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As our cars age, they can often start to look a little worse for wear on the interior. This is especially true of car seats, which can fade, accumulate odors, or become torn over time. If you want to resell your car for top dollar, a fresh-looking set of seats can help you achieve that goal. So, how much does the maintenance job of reupholstering your seats cost? 

How do you reupholster your car seats?

The upholstery seating material of a 2013 Alfa Romeo 8C Spyder
2013 Alfa Romeo 8C Spyder upholstery | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

First of all, we must note that the cost involved in reupholstering your seats will largely depend on how much work your service provider has to perform and whether you have been diligent about fabric protection measures. A typical reupholstery job involves several steps, many of which the typical car owner may not even know are necessary. 

ShearComfort has broken down the main steps involved in reupholstering car seats into some easily digestible information. If you’re aiming to get an entire seat reupholstered, that will first require the removal of the original upholstery. After that, any missing or torn foam or batting must be replaced to bring the seats back to their original smoothness. Broken springs should be repaired as well. Only after all those steps are completed can the new fabric be added to the seats. This latter step also involves securing the new upholstery with hog rings so that it won’t shift over time.

Of course, in some cases, it may not be necessary to reupholster an entire seat if the problem is simply a burn mark or tear. In those cases, the reupholsterer may simply remove one section of the fabric and stitch in a replacement section after adding any necessary foam. 

The cost to reupholster your car seats

If you’ve tried everything you can think of to clean your upholstery, it may be time to replace it. So, how much can you expect that to cost? Many factors go into the answer to that question, including time and materials involved, location of the service provider, and how many seats you need upholstered.

That said, according to Creative Colors International, the average cost to reupholster an entire car is around $2,500. To break that down further, Shear Comfort has provided some examples of quotes received for specific services in different locations. In San Diego, you can expect to pay around $375 to upholster one seat, while the same amount of money will get you leather repair for one panel with foam in Los Angeles. 

Prices truly range all over the map for upholstery repair and replacement services, so your best bet if you think you will be reupholstering your car is to call around and see what sorts of quotes you get. Some reupholsterers may ask you to bring your vehicle in so that they can look at it before providing a quote. 

Preventative measures you can take to avoid reupholstering


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No matter how you slice it, reupholstering isn’t cheap, so you want to do what you can to keep your car’s interior in good shape. This means, for one, vacuuming your vehicle regularly, including the seats, so that dirt doesn’t get ground into the fabric over time.

Refraining from smoking can also go a long way toward keeping your upholstery fresh and clean. Smoke odors can be especially hard to remove from fabric, so you’re better off avoiding their accumulation in the first place. 

Finally, exposure to sunlight can cause your car’s fabric to fade over time. Use a sunshade, especially in the summer, to reduce the heat and glare entering your car windows. Your car seats will thank you. 

Keeping your upholstery in good condition is an important way to retain your car’s value, so taking these steps will more than pay off in the long run and may even save you from the cost of getting your vehicle reupholstered.