The reason why a leather steering wheel can become sticky is due to many things, most of all because of the dirt and grime that builds up on it over time. A sticky steering wheel is also common if you often drive in dusty environments. Another common reason is if you use non-leather cleaners or conditioners on your steering wheel such as Armor All tire protectants, Armor All glass wipes, or chemical leather cleansers which will all leave a sticky residue and ruin the surface of your steering wheel. The solution to this is simple – just wash the wheel with soapy water and then recondition it using an appropriate leather conditioner such as Leather Honey which can be purchased at most automotive stores.
If your leather steering wheel is still sticky after all of this then it’s likely because the glue used to assemble the leather to the wheel was not heat resistant. This will seep through stitch holes and seams over time and cause a sticky feel to the leather. The solution to this is to get a leather-safe adhesive remover and use it on the surface of the steering wheel.
This is probably the most common reason why your leather steering wheel becomes sticky. It’s caused by a build-up of grease and oil from your hands on the surface of the wheel that then mixes with other elements like dirt and grime to create a sticky residue on the surface of the steering wheel. This can also be caused by a lack of cleaning and conditioning over time which leads to the leather drying out and becoming more brittle and susceptible to damage.
Another common cause of a sticky steering wheel is that the actual material on the wheel may not be real leather but instead vinyl or pleather which is more likely to feel sticky when it gets dirty and damp. This can be a result of not using a leather cleaner and conditioner on a regular basis or because it is exposed to sunlight which can fade and dry out the vinyl/pleather over time.
Lastly, a sticky steering wheel can also be caused by excessive humidity which is common in tropical and humid regions. It can also be a result of the wheel being exposed to direct sunlight which causes the leather to break down and age, again leading to a sticky feel.
Luckily the solution to all of these problems is quite easy and inexpensive. All you need to do is get a leather safe cleaner such as Leather Honey and a soft clean cloth. Apply the cleaner to the wheel and use the clean cloth to rub away the sticky residue. Then once the wheel is clean and dry apply a leather conditioner such as Leather Honey to fill in the pores of the leather so that your hands slide easier on the steering wheel. If you do this regularly it will prevent your steering wheel from getting sticky as quickly and keep it looking shiny and new.