Wheelskins Cover Review

Michael Posner
by Michael Posner
wheelskins cover review

Now that you’ve attached that cherry faux sunroof you snagged on EBay onto your econobox, it’s time to spruce up the interior. No, I’m not talking about a pine-scented Magic Tree® air freshener (review to follow). Nothing says upwardly mobile motor like a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Now you could stunt down to your local auto parts store and pick-up one of those slide-on leather covers for about twenty bucks. But unless you have hands the size of Sasquatch, you may find this to be a sub-optimal solution. Thankfully, a slimmer, higher quality alternative is available. If properly installed, it adds a tasteful touch to any tiller.

Wheelskins has been flogging cow skin wheel covers for over thirty years. The Berkeley-based aftermarketeers currently offer three styles of single and two-tone skins to fit virtually any whip’s wheel. The covers come in fourteen colors– from black to jackass yellow– complete with a handy guide for monitor-challenged web surfers and color blind males (“Tan is the color of tobacco or a football.”). You can mix and match hues for a two-tone covering to complement your fly yellow AMC Pacer– or way-too-black Ferrari F430.

If you buy your cover directly from Wheelskins– which is more expensive than sourcing one of their retailers– you’re looking at an autosartorial investment of $44.95 for a single tone cover, $49.95 for two-tone and $54.95 for the BCBG perforated Euro model. If one of their six standard sizes doesn’t fit your Citroën DS or suchlike, Wheelskins will craft a custom covering for a small additional fee. And yes, they make covers in extra large sizes for your Peterbilt, Freightliner, Kenworth, etc. and dinky sizes for your golf cart and pedal car.

The Wheelskins ordering process starts with a steering wheel measurement. The website provides a chart to determine wheel size based on your vehicle’s year, make and model. Once you’ve determined the exact size required, you’ve got to choose between single or two-tone. I went for Tommy two-tone, opting for a suitably macho red and black combo.

Both versions can be had in EuroPerf– which has nothing to do with scantily-clad women posing behind plate glass windows in Amsterdam’s De Wallen. You can order your EuroPerf skin perforated at the top and bottom of a two tone model, on the sides of a two-tone model, or all around the cover of any model cover. You know; just in case you were wondering.

The Wheelskins box arrived containing the leather cover, a spool of thread, a large sharp needle and instructions. Obviously, very few people (you know whom I mean guys) have the sewing skills required to make a sock puppet– let alone sew a daily use item requiring one hundred plus stitches. And remember: this all must be done within the confines of your car. Although I can cook a mean Quiche and thread a needle with one eye closed, I never got the results I wanted. As the thread started to unravel, I gave up.

So I let an experienced seamstress go to work on the project. About halfway through, she complained that it would be easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a camel (or something like that) and gave up. Though I think Florida’s oppressive heat played a part in her surrender, you have been warned.

Another problem arose: the wide spokes of my test vehicle’s helm. If your steering wheel spokes are thin, the Wheelskins covering will not be greatly affected by lack of grip on the spokes. BUT if the spokes are very wide, the covering will stick out due to insufficient pull on the cover (dummy stitches indeed). A small piece of Velcro could have solved the problem, but Wheelskins [thoughtlessly] neglected to provide it.

After I finally completed the installation I found that the join of the two pieces of leather (at 10 and 2) was uncomfortable, forcing me to change my grip on the wheel. While I understand that one must suffer for one’s art, my thirty-year-old wheel helmsmanship habits proved too strong to change. I tried reversing the cover to place the larger swath of red leather on the bottom. To say the result looked awkward would be like saying a duck-billed Platypus is a rather odd sort of creature.

Overall, I liked the look and quality of the Wheelskins cover. But I can only recommend the product with two big ass caveats. First, measure twice, order once. Second, keep in mind that the end results depend entirely on the wheel being wrapped and the installer being warped (i.e. an indefatigable OCD seamstress). Try to attach the wrong Wheelskins cover to your wheel or screw-up the install [NB: don’t drink and stitch], and you’ll be ripping the cover off in a few days. Just like I did.

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2 of 15 comments
  • Rfr88 Rfr88 on Jun 04, 2011

    We have Wheelskins covers on all 3 of our cars. They definitely increase the comfort and "feel" of the wheel when driving. They also improve the look of plastic or worn leather steering wheels. If, as Mr. Posner, you are challenged by the manual effort of installing the covers, perhaps you may need to find someone more skilled to install your cover. The manufactuerer does point out the difficulties one may experience with wide spokes. It seems that Posner didn't read that part. The Wheelskin cover on my car is more than 5 years, and 100,000 miles of age. If it ever wears out - I'll buy another one!

  • WheelskinsRipOff WheelskinsRipOff on Apr 04, 2012

    I purchased a wheelskins cover supposedly made custom for my 09 Buick Lacrosse. As I was installing the wheel cover I noticed that is made 10 inches smaller than the actual steering wheel, and ended up ripping the seam during installation. I took approx. 30mins to slowly stretch the cover over my steering wheel and it still ripped. I called customer service and complained but was told I didn't follow instructions so I am stuck with a $50 product that is absolute crap and does not work. Stay away from wheelskins, wal-mart steering wheels covers are atleast returnable if they don't fit. THANKS WHEELSKINS.

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged