Posted: November 14, 2013
Roadwire Leather Seat Install
Installing Roadwire's leather interior upgradeBy Ellen McKoy
Leather seating is luxurious. Which is why it’s standard equipment in most high-end cars and some luxury-edition trucks. Many OEMs also offer optional leather on some models. But factory leather is mostly humdrum, offered in few colors and styles. To satisfy consumer demand for personalization, aftermarket leather is available in myriad hues, textures and styles, from factory look-alike to custom creations. In recent years, leather kits have become highly popular upgrades for cars and light-duty trucks, and a mainstay of most restyling centers. Installing a leather kit takes experience and about four hours. For those accustomed to bolt-on products, this may seem labor-intensive. But the popularity and profitability for installers and car dealers makes it worthwhile. For tips on installing a leather kit, we visited Roadwire Automotive Innovation in Santa Fe Springs, California, where VP Dave Edmondson and his team transformed the interior of a 2011 Toyota Tundra show truck.
When removing the original upholstery, pay
close attention. Roadwire kits install the
same way as the original leather or cloth
upholstery is removed.
Lay the listing plastic in the foam listing
channel. Make sure the leather cover is
straight and aligned to each cover. Hog
ring the listing channel evenly into the foam
and retaining bars.
After hog rings are set, pull the cover over
the rest of the surface and manipulate
(push, pull, slap) the cover into place.
J-clips will hold the cover in place on the
seat frame, just like the original cover.
With the cover installed, check for misaligned
corners and seams. Manipulate to
straighten, as required. The leather will fit
well right out of the box with minimal wrinkles,
which can be steamed or heated out.
To remove a hog ring, use a sharp pair of
snips or dykes pliers. Be sure to wear eye
After removing hog rings and sliding off
J-clips, carefully peel back the existing upholstery.
Be sure to watch how it was installed,
as the new kit will install the same way.
This leather kit has reticulated foam, which
is used to ensure the cold and hot air from
the Roadwire Climate Control System can
easily pass through the perforated leather.
Not just a fan, the climate control system
generates hot and cold air through a combination
of semiconductor and thermal-electronic
technology. It is the same as OEM systems
found in many brands of current vehicles.
Used vehicles take abuse and the seat foam
can crush. Steam is effective in rebuilding air
into the foam. Also notice the need for upholstery
foam to increase the surface height.
Roadwire interiors are patterned on new
vehicles, so it may be necessary to bring the
foam back to its original height and width.
Pay special attention to airbag clips and
airbag positioning when removing the factory
upholstery. Roadwire interiors are
used on OEM vehicles and are built to OEM
safety specifications. They must be installed
in exactly the same manner as the original.
Turning the new upholstery inside out and
sliding it down the length of the seat back
is the easiest way to install it. Mind the hog
ring channels, and make sure the cover is
aligned before hog ringing it into place.
Be sure to retain all factory hardware, such
as this listing rod, which must be used in
the Roadwire leather interior.
Minor modifications may have to be made
to run aftermarket wiring or hoses. However,
no modifications should be made to
sewing seams or safety pieces. Stretch the
leather back to fasten J-clips. They may
have to be pulled tight to get the proper fit.
This seat-bottom cushion cover lays over the
seat foam and tucks under the seat back.
Once the seat-bottom cushion cover is centered
and even, hog ring the cover straight
into the listing channel in the foam.
This Tundra is fitted with a Rosen headrest
video system. The headrest video system
wiring must be run through the existing
headrest post holes and down through the
back of the seat.
Carefully reinstall the seat plastics in the
order in which they were removed.
Gently press the headrest posts back into
the headrest holes. Do not force them.
Make sure the headrest lock button is
pressed to ensure ease of installation.
After installing the door panel vinyl, reinstall
the door panel components in the order in
which they were removed.
The finished installation completely changes the appearance of this Tundra.