Cracked Dashboard Fix

Fixing an Aged Truck Dash

Old trucks make our hearts go pitter-patter, our cheeks flush pink, and our eyes go all googly. We're smitten. Sure, old trucks generally have many miles and a few dings and dents and some rust, but that's just fine with us. We aren't perfect either. Also, old trucks have stood the test of time. Their mechanics, electronics, and more are generally simpler, more consistent, and easier to work on. Some might say reliable. And even if they do have issues, their issues are generally known. Furthermore, as fans of saving the world for future generations, we know that reuse is better than recycling (OK, we're also consummate cheapskates and would just as soon not make payments on a new truck right now).

Still old trucks are, well, old. That means things may be worn out or broken. Our 1998 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 Quad Cab with the 12-valve Cummins diesel is the perfect example of the kind of old truck we like. Sure, we occasionally find ourselves looking at newer trucks and thinking, Hey, that might be nice! But at the end of the day the old Dodge is still parked in the driveway. It's too useful not to keep around for towing, scrap metal runs, parts runs, and more. Plus, despite temptation, we can't justify replacing it just yet.

The truck does have issues associated with its 21 years (man, it's old enough to drink). So what should we do? Well, how about we spend some time and money fixing the old girl up? We've done this before, and we will do it again. This time we focus on fixing up the dash a little bit in hopes that we can make the old Dodge feel a bit newer and make it last a little longer. We will do this with a little elbow grease, some glues, adhesives, steel, and a little help from RockAuto.com.

We're pretty sure our old Dodge has spent most of its life outside. It is a basic truck, nothing fancy. We're also pretty sure it has spent most of its life west of the Mississippi and has, at least for the past several years, spent time outside in the deserts of the Southwest. Heat, time, and UV rays have made the plastic dash brittle and cracked it in a few places. The truck's dash also has a molded-in cubbyhole that flexed, cracked, and left its moorings a few years back. Our plan is to spend a few hours and a little cash to clean this all up.

This is our pi ce de r sistance of the dash rehash. It's a dash cover from RockAuto.com. Our Dodge dash overlay costs $229.79 (PN 22802LL) and comes in a choice of 12 colors. We tried to pick what was closest to our original dash. Installation is simple. First, clean off the old dash with a window cleaner containing ammonia. Then make sure that any cracks are about level (one side not higher than the other). Test-fit the dash cover. Add the included silicone glue sparingly, following the instructions (these parts will flex, expand, and retract differently due to heat). Finally, pop the part into place.

Then you have to make sure the dash cover is held in contact with the dash. We used bits of cardboard folded and tucked strategically and also used some "weights" we had around the shop. The rags help protect the dash cover from the weights. We waited overnight, after which the unit was well attached.

This is the back and bottom of our Dodges factory dash cubby. One bit of plastic was screwed to the bottom of the dash structure, and then the cubby pivoted up and was attached via tabs and screws above. The plastic of the lower part acted like a hinge—a plastic hinge. No surprise that after 19 or 20 years the plastic hinge finally gave up the ghost, but not until after the upper mounts tabs broke off the back of the cubby. We were left with a large, unsightly hole in our dash and a loose former cubby floating around the inside of the truck. These little steel hinges are riveted to the two lower bits of plastic so the cubby can be secured and then pivot up into place, replacing the plastic hinge.

Here are the upper two mounts for the cubby. These two tabs broke off shortly after we got the truck; maybe one was already broken. Then the cubby flopped down and finished off the aforementioned plastic hinge. Since the plastic is brittle, we're pretty sure using only JB Weld to hold the bits together would just move the crack. So we glued the tabs back in place using the epoxy and then used Automotive Goop to attach some steel backing. The Automotive Goop is supposed to remain flexible yet strong despite heat, vibrations, and so on. Hopefully this will last another 21 years.

Here's the cubby back in its place as God and the Dodge Brothers intended. Sure, you can see the rivets and it doesn't fit quite as well as it did from the factory, but it sure is better than it was before. Respect your elders, you darn whippersnappers!

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