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Cosmetic Maintenance: Washing, Waxing, Detailing, Bodywork, Protection Anything related to keeping your Camaro clean and in good cosmetic condition.

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Old 05-09-2012, 12:56 PM   #1
Todd@Autopia
 
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Understanding the different types of leather

Automotive leather can come in various styles which include the following: Aniline, Semi-Aniline, and Pigmented (Coated/Protected) leather. Aniline leather is almost never found in automobiles today, although some older and specialty vehicles use this. Pigmented leather is the most commonly used and the quality can vary wildly. Finally semi-aniline, most commonly found in higher end vehicles, is somewhere in the middle.



PIGMENTED (Protected/Coated) LEATHER.


This is leather that can been coated with a synthetic material. The leather hide itself is left in its natural (usually dark gray) form. The coating provides the color and the protection for the leather. In the picture above the coating has a light tan finish. Generally less expensive or thicker coatings will feel more vinyl like or stiff. Thinner, higher quality coating will retain much of the leather's natural feel. Thick coatings are usually used in cheaper vehicles because the coating hides the natural flaws in the leather, making it less expensive to finish.

Care

Caring for pigmented leather is truly about keeping the leather clean. Dirt and particulate will scratch and wear the leather leading to shiny appearance and exposure of the leather hide underneath. Acidic body oils can wear or stain the vacuum frequently and use a gentle, water based cleaner to remove embedded dirt and oil. Use a protectant or conditioner that features protectants (to reduce abrasion and increase sun fade resistance). Over time the leather coating will crack microscopically or stretch in the seams and folds. Conditioners can penetrate the coating through these cracks and openings, keeping the leather underneath soft and supple.


SEMI-ANILINE LEATHER



This is leather in which the hide has been dyed (similar to aniline leather) but there is still a protective coating on top. This coating is usually extremely thin allowing the leather to feel very natural and supple. The coating can either be clear, tinted, or dyed. The ultra thin coating does not mask defects (such as mosquito bites or scars) as well so only select hides are used. In the example above the hide has been dyed red and the coating is clear.

Care

Caring for semi-aniline leather is near identical to caring for pigmented leather. Keep the leather clean by frequently cleaning and vacuuming. Semi-aniline leather is usually not as resilient as pigmented leather so frequent conditioning is also recommended.


ANILINE LEATHER


Aniline leather is leather that has been dyed and tanned but features no protective coating. This is the most natural and soft leather. It is also extremely vulnerable to stains, water damage, dye transfer, scratching and scaring. Aniline leather is not typically found in automobiles today. In the diagram above the leather has been died a deeper brown.

Care

Do not eat, drink, or use using anything wet on aniline leather. Doing so can alter the stiffness or cause irreversible staining. Clean and condition the hides with products designed for use with aniline leather.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:56 PM   #2
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Also, Camaro's use Pigmented/Protected Leather.
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Old 05-09-2012, 03:19 PM   #3
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Awesome write up Todd!
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Old 05-09-2012, 03:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd@Autopia View Post
Also, Camaro's use Pigmented/Protected Leather.
That's exactly what I was going to ask. Thanks.

What products do you reccomend we use to maintain our 'leather' seats.?
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:15 PM   #5
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Great information, thanks Todd!
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:18 PM   #6
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I did not know that....very cool.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:33 AM   #7
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You guys are very welcome!
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HDRDTD View Post
That's exactly what I was going to ask. Thanks.

What products do you reccomend we use to maintain our 'leather' seats.?
The first step in maintaining 'healthy' leather is to keep it clean (this far more important than "conditioning").

Any dirt and grit is abrasive and the constant movement of us when we sit and shift around in the seats will actually begin to 'sand' the leather coating and abrade it away. So frequent vacuuming is extremely important, as well as the occasional wipe down with just a damp rag.

Deep cleaning the leather is important as well. Body oils and greasy residue will age the protective coating (and the leather itself should it penetrate). Use a dedicated leather cleaner every couple of months (more on the steering wheel and or leather shifter).

After deep cleaning with a dedicated leather cleaner it is important to protect the leather (similar to waxing a car) with a leather conditioner.

Now follow me for a second... A lot of leather protectants are termed conditioners because they feature conditioning agents that keep leather hide soft. However coated leather is really wrapped in a vinyl like material which doesn't need to be conditioned. When the leather is new, the protective/pigmented coating is fresh and impenetrable. As the coating stretches and wears it developes microscopic cracks that expose the actual hide in places (around the stitching, in folds and creases). This is why most 'conditioners' are actually leather protectors that feature conditioning agents.

So by conditioning the leather we are actually protecting it against UV fade as well as abrasion (by creating some slip on the surface) as well as conditioning any hide that becomes exposed over time.

Autopia Car Care offers a huge selection of leather products. I regularly use BLACKFIRE Interior Cleaner & BLACKFIRE Leather Conditioner (which has high UV protection). I also am a huge fan of Leather Master's brand products. Leather Master is a company based out of Italy whose sole purpose is leather care and their products are phenominal. Their cleaner (Leather Strong Cleaner) is water based and makes cleaning soiled leather easy. After cleaning the Leather you can condition the hides with Leather Master Vital, then protect them with Leather Master Protection Cream.

So between the two it depends on if you want to use a two step system (BLACKFIRE) or a three step system (Leather Masters).

Another option is from a company called Leatherique. Leatherique is unique in that you apply a thick oil conditioner first, called Rejuvinator Oil and allow it to sit and penetrate through the coating and into the hides. This removes any body oils from deep with in the leather and floats it to the top. Then you use the cleaner, Presitine Clean to remove the oily residue and leave the leather soft. I usually give my leather a Leatherique Treatment once a year to condition the hides under the coating. As the leather ages and more of the coating is worn, I would step the Leatherique treatment up to every 8 months or so.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any questions!
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:46 AM   #9
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Nice write up Todd.
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:04 AM   #10
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Nice write up Todd.
Thank you
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd@Autopia View Post
Also, Camaro's use Pigmented/Protected Leather.
Are the entire seats leather, or just parts? (Ex: Was told my previous vehicle only had leather on the front of the seats and some other material on the backs of the seats.)

Are the rear seats leather? (Was told 3rd row seat in previous vehicle wasn't leather.)

Steering wheel? Gear Shift? Cover of center console?

thank you!
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:13 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by camtx45 View Post
Are the entire seats leather, or just parts? (Ex: Was told my previous vehicle only had leather on the front of the seats and some other material on the backs of the seats.)

Are the rear seats leather? (Was told 3rd row seat in previous vehicle wasn't leather.)

Steering wheel? Gear Shift? Cover of center console?

thank you!
I would honestly have to look at them to know for sure. It is common for many vehicles to use vinyl for the seat backs, door pieces, etc.
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