How to Buy and Install a Car Dashboard Cover

Your vehicle's dashboard cover helps protect vital components from damage, including the various gauges around the steering column, the radio, and the heat and air conditioning controls. Over time, though, the dash can become cracked and faded due primarily to exposure to UV-rays from the sun.

While you can take precautions to prevent this, such as using a sun shield or conditioners made to prevent the dryness and cracking that comes with years of exposure, they do not always work. Using a dashboard cover is another way to protect your dashboard from harm. By following some simple steps, you can purchase and install a dashboard cover in no time.

Part 1 of 1: Buying a car dashboard cover

The first part of the process of buying a dashboard cover includes determining what kind of cover you can afford, the exact cover you need, and where to purchase it. Once you find the dashboard cover you want, it's just a matter of buying it and installing it or replacing an old cover.

Step 1: Come up with a budget. First you need to determine how much you can afford to spend.

Cost plays an important part of the dashboard cover you buy for your vehicle. Higher-quality and more refined designs add to the overall cost of the dashboard cover.

Another consideration is the vehicle type, as the price on dashboard covers on luxury model vehicles, as with many parts, can cost substantially more than those on less pricey vehicles.

suede dash cover installed

Step 2: Determine the dashboard cover you need. Next, you need to determine the color, material, and size of dashboard cover you want.

Dashboard covers come in a selection of materials, including:

  • Suede: While not as durable as other material types, suede gives a vehicle dash a refined look.
  • Fabric: Fabric dashboard covers come in different colors and designs.
  • Carpet: Carpet is very durable, but can come across as outdated.
  • Molded: Hard, molded dashboard covers are very durable, though must be crafted specifically for the vehicle type to fit properly.

molded dashboard cover installed on a vehicle

Dashboard covers come in a large variety of colors, including solid and multi-colored covers, as well as patterns.

You also need to keep in mind the specific make, model, and year of vehicle you have. Most often, dashboard covers are designed to fit particular vehicles, though you can find universal models that you can have custom fit to your specific vehicle dashboard.

car dash listing site
Image: Advance Auto Parts

Step 3: Check local retailers and online sites. The final step in the purchasing of a dashboard cover is to visit a local retailer or buy it online.

Local retailers represent the best option as you do not have to wait for the cover to ship if they happen to have the cover you need in stock. The downside is that the retailer might not have the exact dashboard cover you prefer. Some popular local retailers include AutoZone, NAPA Auto Parts, and O'Reilly Auto Parts.

You can also search online through such sites as Advanced AutoParts, Amazon, and JC Whitney, among other sites.

Another option is to shop through the dealership. The dealership offers the exact dashboard cover for your vehicle make, model, and year. Most often, the dealership will have to order the specific part you seek.

Part 2 of 2: Installing a car dashboard cover

Materials Needed

  • Cleaner
  • Microfiber towel
  • Utility knife

Once you have received your dashboard cover, you need to install it. This includes removing the old cover, making sure the dash is cleaned properly, and adjusting the new dashboard cover for fit.

dashboard cover being lifted out of place

Step 1: Remove the old dashboard cover. If an old dashboard cover is in place, you need to remove it first.

For molded covers this usually means removing screws at on either end and at various points around the dash area. You should also look for screws in the defroster vents.

When removing a suede, fabric, or carpet dashboard cover, pull it away from the dashboard. Keep in mind that some covers use Velcro to attach to the vehicle's dashboard. To remove or replace the Velcro tabs, carefully remove them and use rubbing alcohol to dissolve and remove the adhesive.

Step 2: Prepare the new dashboard cover. Before installing the new dashboard cover, make sure to thoroughly clean the vehicle dashboard using a cleaner, and then allow it to dry.

Next, for suede, fabric, and carpet dashboard covers, roll them out onto the dash, making sure to line up all of the openings with the appropriate area of the dash, radio with the hole for the radio, vents with the holes for the vents, and so on.

Molded dashboard covers simply snap into place and any openings should easily line up when the cover is properly fitted.

  • Tip: When installing a non-molded dashboard cover, let the cover sit in the sun for a bit before installation. This allows the cover to relax, making it easier to fit it into place, and results in a smoother overall fit.

suede cover rolled out

Step 3: Install the new dashboard cover. The dashboard cover type determines the method used for securing it to the vehicle's dashboard.

Suede, fabric, or carpet dashboard covers usually fit into place and are held on through their weight. Occasionally, you might need to use Velcro strips that come with the cover to make sure it stays attached. This requires that you match up Velcro tabs sewn into the cover to ones you attach to the dashboard.

Molded dashboard covers snap into place, but also require you to tighten screws to further secure it. Most covers have screws at both ends and some in the vent areas. Consult the instructions that came with your dashboard cover for more information.

A dashboard cover provides protection to your vehicle's dashboard. This ensures that the dashboard remains in great shape and free of scratches, dents, and dings. This helps ensure that your vehicle does not lose value if you later decide to sell it. If you have any questions about installing a dashboard cover, Ask a Mechanic to get the answers you seek from one of our expert technicians.


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