Piston Slap: Baby So Soft!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap baby so soft

Dave writes:

The bottom of the steering wheel in my A6 is starting to fade and crack a bit. I was hoping you could give me the definitive answer on what to use to clean and protect a leather steering wheel, as I would like to keep the damage from getting any worse. I’ve searched a number of forums, and every suggestion has been immediately followed by “never use that on your steering wheel!” so I’m unsure what to do.

Sajeev Replies:

I’ve tried several leather conditioners and protectants, but won’t recommend one over the other because I doubt there’s a big difference. But I like oil-based conditioners the best: they work quickly on dry leather (in warm weather, so take advantage of the greenhouse effect if you do anything right now) and last for several months.

My favorite leather conditioning regiment is soap and water for cleaning: this step is mandatory unless you wear rubber gloves and a poncho in your car. Clean the hides, and grab a bottle of baby oil.

That’s right: baby oil. Who cares what the e-haters say? It is cheap and has a mild, appealing scent. It works on leather that’s in fair condition, not in dire need of deep conditioning or restoration. Which sounds like current condition of your tiller. If baby oil doesn’t work try one of the more aggressive oil treatments instead.

More to the point, a car is kinda meaningless in the big picture. Which hurts to say, but it’s true. So if baby oil works on the most precious things on the earth, why would you not try it on your German leather goods? You have nothing to lose.

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

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5 of 17 comments
  • Waftable Torque Waftable Torque on Feb 01, 2010

    I know Lexol has an entire rant against using saddle soap, it's too alkaline and damages leather yada yada ya. But I despise their leather cleaning solution, it barely cleans anything, and it leaves a tacky feel behind from it's glycerine content. I prefer using the Turtle Wax Ice interior cleaner, it doesn't leave any residue, it smells nice, and supposedly leaves an UV protectant behind.

  • Johnny ro Johnny ro on Feb 01, 2010

    if you like baby butt scent and that it never dries, fine, use baby oil. If you like that it never dries but not the scent, mineral oil. Its cheapest when labeled as laxative, I pay $4 a quart somewhere, forget if Rite aId or Wally World. When labeled as food grade wood oil its about $12 a half pint at local hardware store. I think $3 a pint at Ikea. I use it only on wood, myself. For leather I would use Lanolin. Why is the bottom suffering, is the Sun not on top?

  • Djn Djn on Feb 01, 2010

    I've used Rejuvenator Oil from www.leatherique.net on many leather interiors. Excellent product. No connection with the company.

  • Davekaybsc Davekaybsc on Feb 02, 2010

    It's one area on the bottom left of the wheel. The gray finish has worn off somewhat and its slightly cracked. It's on the outer edge of the wheel and not the front, so you can't really see it unless you look for it. I would rather not spend the money to have the wheel recovered or replaced. I just want to get some kind of protectant on there to hopefully keep it from getting any worse. The top of the wheel that is most exposed to the sun seems fine, so I don't think that's the issue. I do most of my driving with my right hand, so I'm not sure why its the bottom left that is wearing.