Cracked Dash Repair

Today was definitely the day for "Blue". I worked on 3 different blue interiors today which is kinda unusual. It's weird like that though. I'll go for weeks and not have one blue interior and then Bam all at once I'll get them all in one day. The last blue one I worked on today was a 1980 Mercedes 450sl. The dash was cracked from

the defrost vent up, above the instrument cluster, then another crack on the side of the hump above the cluster. I wish I had pictures but just didn't think, sorry.

Let me put it to you this way if we could have pulled the windshield we would have, it was not in a great spot. There's only about 3 inches from the top of the dash to the windshield. When things get that tight it's almost impossible to yield a perfect fix. You'll have problems from not having enough room to sand or the worst is getting the job almost done and not having enough room to dye the area without dyeing the windshield too. But luckily this turned out a lot better then I had anticipated. I had just enough room to sand and just enough room to lay a good coat of dye, with the exception of down inside the lip of the vent, here I took a small sponge brush and brushed the dye on. You will find that when you brush dye on it will have a little different sheen to it then if it were to be sprayed on, so top coat with a clear when done to even this effect out.

When I started this dash repair the edges of the crack were curled up slightly and in one spot it was raised up about an inch. The way I usually would fix this would be to trim this off. But I thought I would try something first and see if it would work. I took a matching grain pad, basically for protection from the hot vinyl, and heated the curled and raised areas up then pressed the grain pad into the areas pushing them down and leveling them out. I just kept heating and molding the areas until I was satisfied. It worked really well. I was able to level the area out which gave me a level crack to fill.

I then sanded the cracks with a 120 grit sandpaper about an inch all the way around. This is prep for the next step which is something I've talked about before. It's one of the best products I have found for repairing cracked dashes. It's called Padded Dash Filler by Urethane Supply Company. Now these guys know a few things when it comes to plastics. I have never been disappointed with Urethane Supply Company's products and the Padded Dash Filler is no different. It spreads like butter and sets up really fast... I like fast.

After I sanded the area around the cracks I prepped with my prepping solution and then mixed up me a batch of Padded Dash Filler. Now I use a little different catalyst then what they send, I think they give you the red stuff in the little tube (the catalyst). I use the blue stuff, it's a little "hotter" then the red. But if your just starting out using the filler then use the red, it takes a little longer to set up but you can work with it a little longer. Mix up small amount at a time, I usually use a glob of filler about the size of a shooter marble with a pea size of catalyst. I mix it on a piece of 4"x4" smooth tile, it's small enough to hold and cleans up nicely with a razor blade so you can use it over and over again.

Basically your first coat of Padded Dash Filler will be a rough fill, meaning don't worry about getting it perfect. I'll sometimes lay about 3 to 4 coats before I happy. The whole idea is to get your repair as level and smooth as possible, the texture comes after wards. I will use a 120 grit to start out with then graduate to a 240 then 400 if needed. This Mercedes was a hard one too, I actually used the reflection from the windshield to see the back side of the dash when I was sanding, not real fun.

The texture on this one I used the Sem Texture Coat. It's about the only way to get texture back into the repair area when using the filler. If I would of had more room I would have done my little trick with my grain pad. I was able to do it on the lower crack though. What I'm talking about is taking your grain pad and pressing the grain into the Sem Texture Coat. You can do this if you get the right amount of texture coat on and do it when the stuff is still soft. Try it out sometime it works pretty good, just wait until the texture coat flashes then press the grain pad into the texture coat "lightly", and you have a matching grain.

Now dyeing the repaired area was a booger.. to say the least, after I covered the windshield I realized how much room I didn't have to get my paint gun in. Thank God I use the paint gun I do, thisSharpe 7040 top trigger gun I use is small and has an adjustable cup so I was able to get it in where most guns I wouldn't have had a chance. Like I said I was able to get almost all the area covered with the spray but I had to sponge brush a small area along the defrost vent.

I top coated the dash with a low gloss clear when I was done and I was pretty happy with the repair. I wish I could have gotten a better grain into the area though, but you couldn't hardly tell because of where the repair was unless you got right up on it. My customer was happy so that was good.

I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my repairs, if I'm not happy with it then I know my customer won't be. I never try to settle for just good enough. This one I had to settle a little though, I just physically couldn't have made it better due to the amount of room I had to work with, grrr.

Cracked Dash Repair is one that can be frustrating but take your time and don't rush things. The Padded Dash Filler does take a little bit to set up, and getting your texture just right takes a little practice. Well I hope my little experience today gave you some ideas in doing a repair on a cracked dash and if you need anything don't forget to join my forum or just throw me a comment.

Later....Mike"TIG"

Comments

Hello,

I want to fill a hole in my dash. I was planning on using the padded dash filler, but didn't know what kind of paint/dye to use.

Thanks,

Priya

Priya,

Hey...So we are fixing a hole in a dash.

Sounds like a fun project.

As far as dye to use, it depends on where the repair is and what year and make the vehicle is. If it's a newer car I would recommend a water based dye, due to fact that all newer vehicles have water based dyes used from the factory. If done correctly you will have a lasting repair. The solvent based dyes work okay... for the older rigs, they can be used without any problems to the existing surface.

Hope this helps,

Mike
The Interior Guy

Hello,
I have a 95 dodge intrepid with the paddidng of the dash corner pushed in. i dont do much of any interior work other than maticulous cleaning. how do i fix this before it gets worse. i also would like to restore the leather. Any help would be exceptional. i have looked everywhere and have found noone or site with such profound information. thanks,
Carl

Carl,
Great to hear from you!
Without a lot of experience in repairing dashes, leather seats, and such on this one I would recommend you look into having a professional like myself to take a look at it an see what they can do for you. Sounds like you like to have a nice ride.... with damages done to a dash like you say a professional can probably make a repair look really nice.
Check with your local upholstery shops and with your local car dealers to see if they have an "Interior Guy" like myself that they would recommend. A lot of the work I get is from recommendations from car dealers and upholstery shops.
If you have any problems finding someone don't hesitate to get back with me and I'll see if I can find someone in your area. It's just a phone call to some of my product suppliers that deal with guys all over the country,so let me know how things go.

Talk to ya..
Mike "TIG"

ok i got my truck as a graduation presant and the plastic dash has about 6 cracks (truck used to be my dads truck) being 3 are noticeable from the outside.

This product you're using sounds awesome...I have a 66 Ranchero the dash pad is rather cracked, splitting, and the color is washed out. My question is will this product do the job in filling the cracks and dents?? Any other suggestions would be more than welcome..

Thank you

Frank

Frank,
This product would work great for your 66 Ranchero dash. I have fixed many early model cars with this product. It's really easy to work with and sands very well. One thing to keep in mind is if there are to many cracks then you might think about replacing the dash, reason being is time and energy to do the repairs. But if you only have a few cracks to repair then you should have no problem. Let me know if you need any help with your repair, I'll be glad to walk you through it.

Talk to you soon :)
Mike "TIG"

I have a 79 Cutlass with some cracks that need fixing. I think I can handle the filler but getting the texture to match worries me. Does the spray texture blend well with existing texture? Could the hole dash be retextured to match? Any input would be appreciated.

Gary,
I used to have a 79 Cutlass back in high school ! It was white with red leather interior, loved it. Just never got around to getting rid of the six cylinder and replacing it with something that would move, it was kinda a gutless Cutlass but I still liked it. I even had my senior pics taken with the car, lol. Unfortunately I ended up getting t-boned in a parking lot and totaled it out, man I was bummed.
As far as your repair goes the filler is a lot like bondo work, you want the area level and smooth and make sure you trim out the curled and cracked areas, you want to stop the crack.
Now when it comes to getting the exact texture, your not really going to. If you had a grain pad to match maybe but even then you'll have areas that will show a bit. The best way is to keep your area small in your repair, level, smooth and light coats of texture spray over the repair areas. Let your texture spray dry and sand lightly with a 400 or 600 grit before you dye this will keep the dry feel down. Make sure to clean between sanding of course. You may have to apply a couple of coats of texture to get the look you want but don't go crazy, hold the can back about 8-10" and use swiping bursts. You can even take a piece of cardboard with a hole cut in it and hold it over the repair about a couple of inches above the repair area to cut down on the over spray as you spray. You hold it up a bit so not to cause a hard line with the texture, your blending remember.
If it looks likes after you apply a coat or two of dye to the dash that it's not going to blend then you can texture a little further out or even texture the entire dash to match. If you have the dash out this project will go a lot smoother or at least taking the wind shield out but if not large square cut cardboard works really well to slide down in between the wind shield and dash and old sheets work well for seats and steering wheel for keeping the paint on the dash and not on everything else in the car.
Texture takes just a little finesse to get it right, I've been doing this for a long time and find I have trouble with some to look right so just take your time and let me know if need anything in the repair process, I'm on here everyday or you can email me too and I'll get right back with you asap.
Good luck with this one, take some pics for me I would love to see it!

Talk to ya soon,
Mike Warren - The Interior Guy

Hey thanks for the long reply. Great info! I just now checked these comments to find your reply. In the meantime, I found a better dash out of a junkyard cutlass. But, it isn't perfect. There are a couple hairline cracks about 1" long I need to fix but the one that worries me the most is a chip on the edge where a portion of the vinyl was nicked off and I can see the foam underneath. The nick is about 1/8" x 1/2". So, not too big but it is on a hard corner. It's on the portion that goes around the stereo and heater controls if you can remember how those dashes look. So, do I just do it the same way? Fill, sand, texture and due? Should I dig that foam out of their so the filler will stick? Thanks!

Gary,
Yes, go ahead and form in the corner with the Dash Fill, and there in no need to dig the foam out. Just sand the area with a heavy grit paper to give the Dash Fill something to bite too. You may also want to trim any cracks out with a razor blade or take a Dremel and grind a groove along the crack, basically stopping the crack from going further.
I just got done with a dash pretty similar to the one your talking about, it was on a 78 Monte Carlo. Had to form a lot on that one. This one had cracks throughout the whole thing, the guy couldn't find a decent enough one to replace so we had to rejuve that one. It took me about 2 weeks to finish it but when I got done it looked brand new, I was pleased and so was my customer.
Let me know how things turn out...

Talk to ya soon,
Mike Warren - The Interior Guy
Automotive Interior Professional

i have a 2004 dodge 2500 and it has a very bad crack in it, it is about half of the dash and is starting to come back the other way it is not level a bout a quarter difference from the one side to the other is this something that could be accompished or should i just dash mat it, which im not a huge fan of the dash mats haha thanks alot for the good info

Hank,
Unfortunately this is Dodge defect that has plagued the trucks out there. Your not the only one with a massively cracked dash with no real fix other then replacement. The dashes on these are made of plastic and I've yet to find a product that will mend them. There is another way though other then a dash mat and that's a Dash Cap from Coverlay. They are made of molded ABS plastic and just glue right over the existing dash. They can also be painted to match. The dash covers I've installed in the past fit pretty good and look really close to factory when done. But they are a cover so if your wanting better then replacement is needed, in fact I think there should be a recall on these dashes but that's opinion. I don't think they are that hard to replace either, so check with your dealer and see what the upper portion would cost. Here's a link to Coverlay, I think this is your dash,

http://www.coverlaymfg.com/store.php/products/02-05-dodge-ram-pickup-22-...

Talk to ya soon,
Mike Warren - The Interior Guy

Hi Mike!
I would like to know if this product "Padded Dash Filler" is flexible because I already used a similar product to repair Dash Bord but a few weeks later the cracks appeared again. Hot temperature in summer create lot´s of tensions.

Philippe,
The Padded Dash Filler is designed for just that reason. It's made to flex with the vinyl when exposed to the sun. The Padded Dash Filler is good stuff I promise. I've used it on many dash repairs that I've done over the years and I have not had one come back yet. One thing I will recommend when doing any crack repair on a dash and that's to trim the crack out if you can. Use a Dremal or an X-acto knife to trim all the way around the crack to stop it from moving any further down the dash. It usually takes 2 to 3 coats to get a good smooth finish to apply your texture coat to prior to dyeing. Well good luck and definitely get you some the Padded Dash Filler for next repair you won't be disappointed.

Talk to you soon,
Mike Warren - The Interior Guy
Automotive Interior Repair Professional

Greg,
Sounds like you definitely have a project going. I really like the old Z cars, had a '79 280z for a while, and a buddy had a 240z with dual carbs...a really nice car back then. To your questions, the Padded Dash Filler should do the trick. You'll need to cut out the edges of the cracks or even take a Dremal and grind the edges to get them as level as possible. Then clean and fill with the dash filler. Basically work it like you would Bondo. Now as far as texture, the Sems Texture Coat works really well, you will probably by the time your done with the filler decide to spray the whole dash with the Texture Coat to give it a uniform look. Just spray light coats for a nice texture. One other tip I almost forgot, is use an adhesion promoter before you spray your texture coat, I use Bulldog Adhesion Promoter. Once your done with your texture, sand it lightly with a 400 grit to remove any roughness, then clean and apply another coat of Bulldog then paint with your color. Let me know how things turn out for ya...

Talk to ya soon,
Mike Warren - The Interior Guy

Hello Mike, Your artical is very helpfull. In my spare time I've restored motorcycles, boats, & cars. Just bought a Datsun 280Z in great shape. The dash had one of thoes plastic covers on it till I took it off (I want the origional dash). There are three major cracks right down the center between the center guage and the windshield. If I can fix the major crack, I can do the rest. Can I use the Padded Dash Filler to fill a "canyon" crack? The crack is 7" long, but in the middle it's 3/8" wide. Please advise. I've worked with all sorts of products in the past 40 years, but an automotive dash is new to me. I figure the Sem Texture Coat will also do the job, but what are the dyes you talk about? The Z dash is black. Also, is the "grain Pad" the kind that comes in a kit for repairing vinal at the auto parts store? The car is a fall/winter project, and the dash really bothers me. Thanks for the advise, Greg

Have a Datsun 280Z with 3 cracks in the dash. The largest is 7" long. The middel of the crack is a wopping 3/8". Read your artical and understand. I want to keep the origional dash without putting one of thoes "covers" on it. Any tips? Thanks, Greg