Dash Pad Restoration

Dash Pad Restoration

How to bring vinyl and foam back to its former glory

Most people are familiar with the cracked-dash crisis caused by an older-generation formulation of a popular car-care product. People who prided themselves in their vehicles' appearances were disappointed to discover that this leather-vinyl-rubber spray didn't allow the vinyl to "breathe," and temperature fluctuations caused dash skins treated with this product to crack.

Other vehicles suffer different dash dilemmas. For example, late '60s and early '70s GM cars had one-piece pads that incorporated the instrument cluster. The vinyl top surface dries, cracks and deteriorates with age, and the passenger-facing front readily follows. Removing these dashes makes the car look like a map of the USA with Texas missing. Wires and stuff are everywhere! From 1969 to '72, the Pontiac Tempest, Le Mans and GTO used this sort of dash.

Resto Options

Options for interior vinyl repair are limited. Some folk spend lots of money to find and re-dye a good original pad, only to have it crack like the one they've replaced. Want to do it right? Have the dash chemically restored. This way it will take another three decades of abuse before it once again needs resurrection (fatalistic but efficient).

You can UPS your original pad core to a dash restorer or buy a core from them. After the restoration is complete, in the correct grain vinyl and interior color, they will send it back ready to install. The process of dash removal is documented here on a '70 GTO (which had a big one-piece dash shared by its 1969-72 siblings, the Tempest and Le Mans). The process requires basic hand tools and wrenches.

The arm rest pads on this '70 GTO convertible also had seen better days, so they were treated to a restoration process as well. Almost any vinyl-covered part you can remove from the car can be restored, including door panels and headrests, bringing your vehicle one step closer to looking like new again.

dash board removal and restoration
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