"Sticky" Leather Seats

"Sticky" Leather Seats

I recently purchased my used AP1 MS 85 with 45K miles on and it and I have to say my experience with the vehicle, delivery, and service, have all been great thus far, which is a far cry from many other posts I've seen.

Since I have always detailed my cars myself, one of the first things I did after taking delivery of the car was to give it a bow to stern detail, both inside and out. One of the areas of interest to me were the seats. When I drove the car off the lot, I could not help but notice that when I moved my back away from the seat, my shirt stayed stuck to the seat and would "peel" off, similar to pleather in hot weather. I tried to remedy this by using the following products for cleaning and conditioning purposes:

-Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
-Mothers VLR VinylLeatherRubber Care
-Meguiar's Gold Class Rich Leather Cleaner & Conditioner

Despite these products (note: did not use them all at once), the seats still remain "sticky" but not to the same degree they were when I took delivery. I'm not sure if the "top coat" of the leather/vinyl seats has worn off. Even more peculiar, when I was cleaning the seats, using a soft microfiber pad, I noticed some of the tan leather coloring was coming off on the pad! The backseats do not have this issue, thankfully.

Note: When I sat in an AP0 MS 85 that was a loaner from service, I found the seats to be much "smoother" and did not stick to them as I was leaving. If this car, with 20K more miles than mine doesn't have this issue, there's hope to me that my seats can be restored somehow, some way.

Any advice for a novice is much appreciated!
Thank you!

Boonedocks | 8 mei 2019

I use the full line of Optimum products on my Teslas and really do like them. The Leather Protectant keeps the leather in my S and pleather in our newer Vegan X super soft and supple.

Viridian | 8 mei 2019

Thank you for replying Boonedocks!

I believe I am looking more so for a method to either a) determine if conditioners can even revive the seats at this point or b) use my existing products in a different way to achieve a better result. With all due respect, I do not believe slapping on a fourth product will resolve this issue.

PBEndo | 8 mei 2019

Have you inspected the headliner for makeup stains? just curious.

Viridian | 8 mei 2019


That's a good thought but it just had the normal dirtiness that comes from almost four years of use, no makeup in sight. When the color came off, part of the passenger seat actually became a darker color, as if I were wiping away the leather itself (if that makes any sense). I will get a photo when I can and share it, but it's definitely strange. Even a detailer was befuddled as to why the color shifted there. | 8 mei 2019

Is it possible the prior owner had something on his clothes that chemically affected the leather? Not sure what that would be. Are both front seats acting/looking the same or only the driver's seat?

SoCal Buzz | 8 mei 2019

Over-cleaning will likely make it worse. It sounds like the factory leather seal has started to degrade.

jordanrichard | 8 mei 2019

Just FYI, one is wasting their money and time on buying leather cleaners and conditioners. Like just about ALL leather in modern cars, the leather in our cars is sealed/coated with essentially a plastic film. That;s why Tesla says to use simple soap and water to clean the leather. Notice the cars don’t have that classic leather smell....?

Viridian | 8 mei 2019

TeslaTap: Yes, it on both seats in the front. I believe the previous owner left the vehicle parked outside in the Florida sun (bannister was peeling real bad and Tesla said it was definitely heat, but they repaired it)

SoCal Buzz: I was afraid of that. I doubt it's covered under warranty. Would something like that be repairable by a professional?

Jordan: Thank you for the information. My previous car was used as well, with leather seats, and the same cleaners were used in that vehicle as well. No problems. Btw, the same cleaning on the rear seats in my Tesla turned out great.

Captain_Zap | 8 mei 2019

I'm still using just water and a damp cloth on my 2012 Model S white leather seats and they are still like new. Even when someone transferred new blue jean dye stains to the seat, a wet cloth took care of it.

Whatever sealant they used on the leather in the early cars is incredible. Someone made handbags out of Tesla's leather scraps for a while. I'm wishing I bought one.

Viridian | 8 mei 2019

Here is how the passenger seat looks:

kerryglittle | 8 mei 2019

This may be a long shot. Last time I was at the SC I was chatting with the manager. There was a couple of wildlings out in the show room jumping in and out of brand new cars. I have seen better behaved kids at McDonalds where they are allowed to play. I said why don't you stop those brats before they scratch the car or the seats? Guess it would offend a customers if they were told to put their kids on a leash. Anyways he said it wouldn't be the first time they had to replace the seats on a brand new car when someone buys it. I was amazed. He said yeah nobody wants a brand new car with scuffs or scratches on the seats. So my point being maybe you could go to a Tesla dealership and inquire if they ever have to replace seats could you buy them from them? Of course it would depend on the colour match. Or maybe they have connections and they could set you up. There are also upholstery auto repair shops around. Like I said a long shop but I feel for you. That would drive me crazy if it happened to me. I do use Lexoil cleaner and conditioner too by the way. Works great and my seats still look like new. Not sure if it would help in your case. I think the letter has been compromised by a solvent or something corrosive.

kerryglittle | 8 mei 2019

Sorry for the auto corrects.

Viridian | 9 mei 2019

Kerryglittle: Yeah, I know what you mean, but at a Tesla shop of all places? C'mon parents! Anyway, that is starting to look like my only option. I will reach out to some auto upholstery shops nearby and see what they say. Thank you all for the help, it's very much appreciated :)

kerryglittle | 9 mei 2019

Yeah kids today or at least some of them are not taught respect for other people's property. Even at some car shows I go to parents are either really good or just let their kids go free range. One show I was at I was walking back to my car and had the trunks both open for people to see. Here was this one kid actually sitting in my front trunk while his mother was taking a picture of him. Can you believe the nerve of some people? When they saw me coming they quickly scurried away. I don't know if they heard my comments or not. LOL. But yes try an upholstery shop thats recommended. At least they will give you an estimate and you can decide then if its worth it. There are a lot more expensive cars out there than ours that have gone that way. Even the old classics that are just worn out from age can be renewed. Let us know how you make out and good luck to you. :-) | 9 mei 2019

I had the grey seats in my first S, and they looked great after 4 years, so not sure what the original owner did to cause them wear like this. From the picture, I doubt this can be fixed easily - not with any creams or rubs. It needs replacement (if you want it to look good).

I doubt Tesla maintains a stock of old seats - the design and source has change a number of times over the years and not all are compatible with older cars (change in electronics and wiring). Still might be worth asking, perhaps they have a few leather covers that could be installed. It could be quite expensive.

Currently Tesla makes all it's seats in-house, but they used to be made to Tesla specs by outside vendors back in the 2015 era.

Ok, one idea is to check for seats from a salvaged car. eBay would be my first look, but you need to be sure it's compatible. Likely any seat made before Nov-2016 should work. In the Dec-16/Jan-17 timeframe the seats changed with the adjustable headrest and are not backwards compatible.

nothotpocket | 9 mei 2019

You're probably going to need something a lot stronger than leather cleaner, as well as a short bristle brush to remove the sticky residue. What's causing this is probably lotion or sunscreen. The leather is coated but of course it's safe to test in a discreet area first. Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner or Super Degreaser, Krud Kutter, etc. should do the trick.

Here's a great site that discusses coated leather and how aggressive the pros can get without damaging it.

kerryglittle | 9 mei 2019

Is there a chance you can take your car to a high end detail shop and let them analyze what the problem is? Wouldn't cost you anything to get a professional opinion. They also have miracle products that the public cant get. At least you will know what you are up against. I know they can repair leather but not sure what their limits are.

rxlawdude | 9 mei 2019

Saddle Soap?

jordanrichard | 10 mei 2019

Not to sound like a broken record, but your leather seats are coated in a flexible plastic. ANY bespoke leather products is a waste of time and money.