How to Fix a Cracked Dashboard With Permatex

by Samantha Volz

All car dashboards attract dirt and dust, but if you've ever gotten careless with your keys or had passengers who just couldn't keep their shoes off the dash, you know that actual damage to the dash can ruin the look of a car. The Permatex system contains a strong adhesive and filler designed to repair cracks, scratches and gouges in vinyl vehicle dashboards to return your car to its best look. The kit even includes color pigments so you can match the vinyl color exactly. Follow a procedure to ensure the repair work lasts for years to come.


Trim away any loose or hanging pieces of vinyl from the dashboard with a sharp utility knife. Once you remove all excess pieces, wipe down the area with a rag dampened in mineral spirits to remove dirt, dust, grease, wax and oil. Dry the area thoroughly with a lint-free cloth, or allow it to air dry completely before continuing.


Spread Permatex adhesive into and across the damaged area, then add the filler with the spatula provided with the kit. Fill in the area fully so the filler sits flush with the dashboard surface; the adhesive will help it stick to the dashboard. Scrape away any excess immediately; do not let it dry on the surface. Wait four hours for the filler and adhesive to dry completely.


Inspect the surface. As the filler dries, it will shrink, leaving small gaps at the edges; this is normal. Hold up the three grain paper patterns (fine, medium and coarse) included with the kit, and select the one that best fits the pattern of your dashboard.


Hold your chosen grain paper next to the damaged area, and trace the outline of the damage onto the front of the paper with a pencil. (Keep in mind that the grain paper will be visible on the surface.)


Use the repair compound container that matches the color of your vinyl, or mix a few of the compounds into a separate bowl or cup to color match the dashboard. The Permatex kit comes with seven colors.


Spread the colored repair compound over the damaged area with the spatula. Work only in a thin layer, filling in voids left by the filler and spreading about 1 inch in all directions to the undamaged area of the dash so the compound feathers out to the rest of the dash. Fill only so the damaged area is flush with the dash; do not overfill. Wipe away any excess with a damp rag.


Line up the traced outline on the grain paper directly over the damage, and tape it in place so the grain paper fits over the wet color compound. You will be able to see the compound through the grain paper. The paper must line up directly with the damage.


Preheat a clothing iron on the highest setting for three minutes. If you do not have access to a clothing iron, use your car's cigarette lighter; press in the lighter to heat it.


Hold the tip of the metal Permatex transfer tool against the hot surface of the iron or lighter for three minutes until the metal becomes hot. Immediately hold the tool directly over the outline on the grain paper. Move the tool all around the areas where the paper touches the compound in a circular motion until the tool becomes cold; if necessary, heat it again to cover the whole area. You must heat the entire surface where the paper touches the compound to ensure a strong seal on the damage.


Remove the grain paper after it has cooled completely, which will generally take about two minutes. If the repair work is sticky, repeat the heat transfer process as necessary.

Items you will need

About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

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