Vinyl dashboard repair for the modern road warrior

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Vinyl steering wheel and dashboard of a 1976 AMC Matador Coupe – Brougham edition.

Vintage vinyl dash of a 1976 AMC Matador. Notice the lack of crack. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/CZmarlin/Wikipedia)

Imagine there are cracks in your car’s vinyl dashboard. If you think covering them with masking tape and coloring the tape to match the dash is copacetic, shake yourself. Real vinyl dashboard repair isn’t difficult, and it’s cheap. True, it’s more expensive than masking tape and a magic marker, but it should be. Go cheap with your car long enough and it will start batting its wipers at the more responsible-looking owner at the end of the bar.

Vinyl dashboard repair: Fear not the crack

A standard vinyl dashboard is ultimately just vinyl fabric over foam padding. Excessive sun exposure can cause sun damage, and using harsh cleaners and protectants is a bad idea. According to Popular Mechanics, these elements can suck the vinyl-chloride plasticizer from the dash surface. That’s what causes vinyl to become brittle and begin to crack. Using a simple soft rag and warm water is the best way to clean it.

Repair a cracked dash fast

Small cracks may not seem like a big deal at first, but once the cracks spiderweb, the whole dash may need replacement. That will hurt your wallet. Slapping a shag fabric dash cover over the problem will make people think you’re a stunt driver in the remake of “Scream, Blacula, Scream.” Rather than going blaxploitation retro, take the simple but effective road to vinyl dashboard repair. According to eHow, you’ll need a utility knife, painter’s tape, silicone caulking and vinyl paint. Here’s the procedure:

  1. Carve the crack into a “V” shape to make room for the caulking.
  2. Clean dust and debris out of the crack with rag and water. Let it dry completely.
  3. Use the tape to mask off either side of the crack.
  4. Apply the silicone caulking into the crack. Let it dry for 15 minutes, then remove the tape. If the crack is small, move to the next step. If the crack is large, consider giving texture to the silicone with a vinyl repair kit before the caulk is completely dry. Then remove the tape.
  5. After two hours, paint the crack with vinyl paint. Let the vinyl paint dry for a few hours, and you’re back on the road.


Popular Mechanics

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