Instrument Panel Cover Buyer's Guide
- An instrument panel cover is a type of dashboard panel that is attached over your vehicle’s instrument cluster.
- These panels are typically made from hardwearing vinyl and thermoplastics that are vacuum molded to fit over the contours of the original panel.
- Installing a cover prevents sun damage and scratches on the original panel. At the same time, you can use this cover to freshen up the look of your car’s interior without replacing the entire instrument panel.
- Some of the benefits of installing a car instrument panel cover include customizing your car’s interior, preventing dust and grime buildup, preserving the resale value of your car, and covering existing damage.
- The cost of an instrument panel cover will vary between different makes and models. An OE replacement dashboard panel will cost you somewhere around $80 to over $100.
The instrument cluster is one of the most prominent features of your vehicle’s interior. Despite regular cleaning and care, environmental factors such frequently parking under the sun and driving in places with warmer climates all year round can cause the original panel’s material to chip, fade, or crack. Before this happens, you should seriously consider getting an instrument panel cover for your dashboard.
What is an instrument panel cover?
An instrument panel cover is a type of dashboard panel that is attached over your vehicle’s instrument cluster. These panels are typically made from hardwearing vinyl and thermoplastics that are vacuum molded to fit over the contours of the original panel.
What is a car instrument panel cover for?
An instrument panel cover serves both a practical and aesthetic purpose. Installing a cover prevents sun damage and scratches on the original panel. At the same time, you can use this cover to freshen up the look of your car’s interior without replacing the entire instrument panel.
Why should you use an instrument panel cover in your vehicle?
Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider installing an instrument panel cover on your dashboard.
Customize your car’s interior
Aftermarket instrument panel covers can be manufactured in different styles and colors. This is a great option if you want to change up the design of your interior, but don’t want to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on replacing the entire dashboard.
A cover in a contrasting color or material can make the instrument panel stand out without too much effort. Another advantage is that if you decide to revert to the old look of your instrument panel, all you need to do is remove the cover.
Prevent dust and grime buildup
Dust and grime on the dashboard can make your interior look messy and poorly maintained. If you frequently drive on unpaved or dusty roads, it’s harder to keep the instrument panel clean all the time. An instrument panel cover can help you prevent small scratches and tears caused by dust and grime buildup on the surface of a leather or vinyl dashboard.
Preserve the resale value of your vehicle
A dashboard and instrument panel that looks almost brand new tells the prospective buyer that the previous owner drove the vehicle with care and they can expect other parts to be well-maintained as well. This will ultimately help you attract a better trade-in or resale price for your vehicle.
Cover existing cracks and scratches
Installing an instrument panel cover is a cost-effective way to hide any existing damage on the dash of an older vehicle. This is an easy project for parents handing down their car to a first-time driver who wants to freshen up the look of the interior without taking money away for more important repairs.
How much is a dash panel instrument hole cover?
The cost of an instrument panel cover will vary between different makes and models. An OE replacement dashboard panel will cost you somewhere around $80 to over $100. These panels are sold individually or as part of a complete dashboard cover kit. Installing an instrument panel cover is an easy project that you can do on your own
What are the common causes of instrument panel damage?
As part of the dashboard, the instrument panel is prone to cracks and fading due to several factors. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider getting an instrument panel cover to protect your interior or hide existing damage.
UV damage from sunlight
The worst enemy of your vehicle’s dashboard is the sun. Harsh UV rays from sunlight can cause common dashboard materials like vinyl and leather to quickly deteriorate. The plastic material used as bevels on the instrument cluster may also fane and chip over time.
Replacing your entire dashboard is a complex repair that doesn’t come cheap. If you want to prevent irreversible damage that will require you to re-do your interior, it’s a good idea to invest in a durable instrument panel cover.
Extended exposure to heat
When parked under the sun, the temperatures inside your vehicle can go high enough to cause the plastic components of your dash and instrument panel to dry out, fade, and become brittle. Not only does this make your interior look poorly maintained, but it can also cause your windshield to become obscured due to outgassing.
Outgassing is the process wherein the plasticizers mixed in with polyvinyl chloride separate from the material under high heat, leaving a waxy film that makes the windshield appear fogged up. You can prevent this from happening by using a cover made from harder plastics that do not have as many plasticizers that may vaporize.
Failing to regularly clean and wax the dashboard panel can cause the material to dry out and crack easily. At the same time, using low-quality cleaners and polishes can do more harm than good and may even accelerate wear on the instrument panel. Harsh chemicals may ruin the coating on the dashboard, making it easier for the plasticizers to vaporize.
Existing temporary repairs
You’ll find plenty of vinyl repair kits marketed as a quick and easy fix for small cracks on the instrument panel. While it’s okay to use this as a temporary fix, vehicle owners should be aware that using this will not guarantee that more cracks will not appear in the long-term.
Finding the right fit
Find an instrument panel cover with the perfect fit on CarParts.com. Our website’s built-in vehicle selector will help you narrow down our extensive catalog to only compatible parts for your vehicle. If you’re looking for a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 instrument panel cover, simply plug the complete vehicle information into our search filters to get started today.
How to Repair a Warped Instrument Panel Cover
The instrument panel cover has the pretty simple task of holding the instrument panel securely into the dashboard and protecting it against scratches. However, it also tends to warp and lose its form over time, especially if the vehicle is often exposed to sudden fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
If the instrument panel cover in your car has started to warp, the following are steps on how to fix it.
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you will need:
- Wrench set
- Flathead and Phillips screwdrivers
- Masking tape
- Instrument panel repair kit.
Step 1: Record all your preset radio stations, take out any CDs you have in your player, and disconnect the battery's negative cable.
Step 2: Insert a small screwdriver into the defroster and gently pry it off the instrument panel.
Step 3: Remove the instrument panel bezel. In most vehicles, the bezel is secured onto the panel with a series of screws and screw covers. Loosen these screws and disconnect the switches and wiring before pulling out the bezel.
Step 4: Remove the A-pillar trim panels on both sides of the cover, exposing the instrument panel mounting bolt covers. Take out the covers and loosen the mounting bolts one side at a time.
Step 5: Remove the bolts securing the lower portion of the instrument panel on the driver's side, take out the courtesy lamp and remove the lower panel from the vehicle.
Step 6: Remove the left-hand center retaining bolts and the bolts securing the steering column to the instrument panel. Pull out the steering column toward the driver seat so that it disengages the mounting tab, then rest the column on the driver's seat. Cover the steering column with a piece cloth or cardboard to protect it against damage.
Step 7: Open the glove box and mark the edges of the glove box opening with a piece of masking tape as reference for the rivets.
Step 8: Remove the glove box. There are usually tabs on the side of the box; press on the tabs firmly and pull the box out of the panel.
Step 9: Remove the passenger vent ducts through the glove box opening and loosen the retaining bolts and nuts near the glove box.
Step 10: Gently pull the instrument panel cover away from the windshield. Do not pull the panel more than 15 cm to avoid damaging the wire harnesses, vacuum hose and cables.
Step 11: Using a pocket knife, carefully scrape off any excess black substrate material or flashing along the inside edge of the duct openings.
Step 12: Install the U-clips from the repair kit into the defroster duct opening. Bend the clips slightly to match the curve of the opening and snap them into place.
Step 13: Test-fit the new defroster grille from the repair kit into the opening. If it is too long or does not fit properly, trim it with a sharp cutter or knife until it sits flush.
Step 14: Place retainer clips on the defroster duct opening supports and install the defroster grille on the panel. Start at the forward edge then work your way to the rear.
Step 15: Install the molding onto the instrument panel.
Step 16: Drill holes into the instrument panel for the rivet screws. Make sure to follow the specific instructions mentioned in the repair kit.
Step 17: Using a pop rivet gun, install rivets in each hole drilled into the panel.
Step 18: Reinstall all the parts you have removed earlier. Be extra careful when remounting the steering column.