Mac's is Seattle's top auto upholstery shop. We're the leader in automotive upholstery, reupholstering car seats, car seat cushions, custom car upholstery & interior auto restoration. We install leather seats, repair luxury leather car seats, replace seat foam and repair seat frames. We also rebuild seats, install adjustable lumbar supports, repair or replace automotive carpets, auto floor mats, seat belts, armrests and panels.
Auto Upholstery Shop, Leather Seat Repair & Seat Foam
Call Mac's Upholstery to upholster car seats, fix a car seat or replace car seat padding. If you need to repair a leather car seat or replace a leather seat, visit our store in Ballard to shop and compare prices.
An arm rest in a car is the sort of thing you never notice until it's damaged. Here's a driver's side arm rest from a 1989 Cadillac Fleetwood. The arm rest, like the car itself, is big enough for a Sasquatch. This one looks like it's been through the wringer. Before we repaired it, the arm rest was cracked in places and the vinyl was filthy and torn. Now, it's good as new.
Repair & Recover Auto Consoles
You might be surprised at how often automotive consoles need to be repaired. The reason is simple: carmakers save money by using flimsy fabrics and vinyls. If the console is constantly being opened and closed by young kids with grubby hands and ragged fingernails you're asking for trouble.
Industry leader Garrett Leather is one of our primary suppliers. Garrett manufactures leather from animals grown at normal rates and allowed to graze on natural grass in spacious, open fields. Under these natural conditions, the integrity of the fiber structure is stronger and intact without any damage caused by unnatural growth rates, barbed wires, or brands. Here's a list of popular styles and colors available from Garrett:
Repairing a kid-damaged or dog-damaged console often requires more than replacing the mangled cover. In some cases, the console needs a foam rebuild. Give us a call or email us pics of your damaged console and we'll take it from there.
How to Clean & Maintain Leather
We get lots of calls wondering how to clean and maintain leather. While leather is well-known for its durability, it still requires proper care for maximum longevity.
How to clean leather depends on the type of leather, the extent of wear and the substance you're trying to remove. Here are Garrett Leather's primary cleaning tips for standard aniline leather. These tips do not apply if your leather has a nap (nubuck leather).
Wipe your leather occasionally with a dry or slightly moist, soft, clean cloth to prevent dust particles and other airborne debris from accumulating on the surface. Simply moisten the cloth with a small amount of pure water. Never use furniture polish, ammonia based cleaners, or harsh soaps. These products may damage the finish on leather.
When spills do occur, time is of essence. It is best to act immediately and blot up excess liquid with a dry, clean cloth. If necessary, use Mild Cleanser to absorb the spill and clean the entire stain completely. It is best to let the wet area dry naturally. Do no use hair dryers or other direct sources of heat to dry the leather quickly, as this could cause further damage.
If a spill is caused by butter, oil, or grease, do not use water or Mild Cleanser. Instead, use a dry cloth to absorb the excess grease. Leave the leather alone to allow the spill to dissipate into the leather naturally over a short period of time.
We are often asked about ink stains on leather. Again, when faced with an unwanted ink stain, it is important to act quickly. Use Ink Remover to remove the stain as soon as possible. Simply rub the Ink Remover stick over the stain to apply the ink remover. Allow the ink remover to sit for 30 to 60 seconds. Then take a dry, clean cloth to remove both the ink remover and the stain. Do not rub aggressively. Reapply ink remover, let sit, and gently rub off as needed until the stain is completely gone. Ink Remover works best when applied to the stain when the stain occurs. Permanent inks are not removable from leather.
For best results, we recommend periodically applying protector to nourish your leather, retain its softness, and protect it from future stains. Garrett's Leather Care Kit has everything you need for long term care, including cleaner, protector, ink remover, and detailed instructions.
How to Relieve Lower Back Pain When Driving
Bad seat foam is often responsible for lower back pain. If your back hurts when you drive, you may need a foam rebuild or an inflatable lumbar support.
The problem begins with low quality seat foam. When you purchase a new car, truck or SUV the foam in your seat feels great. It's firm and resilient. Sadly, that feeling -- just like the new car smell -- doesn't last forever. Many automakers cut costs by using substandard foam for their car seats. It's only a matter of time before the cushion starts to collapse.
Rebuild Seat Padding For Back Pain
Original Car Seat Padding
Compressed Car Seat Padding
Rebuilt Car Seat Padding
Install Lumbar Support For Back Pain
Deflated Lumbar Support
Inflated Lumbar Support
Lumbar Support Installed
Rebuild Seat Padding For Back Pain
Original Car Seat Padding
Compressed Car Seat Padding
Rebuilt Car Seat Padding
Install Lumbar Support For Back Pain
Deflated Lumbar Support
Inflated Lumbar Support
You may not notice it at first, especially with all the comfort adjustments now available in most new cars. But over time, a manufacturer's car seat padding compresses. Eventually, a cavity forms (center right) at the back of the seat deck.
A warped seat pad stresses your lower back. It can even nudge your spine out of proper alignment. Back pain often results.
Rebuild Car Seat Foam
If you suffer lower back pain while driving, there are a couple of things we can do. The best option is often a seat rebuild.
Rebuilding your car seat is a straightforward process. After removing the seat and cover, we replace the bad foam with superior quality polyurethane foam. We also reinforce pressure points with sturdy rebond foam and burlap. If the seat frame is damaged we'll fix and reinforce the frame, as well. You may be surprised how good a properly rebuilt seat feels.
Adjustable Lumbar Support
If your seat foam is good and your back still hurts, an inflatable lumber support may be the answer.
Our fully adjustable lumbar support is made from heavy-duty polypropylene, this inflatable support pad is easy to use and much more durable than standard rubber bladders.
The advanced pneumatic lumbar support is designed to encourage an anatomically correct seating posture while driving. Improved posture makes driving safer and more comfortable. When properly adjusted, our lumbar support pillow eases stress on the upper body, lower back and pelvis.
If you need car seat repair, you can save money by installing a lumbar support at the same time. Give us a call or stop by the shop for details.
Replace Car Carpets
Automotive carpeting is durable, but accidents happen. Maybe somebody spills bleach on the carpet or a paint can tips over. Maybe the kids make a mess or the family dog has an accident.
Water can be just as troublesome. If your car leaks, the carpet will probably get soaked. At first you may not notice the damage, but you'll eventually get the message thanks to the ripe smell of mold and mildew.
In some cases, OEM carpeting can't be removed without damaging the padding. When that happens it's necessary to either replace the damaged carpet with a set molded for your vehicle or start from scratch. Here are some popular colors:
Automotive Carpet Color Chart
Rebuild Subaru Bench Seat
Here's a car you don't see every day. In fact, there's a pretty good chance you've never seen it. This is a 1971 Subaru FF-1 Star. The Star was one of the first modern front wheel drive cars. It was only manufactured for a couple of years in the early 70s. If you blinked, you missed it!
According to Subaru, the FF-1 Star had a long list of unique features that foreshadowed the types of equipment that are typical on today’s vehicles. Besides front-wheel drive, the FF-1’s chassis systems included rack-and-pinion steering, independent suspension and front drum brakes mounted inboard. The inboard mounting took weight off the wheels for improved stability and control.
Trashed Subaru Bench Seat
Recovered Subaru Seat
As you can see from the first pic, the old Subaru's rear bench seat was totally trashed when it came to us. We were able to pattern the original design, but aside from that, we had to toss or recycle everything.
Before fabricating the new seat cover, we installed brand new polyurethane foam padding. Upholstery foam has improved dramatically during the past half century, so the new seat will be a lot more comfortable and resilient.
Finally, we used a durable, perforated vinyl for the seat cover, matching the color and stitch pattern from the original. When we were finished, the rebuilt bench seat looked just like it did back in 1971.
Wagoneer Interior Rebuild
Many consider the Jeep Grand Wagoneer to be the first luxury SUV. It was manufactured between 1963 and 1991, so even the most recent model is 30 years old.
This one was in pretty bad shape when it came to us. The owner wanted new upholstery and carpet; basically a brand new interior.
Before repairing anything, we stripped the interior of the Wagoneer down to the floor pan. A little bit of elbow grease and primer got rid of the rust. Then we wrapped the interior with DexDamp sound damping sheets to quiet the ride.
Rust Damage Throughout
Rust Repair & New Carpet
Damaged Door Panel
Restored Door Panel
This Wagoneer was manufactured so long ago that replacement parts are scarce. Because parts are hard to find, restoring the flooring and side panels required a lot of custom work. Most of the carpet and side panels are fabricated from scratch. We also repaired the seat padding.
As you can see in the bottom pics, the Wagoneer's interior looked brand new when it left the shop!
Mercedes-Benz Seat Repair
Car seat repair and truck seat repair can be time consuming. If you're wondering why, take a look at this collection of parts from the driver's seat of a Mercedes-Benz we recently fixed.
Imagine the time it takes to carefully remove all these pieces: the cushion assembly, cushion cover, seat filler, lower pad, lower seat assembly, retractor, seat cushion, seat cushion pad, bolster cover, actuator assembly, adapter, control assembly, lumbar adjuster, lumbar support, valve assembly, valve assembly inner support, valve assembly outer support, front seat heater, heating element, pad, seat back heater, chassis seat side assembly, seat cover and headrest.
Then, after repairing the seat, we have to put everything back together. And if the car is older than 20 years there's a good chance some of the seat assembly parts are rusted, corroded, missing or somehow compromised. Parts for older models can be difficult to find. If we can't find a replacement part we may be able to fabricate something to take its place. That also takes time.
We live in fast food world where many expect immediate gratification. We could do seat repair a little faster. We'd rather do it right.
Rebuilt Datsun Car Seat
If you're driving around in a Datsun, your car seat probably needs some attention. We say this because the Datsun nameplate was retired in 1986; that makes any Datsun originally sold in the US at least 30 years old.
This seat is from a Model 1600 Roadster manufactured in the mid 60s. As you can see, we use different density foams to sculpt the bucket space and firm the back support. The seat cover is custom-crafted from a durable vinyl with the look and feel of leather. At first glance, the rebuilt seat looks exactly like the original. Look closer and you may notice the channels on the seat are horizontal. They were vertical in the original seat; a style change the owner wanted.
Repairing Car Seat Design Flaw
Subaru Outbacks are popular in the Pacific Northwest in large part because they're reliable and ideal for our climate. But, even a great car like an Outback has flaws. Here's an example of two fabric panels on an Outback seat that went bad after a few years on the road.
Damaged Subaru Seat Back
Repaired Seat Back
The flaps are designed to cover the lower portion of the seatback. The last pic shows how they're supposed to look. When the car pulled into our shop the flaps were frayed and nearly detached. The damage was most likely caused by passengers rubbing their feet against the panel over an extended period of time.
The rivets holding together the flaps simply weren't strong enough. Once we identified the flaw, the fix was relatively simple. All we had to do was reinforce the flaps with a double line of stitching, and the car was out the door.
Repair Car Armrest
If your headliner has ever detached you know what happens to fabrics with polyurethane foam backing. Heat and time conspire to turn the foam backing into a sticky goo (center image). The hotter the weather, the faster it happens. If you live in Phoenix, your car upholstery is living on borrowed time. This arm rest came from a car driven in Arizona for several years. It's deteriorating from the inside out.
Armrest Gone Bad
Instead of replacing the ruined vinyl with the same crummy fabric, we used an unbacked vinyl with the look and feel of leather. We also added thicker padding to make the armrest softer. With these improvements, the owner could even move back to Phoenix and have a trouble free armrest.
Replacing Cheap Console Vinyl
The vinyl used by some car makers to upholster center consoles looks great, but it's not very durable. Even a tiny scratch may cause the paper thin material to peel or tear. We're not pointing any fingers, but this past week two Acura owners pulled into our shop with the same problem — shredded consoles.
Acura Console Before Repair
Torn Car Console
Paper Thin Fabric
Any Acura dealer would be happy to replace your damaged console with a brand new one. But, why replace a crappy console with something just as bad; especially when the dealer charges way too much money for something that shouldn't have failed in the first place.
Smart car owners call Mac's Upholstery when their consoles are damaged.
Crafting New Cover
Console After Repair
Our technicians reupholster consoles with a durable fabric that looks the same (above). Best of all, it doesn't cost a small fortune. Get a better console and save money by calling Mac's.
Repair Damaged Car Seat
Let's say you have to ship an important package to Timbuktu. You jump in the car with Muttley, your brand new Boston Terrier puppy. You get to the post office just in time. Muttley stays in the car, you race inside. Big mistake. He's a terrier puppy, for crying out loud. While you're shipping the package, Muttley turns one of the car seats into a chew toy.
You might be surprised how often this sort of thing happens.
Car Seat Damaged By Dog
Replace Damaged Fabric
Car Seat Repair
Usually when a dog tears up a seat cover the whole thing has to be replaced. Damage here was limited to one part of the cover, so we were able to remove and replace just that section of fabric. Muttley's owner caught another break because most dogs will rip out the seat foam after destroying the cover. If that happens we're usually able to patch the damaged foam before repairing the seat cover. Not an issue in this case.
Muttley is currently being held in King County Jail on charges of malicious destruction of private property. Since he's a puppy, Muttley is being tried in juvenile court. Just kidding.
Repair VW Cabrio Seat Bolsters
When a driver's body is too wide for a bucket seat, something's gotta give. Usually, it's the side bolsters. That's exactly what happened to this VW Cabrio seat. The polyurethane foam bolsters on the seat deck and seatback splayed, causing the bucket to "pancake".
In a perfect world, we'd retrofit the seat to better fit the driver's body. But, the seat pan is solid steel; widening the seat is not an option. The next best thing is reinforcing the side bolsters.
Torn Side Bolster
Torn Seatback Bolster
Steel Seat Pan
Restored Car Seat
Because the bolster foam was torn not damaged, we were able to glue it back together. To keep the same thing from happening again we wrap the foam in burlap. Burlap is perfect for this sort of thing. It's thin, but tough as nails. The seat cover was still in good shape, so after repairing the bolsters, we simply reinstalled the original cover.
The seat will still be too narrow for the driver, but thanks to our repairs the bolsters will stay in place.
Bench Seat Repair
Bucket seats have replaced bench seats in the forward compartment of most new cars, but they're still pretty common in back. Since back seats are often empty, they usually last longer than the buckets in front. But, "longer" doesn't mean forever.
Bench Seat Before Repair
Bench Seat After Repair
Replacement Fabric With Foam Backing
Damaged Foam Removed
Measuring Replacement Foam
When a bench seat goes bad, damage usually starts at the corner — somebody catches a thread while scooting out the door. One torn thread begats another, and then another, and so on. By the time this bench seat arrived in our shop, a small fabric tear had turned into significant foam damage.
We repair this sort of damage the same way a surgeon operates; we only remove the damaged areas. After replacing the bad foam, we top it off with brand new foam-backed fabric. We considered patching just the torn fabric, but a patch would never color-match the original fabric. Recovering the entire bench with new fabric is the only way to go. Turned out great!
Repair A Car Seat
Typical Car Seat Damage
Rebuild Car Seat
Despite what some car dealers say, it's not necessary to replace an entire seat cover if it's only damaged in one place. In this instance, the seatback is worn, but still serviceable. It's the cushion that needs immediate attention — the vinyl is shredded and spilling foam. We repaired the cushion using new foam and matching vinyl. The car was back on the road in no time.
It would've saved time and money to repair both the seatback and the cushion at the same time. There are aesthetic advantages as well. Doing the whole thing at once makes for a cleaner looking seat. But, it's nice to know that you always have the option of "car seat triage" — fix what needs to be fixed now, then do the rest later.
Car Seat Foam Rebuild
All car seats eventually go bad; it's just a question of when. In most cases, the fabric deteriorates first, then the foam crumbles. But, if poor quality foam is used in the original manufacturing process, the seat can go flat long before there's any sign of fabric wear. When that happens we remove the seat cover, strip the frame and go to work on the foam.
Car Seat Frame
Rebuilding The Side Bolster
Shaping The Rebond Foam
Seat After Foam Rebuild
We start by trimming off the damaged side bolster. Instead of replacing it with the same poor quality foam, we rebuild and reshape the entire bolster with two gauges of sturdy rebond foam. While the seatback was not damaged, the foam was going flat. Steaming is an excellent way to restore polyurethane foam to its original shape, but this stuff is junk. The only thing to do is rebuild the seatback. Might as well save a few dollars and do it now.
The foam rebuild provides us an opportunity to improve lower back support with thicker padding. With the foam work complete, we reinstall and clean the original seat cover. The fabric is still in good shape, so this rebuilt seat will last for years.
Auto Upholstery Repair
When a car seat goes bad, the worst damage is typically found on the "door side" of the seat cushion; it gets the most wear when somebody scoots in or out.
If a car seat is trashed from top to bottom, we repair the entire seat. But, what's the point of recovering an entire seat when only one section of the bottom cushion is bad? This damaged Chevy seat illustrates why it's always better to call Mac's Upholstery before buying an off-the-rack seat cover or contacting a car dealer.
Torn Car Seat (before)
Seatback Still Good
Replacing Damaged Foam
Car Foam Repair
Auto Upholstery Repair (after)
Auto Seat Repair (after)
With damage limited to the driver's side deck, we dismantled this seat and went to work on the cushion. If the owner had called us at the first sign of trouble, we could have salvaged the padding beneath the fabric. Unfortunately, this seat cushion was so shredded we had to replace a large section with Rebond. Rebond is a durable foam manufactured from recycled foam and scraps.
After the car seat foam replacement, we fabricated a new cover using a heavy-duty, low cost fabric we keep in stock. We could have matched the original fabric, but the budget conscious owner was happy with an approximate match. As you can see, the seat repair turned out great. There's a good chance this repair will last longer than the original seat cover.
Muscle Car Seat Covers
The current generation of Dodge Challenger was introduced in early 2008 as a rival to the updated Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. The 2012 model that pulled into our shop is a faithful rendition of the original 1970 muscle car, but slightly smaller in scale.
The owner loves the car, but he was never crazy about the drab seat covers. It was time for an upgrade to Katzkin leathers. Katzkins are sized to fit a car's year, make and model. In addition, you can mix and match fabric colors, materials and stitch patterns.
The owner of this Challenger selected a set of stylish two-toned leather seat covers with a complementary stitch pattern. The almost-new seats were still in excellent condition, so there was no need to reshape the foam. But, getting the covers to fit like a glove did require a tweak or two.
Old & New Seat Covers
Snap-In System Inadequate
Zip Ties To Anchor Seat Cover
Installing Headrest Grommets
Steaming Wrinkles For Perfect Fit
New Leather Seat Covers Installed
Dodge uses a standard snap-in system to attach seat covers to seat frames. The snap-ins work fine for Katzkins. But, to achieve a perfect fit we double-anchor the seat covers with zip ties. Then, after embedding the headrest grommets, we steam and heat the Katzkin covers to smooth any residual wrinkles.
Strictly speaking, these additional installation tweaks are not required, but they do serve an important purpose. They ensure a perfect fit that lasts the life of the seat covers.
We've seen plenty of dog damage over the years, but this one takes the cake. It's possible that Cujo didn't appreciate being locked inside the car, but we're betting it simply mistook the back seat as a chew toy. A really expensive chew toy. Can you imagine the owner's expression when he saw this?
Leather Car Seat Repair
Repair Car Seat Leather
Door Panel Repaired
Needless to say, repairing this Audi A4 required more than an OEM seat cover. We had to rebuild sections of the back bench seat, armrest and side panel. Instead of ordering and installing an expensive new cover, we replaced the damaged leather section-by-section. Not only is custom leather car seat repair more environmentally friendly than installing a brand new cover, it's significantly less expensive. In fact, the owner could buy a ton of real chew toys with the money we saved him.
Escape From Ordinary Interiors
Most new cars and SUVs are equipped with factory-installed cloth seat covers. They may be adequate for a while. But, even the most durable synthetic material used to manufacture automotive seats will lose its luster in no time -- especially if you've got kids or dogs.
This Ford Escape is only a couple of years old and already the seats are stained and worn. Instead of installing replacement cloth covers -- yawn -- the owners chose to upgrade to the luxury, comfort and durability of leather seats.
Old Cloth Seats
Car Seat Upholstery
Car Leather Seat Cover
Leather For Car Seats
Having a car dealer install car seat upholstery can be expensive. Not only does Mac's charge substantially less, our experienced installers are the best in town. Keep in mind that experienced installers make a big difference; if your leather seat covers are not properly installed they'll wrinkle and warp.
We also offer the wide range of styles and colors available through Katzkin Leather, a leading manufacturer of aftermarket seat covers. Drop by our showroom to check out all the exciting styles and colors available for your vehicle!
A SAAB Story
Almost every car has cosmetic quirks. For example, SAAB owners complain that door and speaker panel inserts manufactured during the eighties and nineties frequently unravel after a few years. Do-it-yourself fixes may last for a while, but the inserts are certain to unravel again unless the job is done properly. Some owners bring us their SAABs strictly to restore the side panel inserts. Others, such as the owner of this model 900 convertible, repair the inserts when they install a new top.
Panel Inserts Unraveling
Wrinkled Speaker Inserts
Worn Door Panel
Tattered Convertible Top
Old Top Removed
Attaching New Rear Curtain
New Convertible Top
Ebony Suede Fabric
New Side & Speaker Inserts
It's easy to match the original fabric used by the manufacturer, but owners often chose a more stylish alternative. In this case, we substitute a rich, ebony suede for the original tan fabric. Some interior surfaces are slightly cupped, which makes attaching the fabric a bit more challenging. Not only are these inserts flat, removing them from the side panel is relatively easy.
Because the reupholstery process is straightforward and because the car is already in the shop for other work, the customer saves money.