel. The artificial leather steering wheels are known to become sticky during time or if not being treated correctly. In some cases the coloured top layer of the artificial leather may even peel off.

If your car still has the original Ghia steering wheel it should be real leather.

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A focus mk1/mk1.5 Ghia did have a real leather steering wheel. The lower spec mk1/mk1.5 versions did have a plastic or artificial leather steering wheel. The artificial leather steering wheels are known to become sticky during time or if not being treated correctly. In some cases the coloured top layer of the artificial leather may even peel off.

If your car still has the original Ghia steering wheel it should be real leather.

Cheers, I didn't even think about it being actual leather till i started googling solutions to sticky wheels and most seemed to apply to leather wheels. Will try treating it to some leather specific product next instead of attacking it with more cleaning products.

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I tend to use baby wipes on my leather wheel, seems to work well. Though if you've tried degreaser already I'm not sure what can be on it, probably best not to know lol.

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A degreaser can dissolve/soften the coloured top layer of the leather. If this is the case the best option to solve this will be another steering wheel. These days a used mint condition leather steering wheel can be found for little money.

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My ghia steering wheel is the same, I use tfr from the guys down at the car wash and it sorts it for abit. Can't work out what it is but happens every few months

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Thanks for the replies. Had planned to use some leather stuff on it today but not had time, and got a long drive tomorrow, so rubbed some talc into it for now which seems to have taken the edge off temporarily. Will chuck some Meguiars leather cleaner and conditioner at it sunday and cross fingers.

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I use a melamine foam sponge to clean a leather steering wheel. The melamine foam removes all kind of contamination including skin greases without any problem. During time most leather steering wheels become shiny as a result of contamination and skin greases. After cleaning the steering wheel with the melamine foam sponge the steering wheel has again the original matt finish.

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I use a melamine foam sponge to clean a leather steering wheel. The melamine foam removes all kind of contamination including skin greases without any problem. During time most leather steering wheels become shiny as a result of contamination and skin greases. After cleaning the steering wheel with the melamine foam sponge the steering wheel has again the original matt finish.

Isn't that abrasive though? After everything I've (belatedly) now read, number one rule seems to be nothing abrasive. There's a Youtube vid where someone basically gets slagged rotten for using a Magic Eraser (melamine sponge) to clean a leather wheel.

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If you use it with extreme care and not regularly it will not damage the leather. I carefully clean my leather steering wheel about every 36 months and protect it afterwards using a preservative (matt finish) I got from a local leather retrimmer.

I currently have a leather MK3 ST steering wheel which was in pretty bad condition. The previous owner used a gloss preservative on the leather and the stitches were molded because the car was exposed to the elements after an accident. After cleaning and preserving the leather the steering wheel is back in mint condition.

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Update: Cleaned twice with Maguires leather cleaner/conditioner, still tacky. And inspecting the wheel closely, now it's almost certainly dirt free, I'm pretty sure the protective coating is long gone (there are small signs of the beginnings of wear on the top and I'm pretty sure the 'dirt' coming off it now is just dye from the leather given how much it's been cleaned yet still taking black off it).

So any tips on something to reseal the leather? (before I give up and just get a cover for it)

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You can buy the leather on ebay if you're prepared to stitch it youreself which is fairly easy otherwise replace the wheel as you'll never sort it out once it gets to that point had exactly the same issue on my mates fiesta in the end a replacement from the scrappy was £30 and in mint condition

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We just got a 2012 focus that had been sitting for 3 years and the steering wheel airbag cover was very very tacky to the point it would turn your hands black if you rubbed it.  I tried several times to clean it with soap and rubbed it down with oil and scrubbed it with a bristle brush  to no avail.  This black goo reminded me of the tar that is found on the south Texas beaches and we have always used ronsonol lighter fluid (used in zippo lighters) to get the tar off our feet so I tried it on the steering wheel and it worked!  Just remember it's lighter fluid so it is very flammable but will evaporate fairly quick.  I used a blue shop towel with a little ronsonol on the towel and about 10 minutes of going over the sticky parts and viola no more stickiness. 

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I know it's an old thread, but lighter fluid, (sold in PoundLand for a £1!) is amazing stuff! As a solvent to get sticky residue off pretty much anything, hard to beat. Oh, you have to ask for it at the counter as they stopped displaying it last year on the shelf as some customers chose to sniff it rather than buying LOL Pretty sure it hasn't been swiped up too by the same morons that are currently panic buying everything else!

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Another use for lighter fuel. If you get a letter with no post mark on the stamp, put some lighter fuel on the back of the paper and you can peel stamp off. I know the post office/ Royal Mail say that the stamp is not valid for use again, but if they don’t want it used again they should put a post mark on it!!, It’s 100% in their control. 

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