Swedespeed Project V70 T5M: V70R Seat Restoration
Jan 14, 2012 - 10:00:00 AM
The leather with the diamond pattern suede seats found in the 1998 to 2000 V70R represent one of the most memorable features from that generation. Unfortunately, 100,000+ miles of use can reveals a cracks and frayed suede on most of these vehicles. Leather seat cracks and imperfections often go unrepaired because the cost of replacement OEM leather covers. Together, the upper and lower seat bottom covers for a V70R can approach $1000 from a Volvo retailer, if the part can be found. Custom leather solutions can approach the actual cash value of a 12yr old Volvo. There are more affordable options to restore the appearance of those well-worn seats. One is to use good material from a damaged seat and another is to repair and restore the existing material.
For our Project T5M, I had purchased a decent condition set of V70R seats but I wanted to improve the driver’s seat. I found a salvage yard passenger seat superior to my current passenger seat. I approached SEATCO, an upholstery shop serving Northern VA since the late 1960s, to swap the passenger cover to my driver’s seat. Upon reinstallation, they discovered that the seat cover bottom is shaped differently and could not be used. The leather and suede were separated and then the best pieces were stitched together to create a “new” driver’s seat cover. While the results were good, the process was laborious. Last fall, when I found another salvage yard interior, I wanted to find a more efficient option and discovered Fibrenew.
Fibrenew specializes in repair, restoration and renewal of leather, plastics, vinyl, fabric and upholstery. Skilled technicians repair cracks, stains, scratches, holes, rips and fades in leather, plastic, vinyl, fabric and upholstery look new again. Viewing the before/after photos on Fibrenew’s website reveals some impressive repairs. I reached out to my local Fibrenew franchise owner, Michael Carter, to address a cracked driver’s seat from a salvage yard 2000 V70R along with a few imperfections on the passenger and rear seats.
Years of wear and tear will degrade any interior, but after a few hours Michael was able to erase significant cracks and minor scratches. First, he started by sanding the leather using 400-800 grit sand paper to "knock off" some of the rough edges and loose pieces of leather. The leather was then cleaned using a Fibrenew all purpose cleaner and allowed to thoroughly dry.
Depending on the condition of the leather, Fibrenew will lightly wipe the seats with a solvent based cleaner, such as Acetone, to remove any stubborn dirt, oil build-up, or grease. The V70R seats are a combination of leather, suede inserts and piping so he had to tape off the cloth elements in order to prevent dye from being applied to those areas. The dyes are water based and a leather adhesion promoter adheres to the leather surfaces.
For the larger cracks, white, synthetic leather filler feels, looks, and wears like leather. While the filler cures, a hand-mix color was created to match the Volvo leather. After the filler cured, Michael lightly sanded over the filled cracks with 800 grit sand paper. A second application of leather adhesion promoter was applied and given time to dry.
A HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) gravity fed spray gun at 43psi sprayed the color over the repairs. A top coat with a cross linker and reducer adjusted the sheen to the proper gloss and sealed the repairs. The cross linker allows the color coat to remain flexible and not rub off.
The results were impressive. The worn bolsters look like new. For a couple hundred dollars all of the V70R seats have shed years of use. This repair technique will satisfy the majority of Volvo owners. The color is extremely close but with direct sunlight outside the vehicle, a slight variation is visible. Yet, once installed in the car, the human eye has a more difficult time discerning any color difference.
The suede on the V70R seats will begin to fray but a $10 fabric shaver will clean up the surface after 30 seconds of use. The combination of leather repair and suede shaving restores and transforms the appearance of the seats to satisfy most owners.
V70R seats are getting more difficult to find without worn bolsters or cracked leather. Fibrenew provides an affordable service for revitalizing these unique Volvo seats. If you are in the Northern Virginia area, Michael can be reached at email@example.com or (703) 724-7858.
Visit fibrenew's website for more details or to find a specialist in your area.