Honda: Why is My Dashboard Cracking?
Learn how to prevent and fix a cracking old dashboard.
This article applies to the Honda Civic and Accord (1992-2000)
The materials on the dashboard are directly exposed to the UV rays from the sun. As a result, they tend to get hot more than any other areas of the interior. Typically, the dashboard lasts the life of the vehicle; however, in hot and sunny climates, the cycle of wear is accelerated. That expansion and shrinking from heat combined with the denaturing affect of UV rays can cause the material on the dashboard to separate.
- Metric sockets
- Ratchet, extension, and universal joint
- Prying tools for the various clips (screwdrivers and specialty prying tools)
- Star head sockets
How to Prevent Dashboards from Cracking
Step 1 – Keep the dash clean
To avoid this type of damage, avoid using harsh cleaning solvents and "protection" chemicals as they only weaken the finish. Just use water and soap. The exception to that rule is 303 Aerospace Protectant. This product does a great job as both a cleaning agent and a rubber, leather, vinyl protectant. It has a plasticizing agent that directly fights the loss of elasticity, which happens over time.
Step 2 – Cover the dash
In extremely hot southern climates, many owners use dashboard pads or sun shades to protect the dash. These are cheap investments when compared to replacing the entire dashboard. Covering the dash keeps it from getting hot or affected by direct sunlight. A sun shield will work similarly well without covering up the dashboard.
(Related Article: Front Window Shade Reviews - Honda-Tech.com)
How to Fix Cracks
Fixing cracks once they've appeared is a difficult task. There're two real ways to handle it.
Option 1 – Repair the cracks
The first is to "repair" the cracks that have already appeared. Typically this involves using sealant foam and paint to match the rest of the dash. While this might help, most times the repair job doesn't match the paint and texture of the original dash material. You can also use a self-setting rubber such as Sugru to patch cracks, although the finished result is not entirely clean:
Option 2 – Replace the dashboard
The other option is to replace the dashboard in its entirety. These can be found on ebay, in wrecking yards, and on forums. This is an intensive labor job that does involve some risk of detonating the airbag, so it should be approached with caution. The cost to replace is around $500. If you do the job yourself, you have the choice of a dealer part or a salvaged yard part. Aftermarket versions offer a mid level cost solution.