Car care basics: Pay attention to the dash

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Keeping your car dashboard clean can help maintain the value of your vehicle. Image: Flickr / jdhancock/ CC-BY

When it comes to the look and resale price of your vehicle, the value of the dashboard cannot be underestimated. Because the dash is the first thing most people see and the thing drivers look at most often, it should be carefully maintained.

Know your dash

Most vehicle dashboards and command consoles are made of vinyl or plastic. Some dashboards in high-end vehicles are made of or covered with leather, while some older vehicles have dashboards covered with carpet or a thick fabric. If you are not certain what kind of material your dash is made of, check your owner’s manual.

Keep dust at bay

First and foremost, keeping the dashboard clean of dust and dirt can help keep your dash in good condition. Dust is abrasive, over time, and if you leave dust on the dashboard, it can scratch the material and eventually lead to cracking much more quickly. Use canned air to clean out nooks and crannies, a vent brush to clean out the air vents and a very soft cloth that has been dampened to clean off the dust on a regular basis. If dust gets stuck in corners, use a small, blunt-tipped object to clean it out.

Don’t go for the shine

Polishes, conditioners and dashboard protectants that make the dashboard shiny should be avoided. The glare that a shiny dashboard creates can reflect back up into the windshield, reducing contrast and making it much more difficult to see small details. Instead, look for a dash conditioner or cleaner that creates a matte finish.

[Scion Atlanta GA has new and used vehicles with beautiful dashboards worth caring for.]

UV protection can help

Dashboards are usually subjected to very bright, heated UV light in the form of sunlight, filtered through a windshield. Any protectant product that includes UV protection will help extend the life of the dashboard. Most windshields do filter some UV light, but light does degrade dyes over time, which means any color in the dashboard will degrade over time.

Are products really needed?

There are a number of dashboard protectants, cleaners and conditioners on the market. Many of these products claim to keep your vehicle’s dashboard in better condition. A hotly debated issue, though, is whether these products help or hurt. So, do you really need products like this? Some products, properly applied and used appropriately, may be very helpful in helping extend the life or color of most vehicle dashboards. On the other hand, vehicles are designed to last quite a while. Keeping a dashboard generally clean and free of dust and dirt should be enough to keep it in good condition for at least the first few decades of a vehicle’s life. As with most car care, consulting the owner’s manual is the best place to start for clear guidance on what is best for your vehicle.


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