Dear Car Talk:
I own a 2009 VW Rabbit with 116,000 miles.
The headliner started to detach in the front and eventually in the back too. The cost of the repair at the dealership was astronomical. They recommended I take it to a specialty shop.
That shop did an excellent job for a very reasonable price. The professional told me this is a common problem in different cars, including expensive ones such as Toyota and Acura, and that the time for the headliner detachment was variable.
I have owned several Honda cars in the past that never had the problem.
Is the reason poor design? Poor quality of the materials? Is my local weather too cold or too hot?
Thank you very much for your opinion. — Julio
You’re talking about the fabric that lines the roof of your car, Julio.
That fabric is actually glued onto a foam substrate. And sometimes, that glue fails. I think the guy at the specialty shop is right. It can happen on pretty much any car. The common denominator is that the car is old.
It could be due to substandard glue, the glue could have been poorly applied or extreme environmental conditions could have caused the glue to degrade.
The reason it’s astronomically expensive at the dealership is because they won’t re-glue your existing fabric. They’ll replace the whole headliner, including the foam backing and frame. Not only is the part expensive, but in order to get the old one out and the new one in, they often have to remove the front or rear windshield.
My guess is that the specialty shop just sprayed some new glue on the back of the headliner and reattached it to the foam backing. You might want to ask if they have a “buy 10 headliner repairs get one free” card, because it certainly could fail again at some point.
We’ll hope the repair lasts. But if the headliner starts to sag again someday, I’d suggest you can take a ride to the Abe Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Then go to the museum store and buy four stovepipe hats. And have each of your passengers wear one when they’re riding with you, Julio. That’ll keep the headliner from sagging.
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(c) 2019 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.