Should you paint a dashboard

I recently got a windshield replaced in my 2003 Tahoe. They shop was a bit sloppy and speckled the tan colored dash with black crap, I believe it was the adhesive. They could not get it cleaned off. They offered to paint the dash. Do people really paint dashboards and if so does it hold up or just peel and flake after a while? What should I ask for to restore the dashboard?

They owe you a new dash. Contrary to popular belief, any body shop can quote the job. It isn’t rocket science. The replacement quoted will probably be from a similar vehicle at a boneyard, but that’s perfectly acceptable and normal practice. Submit the quote to the glass place.

Paint will never hold up on a modern dash. And it’ll never look good.

You could try some goof off but be careful it doesn’t melt your dash. Maybe try it in an inconspicuous spot.
I can’t imagine paint lasting too long on a dash.

You might also try some WD-40 on the affected places on your present dashboard. Again, try an inconspicuous spot and see what happens.

Before you try any of the suggestions here, keep in mind that anything you do to it can then be used by the glass shop as an excuse not to replace anything. “Well if the customer didn’t mess it up by trying to fix it themselves we could have fixed it much cheaper!”

My vote is that they owe you another dashboard rather than a stopgap measure that will look pretty shoddy in the near future.

If you’re feeling really benevolent you could ask that they purchase a dash topper, or pad, to cover it up. People have varied opinions over those toppers so this may or may not be acceptable to you.

If the windshield people can’t get their own product off why should you spend money and time wrestling something that may never look right?

J C Whitney sell the “crash padding” covers for many cars, as far back as the 60s. I once priced one and it was about $250 for a Chevelle Malibu. As mentioned for OP’s car one from a boneyard would do just fine. Paint on a dash only works if it is special heat resistant and sprayed on with the proper primer. An aftermarket spray will not work. In any case, the glass shop owes a new dash.

I would never paint a dash. For one thing, they’ve discovered light colored dashboards produce a reflection on the inside of your windshield on sunny days. For another thing, most dashboards are soft, and the paint would not adhere well to it. The paint would likely flake away.

Having a dark dashboard will make the inside of your car hotter, but I think the way most car companies only give you one dashboard color (usually dark grey), is a good thing for safety.

You could ask that they install one of these.


While they should probably give you a new dash, you can refinish it with reasonable success. Not with normal paint but with a vinyl coating. SEM sell it and you can get a factory match for the color at an auto trim outfit like in Oklahoma City. I haven’t used it on a dash but have on a vinyl top, and arm rests. Wears like original and perfect match. So you need to find out from them what they would use and it should be done in a body shop or auto trim shop. A junk yard dash that has been sitting out in the elements might be worse than what you’ve got. I would first though try a body shop or detailer to try and get the adhesive off first. No much that won’t come off with the right solvent. If you do refinish, you have to use the SEM cleaner first.

Can you get a cash payout, then replace the dash yourself from a boneyard if needed? You might just decide to keep the cash and throw some sunglasses on the dash if the black spots offend you.

I like Barky’s idea best! My brotha by another motha!

I like shadowfax response best. Any damage the OP does can and will be used against her.

A replacement dashboard would be the best solution. But I doubt they’ll fork over the dough for that. I can’t imagine painting would hold up. I think that might make the problem even harder to fix. Before considering painting, ask to see some examples of other dashboards that have been painted 10 years or more prior.

If this were my car — a 2003 right? – hmm … well, me, I couldn’t justify investing a lot of cash in replacing the dashboard in a 10 year old car. So what I’d do, I’d try a variety of solvents to see if I could remove the gunk myself. Sometimes the chemistry is such that there is one solvent that works straight-away, and 19 others that won’t work at all. The problem is that the solvent itself may damage the dash, so probably what I’d do is get some painter’s tape and mask off a small section in an out-of-sight location and test the solvent there first.

There’s lots of solvents to try. Probably the most powerful solvent a person would have at their house is right in their car. Gasoline is one powerful solvent. I have used gasoline to remove tar that gets thrown from the road onto the lower side panel of my Corolla, and no other solvent I’ve tried works nearly as well. Gasoline will quickly remove the paint too, is dangerous to inhale, and is explosive too, so use common sense precautions folks who work with gasoline use, if you decide to try that.

Painting a dash is fun if you can get it out, like in an Impala from the seventies. I had a blue dash and had to get it maroon. If you buy the flex agent and mix it with the paint, you can then spray paint it with an airbrush or full size spray gun. It’s best to paint the entire thing but only if you can get it out. It’s much better if it’s easy. It worked out for me really well.