Date registered: Dec 2009
Vehicle: 1997 E300D
Location: Newport News , VA
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Dash Pad Cracks--- Home Repair
When I bought my '97 E 300 D, the dash pad had eight or nine cracks in it's black dash pad. One of the cracks had opened up about 3/16" with the edges curled up and the yellow foam showing. I was aware that I could fill the cracks with something and paint the filler, but I wanted to smash down the curled up edges on the large crack. I was looking at caulk in Lowes and saw a black latex caulk/sealant that I thought might work. (DAP Alex Ultra 230 in black) When dry the color was perfect.
I have included a picture of the repaired dash pad showing the big crack (red arrow) and an associated crack around the air bag (in yellow). I should have taken a picture of the before dash pad, but frankly, I didn't expect it to work as well as it did.
I filled the cracks with the caulk using a small spatula, forcing the stuff in firmly. I struck off the excess with a credit card, and cleaned up the caulk smeared onto the vinyl with a damp rag stretched over my finger. I gave the large crack some additional special treatment. I put a piece of masking tape over the large crack to keep the caulk in place, and laid a piece of flexible plastic just a bit stiffer than a credit card, over the crack. I wadded up some foam cushion material and forced it between the windshield and the plastic so it would flatten the curled up edges of the crack. I gave it nearly a week to dry as the moisture was sort of trapped and would have to migrate into the yellow foam in the dash pad. When I removed everything the edges had been fairly well glued down, and while there was some shrinkage of the caulk, the raised edges were mostly gone. I did a second fill and wipe off, of all cracks before the picture was taken. The large crack (red arrow) could do with a bit more filling. If I were to do it again I would use a piece of sheet aluminum bent to the dash contour to smash down the edges rather than the flexible plastic sheet. I think it would do a better job of flattening the vinyl edges.
Other colors? It is speculation, but I think one could do the same thing using clear latex tub and tile caulk ( it is white but it dries clear) to fill and glue down the vinyl edges, followed by some color matched exterior latex paint (probably semigloss acrylic). If something the right color can be taken in to a paint supplier, they can computer color match a quart for modest money. The latex paint can be applied and cleaned off the vinyl with a wet rag. The latex paint will adhere well to the latex caulk, in fact the paint could likely be used to color the caulk.
PS. I should have mentioned that latex caulk and paint must not be allowed to freeze until it has dried, so it will be a spring project for some.
Last edited by nelbur; 01-06-2011 at 08:49 PM.