When considering the purchase of a new or used car, there are many checks required to ensure you are getting your perfect car at the right price. An important thing to know is what the seat covers are made from. If you’re paying a premium to have real automotive leather, how can you tell if you are getting the genuine material or if it's fake leather?

Imitation leather, known as pleather or vegan leather, has advanced to closely resemble genuine leather, making it challenging to distinguish between the two. However, here are five valuable tips to assist you in making an informed decision.

1. What is the material called?

  • Real automotive leather will feature names like full-grain, Nappa or semi-aniline.
  • Fake leather will have more technical names and often contain words like luxe, ultra, tec, tech or tex.
  • If it doesn’t say, ask the seller. If it sounds natural or genuine, chances are it’s real leather.

2. How does it smell?

  • Real leather has a unique and memorable pleasant smell that is often described as natural or earthy.
  • Fake leather with an artificial, chemical, or plastic odour will not smell as nice to most of us.
  • As hard as they may try, fake leather can’t replicate the distinct smell of real leather.

Colour and finish are the final parts of the leather-making process, where the magic happens

3. How does it feel?

  • If you touch and feel real leather, it will be soft, stretchy, and likely wrinkle and will feel warm to the touch.
  • Fake leather, on the other hand, will feel stiff and rigid and be cold to the touch.

4. What does it look like?

  • No two pieces or real leather will ever be the same as leather is a natural material with natural characteristics and grain, with a distinctive look.
  • Fake leather is very uniform, often created to try and look natural, but the characteristics are synthetically created and very symmetrical.

5. Does it absorb water?

  • Leather is a natural material that will help wick heat and sweat away from the body. Leather will absorb water on its surface, making for a more relaxing ride.
  • Fake leather is normally impermeable and will repel water that pools on the surface, leading to an uncomfortable journey.
  • Place a drop of water on the surface and see what happens.

When it comes down to it, our best advice is to trust your senses, they will usually steer you to the right conclusion.

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