One of the problems my Ciera had when I got it was that the steering wheel was falling apart. Whatever paint they'd used on it was falling off in tiny chips that stuck to my hands and coated my pants in a dull gray confetti. Not sure why it was doing this, I always thought these wheels were molded in color, not painted.


A picture from the day I got the car.

It would have eventually stopped doing this once it all fell off, but I would have still had an ugly black wheel in a gray car, plus the steering wheel was abrasive and uncomfortable in this condition. A cover was the obvious solution.

So I bought one of those "Sport Grip" foamy steering wheel covers for $5. It was cheap and looked and felt alright, but was rather fragile. It didn't take long for the cover to begin falling apart at the bottom left spoke where I usually hold the wheel, and finally it was so ragged I just cut the whole thing off last week.


The Sport Grip cover looked this good for about a month.

After that failure, I tried one of the slip on covers sold almost everywhere, you know the kind that are fuzzy or have Tweety Bird or Ed Hardy designs on them. (Fortunately I found a plain gray one.) The problem with this one was it made the grip circumference of the wheel too thick for my taste, I'm not kidding when I say it felt like I was holding a tennis ball when I drove. Not to mention it didn't wrap all the way around the wheel, so I was still getting gray paint chips all over me, just not as many.


Really?

The third and final option was to go with one of the stitch on leather covers. I knew these were the nicest and would sometimes outlast the cars they were installed on, but on the other hand the installation was said to be quite a headache. I looked online at the Wheelskin and Superskin brands, and decided to go with the much cheaper Superskin over the $50 Wheelskin brand.

I found the cover, in the correct size, at a local Pep Boys. It was actually cheaper than I could find online, but on the other hand the one I got looked like it had been hanging on the peg for a while. The package was dated 2001, and while the cover itself wasn't dated, the stiffness of the leather led me to believe it was from closer to the package date than today's date. I decided to go ahead anyway, and just soaked it in leather conditioner before I installed it.


In 5 flavors!

After looking over the instructions and the available stitch patterns, I chose to go with the cross lace pattern. As I understand it, it gives the best results but is also the most time consuming, as you have to work with two needles. Additional tools used were a small hook and a jewelers screwdriver for pulling the thread tight, a spring clamp to help hold the cover down, and an antique thimble I borrowed from my grandmother's sewing kit.

Installation was pretty straightforward, it just took a long time. According to what I've read online, it takes between 2 and 6 hours to install the cover. I believe I spent at least 7.




The end result.

As you can see, it isn't perfect but doesn't look that bad either. I wasn't able to stretch the cover around the thicker parts of the wheel at 10 and 2, and there's a ripple at the very bottom caused by the fact that I somehow ended up with an odd number of holes for the thread, resulting in uneven lacing. But after all that work, it wasn't like I was going to tear it off and return it.

Here's a few shots of the installation. Nothing too exciting, just slowly lacing around the wheel:








Overall, I'm pretty pleased with it. Just figured I'd share my install with the forum, since I know some of you guys have steering wheels in even rougher shape than mine. As a bonus, I know from experience that these covers look and fit even better on the older wheels without airbags.