How can I keep my new leather seats looking new?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

I just bought a 2000 Ford Explorer XLT with leather seats. Since this is my first time owning leather seats, I'd like to know if there are any special techniques to care for my leather upholstery. I ask this question because the leather upholstery in my parents' car is cracked and well-worn. I would like to keep my new seats looking their best for as long as possible. Any suggestions? -- Michelle

TOM: Well, if you're really determined to keep your seats looking new as long as possible, you can use the time-honored method that every immigrant American household has used, which is to cover the things up with plastic.

RAY: Right. My grandmother plastic-covered every piece of furniture she ever bought. The nicer the furniture, the thicker the plastic. And it worked. When she died, her furniture looked great.

TOM: Of course, the plastic was also responsible for her demise. She stuck to her couch one hot, humid day in August, and we didn't find her until a week later.

RAY: Actually, there's not much you have to do with leather. That's its great advantage. I mean, you don't see cows wiping each other down with Armor All out in the pasture, do you?

TOM: The cracking is the result of the leather drying out. And depending on the climate you live in and how much sun beats into the car every day, you may want to treat the leather seats with a leather conditioner every six months or so as a precaution.

TOM: A number of companies make leather conditioners (just check any auto-parts store or the automotive section of a department store). The conditioner's purpose is to moisturize the leather and keep it from drying out and cracking. Other than that, all you have to do is wash it with some mild soap and warm water once in a while, and it should last the life of the car.

RAY: Oh, I do have one other suggestion. Get out of the habit of keeping your uncovered ball point pen in your back pocket.

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