Is It Leather?

How many times have you got into a vehicle and looked at the shift boot and said to yourself “is it leather?”  There have been many design and process changes from real sewn leather, to Rubber.  This article will explain why many manufacturers are going to rubber Shift Boots as well as many other components.

Although leather looks and smells nice, especially if you are a leather lover like me, it has many properties that are not the best choice for today’s customer demands.  Customer satisfaction and NVH (Noise/Vibration/Harshness) concerns have been a primary focus for the past decade.  Customers expect a Sherman tank to drive quiet and smooth like a Cadillac – thus the Hummer…

One primary port of entry for related Power-train noise and Transmitted Resonance Frequencies is the shift boot.  Leather boots have many porous entries for NVH.  They are sewn and the stitching holes provide an entry as well the shaft seal and base mount.  Costly additional processes are required to add further sound deadening substances to the shift boot assembly – which typically include foam, rubber, and plastic fillers.  All-in-all, Leather just does not provide good sound deadening properties and is very costly to produce due to the multiple processes and materials required to make the part.

Rubber, on the other hand has many advantages in production that is a significant cost reduction, provides excellent NVH properties, meets Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement requirements, and commonly only requires one or two processes and materials to produce.  Why and how is this possible?

One of the Leaders in manufacturing rubber shift boots is a company located in Deckerville, MI called Midwest Rubber Company.  They are pioneers of many new rubber manufacturing processes for the Automotive Industry and have been doing this for over 60 years.  Their innovative designs and processes provide reduced manufacturing costs with significant savings – commonly %10 to 40% cost reduction compared to conventional processes.

Rubber has excellent sound deadening properties for shift boots.  There is virtually no porosity, it form fits to mating components, flexible for a good base seal, and can be molded to look and feel like Leather.  Yes, it will smell like rubber… 

Real Leather Shift Boot


Rubber Molded Shift Boot


These Shift boots are commonly Roto Molded, as well as other applicable processes, and consist of a variety of elastomers depending on the specific application and resist environmental conditions such as oil, low and high temperatures, water, dust, dirt and ozone.  Many manufacturers are increasing production with the use of these new style of shift boots.  If you have further questions on Rubber Shift boots, you can contact me with the information on the Business Card Below.

– Jack Miller (Click to View Business Card)


4 responses to “Is It Leather?

  1. No I think, there are not leather.

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