How to Restore Color to a Car's Dashby Richard Bowen
Restoring the color of your car's dash can make it look like new again -- and make you feel great every time you get into the car. The process is not difficult, but it does require careful preparation, planning and execution. You need to determine what your dash is made of, purchase materials, mask off areas you don't want to restore and finally clean, prep and color.
Research and Purchase Materials
Ask your dealer or a knowledgeable auto-parts store clerk to tell you what type of plastic or vinyl your car's dash is made of. You need to know this to purchase the correct type of cleaner, surface prep, adhesion promoter and colorant -- a colorant is anything that adds pigment or dye to material.
Visit an auto paint store to buy colorant. Take various color swatches home with you and make the best match of the dashboard color that you can so that when you return to the paint store, you can purchase the correct one.
Mask off all areas that you want to avoid re-coloring such as the seats, vents and the steering wheel. Remove the mats and cover the carpet with a drop cloth or tarp.
Put on eye protection, nitrite gloves and a protective mask or respirator. Vacuum all dust and dirt from the dashboard's surface then apply the vinyl/plastic cleaner. Scrub all surfaces with one of the scuff pads, paying special attention to recessed and textured places that may hold embedded dirt. After cleaning, wipe the dash with a clean cotton rag and allow it to dry.
Spray the vinyl/plastic prep onto the dash. Remove the residue with a dampened, lint-free cloth, moving in one direction.
Spray adhesion promoter onto the dash surface. The adhesion promoter comes in a spray can and allows the colorant to adhere firmly to the dash's plastic or vinyl surface. Allow the adhesion promoter to "flash" -- to evaporate -- before you wipe off the surfaces with a clean cotton cloth and allow them to dry.
Spray your first coat of colorant and allow it to dry five to 10 minutes before applying a second coat. Spray on several coats in this way, allowing five to 10 minutes dry time between coats. Allow the colorant dry for 24 hours after you have applied all coats.
- Choose a shady area in which to work to avoid the cleaner, prep and other liquids from drying too quickly.
- Work outside and open all the car windows to avoid inhaling potentially dangerous fumes.
- Wear safety glasses, nitrite gloves and a protective mask or respirator while working to avoid injury from solvents and colorant.
- Oils like olive oil, mink oil or Vaseline eventually dry up and damage your dash.
Items you will need
- Protective mask or respirator
- Safety glasses
- Drop cloth or tarp
- Nitrite gloves
- Cotton rags (lint-free)
- Vacuum cleaner
- Vinyl/plastic colorant
- Vinyl/plastic prep
- Vinyl/plastic cleaner
- Vinyl/plastic adhesion promoter
- Scuff pads
- Masking materials
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