"Leather" car seat deteriorating after 18 months

Hi All,

We’ve come across a case recently involving a “leather” car seat, which is deteriorating after 18 months/20,000km. From a quick look online it seems there may be others out there with similar problems. The seat is flaking on the side where you get in and out of the drivers seat, and there is now white material showing through. The seat appears not to be leather.

Currently in this case, the manufacturer is denying a repair under warranty and also under consumer guarantees of the ACL. We’re hoping there is someone in our @Consumer-Campaigner group or otherwise here on the Community that can help us find out if there are any similar cases, which could help the situation.

If you’ve heard anything, please let us know in the comments below.


Many if not most “leather” car seats these days are leather seating surfaces with “leather-like” sides, and that matches the description of white material (the backing layer) showing through.


While not personally and not with leather, my parents had an issue with a previous model Subaru Forester where the fabric between the leather strips on the sides pilled after about 18 months…from the sliding in and out of the seat action.

Subaru came to the party and provided them with genuine sheep skin inserts which fitted over the fabric to prevent any further wear and tear/pilling. They recognised that the fabric was defective and shouldn’t pill. They didn’t offer to replace the fabric though.

I also agree with @PhilT that leather tends to have two meanings…real unadulterated hide leather and manufactured leather fron either synthetic materials or leather hide composites.

Just search on the internet for a leather products and you will get massive hits on those which are made from manufactured materials.


It may be bonded or Bicast leather. This is used a fair bit in the furnishing market. They get a thin, super thin, shredded, shaved, piece/s of leather which is/are then bonded to a layer of polyester or similar material. The result is a leather seat but a very thin and mostly non-durable product. It is affected by the Sun, moisture and cleaning products that many people use. Many products cause a separation of the bonded fabric/vinyl and the leather and this results in cracks, tears, and dis-colouring of the leather.

See here for a Wiki entry on them:

See also:


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Thanks for the insight so far everyone, I’m passing this on to our CHOICE Help team who are managing the case.

Maybe also worth a read? http://articles.sae.org/11983/ and this http://www.wecanfixthat.com/services/bonded-leather/

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Thanks @grahroll, will check it out :thumbsup:

I have noticed this business with “real leather” on item like Ipad cover, Iphone and so on. They are all fake. There is indeed a very fine …extremely fine layer of “leather” that peels off in record times.

Thanks Grahroll, your articles above it confirms my thoughts on this .

You would not find these sorts of things on a Jaguar or a Rolls …

Hi, I have a Subaru Forester ‘Luxury’ edition (base model with one off leather seats) which was purchased new with a 5 year Subaru Warranty in 2014 with and extended factory warranty for 3 years.

I have had the leather steering wheel replaced twice by Subaru under warranty and have had the passenger seat base replaced under warranty too.

Recently, the front seat leather has started cracking around the seam in the bucket of the seat.

Subaru are saying this is wear and tear and is not covered by the extended factory warranty, but the history of their leather warranty repairs speaks for itself.

What are my options for escalation ?



Welcome to the community @Siva

Without seeing the cracking it could be anything from typical leather wear and tear to a problem. It would be helpful for us forming our opinions if you could post a photo showing what is happening. Without taking a position sans your evidence,

It can be difficult getting our vehicle importers to step up to support their customers in Australia, far more difficult than in many other countries.

As posted numerous times throughout the forum, start with reading the Australian Consumer Law and Choice’s tutorial.

If you feel your problem is covered by the ACL or the explicit text in your warranty write your Subaru deal a formal letter of complaint as detailed in the ACCC and Choice links. You will need to phrase any claims as if you are a silk in front of a judge, noting the relevant laws, supporting documentation, claims made re your product and why the product does not meet them, and what you want and by when. Anything less formal becomes nothing more than ‘idle chit chat’ of no legal basis when one has to press their rights.

You can search the forum for ‘letter of complaint’ and get additional information on it and process, as explained to numerous forum members.

I trust that helps in your first instance. Plz let us know how you go, and if possible, a photo.


The other thing to know is the leather cracking the same which happened in the past and was replaced under warranty…or a new ‘issue’ with the leather?

Also, does Subaru recommend any treatments to protect the leather (such as a moisture type product to maintain a supple leather)…and was this treatment followed?

If it is the same reoccurring problem, this would put you in a better place to get it resolved under the Australian Consumer Law.

If it is a new issue different to that in the past, photos like @PhilT would be useful. This might provide some indication if it is a fault or general wear and tear.