The cracks in my dashboard have been bothering me since the day I got the car. I finally decided to take a crack at fixing it myself. I figured if it didn't work, I would just cover it up with a dash mat or a portable GPS. Replacing the dash seems like too much work, time and money.
I've seen a number of vinyl/dash repair products out there but haven't read about one that holds up for a while. After searching for a easy fix online, I found Silicone caulking works as a decent crack filler for dashboards as it is flexible and holds up quite well.
Here are a couple of before pictures to give you an idea of what it looked like:
List of materials:
GE brand 100% Silicone Rubber Kitchen and Bath caulking ($3 at Home Depot)
Permatex Vinyl and Leather Repair kit ($10 at Walmart)
A few clean rags
Step 1: Clean the area around the crack with a damp cloth
Step 2: Cut the nozzle of the silicone tube. Take care as to make a small opening so that a small bead is dispensed from the silicone tube
Step 3: Apply a small amount of silicone to the crack, so that the crack is entirely covered without excess silicone on the surrounding areas. You can use masking tape around the crack but the tape I had wouldn't stick to the dashboard.
Step 4: Using a butterknife, work the silicone into the crack. I prefer to use my fingers as it gives me more control and spreads less silicone to the surrounding areas.
Step 5: Wipe excess silicone with a damp cloth once the crack has been filled. Ensure that you remove the excess as soon as you are done otherwise it makes it harder to remove any excess material.
Wait a few hours and reapply a bit more silicone as some of it will be absorbed by the foam under the vinyl and a depression will form in the crack.
Silicone takes about 24 hours to cure, so wait a day before proceeding to the next step.
After applying the silicone, the cracks should be less obvious as seen below.
After first round of filling with silicone
After second round of filling with silicone
The cracks are much less noticeable and we're only halfway done
I used clear silicone but Home Depot also sells coloured silicone. The shade of brown that they carry is pretty close to the colour of the Type F/E dash. Even with clear silicone you don't see a huge difference in colour and the cracks don't stand out as much.
Next step is to fill the cracks with the crack filler that comes with the Vinyl repair kit. Dashboard cracks are quite deep and the filler that comes with the kit is not as effective on deep cracks as silicone. However, it works well to make the silicone treated area blend in. You can also colour match the filler that comes with the kit to the same colour as the dash. The kit also includes a piece of vinyl that you can use to give the treated area the same texture as the rest of the dashboard.
I will add detailed instructions of the second half of the repair using the kit as soon as the silicone cures (sometime tomorrow). I was too excited to wait a day to do the final DIY; I just had to share the results thus far.
Questions or suggestions are welcome.