2014 Subaru Forester - leather is cracked!

The left side of the drivers seat leather is thoroughly cracked. My 2014 Forester is now 5 years old, so no warranty. I guess that is what I get for paying $35,000 for a cheap car.

By contrast, the leather in my 2011 Outback still looks and feels like new.
And, the leather in my '74 Volvo was badly cracked after just 3 years.
S**t happens…


Describe “left side of the drivers seat” in more detail. Is it the part running parallel and opposite the door? Often with vehicle and home leather seating the surfaces where your butt and back touch are leather, but other components’ surfaces of the upholstery are matching vinyl.

I’ve seen several cars that have cracked vinyl seat sides, while the actual leather is still in good condition. Those seat sides do a lot of flexing and folding and compressing and rebounding. The situation is exacerbated by heavy occupants.

As with any parts of the car, maintenance is key.

Have you applied leather cleaner/conditioner over the years? I apply a good quality leather treatment to the chairs in my Pontiac Bonneville (which is much older) and they are soft, alive and well.


You can try an upholstery shop, it might not be terribly expensive to have the seat redone. I’m kinda curious how you managed to pay $35k for Forester in 2014. With every factory option, a 2019 Forester Limited tops out at just about $33.5k today.


I have to admit that I haven’t done it recently, but I did condition my Outback’s leather at least twice since I bought it in 2010. That likely helped it to remain new-looking today.

Happy that I got the bottom line 15 Forester. No leather. No seat problems.

I’ve never owned a car with leather seats, fail to see the advantage if they need regular maintenance.

1 Like

Cloth seats need regular cleaning. Maintaining leather seats is exactly the same amount of work, just with a different bottle of goo. It’s actually easier if you get spills - they’ll soak into the cloth but wipe right off of the leather.

Once a year I wait for at least a 90 degree day and park my leather-equipped cars out in the sun in the morning. I apply Leatherique Rejuvenator to the seats (takes about 10 mins per car) and then roll up all the windows, close the doors, and let the car bake all day. In the evening, I clean off the rejuvenator with the same brand’s cleaner, again 10 minutes.

My 2007 Acura’s seats look about 2 years old, which coincidentally is how old they were when I bought the car. :wink:


I still strongly suspect that it was a vinyl side portion of the “leather trimmed” leather seats (leather where your butt and back reside) that cracked and not really the leather. I’ve seen it in several examples.

Update! Just got home from a trip to the upholstery repair shop. The side of the seat where the cracks are IS VINYL. It never occurred to me that the entire seat was not leather. And no, I did not use any cleaner/conditioner. I have never had any trouble with any seat in any other car that I have owned. Sigh, a sign of the times, charge more and provide less. :frowning:
On the positive side, I have not had any of the other issues reported for this model and year. I have paid the dealer to maintain the car every time. Could that be why I have not seen the transmission, oil burning, rear spring failures reported by other people? Except that the infotainment center is garbage. It sounds good but the GPS is worthless.

Oh, yes. The cost of the car was so high because I purchased it off of the boat for this brand new model year. I added every bell, whistle, gadget and doodad that was available plus some extras offered, such as netting, first aid kit, etc. My plan was to leave this car to my survivors after I pass on. I guess I am going to out live the car! I did not expect to be buying a car with built in problems. Consumer Reports gave it such high marks, too!

If you re-read the sales brochure and the window sticker, they both stated “leather trimmed seats”. Since the other parts of the seats were not upholstered in cloth, then–obviously–the seats were partly upholstered with something other than leather–in this case, simulated leather (vinyl).

My negative experience with the leather seats in my '74 Volvo took place w/in 3 years of purchase, and I had even taken the precaution of conditioning the leather annually. If this is a “sign of the times”, then “the times” began at least 4 decades ago.

It’s pretty hard to find a car made in the last 20 or so years that has full-leather seats until you start getting into the really high-end brands. You’ll find them in Bentleys, Porsches, etc. You won’t find them in most other cars. Even BMW doesn’t fully clad the seat in leather, and on lower trim options it’s all fake leather.

That said, today’s vinyl isn’t like the vinyl you remember in cheap cars from the 70’s. It’s pretty hard to tell the difference between the fake stuff and the real stuff (as you’ve discovered, since you didn’t know it wasn’t leather! :wink: ).

For what it’s worth, I put the Leatherique on the vinyl sections of my seats too, and they show no signs of cracking or other problems.

why? I’ve never done anything to car seats, and they all have lasted the life of the car. And look reasonable at the end of that time.

So did you get an estimate to have a new panel sewn in? I had a couple leather inserts sewn in on my Riv bucket seat. Perfect match and if I took the seat out I think it cost about $200. They can get matching materials whether leather or vinyl.

I was recommended to a Pueblo, CO man who quoted $125 - $150 to replace the vinyl portion. I do not have to remove the seat first. This is a single man shop so I suspect he is offering a good deal. :slight_smile:


Sun exposure could cause that. Try to park in the shade when possible. If parking in shade isn’t possible, you could put a white towel over that area when parking.

Is it a chance the the climate in Pueblo had something to do with this? I’ve been to CO countless times and a bright sun in thin air can wreak havoc on things; even when the ambient temp is 75 degrees or whatever.