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06 2.5i OBW 5spd man
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
got something weird happening to the center section of the steering wheel covering on my '06 OBW. The rubbery plastic is getting "sticky" and leaving black stuff on my fingers when I rub it.

This is not a part of the steering wheel where I usually have my hands. My sweat is fairly harsh, it tends to wear the top layer of plastic off TV remotes over time, for example.

I very rarely use an alcohol wipe on the steering wheel, mostly when I think it might have something particularly likely to be germ-carrying on it. Rarely.

Is this center section of the steering wheel cladding (the part you push to make the horn sound, and that covers the airbag) in fact a rubber compound ? Is it even possible for it to be devulcanizing (I use the term because I've seen poor-quality rubber show the same effects - becoming crumbly and sticky).

If it is, is there a home cure for it ?
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
02 Pair: 3.0 VDC Wag & 2.5 Limited Sedan
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26,208 Posts
too much sun on your particular car maybe.

how about a new/ used airbag cover. (without the airbag).

was yours in the recalled bunch from Takata? did they change it out already?
 

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2005 Outback R LL Bean 3.0 H6 w/ 5 speed sport shift
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597 Posts
got something weird happening to the center section of the steering wheel covering on my '06 OBW. The rubbery plastic is getting "sticky" and leaving black stuff on my fingers when I rub it.

This is not a part of the steering wheel where I usually have my hands. My sweat is fairly harsh, it tends to wear the top layer of plastic off TV remotes over time, for example.

I very rarely use an alcohol wipe on the steering wheel, mostly when I think it might have something particularly likely to be germ-carrying on it. Rarely.

Is this center section of the steering wheel cladding (the part you push to make the horn sound, and that covers the airbag) in fact a rubber compound ? Is it even possible for it to be devulcanizing (I use the term because I've seen poor-quality rubber show the same effects - becoming crumbly and sticky).

If it is, is there a home cure for it ?
If you can't find a replacement you might try Plasticote.

Wipe the area down with either denatured alcohol or mineral spirits before spraying.

I had a problem with my interior door handles looking crappy so I sprayed them with several coats of Plasticote and they look new! Not sure how long it will hold up but even if it fails, you can just peel it off!

A lot of members here use Plasticote for various things.
 

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Premium Member
2007 2.5 L Obsidian Black Outback XTL
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603 Posts
If you want the science behind what is happening here is a great link;

Untitled Document

Some of the leading causes are;
1. heat
2. sunlight (UV light breaking down the molecular links)
3. contaminants (like the wrong type of cleaners/conditioners on plastic parts or even hand lotions)

It is also a problem in very high end automobiles and usually requires that that the part is replaced.
 

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06 2.5i OBW 5spd man
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58 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
thanks all, notably the very cool doc about devulcanizing (I know enough of the vocabulary to parse the sentences, got some of the content). The car hasn't been in summer heat since 2009, I'm guessing the material wasn't used to it and is oxidizing faster than it had been. Got a new sun screen for the windshield. I'll look up plasticote and try the cleanup with denatured, carefully. (Scared of mineral spirits since they might dissolve the material ?)

Thanks all !
 

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Premium Member
2007 2.5 L Obsidian Black Outback XTL
Joined
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603 Posts
A little bit of caution about adding anything that increases thickness to the surface of that part that covers the air-bag. It can also change how the air-bag deploys by hindering/impeding the explosive action of the bag blowing off/ripping the cover.

I guess I would rather be slapped in the face by a grubby-sticky horn cover than one that has been laminated with extra layers of plastic that slits my throat or gouges out my eye. It may be safer to just get another cover.
 
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