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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is going to sound crazy but here goes. I have had eczema on my hands for years but it has been much worse since I got my new Highlander which has been a couple months now. Well today I go out to my car put my hands on my steering wheel and realize that where my first two fingers and thumb have the worst of it is right where they touch my steering wheel. I start googling and am finding other people have had similar reactions in the Priuses, Highlanders, Rav4's (which I last had). So I'm wondering has anyone on this forum had this problem? I have an XLE with what I assume is a leather steering wheel. Guess I have to get a steering wheel cover and/or driving gloves!
 

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This is going to sound crazy but here goes. I have had eczema on my hands for years but it has been much worse since I got my new Highlander which has been a couple months now. Well today I go out to my car put my hands on my steering wheel and realize that where my first two fingers and thumb have the worst of it is right where they touch my steering wheel. I start googling and am finding other people have had similar reactions in the Priuses, Highlanders, Rav4's (which I last had). So I'm wondering has anyone on this forum had this problem? I have an XLE with what I assume is a leather steering wheel. Guess I have to get a steering wheel cover and/or driving gloves!
I experienced redness & severe itching on my palms a number of times as a reaction from the "synthetic leather" steering wheel, tired to put in a premium leather steering wheel cover but that didn't help as well.

I am now using jersey-knit driving gloves and never had an issue since.
 

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Wow....so for rdpanes, even the real leather didn't work. I would think its the chemicals and dyes used in the process/?
Maybe a suede leather would work?

I'm sure there are other sources but WheelSkins has made wheel covers for decades, I bet they might even have a solution or at least a suggestion.

If anyone wants I have a NON synth leather OEM steering wheel. Its from the LE model that has just the steering wheel. I think the function buttons are the same except for the style it uses.
I wouldn't mind selling it and make some room. I was keeping it, since the "leather" covers tend to wear and get damaged.

Off the top of my head, You can try a hand lotion that might coat your hands in the areas you need. Just get a good one that doesn't leave a greasy finish. Those greasy lotions accelerate "leather" damage...(maybe not the synthetic leather). I can't imagine wearing gloves in So Cal any day of the year...well, maybe for a short burst in the "winter".
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've tried hand lotions right before I get in the car...by the time I'm at work, the problem is back, and that's only after a 20 minute drive. I googled a bit more and it could actually be chemicals in the adhesive they use to bond either the leather or fake leather to the wheel. Than ks for the wheelskins idea...i will look them up!
 

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Wow....so for rdpanes, even the real leather didn't work. I would think its the chemicals and dyes used in the process/?
Maybe a suede leather would work?

I'm sure there are other sources but WheelSkins has made wheel covers for decades, I bet they might even have a solution or at least a suggestion.

If anyone wants I have a NON synth leather OEM steering wheel. Its from the LE model that has just the steering wheel. I think the function buttons are the same except for the style it uses.
I wouldn't mind selling it and make some room. I was keeping it, since the "leather" covers tend to wear and get damaged.

Off the top of my head, You can try a hand lotion that might coat your hands in the areas you need. Just get a good one that doesn't leave a greasy finish. Those greasy lotions accelerate "leather" damage...(maybe not the synthetic leather). I can't imagine wearing gloves in So Cal any day of the year...well, maybe for a short burst in the "winter".

I suppose so, as formaldehyde is used as an essential raw material in the manufacturing process of many leather products.

I remember I did order a steering wheel cover from WheelSkins around a year ago but had been preoccupied with a lot of other stuff that I still wasn't able to sew it on. I like driving with the feel of the jersey-knit gloves that I got so I don't think that wheel cover from WheelSkins is going to be put on anytime soon.
 

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Skin reactions to chemicals used to tan leather are very common. Usually, they manifest on the feet when people wear sandals or women's shoes with leather straps. The prolonged contact on certain areas while driving exacerbates the problem. The good news is that fuzzy steering wheel cover that you always wanted should work just fine.


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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I bought a cheap cover for the steering wheel, just to see if it would make a difference, and after a few days, I have to say my hands are looking better.

I wrote Toyota a letter the other day, and their response was pretty much...we don't know of any problems but we will keep your email on file. Not helpful or caring in the least. I'm starting to regret my purchase. I've had 4 other Toyotas that I loved....this one, after the transmission update and now a steering wheel that gives me a rash, I'm wondering if Toyota is cutting corners.
 

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I'm starting to regret my purchase.
Over a $9 cover you had to buy yourself because you have a documented skin condition? Not sure how this is Toyota's fault. I do know the market on these things are redhot so you can probably offload it with ease before the weekend is over.
 

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Glad you mentioned this , i have a 2017 Hybrid XLE and noticed that after 20 minutes driving my steering wheel is getting sticky , I don't have this experience with my 2016 RAV4 Hybrid limited that has the same material for the steering wheel, I asked my wife if she had this problem but she does not. before i go on a trip a wash my hands clean the steering wheel with clean water that helps a little but the stickynes gets back after about 20 minutes while my hands are bone dry. I have ordered leather driving gloves and waiting to arrive. currently i'm holding the wheel while driving now with my thumps and pointer fingers. that is not good and safe
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I had a cheap cover on the steering wheel...like a nylon thing, and that seemed to work for my short drives to and from work. Last week I was on vacation and putting many more miles on the Highlander and my Eczema is bad again. I bought a thicker cover that has a lace that goes around it to hold it in. I will see if that works. Problem is everything that i find is perforated, letting through whatever is bothering me. Not sure what to do next...maybe a spinner knob on the wheel? anyone have one of those?
 

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I had a cheap cover on the steering wheel...like a nylon thing, and that seemed to work for my short drives to and from work. Last week I was on vacation and putting many more miles on the Highlander and my Eczema is bad again. I bought a thicker cover that has a lace that goes around it to hold it in. I will see if that works. Problem is everything that i find is perforated, letting through whatever is bothering me. Not sure what to do next...maybe a spinner knob on the wheel? anyone have one of those?
I.m not sure if is legal to have a turning knob mounted on your steering wheel . Where I live in Alberta Canada it is not allowed . Check with your area . In case you are allowed to install it , the best thing is to go to a forklift repair shop if you want one . For now I installed a fabric
Wheel cover sofar it works well, I like the grip off the steering wheel and feel bad to cover it up. good luck with your problem
 

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Chromate/Chromium allergy?

In case it helps, as per an earlier post, leather (which often covers a steering wheel) is tanned using products which contain chromate, a derivative of the element Chromium (a lesser known but potent allergen to those with an allergy to it!). The chromate oxidises out of the leather and is absorbed into the skin, triggering an allergic reaction. Sweating, which leather and longer journeys can trigger, will exacerbate the situation and the allergic response. Worryingly, for those with the allergy, chromium can stay in your skin for many weeks after exposure, so even if you cover the leather/replace the wheel it may take a while for you to see positive changes.

Note: the oxidised chromate will travel through porous materials, such as cotton gloves. So while wearing these may reduce the effect of the allergy, it may not completely remove the issue. Only covering the leather with non-porous material (I've seen options for silicone or carbon fibre) or removing the leather will completely remove the chromium.

How do I know this? I've just been diagnosed with a chromium allergy - my hands are in a terrible state, but interestingly the eczema is exactly where I hold the steering wheel and gear shifter... So obvious now!

Further reading here, which explains the many day-to-day sources of Chromium. See pages 263-264 for Leather Goods. Happy reading! https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/cod.12436

Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks MWKP1981!


I too had come across the chromium articles and figured that is what was probably causing it. I can tell you that it's been over a year now and I had put an aftermarket leather cover on the steering wheel that I got off of Amazon. That has helped a whole lot, but I don't really like the look of the cover. I'm considering taking that cover off and seeing if maybe things have changed, either in what's left in the wheel, or my eczema.
 

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Alcantara

Craig3277: since writing my previous post, I've done some more research and it would seem that Alcantara is a great replacement for leather (so long as the leather is removed and replaced with Alcantara rather than merely covering leather with it). I've found a number of Alcantara steering wheels for my car (Audi A4 S-Line) which, although expensive at $400, would be much better than a silicone cover, which leaves some of the leather exposed on the inside edge of the steering wheel. Maybe there are similar for you car?

Note: for avoidance of doubt, although Alcantara is often referred to as suede, it isn't made of leather. Instead, it's a synthetic material. Alcantara itself comes from Italy, however, there is a US version called Ultrasuede (http://www.ultrasuede.us/about/science.html). My only uncertainty is whether chromium features in the dyeing process for Alcantara/Ultrasuede - a question I've yet to have answered but have contacted the manufacturers and if I get an answer I'll add it to this post.
 

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I'm starting to regret my purchase.
Over a $9 cover you had to buy yourself because you have a documented skin condition? Not sure how this is Toyota's fault. I do know the market on these things are redhot so you can probably offload it with ease before the weekend is over.
Hey all, made an account basically to chime in on this thread, sorry to bump an old one but finding this on my search results prompted me to visit a dermatologist.

Well for me a $9 cover I had to buy myself didn't solve the problem so yeah it's understandable to be a bit pissed when your $30,000+ vehicle irritates your hands to the point they bleed and keep you from working, we'll just drive with our elbows right? You not having issues isn't an invite to crassly defend a large corporate company from screwing the little guy. I called corporate, they were no help, offered no advice, and Toyota makes no interchangeable wheel available for a swap at cost.

Anyway, I have a '16 Tacoma with the leather wheel that's causing me similar issues. Dermatologist found a chemical I'm allergic to and I was able to narrow it down to the steering wheel being the main cause. Problem now is...is it the crap soaked into the leather from driving or is it from the leather itsself? My bet is the leather.

Toyota denies there is any available information to source the leather or chemicals they may use to install the wraps.

Curious if you've made any progress?
 

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Since you can't work, I recommend you sue Toyota and spend the settlement on a Dodge. Also recommend you check out that leather steering wheel in the Dodge before you complete the sales transaction.
 

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I had one of those synthetic steering covers on my previous rav4 ,which had the urethane wheel, it gave the wheel a nice sporty chunky feel. Have not had any issues with the leather wheel on my HL XLE, although I will say I think the wheel could do with a more chunky feel, it does feel rather anemic for the size of the vehicle, but that's a personal preference. The main enemy of leather bound wheels is dirt, that just destroys them, it the HL uses synthetic leather that could be a good thing for long term ownership.
 

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There is NO excuse to continuing to touch something to the point your hands bleed and you are unable to work. When it is figured out that you are allergic to the steering wheel of your Toyota, do something about it. It's not rocket science, or is it?



$11.99 shipped. Send the bill for reimbursement to Toyota. Heck, I bet Toyota would include a pair upon delivery if they knew the buyer had an allergy.
 

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There is NO excuse to continuing to touch something to the point your hands bleed and you are unable to work. When it is figured out that you are allergic to the steering wheel of your Toyota, do something about it. It's not rocket science, or is it?






$11.99 shipped. Send the bill for reimbursement to Toyota. Heck, I bet Toyota would include a pair upon delivery if they knew the buyer had an allergy.
Lol
 

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:shakehead: People like you are why I am lose more faith in humanity every single day. Good luck with those bleeding hands that you are forced to use when driving your Tacoma (not a Highlander). Since you can't work, I recommend you sue Toyota and spend the settlement on a Dodge. Also recommend you check out that leather steering wheel in the Dodge before you complete the sales transaction.
There is NO excuse to continuing to touch something to the point your hands bleed and you are unable to work. When it is figured out that you are allergic to the steering wheel of your Toyota, do something about it. It's not rocket science, or is it?



$11.99 shipped. Send the bill for reimbursement to Toyota. Heck, I bet Toyota would include a pair upon delivery if they knew the buyer had an allergy.
Wow, rude much?
 
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