Do Not Sell My Personal Information Jump to content

Review & Pics: American-stitches


Recommended Posts

I had a frustrating experience getting wood added to my steering wheel from American-Stitches. Here’s a review followed by some pictures.

PROS: Excellent craftsmanship.

CONS: Everything else! Poor color match (both for the wood and the leather), a very long 5 weeks for the retrofit and simply awful customer service.

FULL REVIEW (It’s long ‘cuz I need to vent!)

I received a quote of $400 plus $10 for shipping. That sounded good to me! I didn’t think to ask for a discount based on being a forum member. I can’t say for sure, but I might have gotten a cheaper quote based on that. Also, I didn’t ask how long the retrofit would take because the American-Stitches website clearly states that turn-around time is only 4 to 5 days: http://www.american-stitches.com/amstitche...ges/index2.html

American-Stitches did not have a “core” steering wheel for the 2001 GS300, so I would either need to get a loaner wheel, buy a cheap temporary replacement, or just leave my car in the garage for a while. Based on the expected 4-5 day turn-around and the fact that I have an extra vehicle, I decided just to leave my wife’s car in the garage for a few days. Big mistake!

I sent the steering wheel, along with my wood & leather shift knob as a color-match sample, by UPS. American-Stitched received it on Friday, January 14. I waited for two weeks after that, then decided to call and find out what the hold up was. I was told that they started the retrofit on Thursday, January 20 and that it would take about three weeks from that date. I asked about the 4-5 day turn around stated on their website. They said that was only for “production” steering wheels. Apparently that means only adding leather, not wood. But their website doesn’t say that. I suggested that they revise website for clarification. I also pointed out that they didn’t even start my job for 4-5 days after receiving it. They didn’t feel that either of those items was a problem.

A few days later, I sent an e-mail asking for an updated ECD. I also suggested again that they clarify their website for the sake of future customers. I never received a response to that e-mail. A couple days later, I called to get an ECD. They said they were busy and would call me back. I waited three days and never got a call back. I finally called them again on Thursday, February 3 and spoke with a fellow who said the wood was complete and that the leather would only take one more day. He was confident that my steering wheel would be shipped on Friday, February 4. Yay! I asked him to e-mail me with a tracking number when it got shipped and he promised to make a note of that.

Naturally, I never heard back. I called again on Monday, February 7 to get the tracking number only to be told that they were out of the leather for my color match. They said the leather was on order and should arrive in a day or two. I asked about the conversation I’d had with the fellow who said my steering wheel would be shipped the previous Friday. They simply said he made a mistake but they weren’t really apologetic about it.

I let it go for a while, then called back the following week on Tuesday, February 14 (Happy Valentine’s Day!). They still had not received the leather. They said it wasn’t their fault that their supplier was slow. I pointed out that they should have ordered more leather BEFORE running out in the first place! They replied that I shouldn’t feel bad because “a lot of their Lexus customers were being held up by the same problem.” All that did was prove that they were !Removed! a whole bunch of their customers!

I decided to ask for a discount. I didn’t ask for a specific amount. I just asked for them to consider reducing the price based on the run-around I was getting. I was told that they’d “check with the owner” and get back to me. Guess what? I never heard back!

They finally did call me (will wonders never cease!) on Wednesday, February 16 to say that the leather was in and my steering wheel would be done in a day or two. On Friday, February 18, I received a UPS tracking number. That was exactly 5 weeks from when American-Stitches received my steering wheel on dock. I also received an invoice by e-mail. They charged me full price. No surprise there! I’d have been happy with a paltry $10 discount just to know that they “made an effort” to work with me. They obviously don’t care about their customers.

I was so excited when the package finally arrived at my house on Wednesday, February 23. But my excitement ended abruptly when I saw that neither the wood nor the leather matched my car. The wood was quite a bit lighter. The leather was noticeably darker and somewhat the wrong tint. I considered sending the steering wheel back, but based on the previous lousy experience, I figured I’d be without the car for another month! Since it’s my wife’s car, I let her make the final decision. She wasn’t willing to be without her car any longer, so she reluctantly said she could live with the color differences. It’s a shame she was put in that situation by the lousy service from American-Stitches.

CONCLUSION

Would I recommend American-Stitches? Yes, but with major reservations. I only say yes because their craftsmanship is excellent. But on the down side, expect the process to take a long time. Also, be willing to accept an imperfect color match or else be willing to wait even longer if you have to send the steering wheel back to correct the color match. I can only assume that American-Stitches will take a steering wheel back and try again although I did not test that theory. And finally, don’t expect them to give you any sort of caring customer service.

Here are three pictures. The first picture most clearly shows how the wood on the steering wheel is quite a bit lighter than the wood of the shift knob and the leather is darker than the air bag or the shift knob (remember that I sent the shift knob to American-Stitches for color matching). With the steering wheel inside the car, the differences are not as noticeable. It changes a lot depending on the light conditions.

NOTE: I forgot to take pictures of the back of the steering wheel, but it does have the finger indentations in the wood. That's a very nice feature.

am-stitch-results-01.jpg

am-stitch-results-02.jpg

am-stitch-results-03.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites


On the gs430 + rx300 wood/leather steering wheels, the wood section on the top (where it meets the leather) gets larger on the ends into a lump shape. I noticed yours doesn't have it. I particurally like them because it is easier to hold onto while turning. My rx and gs have this feature. Yours looks like the es330 steering wheel.

And as you pointed out, the leather doesn't match very well. And it's only going to get darker throught the years. If i were you i would send it back to them to make it right. That would bother me personally...

Also just wondering, is there a warranty on the color of the wheel? Over the years the acrylic clear coat might get cloudy affecting the look and color. Also, i would send it back to match the wood color...

Just my opinion...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The warranty is for one year. That's probably not long enough to cover the clear coat getting cloudy, but it's a chance I took.

I understand that they can make the wheel with the larger wood ends that you mention, but I chose not to have that feature due to personal preference.

I'll see how my wife tolerates the leather color as she drives around to see clients this week. By next weekend she may be begging me to send the wheel back. At least I hope so 'cuz I never liked it from the start. If I do send the wheel back, I'll have them re-do both the wood and the leather.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

..and who knows, the wood might hold up and last forever in great shape. Another thing to watch out for is making ring marks etc in the clear coat before it's fully dry. It will take more than a few months for it to dry COMPLETELY to a hard glass-like texture. Just keep a look out, those ring marks really make the wheel look raddy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would send the wheel back to the !Removed! *BLEEP*s and make them fix both they leather color and the wood grain color. There is no excuse for not being able to match the leather or the wood color if you sent the shift knob with it. Do it for your wife, if not for me so if I (or anyone else) ever send them some work to do they dont screw it up. I'm not telling you what to do MailManX but I would call them and talk to someone higher up the food chain then the person who answers the phone, like a GM. Everyone has a Boss. Then tell them how disapointed you guys are and that you want it fix at their expense shipping included. The last thing they want is a disapointed customer who gives them a bad name because word of mouth travels fast. I tell you with your experence, I wont send anything to them.

By the way I like the wood grain, was it a Kit? Did you install it your self, and if so was it hard? In my 00' GS300 the only thing that is wood grain is the sides of the center console and a stripe on the door panels. I have seen the kits, but I am not to thrilled about the 3M tape to install them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the wood grain, was it a Kit?  Did you install it your self, and if so was it hard?  In my 00' GS300 the only thing that is wood grain is the sides of the center console and a stripe on the door panels.  I have seen the kits, but I am not to thrilled about the 3M tape to install them.

It was an aftermarket kit which I installed myself. It was pretty easy, but it took about 4 hours because I was very careful in the cleaning process. All of the kits have 3M adhesive, but there's nothing wrong with that. The emblems on the trunk of your Lexus are bonded with 3M adhesive and they are very difficult to remove. It's all in the preparation. If you follow the three step cleaning process, the stuff will stick forever.

I researched several kit companies and finally settled on a kit made by Sherwood Dash. They are a manufacturer and you cannot buy directly from them. However, there are several distributors online. The average price among the distributors is $225. Sherwood is the largest manufacturer or OEM wood trim and they are the only manufacturer that prints OEM factory sybols and words on the wood UNDER the clear coat. Some kits just cover the OEM symbols and other kits cut little access holes where the OEM symbols are (that just plain looks stupid). Check out this comparison of the three types, then go back and look at the pictures inside my wife's car and see the OEM symbols including a gold LEXUS logo just to the right of the tape deck opening.

factorysymbols.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thats a damn shame that they gave you all that trouble and it didnt match in the end. I've heard that from another member that just had his leather done and unfortunately now he's having issues with the leather coming apart.

I feel really bad about that because I reccomend American Stitches all the time. I guess its better to find a used wheel on ebay (they're all over).

Looks good though! I like the kit, I'm thinking about getting some kit peices and doing my window switchplates and maybe my overhead console.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am just sooo bewildered how they couldn't match the leathert OR the wood grain! It's almost like they gave you the wrong one...

The other wood in thee kit looks really nice. Do the pieces go right over the plastic dash? or does the dash plastic in some areas need to be removed? just wondering...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am just sooo bewildered how they couldn't match the leathert OR the wood grain! It's almost like they gave you the wrong one...

The other wood in thee kit looks really nice. Do the pieces go right over the plastic dash? or does the dash plastic in some areas need to be removed? just wondering...

I got the correct wheel back. Before I sent it, I used a black Sharpie to write my last name on the inner metal structure of the steering wheel. I've also posted this review on another Lexus forum and several members there said they have personally experienced, or seen with friends, the trouble that American-Stitches has in matching leather color.

The wood kit goes directly over any existing dash plastic. Nothing has to be removed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe the guys at American-Stitches are color blind? ha ha ha ha :wacko:

Thanks for the info on the woodgrain kit MailManX, I can see the difference. Sherwood Dash is the company that I think I would go with as well. Did the kit come with the side pieces that go on the side of the center console were the shifter is and side pieces for the door?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe the guys at American-Stitches are color blind?  ha ha ha ha :wacko:

Thanks for the info on the woodgrain kit MailManX, I can see the difference.  Sherwood Dash is the company that I think I would go with as well.  Did the kit come with the side pieces that go on the side of the center console were the shifter is and side pieces for the door?

Yes, the kit include those pieces. You have to make sure to pick the right kit for your dash such as with or without NAV, Nakamichi vs Pioneer, etc. Unfortunately, the kit does not include pieces for the overhead console, but I believe that Sherwood makes a smaller accessory kit just for that.

The kit is currently on sale for only $176 at CarXccessory.com. That's a darn good price. I paid $199 for my kit.

http://www.carxccessory.com/carxccessory/w...xus-gs-300.html

Here's a diagram of what the kit contains for a 2000 GS300 with no NAV and the standard Pioneer radio:

http://www.sherwooddash.com/shadowsheets/1...if?Picture=1010

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe the guys at American-Stitches are color blind?   ha ha ha ha :wacko:

Thanks for the info on the woodgrain kit MailManX, I can see the difference.  Sherwood Dash is the company that I think I would go with as well.  Did the kit come with the side pieces that go on the side of the center console were the shifter is and side pieces for the door?

Yes, the kit include those pieces. You have to make sure to pick the right kit for your dash such as with or without NAV, Nakamichi vs Pioneer, etc. Unfortunately, the kit does not include pieces for the overhead console, but I believe that Sherwood makes a smaller accessory kit just for that.

The kit is currently on sale for only $176 at CarXccessory.com. That's a darn good price. I paid $199 for my kit.

http://www.carxccessory.com/carxccessory/w...xus-gs-300.html

Here's a diagram of what the kit contains for a 2000 GS300 with no NAV and the standard Pioneer radio:

http://www.sherwooddash.com/shadowsheets/1...if?Picture=1010

I go to the site now and unfortunately they now charge $245 for the wood kit. They must have caught on to the business they are getting from this site and raised their prices. Too steep for me!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I go to the site now and unfortunately they now charge $245 for the wood kit.  They must have caught on to the business they are getting from this site and raised their prices.  Too steep for me!

Darn! Sorry to hear that. But the kits can be found on other sites, and they go on sale sometimes, too. You can even find them on ebay for about $199. Just be sure and verify with the seller that the kit is made by Sherwood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Forums


News


Membership