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  • Sticky Residue on Steering Wheel Airbag Cover
  • Sticky Residue on Steering Wheel Airbag Cover
  • Sticky Residue on Steering Wheel Airbag Cover
  • Sticky Residue on Steering Wheel Airbag Cover

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  1. #1
    Member timfitz63's Avatar
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    Default Sticky Residue on Steering Wheel Airbag Cover

    Has anyone else encountered this? I was cleaning up my '04 the other day and noticed that the rubber cover of the steering wheel airbag was covered in a sticky residue; it actually appears that the rubber cover is deteriorating. I tried cleaning it with water that had a hint of soap in it and only succeeded in getting lint from the rag trapped in the gummy residue. I didn't want to use anything stronger on the rubber for fear of really accelerating the degeneration. And for what it's worth, I've never used anything like ArmorAll or a similar product on the steering wheel. None of the leather on the steering wheel seems to be affected.

    Never seen anything quite like this before... Anyone else had this happen to their steering wheel airbag cover...? Any remedies...?

    1998 Aztec Gold #15||| 2004 Millennium Yellow

  2. #2
    Member jrose7004's Avatar
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    I never had that issue with the 04 Coupe that I had but I have heard about the issue several times. If my memory serves me correctly Goo Gone will get it off. I think it's caused by Amoral or like products.

  3. #3
    Member timfitz63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrose7004 View Post
    I never had that issue with the 04 Coupe that I had but I have heard about the issue several times. If my memory serves me correctly Goo Gone will get it off. I think it's caused by Amoral or like products.
    Hmm. Well, I have a bottle of Goo Gone and almost tried it; but the label specifically stated it was not for use on (among other things) rubber... Maybe I'll try a small spot to see what happens with the Goo Gone...

    It's odd that it would develop in my car, given I've never applied ArmorAll or other similar product to the steering wheel. I have used some Meguiar's leather treatment on the boots around the shift lever and parking brake handle, but never on the steering wheel... Perhaps the previous owner of the car did it and it just took several years to react with the rubber...?

    1998 Aztec Gold #15||| 2004 Millennium Yellow

  4. #4
    Member timfitz63's Avatar
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    OK, I did some more snooping around on the Interweb...

    First of all, I was incorrect; the airbag cover is not rubber, but a vinyl plastic; so I grabbed my bottle of Goo Gone and gave it a try. It didn't seem to do much except smear around the black, gummy residue. In fairness, it did remove a bit, but seemed largely ineffective. Perhaps it required longer contact, larger quantities, or more vigorous rubbing to be effective...? But since my bottle wasn't gallon-sized and I was feeling a bit frustrated, I gave that up for the time and did some more research...

    Turns out this is, indeed, a common problem. In fact, there's a 12-page (and growing) thread over on the Corvette Forum dealing with this very topic. In checking other corners of the Interweb, it's not confined to the C5 either; apparently owners of the late-model GTO -- as well as some Lotuses (or is it Loti...?) and the Plymouth/Chrylser Prowler -- are plagued by this. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there are more...

    I did not read every page of the Corvette Forum thread, but skipped to the 11th page to see if I could zero in on the solution. Apparently the leading theory behind the cause is heat, possibly combined with/accelerated by products like ArmorAll, causing the paint (yes, paint -- or sprayed-on dye, if you prefer) of the vinyl cover to break down and leech out of the vinyl. The suggested methods of cleaning involve the use of a water-based product called Goof Off HD (Heavy Duty) or a watered-down mixture of alcohol (I presume isopropyl, but I didn't find that specifically mentioned) -- combined with patience and some elbow grease.

    So maybe I'll give Goo Gone another go before resorting to other products that I don't have on hand. Will report back on how it goes...
    Last edited by timfitz63; 04-18-18 at 02:54 PM.

    1998 Aztec Gold #15||| 2004 Millennium Yellow
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  5. #5
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    Default Sticky cover

    I had the same when buying my 03 Coupe last year. Tried everything and even took it to a highly regarded detail shop in town. He tried a few things and nothing worked. So, rather than fight it any more, got with Vettevillians and got a used one and changed it out.

  6. #6
    Member timfitz63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by awches View Post
    I had the same when buying my 03 Coupe last year. Tried everything and even took it to a highly regarded detail shop in town. He tried a few things and nothing worked. So, rather than fight it any more, got with Vettevillians and got a used one and changed it out.
    Early on, that thought (replacement) crossed my mind; I just wasn't sure if there was anything else to do. But given I'm currently unemployed -- which means I'm short on cash and long on time -- I persisted in the online research and decided to resort to some of the suggested cleaning methods. I figured I had little to lose; I mean, if I ruined the airbag cover I'd still be replacing it, so...

    According to posts I read in the thread on the Corvette Forum, it only takes about an hour to clean off the airbag cover using Goof Off HD. Alternately, I can tell you this much about Goo Gone: while it will eventually break down the gummy residue, I spent the better part of 2-3 hours scrubbing the airbag cover with it and a cloth rag, and only got about 1/4 of it cleaned. I'm going to get some Goof Off HD today and see if that works better. One poster also suggested using the Goof Off in concert with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pads, so I'll wander by somewhere that carries those too. I'm also going to pick up some of the 303 Aerospace Protectant product that was recommended to protect the vinyl cover once I've got it cleaned off; it's supposed to be non-glossy (I hate that slimy, wet-look on leather, rubber, vinyl, etc.) and it seemed like it made the cover look factory-fresh again after it had been solvent-scrubbed within an inch of so of it's life...

    Geez! It's only 8 AM and the log-jam is already building on my day... Gotta get these errands run, finish cleaning up the airbag cover, organize the detached garage a bit better, prep the yard for mowing... I'm frankly more busy now than a lot days when I'm employed...!

    1998 Aztec Gold #15||| 2004 Millennium Yellow

  7. #7
    Member timfitz63's Avatar
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    OK, after picking up all the recommended cleaning supplies, I finally found some time tonight to give it another go. The results were pretty satisfying.

    First of all, if you're facing this chore, don't waste your time with any other cleaning product; go straight for the Goof Off HD. Frankly, I don't think the Magic Eraser was the key here; it was the Goof Off. That stuff broke down the gummy mess without hardly any effort at all! I did the entire airbag cover (including a second pass at the area I'd cleaned last night) in 1.5 hours. And that was using engineer-grade attention to detail; you could do it in considerably less time if you're considerably less anal-retentive than I am...

    A few pointers and observations:
    1. Some posters to the Corvette Forum thread masked off the leather parts of the steering wheel; I didn't bother and just took my time around those areas. The Magic Eraser was a bit cumbersome to work around the parts where the airbag mates up with the leather; ultimately I started using a paper towel to get into the tighter bends.
    2. A poster to the Corvette Forum thread recommended pulling the horn fuse under the hood (#11). I did, and would say it's a good idea as well, since I could hear the horn relay clicking as I worked the front face of the airbag cover.
    3. At least one Corvette Forum poster said that he'd used a toothbrush to get into the embossed C5 logo, horn symbols, and "AIRBAG" lettering; the Magic Eraser did about 95% of the work for me in those areas, and a paper towel finished up the rest.
    4. Rather than spray the Goof Off onto the airbag cover, I just saturated the Magic Eraser with it. Not to the point where it was sopping wet with the stuff, but wet enough that the liquid would coat the area I was wiping without getting wrung out of the Magic Eraser when I pressed with it.
    5. Lay an old towel or some paper towels in your lap to catch debris as it comes off the steering wheel. Most of the gummy mess will be absorbed into whatever you're wiping with, but there will be a few crumbs that fall off the wheel. Frankly, most of the debris came from the Magic Eraser I was using, as the process of saturating it with the Goof Off and the light rubbing seemed to cause it to start breaking apart. In the end, there was one fewer Magic Eraser in the world, since the one I used nobly gave its life to breathe new life into my Vette's airbag cover...
    6. At the end of the process, the airbag cover will be clean, but a bit dull looking. It will also have gone from black to a shade of charcoal gray -- a bit lighter shade than the steering wheel leather. As it was getting late -- and I was getting tired -- I decided to delay the application of the 303 Aerospace Protectant until tomorrow; I also want to double-check the nooks and crannies in some better lighting to make sure I got all the gunk off. I'm hopeful the 303 Aerospace Protectant will help to darken the appearance back up (the color seemed to better match the leather when I wiped down the steering wheel with some mild soap and water after I'd finished). Those of you with airbag covers in another color (like Shale in the Anniversary or 24-Hour LeMans editions) might have a bit of a dilemma about what to do if you encounter this problem...

    1998 Aztec Gold #15||| 2004 Millennium Yellow
    Thanks navy2kcoupe, TCFS thanked for this post
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  8. #8
    Member timfitz63's Avatar
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    Default 303 Aerospace Protectant

    Just to follow up on the final step: I applied some of the 303 Aerospace Protectant to the airbag cover today. It looks much better now; the color blends much better with the leather on the steering wheel. The instructions on the bottle tell you to spray it on, then wipe it dry. But I just saturated a rag and wiped it on. The instructions also say that rubbing and buffing the product into the surface will enhance the effectiveness, so I just kept rubbing it into the airbag cover for about 15 minutes or so, and the airbag cover actually seemed to be soaking up the liquid for a little while. When it seemed the cover wasn't drying out any longer, I called it good. I'll keep an eye on it as time goes on to see how often the 303 Aerospace Protectant needs to be applied to keep the airbag cover looking like new.

    On the whole I'm pretty happy with the outcome.

    1998 Aztec Gold #15||| 2004 Millennium Yellow
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  9. #9
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    Tim: Remember HS chemistry; likes dissolve likes? Armor-All is petroleum based same as many things such as vinyl, plastics etc..
    I've found 303 Aerospace Protectant the magic fix-all for many sticky things that shouldn't be sticky.. I bought a tonneau cover for my ex-Silverado 1500 and my new GMC Canyon from Tonneau Pro. It has a lifetime warranty which is void if one uses Armor-All.. But not if I use their "stuff" or
    303 Aerospace Protectant..
    Whoosh, and blur

  10. #10
    Member timfitz63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpic View Post
    ... I've found 303 Aerospace Protectant the magic fix-all for many sticky things that shouldn't be sticky.. I bought a tonneau cover for my ex-Silverado 1500 and my new GMC Canyon from Tonneau Pro. It has a lifetime warranty which is void if one uses Armor-All.. But not if I use their "stuff" or 303 Aerospace Protectant..
    Yeah, I'm not surprised. I've never been a fan of ArmorAll. For some reason it's become the market standard for that kind of product, but it's really not the best product in that market segment.

    I've generally gravitated to Meguiar's products; I've been using their Gold Class leather protector on my shift and parking brake boots for a while now with no complaints. It's helped to keep the 29-year old leather boot on the shifter of my '89 Firebird Formula soft and crack-free. Even though this is the first time I've used it, I'm similarly impressed with 303 Aerospace Protectant.

    1998 Aztec Gold #15||| 2004 Millennium Yellow

  11. #11
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    Tom, Businesses are getting wise to Armor-All. As the maker of my tonneau covers warranty states cut out a piece of the failed vinyl and send it to us for analysis... I'd bet they save a lot of warranty $$ if they find the owner used Armor-All.. Although not all knowing; HS chemistry does know the basics..

    Although it attracts bees etc, I've found Adam's detail spray to be excellent also; however, I'm a believer in Meguiar's products also. The wife was amazed at what their "wash and wax" followed by their detail spray did to her beloved Zippy or Volvo S60 T5 turbo + intercooler.
    Whoosh, and blur

  12. #12
    Member timfitz63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpic View Post
    ... I'm a believer in Meguiar's products also. The wife was amazed at what their "wash and wax" followed by their detail spray did to her beloved Zippy or Volvo S60 T5 turbo + intercooler.
    Haven't tried their wash & wax yet but I'm sure it's good. A few weeks back I tried their Gold Class polish on my Firebird and was really happy with the results; it seemed to give the 29-year-old paint a nice glow! So I polished up the '04 Vette with it last week and was just as happy with the result; I'm certainly not going to lose my Millennium Yellow C5 in a parking lot after polishing it up with Meguiar's Gold Class (not that it was really possible to lose that car in a parking lot anyway... )! Next time I get to Pittsburgh, the '98 Aztec Gold is going to get the Gold Class treatment too!

    I've also used Meguiar's plastic cleaner and polish on the rear cover plate for the hatch key cylinder; it's a roughly 6" x 6" plastic cover located between the taillight lenses, with the Firebird logo on it. After a while it seems to develop a layer of oxidation on it and starts looking a bit dull. I hit it with some of the Meguiar's #17 clear plastic cleaner followed by the #10 clear plastic polish and it looks great again!

    1998 Aztec Gold #15||| 2004 Millennium Yellow

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    Meguiar's paint conditioner followed by their wax did wonders to the 84 Z/28's tired paint..

    After a color test where it couldn't be seen, I used the Goof Off method on my C5 and it worked quite well.. I followed up with Tonneau Pro's spray which IMO, chemically is closely related to 303 Aerospace Protectant except theirs costs more..

    My C5 is Sebring Silver and depending on how the sun hits it, the color changes which makes it hard to find in a parking lot..
    Except I park it so far away from other vehicles, the color doesn't matter..

    BTW, your 6 steps to no more stickiness and happiness shows you're an engineer..
    Whoosh, and blur

  14. #14
    Member timfitz63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kpic View Post
    Meguiar's paint conditioner followed by their wax did wonders to the 84 Z/28's tired paint...
    Fortunately, I've kept the paint on my '89 Formula in excellent condition, so I was able to skip any restorative products and go straight to the wax stage.

    Quote Originally Posted by kpic View Post
    ... After a color test where it couldn't be seen, I used the Goof Off method on my C5 and it worked quite well.. I followed up with Tonneau Pro's spray which IMO, chemically is closely related to 303 Aerospace Protectant except theirs costs more...

    ... BTW, your 6 steps to no more stickiness and happiness shows you're an engineer..
    Glad to hear it! Yeah, there's no denying that my natural mental processes tend toward engineering...

    Quote Originally Posted by kpic View Post
    ... My C5 is Sebring Silver and depending on how the sun hits it, the color changes which makes it hard to find in a parking lot..
    Except I park it so far away from other vehicles, the color doesn't matter...
    I try to do that too, but invariably some jagoff feels compelled to park next to me anyway...

    1998 Aztec Gold #15||| 2004 Millennium Yellow

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    Member Otter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timfitz63 View Post
    I try to do that too, but invariably some jagoff feels compelled to park next to me anyway...
    One of the big mysteries of life..park 30 yards away from anyone in a store parking lot, enter store and shop, come out and find 1 car parked next to you.:lol:

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