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Headliner replacement info

The headliner on my 2005 Mazda6 WAGON is starting to come down. So far the upholstery tacks are holding it up, but don’t know for how long. In searching here and the internet, I see most info is from, like, 10 years ago or I just get rerouted to other “cost of headliner” sites, not actual info, so I need current info on some questions:

First, who would I contact to do this kind of work? - (body shop? collision shop? another kind of shop?) Don’t find any listing in my phone book for “headliner repair”.

Second, how much would any of these places typically charge, or what would be a reasonable price? I’m handy, can maybe do it myself (have the time and a garage if necessary) but in reading some of those old replies, some say it’s very involved, some say it’s not. Mostly I read about breaking things that shouldn’t be broken. Dealer service guy says it’s in sections, not just one piece like I see or read about. Another one I read said a person can take it all apart, do the headliner, and have a shop reinstall things - but what kind of shop would do that?

Third, the headliner fabric, at least in my car, is extremely thin and somewhat stretchy, but if you pull too much (not much) it tears. Can that fabric be replaced/substituted with another fabric instead of normal headliner fabric? I know it has to be rather thin, but there’s much more durable fabric out there than that stuff.

And, not knowing what was up there, I felt the back of the fabric and it was all crumbly. In order to reattach it with anything, I know that crumbly stuff would have to come off, but what a mess THAT is/was to do just a little section of! Now knowing it’s foam up there that the fabric is glued to, does that mean the foam has to be replaced also?

Lastly, is the glue in a spray can made for headliners any different than any other kind of glue in a spray can? There’s spray glue for putting foam together, glue for attaching fabric to foam (which is what the headliner involves) etc. Does it HAVE to be “headliner glue”?

Thanks very much for all replies and any help.

removing headliner is tedious, but not that much complex. you will definitely need a helper to hold it or you will break something under its own weight

usually you have to pop all the plastic panels on pillars (use pryer tool, like blue plastic ones you can find in HarborFreight) to avoid breaking tabs), get trim around doors lowered, then get all external clips out and it starts coming off from the back, having station wagon makes things easier as it will be easy to get it out to the back door openinng.

once removed, you will be fa ed “and what do I do NOW??” question.

I was faced similar problem in the past and was toying with idea just to remove old fabric, sand down to plastic and paint with tan-colored “fake suede paint” I bought, but then the guy showed up who bought my car as-is with no regards to sagging headliner, so I took an easy route

Modern cars (yours is close enough) have headliners that are typically a big plastic panel covered with a layer of thin foam and then fabric. This is the job of an upholstery shop for cars or boats.

As @andriy.fomenko says, it is a significant, fiddly job to remove the headliner. All the side trim needs to be pulled loose and is held in the spring clips that car easily break if you are not careful. Once loose, it may require you to remove the front seats to remove the panel. They do bend a bit. The rear window or the windshield may need to come out on some cars (:scream:).

Once out all the foam nd fabric needs to be removed, new foam applied and covered in new fabric - nearly anything you want! But the proper glue, and yes “headliner glue” is a thing as is upholstery or fabric glue. They all come in spray cans. Use the right stuff or that new headliner comes right down. You can do it yourself but it will take a bit of research and quite a bit of time to get it looking good again. The good part, you can drive the car with no headliner while you are working on it.

OP has a station wagon, so 99.9% chance seats will stay in place: he will get it out of rear hatch

I think trying to re-applying foam/fabric is very nice for visual appeal, but will get you back to the same problem in few years, that’s why I was thinking about “hard-lining” it wit fake suede surface after sanding foam away

Alternatively - if headliner can be found on junk-yard, you can prepare new one while still driving car

Ooops, missed the WAGON part.

As for the foam, won’t necessarily deteriorate, depends on the quality of foam used and how long you intend to keep the car. Makes the job look better, and the car quieter, too.

that’s true - will definitely will be queter and better looking

it would be great if OP goes this route, to share what $$ estimates he will get for the job

I can not imagine how much he would be charged for that

I did one. No more will be done by me. I got the material from an upholstery supply house which I stumbled across. I used the correct adhesive which goes everywhere.You can buy both on line.

All the old foam must be removed. The foam deteriorates and allows the material to droop. Someone told me to use a barbecue grill cleaning brush from the dollar store to remove the foam. It worked, but another mess.

I now live in Southwest Florida where the heat causes lots of headliner failures. I’ve seen advertisements of replacements at $100. That would be a bargain.

Thanks to all for your help and experience with this. Guess I’ll just get estimates to see how much shops charge. Does sound like a headache I probably don’t want to try. Will post those estimates when I get them. As dealer quoted a grand, maybe more - for someone ELSE to do it, not them - I may be going to FLA for that $100 price!!:yum:

BTW, I want to keep this car as long as I can because I really, really like it. 2005, has just over 83k miles on it. Don’t like (and don’t want the expense of) new/newer ones. Plus, nothing’s an actual WAGON - they’re all SUVs. Or a Volvo, a true wagon, which I can’t afford. AND not ONE (I’ve compared and asked) has the cargo space - width, length and height - that mine does. Well, maybe a Volvo does, but that’s not even in the running so I didn’t compare it at all.

Could use a number of things besides headliner - like new headlights, LED time/heat/ac, etc., readouts are really messed up, paint job (some rusted chip spots on body I just sanded to bare metal, primed and painted as close to car color as possible because new paint job out of the Q at this time) rear wiper. Stuff that can wait. Does, however, need at some point - I’m told to keep an eye on it - an engine gasket somewhere that’s starting to leak, to the tune of about $700. $40 part, $650+ labor. Not a head gasket they say, but a part of the engine somewhere that costs $650+ to get to.

If only someone made a true WAGON that has a lot of room, as few doodads/technology as possible for $30k and under, I’d get it. Since that won’t ever happen, gotta keep this in as good of shape as possible.

Not to mention the insulating properties of the foam. Hot or cold, your head will suffer the consequences. Ever been in a car in the summer without a headliner? It’s brutal…

I’ve done a couple of them. If you want to hire it out see an automotive upholstery shop. The yellow pages are your friend. The guy that did upholstery work for me said he guarantees headliners to the nearest stop. Prices will vary but would be at least in the $300 to 500 area on up. If you do it yourself, Atrim out of Oklahoma has the matching factory materials or I got some from a wholesale upholstery supplier in St. Paul. They had a whole warehouse full of auto materials. You use 3M heavy duty contact cement or rue the day you tried something else.

There is no easy part. First you have to get the styrofoam shell out which requires removing trim and other items holding it up. Then have to wrestle it out of the car which may not be easy. Then you have to scrape and clean all the old material off. Then spray half and attach half and then the other half. Then get it all back in again. Its not particularly difficult if you take your time and have some skills, just time consuming.

So just like any other project, you’ll be proud at the results if you do it yourself but the second one is always easier.

I’m in Los Angeles, which obviously has a high cost of living, so labor rates aren’t cheap, either

I had 2 headliners done at the same upholstery shop several months ago

One had a sunroof, so a little more work, about $300

Another had no sunroof, so less work, about $200

I shopped around beforehand, all the shops in the local area wanted about the same, varying only by $10 or $20. So they obviously don’t want to price themselves too low, and there’s the question if they’re doing good work, or price themselves too high, and it’s seen as a rip off

I brought the one with the sunroof in,then waited a few weeks, before bringing the other car. I just wanted to check if everything was reattached correctly, no noises which weren’t present before, etc. This particular shop doesn’t seem capable of pebble beach quality work, but they seem competent, good enough for the majority of us

Depending on where you’re at, sunroof, no sunroof, etc., the price could be significantly lower or higher

An upholstery shop will do the entire job for you. Prices vary wildly, so check around. Get it done soon because you will love your car a lot better. Places that do auto work are common in every town. I was 140 miles up the coast from L.A.

The wagon has been replaced by the small SUV. But the function is the same, only it rides a bit higher and you sit more upright, both pluses for me.

For example, I went from a Passat Wagon to a Subaru Forester. About same price, same cargo space, etc. Better MPG.

Could thicker foam be able to be used? Would help with the insulating/noise properties I would think…

Having done a couple, I’d leave well enough alone if you try to do it yourself. It bad enough with just an OEM replacement. The foam is attached to the headliner material and that’s what you use. I don’t believe thicker is available and would be asking for trouble with the trim panels fitting back together and the extra weight pulling the new headliner down. I suppose you might be able to glue some type of foam to the metal roof itself before putting the shell back up, but just can’t see the benefit to it for noise reduction.

The foam backing isn’t absolutely required. It is there to soften the visual appearance, hide any subtle flaws in what’s underneath, and not hurt quite so much if you bang your noggin on the roof. I did a section on my Corolla a few years back, over the rear seat area. I just removed the cover pieces on the sides and back, and pulled the material down. Then I scraped off all the loose foam. I used some special headliner spray glue I bought at an auto parts store, and a gadget called a J-roller to roll over the material so it glues fast and straight on the backing. All in all , a big, unpleasant, smelly job, and the result wasn’t exactly oem-looking … lol … but at least it stays up with the aid of a few add’l straight-pins here and there.

The factory service manual says the proper way to do it is remove the entire backing panel, and apply the foam and new material to the backing panel on the work bench, then after the glue sets put it back into the car as a single piece. I think I would have to remove a seat or two in order to be able to get it out that way. It would look better if done the proper way tho. It’s a compromise. If you want a pro-looking job, that’s the way to do it. And use new materials of course, don’t try to re-use the old.

At least one poster to my original Q hoped I’d post the prices I was quoted for headliner replacement for my car, so here it is. Found a couple places that does headliners - boy, is it HARD for some reason to find these guys. Nobody actually advertizes in the phone book that they do them, so had to call a bunch of places (collision/body shops, auto parts stores, etc.) to see if they can recommend a place, and even THEY say they don’t know who to call! Calling a dozen places in the phone book to just try to find out who does this is time consuming and ridiculous. Even searching online isn’t easy for some reason, even when putting specific info in. Keep getting mostly general car stuff links, not headliners.

Anyway, the 2 places I found gave me an over the phone estimate of $300-350 for my car. NOT the thousand dollars the dealer said it would cost. Still trying to find other places to get quotes to see if the prices are all in the same ballpark. AND, still considering whether to just get a new wagon. Notice Volkswagen has some for under $30k. Will post separately seeking any info on them…unless anyone knows if they’re good or not and wants to post here also.

All I did was google on “car headliner repair shops”. You can add “near me” to get an even more refined list.
Just did it moments ago and got more than a dozen hits with several places within a few miles. One guy is even mobile and will come to you to do the work. Be surprised if you can’t get similar results unless you’re in the boondocks…

A few years back I was looking to have some seats re-done. Found a place on-line and went to talk to them during lunch. Had trouble finding the place, it was in a row of garages and he had several adjoining stalls. I was a bit skeptical (prices low, place was a mess with work scattered everywhere) but left the seats with him. About a week later he called and they were magnificently done.

Um, $300 vs $30,000…no brainer unless you’re looking for any excuse to get the new car.

There are more than a dozen vehicle upholstery shops within ten miles of me, I would expect most of then could re-cover a headliner.

Twin Turbo - although I used different wording before, I just tried again and used the exact wording you said you did - put in “car headliner repair shops” - even added “near me” after getting Sydney, Australia (the mobile one that comes to you that you mentioned), and got a lot of Firestone places (which the ones by me say they don’t do), collision shops (don’t do headliners), upholstery shops (window treatments, but not headliners), couple places 100 miles away, a couple in completely different states…just a sampling of what I got. That’s why I found it so hard to find a local place, I never REALLY get something local that has to do with headliners. Internet isn’t exactly precise, even when you put in precise info…