Fix or replace? The value in smart vinyl car seat repair

Consumer Reports News: March 11, 2013 01:38 PM

When it came time to put our 2012 Kia Sportage on the block, a prospective buyer noticed a tear, about an inch long, in the driver's-side rear seat. The hole was definitely something that detracted from the vehicle's looks and value. We had to do something.

We called our local dealership to get a price to repair the seat. The only dealership option was to replace the entire seat bottom—at the eye-popping cost of $500. This was certainly a large price to pay for a small hole. Shocked at this high price, the dealer also suggested calling a company called Vinylot Systems. The dealer told us that they use them on a weekly basis to repair these kinds of holes and tears on used vehicles they're trying to sell. (Read our Kia Sportage road test.)

Visit our guide to car maintenace for the latest advice, product Ratings, and Car Repair Estimator.

Kia-Sportage-vinyl-tear-AFTER-repair.jpgAs it turns out, this local firm will come to your door, just like a windshield glass repair company, and fix your car in your driveway or garage.

So we called the company, and a serviceman arrived that week and repaired the car in less than an hour—all for $75. (This is a one-man CT-based outfit, not a franchise; we suggest doing a Google search for "vinyl repair" to find help in your area.)

How good was it? Well, the repair exceeded our expectations, complete with matching the perforations. If the hole was never mentioned, you wouldn't even know where to look for it.

For a very small fraction of the cost of replacing the rear-seat cushion, a vinyl repair company can offer a very good alternative. We couldn't be happier with the results. This serves as a reminder to keep up with repairs, big and small, before they worsen and become more expensive. And to consider all options when it comes to repair, not just accept the first quote given.

John Ibbotson

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