Does your car feel colder; sound louder? Sounds like you need a headliner repair.
You can usually get away with a quick fix for your headliner while you consider your long term plan, such as one of the five options below. Each of them has their pros and cons, but all of them cost a lot less than a full restoration. So, if you need to bodge your sagging headliner until payday, we’ve got a range of options for you!
The best part? You can do them all yourself and none of them takes longer than an hour. That’s efficiency for you.
Pin or tack your headliner for an effective repair
Any pins or tacks will do – sewing pins, drawing pins or even safety pins work well. Use whatever you’ve got handy to secure that headliner back in place. There’s a thin layer of foam beneath the fabric, so you won’t scratch the roof of your car or need superhuman strength to push the pins through. Just pin as many places as you need (without going overboard).
It’s a very quick fix. You can remove the sag in just a few minutes, especially if you’re a pinning ninja!
It works no matter how big your sag or how little experience you have. As long as you have enough pins, you can remove the entire sag and you don’t need to know anything about cars or embroidery to do it. Of course, a little bit of experience means you’ll do a better job but it’s not required.
It makes your car very ugly. Unless you’re a very creative pinner, passengers will notice the bodge. If the mere thought of that makes you embarrassed, it’s better to steer clear. If aesthetics matter to you, we’ve got a better option later on.
So, how can you keep the effectiveness but also lose the ugliness? Well, here’s a solid bet…
Hot glue works best for smaller repairs
Your headliner is fixed to the roof with a layer of glue anyway, so why not use glue in your repair as well? Specialist headliner adhesive is cheap to buy and easy to find or, if you feel more DIY-inclined, hot glue from a glue gun works just as well. Of course, if you fancy this option, always be careful. Hot glue doesn’t mix well with your skin or your lovely leather upholstery…
Easy fix for a slight sag. If it’s just the corner of your headliner which needs repairing, why wouldn’t you glue it down? Don’t over-complicate a simple repair – take the easy option every time. For a slightly larger repair, glue still works, just allow yourself more time to stick it all down thoroughly.
It won’t always work. If the foam has rotted or there’s nothing to stick the fabric to, your whole plan falls apart. Likewise, the old glue can pose its own problems. If this remains, the new glue might not stick – and the only way around that is to remove the entire panel and complete a full repair! This is possible but, as you’ll see later on, we don’t think it’s the best idea…
If you’re bogged down by dried glue, what else can you do? Well, it’s time to think outside the box for a minute.
Staple gun and hairspray combo
This might sound a bit random, so just bear with us on this one. A staple gun and hairspray repair definitely works because it’s very similar to our pinning option – just a lot less ugly. The staples work just the same as tacks or safety pins but you can remove them once the hairspray’s secured them in place.
It’s the best of both worlds if presentation matters to you. You get the same simplicity as pinning without changing the appearance of your cabin.
A more long term fix. Some of our other suggestions are very temporary whereas, with enough hairspray, you can quite easily make this repair last however long you need. That saves you both time and money.
Waiting for the hairspray to dry so you can remove the pins is frustrating, especially when you need a quick fix. Yes, it’s much more cost-effective than a full headliner repair but much more complicated than our other suggestions.
So, this one only works if you have more spare time but it does last a little longer. If you’re prepared to sacrifice a little bit more time in return for a slightly longer repair, this next option might also be a great idea for you…
Repair your headliner through steam cleaning
Often, you just need to re-moisturise the dry glue. Gently apply the steam cleaner to the affected area and then press the fabric down with a paint roller. Once the glue to sticks it back onto the foam, move on to the next section and repeat as many times as you need to. It might take a little longer but you should see long-lasting results from it.
Highly effective. Steam cleaning works wonders, no matter how big or small your problem. Not only that, it’s a long-term solution!
The flip side is you need the patience to steam clean each individual section. On top of that, you need a steam cleaner! Requires a fair amount of dexterity. It’s hard to cover the whole roof, especially while trying to use a steam cleaner. It’s much easier if your headliner just sags at the edges, but think of all the benefits at the end…
If you have a steam cleaner and the patience and time for it, this method is unbelievable effective. However, if you’re looking for the easiest method, we’ve saved the best until last…
Use double-sided tape!
It really can be that easy. The wonderful invention that is double-sided tape saves the day once again. Just stick one side of the tape onto the fabric and peel away the backing to attach it to the foam. What could be easier?
Speed. Double-sided tape is easily the quickest fix. You can repair your headliner in just a couple of minutes – so long as you can find the end of the tape and peel the back off…
Simplicity. Everyone has some form of tape at home; even if it’s not double-sided tape, it still makes an effective bodge.
Doesn’t work on dry glue. If your glue is hard, the tape won’t stick at all and you won’t be able to complete the repair.
Our verdict: what’s the best repair option for you?
Clearly, each method has its merits. Every headliner repair is different, but we recommend double sided tape for an unbeatable and incredibly simple bodge. It’s a perfect short term solution and it also hides the fact that you’ve had to fix your sagging headliner in the first place! However, you’ll soon get fed up with re-taping your headliner so consider your next steps very carefully. Do your research and decide whether a full headliner repair or new car is the best option for you.
Is a full headliner repair really worth it?
There’s a few downsides if your headliner loses its effectiveness. For one, you’ll hear a lot more engine noise as the headliner insulates the metal from excess vibration. On top of that, the cabin will feel a lot colder as it traps heat a lot better than bare metal. So, it’s not really an option to remove it altogether unless you want a more uncomfortable drive.
Do your research first to make the best decision for you. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide for a complete headliner repair to show just how complex it is.
If you need more easy car hacks, drop us a comment and we’ll see how we can help! No matter your problem, there’s always an easy solution available – and we’re here to help you find it!
Mandy is an ex-mechanic, with 22 years’ experience in the motor industry. As an in-house motoring expert, Mandy is the go-to woman for any relevant questions that our customers have; both garages and drivers. From specific problems with your car to general maintenance, Mandy is a reliable source of information and advice. Her passion for motoring is a huge factor to her success and the huge wealth of knowledge that she has. She now uses her remarkable grasp of the industry to write regular content for our readers to help drivers understand their car better, avoid being ripped off by garages and save money on their motoring requirements.