Manufacturers Should Solve the Droopy Headliner Problem

Droopy headliner seem to be one of the most common complaints here. The most common complaint seems to be fails to crank. But droopy headliner isn’t far behind. So why don’t the manufacturers come up with a solution? A roof design where it won’t be caving in around the 150K mark seems easy enough to accomplish. My nearly 50 year old truck’s roof has never drooped even once in all those years. Why not use the same roof method on cars?

In the 50’s, GM had, on their 2 and 4 door hardtops, exposed stainless steel bows that held the headliner to the roof.

These days the headliner board seems to be ok. It’s the foam and material that delaminates from the board that’s the problem. Why not just figure out a way to eliminate the foam and material altogether?

They solve the problem by selling you a new car! I guess nearly any material that’s not solid enough to be considered hazardous in an accident would droop given enough time. My dad’s 1950 Chevy truck has some sort of cardboard feeling headliner. It’s sagging a bit. Although not nearly as badly as the cloth upholstered ones seem to do.

I don’t know why they put carpet in vehicles. Everyone knows the style is hardwood or tile now, not carpet! Seriously, though. I’d rather have rubber floors. A lot of people cover the carpet with “molded floor liners” like Weathertech or similar anyway.

1 Like

I might imagine soft materials facilitate noise reduction.
Hard plastic or rubber would result in more noise.
Material cost is also a consideration.
I would not expect manufacturers to think much beyond 8-9 years car age, as it is long off the warranty and typically off the hands of the first owner by that time.


When the headliner started sagging in my Lesabre, I removed it and had someone reupholster it. I drove it with no headliner quite a bit in the meantime. I didn’t really notice any more road or wind noise. What I did notice, is it sounded like a cheap tin can when you closed the doors. That and you really noticed the rain hitting the roof. Still, you’d think they could use a more substantial material to hold up to time, with a foam backing behind it to reduce the noise if they wanted to. I guess the cloth covering is mostly a style thing. I guess a headliner made out of molded plastic (like other interior panels) would cost more to make, weigh a little more, and…well, it would sort of look weird and might turn some buyers off.

Most car makers don’t produce the interiors that go into their vehicles.

They purchase them from suppliers. And what you pay the supplier determines the quality of the interior.


I’ve seen a couple of complaints lately, but not a large number.

Vehicle manufactures aren’t concerned about the durable ageing of an old $1500 car. With high volume low priced vehicles the manufacture has to choose between higher cost headliners that will last 20 years or using that money for better powertrain components.


Headliners are nicer than the old bow and fabric days. The fabric over foam makes them plush. They can be installed in seconds instead of minutes on the assembly line. Two reasons for the design change.

Heat kills the foam and drops the liner after 12 to 15 years. At that point, how much does it matter.

I live in Southwest Florida and the heat really kills headliners. The local upholstery shops do so many, that they are cheap. A headliner board is a lot easier to remove in an SUV than in a 4 door sedan.
Three conditions quickly lower the value of 10 year old cars in this market. Sun damaged paint. non working A/C, and headliners dropping on the driver’s head. Headliners can be held up with upholstery screws, or twist pins…


If you live in a hot climate like I do . . . it can be MUCH earlier

On one of my cars, the headliner started drooping when it was 7 years old

I drove it a few years more before I took the car to an auto upholsterer

Look at it like this . . .

It’ll generally take several years before the headliner starts to sag

In my case, it took 7 years, which might be on the early side

Figure $200 - $300 to redo the headliner at a shop, depending on the size of the headliner, sunroof or no sunroof, and so forth

Chances are, you won’t keep the car long enough to have to pay to redo it more than once

And let’s be realistic . . . you could easily spend $200 - $300 to have your brakes worked on, have a radiator replaced, any number of things, for that matter

1 Like

Headliners generally don’t start to droop until well after the warranty expires, so the manufacturers really just don’t care.

If I were looking at buying a new car and between the two makes I was interested in, one of them had a headliner design that wouldn’t droop, and the other had the conventional droop-prone headliner arrangement, you can probably guess which car I’d get my checkbook out for.

I put a new headliner in my 59 VW. It was just vinyl supported by wire bows. Of course this was an upgrade from old cars that had little or no headliner material. I dunno though, seems like the only headliner problems I’ve had are on cars 15 years old or older. More than headliners, I wish they stocked reasonably priced seat skins so you could have a driver’s seat re-skined for a couple hundred.

Right , I am going to pass on a vehicle that meets most of my punch list items because I think it has a headliner that might be a problem . Get serious .


You would actually NOT buy a car that checked off all the boxes because a headliner MIGHT droop in several years and cost you $200 - $300 to have it redone at an upholstery shop . . . ?!

George . . . ?! :crazy_face:

1 Like

Why would I buy a car with a potential problem if another brand that checked off the same boxes didn’t have that problem?

If you’re asking about a situation where only one car checked off the boxes and no other cars did, then I’d accept the droopy headliner rather than walking of course.

Maybe the other car will have an even more expensive problem that you couldn’t possibly have foreseen

And you can just look at headliner and tell it is going to fail before the one in another vehicle . I don’t think so. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: