Cracked dashboards happen when they dry out due to heat cycling and UV exposure. Fixing a cracked dashboard can be quite involved if it is severe. Small cracks aren’t too difficult to address.
Obviously it’s best to keep your dashboard well protected to prevent cracking but you likely wouldn’t be reading this article if you were in a situation where your dashboard had been properly maintained.
You may have purchased the car second hand or just had the situation creep up on you. No matter the circumstances, resolving the problem either means replacing the dashboard or fixing it.
How To Fix A Cracked Plastic Dashboard
Small cracks in a plastic dashboard can be filled or bonded with several kits available on the market.
The effectiveness and look of the results depend on the severity of the crack and the attention to detail given when fixing the crack.
A common, effective, and much simpler solution is to purchase a fitted dashboard cover. Dash covers are easy to install and essentially make the dashboard look new with minimal effort.
Often the best solution for severe problems is replacing the dash despite it being quite expensive and labor-intensive to swap.
Unfortunately, even this option isn’t always possible on some cars. Spare parts may no longer be available. Obviously, junk yard replacements are likely to be in worse shape than yours.
Don’t fret, there are some helpful options we can recommend to help you deal with a damaged dash.
Filling Small Cracks
If you only have a small crack to deal with you may want to just bond it back together or patch it. There are several kits available to help you with dealing with various types of smaller cracks.
Depending on the severity and location of the crack you’re dealing with, one of these products could do a great job of stopping the crack from expanding and hiding it fairly well. I wouldn’t expect a flawless result from one of these choices but they should significantly improve the situation and prevent the crack from spreading.
Once fixed you’ll want to ensure that you don’t end up with more cracks that need to be repaired. Using a protectant like Aerospace 303 Protectant regularly should help restore some of the natural moisture back to your dash and help block harmful UV rays.
For some more popular cars you may be able to find a reasonably good looking molded dashboard cover. These are simple and inexpensive solutions to an otherwise difficult to deal with problem.
If your dash is in particularly rough shape you may need to trim away some of the original dash along the cracks to allow it to sit flush. When a crack forms it usually expands outward due to the padded foam underneath.
Also, when you find a dashboard cover for your car or truck be sure and read the customer reviews. Some covers will fit better than others. You’ll want to find one that gets overall good marks for fitting.
In addition to the molded dashboard covers you can find fitted fabric covers. These are less attractive than molded plastic covers in my opinion but far nicer than a cracked dash. Some are quite attractive if not really my personal taste.
Replacing Your Dashboard
The best solution to the problem of a cracked dashboard is almost always replacing the dash with a factory new dashboard. The results will be amazing and completely transform the interior of your car or truck.
The downside is you’ll need to sell a kidney to afford it. A factory new dashboard, assuming your car is new enough that you can source one, is going to be very expensive.
That high price tag though is likely to pale in comparison to the cost of having someone pull the old dashboard and install the new one. If you’re handy and patient you may want to do the job yourself.
Do your research first though and try to find some clear instructions on how to replace the dash. You may even need to purchase some special tools to get the job done, adding to the expense.
Filling Large Cracks
When you can’t source a replacement dashboard or decent cover or you want to restore an older car back to its factory look as closely as possible and have no other alternative it’s time to get hardcore.
Polyvance has a line of products for fixing severely cracked dashboards. The process is quite involved but could be just the solution you’re looking for if you have no other way to restore your dash and need to get it back to like new condition.
You’ll have to be prepared to do quite a bit of trimming, sanding, bonding, filling, and refinishing. Before you get too excited though be sure and watch the video showing the process. It will require pulling the dash and quite a bit of talent to restore to a like new condition.
If you’re considering this route but it looks too difficult to tackle on your own you may want to see if you can find a local professional to handle the job for you. You can probably get a good referral to a qualified professional from your local body shop.
If your crack isn’t small and you can’t find a dashboard cover for your car or truck you’re going to be looking at a lot of work or a lot of money to spend.
Unfortunately a cracked dash is difficult to repair in a way that will look better than simply leaving it as is without a dash cover of some sort.
The best option is replacing the dash if you can afford to purchase a replacement and afford to have the old one pulled and the new one installed. You can save some money if you do the install yourself but you’ll still spend a significant amount on a new dashboard.
Small cracks can be bonded or filled fairly easily and should prevent the situation from getting worse. The looks will likely be better than a crack but unfortunately not significantly more so usually. The main benefit will be stopping the problem from getting worse.
Of course you’ll need to begin to use a quality protectant on a regular basis to prevent any other cracks from appearing.
You’ll also want to try to keep your car parked in shade or get a windshield sunshade to help minimize UV exposure and extreme heat cycling.