The dashboard of a vehicle gets a lot more abuse than people realize. Dust and moisture rapidly accumulate on the dashboard. Whenever you run the heat or the air conditioner you are subjecting the dashboard to those temperature changes.
The sun is the most damaging of all as it shines down constantly on the dashboard with its rays being magnified by the glass. And if you also factor in using the dashboard as a drum set at stop lights, it is no wonder the vinyl cracks. You can take the vehicle to the local mechanic or dealer to have it fixed or replaced or you can do it yourself. This article will show you how to repair a cracked dashboard with inexpensive materials and wasting very little of your time.
Step 1 - Prepare the Dashboard
To ensure a strong bond the dashboard has to be clean. Wipe it down thoroughly with a dashboard cleaning rag. In order for a crack to be properly sealed it needs to be level. Use a utility knife to trim away parts of vinyl that are peeling away from the dashboard or are curling.
Step 2 - Deal with Small Cracks
These are the easiest to repair if you get to them fast enough. You will need to use a paintable silicone. Not all silicone caulks are paintable. Fill the crack with silicone caulking and allow it to cure. It is a good idea to apply silicone in at least two layers. You want to inject enough silicone to fill the crack and not to just fill it on the surface. If excess silicone appears above the crack, simply wet your finger and smooth it out. When the silicone has dried you can cover it with vinyl tape and then paint and blend the edges with the proper color.
Step 3 - Repair Large Cracks
If your dashboard is heavily cracked, then you need to take severe steps to repair it. Fill the cracks as much as you can with silicone caulk as you did in Step 1. An alternative to silicone would be a two-part epoxy solution or other industrial filler. This depends on the size of the crack.
Fill the crack so that the filler overflows slightly. Smooth it out with a wet finger. If using epoxy or metal filler, then sand it down. Cover the top of the crack with fiberglass resin. This will create a very strong repair due to the interlocking fibers. Let the fiberglass resin cure completely and then apply bondo over the fiberglass. This will fill in the voids found in the woven fibers. Let the bondo cure for several hours and then sand it down flush with the dashboard.
You can now mix vinyl paint to match the color of the dashboard and apply it to the bondo. Be sure to blend the edges so it matches the surrounding areas.
Step 4 - Replace a Severely Damaged Dashboard
A dashboard that's heavily cracked will not be able to be properly repaired. In this case, you should replace it.