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Car Headline Replacement Costs: Highs and Lows

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A car roof liner, also known as a headliner, can be an unexpected repair for some car owners. Nevertheless, the fabric or foam piece that lines the car cabin above should be in good working order for comfort and safety. To replace the headliner, expect to shell out up to $450.

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Above your head when you drive, there is a roof. Of course, between the metal shell covered in paint, and the air floating above your head, there’s something else: a foam or fabric lining known as a car roof liner. In some places, it’s called the car headliner. 

These headliners are made of various materials: foam, fabric, and polyurethane come to mind. 

Other than look good, they also help muffle sound to the outside (while boosting it inside) and protect the driver and passengers in the case of collision.

If you’ve ever been in a very old car, or the car of somebody who doesn’t really care about appearances, you might have seen the headliner ripped or coming apart. 

There are several reasons why these headliners come undone. For example, an old car is likely to have a few screws loose in many regards. The normal wear and tear that occurs in a vehicle doesn’t overlook the car’s cabin. In other words, years of road trips and adventures means a ripped or saggy headliner.

Sometimes it’s just a glue problem. Glue’s good, but it’s not that good. If the glue doesn’t adhere like it used to, often due to chemical decomposition in the presence of humidity or salty air, then a floppy headliner might be the outcome. 

Of course, this problem is mostly aesthetic, although a bad headliner could cause a visibility issue or offer less cushion in the case of a serious impact. Additionally, the acoustics in the car could be off, so you won’t sound that hot belting out your favorite tunes while cruising on the highway. 

DIY options exist as well as the choice to take it to a body specialist for repair. 

Be prepared to spend up to $500.00 on the repair.

This article tackles the common questions associated with headliner repair costs.

What is a Headliner in a Car?

The headliner is the fabric that provides comfort and cushion to the interior of the car cabin, in particular on the roof. Without it, the car’s bare metal shell might be exposed. Not only is this ugly, it could mean you make contact with the metal if a collision occurs. 

Have you ever been in an old car? Maybe you went to switch on that dome light and realized the fabric on the roof the car is pillowy, sagging, or ripped. It’s the telltale sign that car might be ready for the junkyard. Even if it isn’t, that’s the perception.

For this reason, if somebody is going to sell a car, and the headliner is busted, they should really consider getting it fixed before listing the car.

How Much does it Cost to Replace the Car’s Headliner?

If you’re worried about the car’s headliner replacement costs, don’t be. The DIY methods don’t cost more than maybe $10-$15 for glue and a screwdriver. You might have the tools you need at home already.

If you go the professional route, which is highly recommended for best results, you could spend between $150 and $450 on the repair. Mind you, this repair could be worth it if you care about presentation and appearances or if you’ll be selling the vehicle in the near future.

How Long does it take to Replace the Car’s Headliner?

Installing a headliner is actually a complicated process; apart from the headliner replacement costs, you should expect to give up a few hours of your time getting the job done.

Replacing the foam-backed covering isn’t easy in some case.

First, the mechanic will take off the current headliner piece. This might include detaching light covers or other parts of the car so that it comes off in a clean way. If you’re thinking of making this a DIY project, be careful to label and save the little pieces so you can reassemble everything later.

Peeling the board or liner off is fairly simple. It should come off without that much work. After it’s removed, the hard part is cleaning the metal. There could be gunk, foam, and dried glue. In some cases, there is mold, mildew, or insect remnants. 

If the original headliner board is still good, this will make things easier. The new fabric is put on it. If the board also must be replaced, that could be a custom cut or require a trip to the junkyard (for older cars) or the dealership (newer cars).

After this, the new fabric is put on. The waiting game starts as the glue must dry. Then, the cuts are made so that the bits and pieces taken off before can be put back in their rightful place.

Once everything is reassembled, the car is good to go. Overall, the procedure can take just a few minutes for a quick pin and as long as four hours for a total replacement.

How do I fix my car’s Headliner on my Own?

Yes, you certainly can fix a car headliner on your own; in fact, it could make a fantastic DIY project for a weekend afternoon. It’s a great way to reduce headliner replacement costs.

Warning: Disconnect the battery before working on this project and wait for at least one hour before getting started. The movements you will make trying to get this job done could set off the airbag signal. Disconnecting the battery eliminates this possibility.

There are a few methods to consider:

  • Double it up. Using double-side tape, you could get the metal to stick to the tape and the tape to stick to headliner, holding everything in place. You have to be gentle with the fabric as you might inadvertently rip it more. Focus on the middle and the loose and saggy patches.
  • Glue may work. If you can find a spray glue, you might enjoy an easier time getting adequate and consistent coverage. Some people might whip out their hot glue gun, but be careful. Headliners are delicate, and this might make the problem worse in the end.
  • Stick a pin it. No, this isn’t corporate jargon nicely telling you to forget about the problem. You could use safety pins or sewing pins to make sure the fabric stays where it is. If you’re neat with the pins, it could look as good as new. Unlike tape or glue, this will probably hold more securely.
  • Stapler time. Borrow a stapler from your office. You could unfold the stapler and put in staples where the fabric can be tightened so it looks (almost) as good as new.

There are some special parts, known as plastic auto pry tools, that can be utilized in the repair. A screwdriver may also come in hand, especially if you will remove the entire headliner (as opposed to simple spot fixing).

Similar fabric is easily found on the Internet and in many craft and auto parts stores. You can even find the replacement headliners by name in common colors like black or gray.

The problem is that DIY jobs always end up looking like you did it yourself unless you’re lucky or a professional. 

Think about it this way. The pros have years and years of practice, all the right tools, and have overcome many obstacles. They know what they’re doing. Why not trust them to do the work?

Car Headliner Replacement Shops Near Me

There are several ways to find a professional car interior specialist if you want to know headliner replacement costs. Learning the ins and outs will certainly help you get on the right track.

To find a reliable company that can replace the car roof liner or headliner, you should know some terminology. 

This isn’t really the type of repair you can take to just any mechanic. There are plenty who will be happy to take a needle and some thread to the car’s roof lining to make a quick buck, but the average mechanic doesn’t know body work like a true expert in the field.

You can look into companies and garages that offering the following:

  • Auto Upholstery
  • Auto Interiors
  • Glass and Trim
  • Interiors and Tops

To find the best in town, you simply have to do your homework. Get started by putting the question to your general mechanic. Tell the garage attendant you want an interior expert and ask for the referral. 

You could also try asking your friends and family. You might be surprised to find out that your cousin’s best friend’s grandfather’s dogwalker is dating an auto upholstery expert! That being said, don’t take anybody’s reference if you don’t like how their old car headliner turned out.

Another way to find somebody to replace a car headliner is to take to the Internet. You could use a search engine to determine what providers offer the service in your neck of the woods. You could also take a picture and post it social media groups asking for advice.

Headliner and Upholstery Maintenance and Tips

You have to protect the cars headliner. If not, you’ll be dealing with a droopy ceiling. Once this stage sets in, the noise of the traffic, the cold of the winter winds, and the annoying pattern of more and more little rips will be enough to drive you mad.

To avoid this, a little maintenance is in order. 

First things first, treat your car’s interior well. The average car is built to last twelve years on the road. With a good eye and maintenance schedule, however, many cars can go a lot longer. This is good news for drivers who know how to care for their cars inside and out.

For example, to preserve the car roof liner, avoid letting children play with sharp objects in your car. You never know when a pair of scissors might gash the headliner.

Be careful with pets as well! They have sharp nails and claws that can cut right through that lining.

Don’t smoke in the vehicle. This makes the liner stained and smelly.

Be careful of food and drink in the car, too. If the soda fizzes over and hits the roof, you’ll never get the stain out of the headliner!

Even if you keep the car free from exploding soda, cigarettes, children with sharp objects, and pets with talons, you still need to clean your car regularly. In fact, some drivers use steam cleaners to keep the headliner clean.

When you notice that’s something off with the headliner, pin it right away. This will prevent it from ripping further. If the glue is coming undone due to weather or age, consider the DIY methods or contact an auto interior specialist for help.

Should I send my Car to the Junkyard Over a Bad Headliner? 

Before you install a new headliner in your car, you should take an inventory of how the vehicle is holding up as a whole. It might be possible the headline replacement costs aren’t worth it in the end.

For example, if you’re driving an old car that has a problem with the head gasket, the air conditioner, the transmission, and the emergency brake, and you’re worried about the headliner sagging, you’ve got to reprioritize.

Some cars aren’t worth a $450 fabric repair. If the car is older than twelve years old, has more than 100,000 miles, and is riddled with recalls and mechanical issues, a new headliner isn’t going to make the vehicle any better.

That being said, if the car is good as new except for the ripped headliner, then call a professional for help!

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