Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingInterior Trim and Upholstery How To Fix Sagging Headliner – Everything You Need To Know

How To Fix Sagging Headliner – Everything You Need To Know

by Jordan Harris
How To Fix Sagging Headliner

Are you tired of driving with a sagging headliner? Driving like this is not only visually unpleasing to see your roof coming down but also dangerous and can distract you from the road. That’s why looking for how to fix sagging headliner is key when you have this problem. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to cover everything you need to know.

Sagging headliners are a pain, especially if you own an older vehicle that has seen a lot during its long life. The headliner slowly is starting to give up and starts to come down. This can impair your vision at the back if the headliner started sagging at the rear window.

Or it can distract you from the road if the headliner started to sag just at the top of your head. Imagine your head rubbing against that material every time you enter your vehicle. This is a huge distraction and can easily involve you in an accident. In this case, it is essential for you to learn how to fix sagging headliner and we are going to teach you how.

In this article, we are going to cover the basics of what is a headliner and why the headliner starts to sag. Then we will see the ways how to prevent the headliner from sagging. After we will see the ways of how you can tackle this problem simply and later, we will see how to fix sagging headliner permanently. So, let’s get into it.

What Is A Headliner?

The headliner is a material that is installed on the inside of the roof structure of an automobile. More precisely the headliner is glued onto the headliner board.

This headliner board is contoured to look visually pleasing and to accommodate the handles that are located on the top of the door as well the dome lights and rear-view mirror in some cases.

The headliner as we said is glued onto this board and improves the visual aesthetic of the board and makes your car interior look very special. Between the board and the headliner, there is a special foam that is created for the special purpose to act as insulation and protect the driver and the passengers to feel discomfort.

How To Fix Sagging Headliner

Except for looking good, the headliner also has other tasks that it needs to fulfill. These tasks are focused on driving comfort. The headliner prevents cold from entering the cabin. Also prevents the heat from the sun to enter the vehicle and makes the driver uncomfortable as well. It acts as insulation when it comes to heat and cold.

Another aspect is the road noise which is dampened by the headliner and the headliner doesn’t allow the noise to enter inside of the cabin. Making your driving extremely comfortable as well.

Considering all of these points we can conclude that the headliner is built for the specific purpose of delivering unmatched comfort for the driver and the passengers in the vehicle. But what causes the headliner to sag and how to fix sagging headliner? We are going to learn that next in the following chapters.

Why Does The Headliner Start To Sag?

It is really unfortunate that the headliner starts to sag. It could really annoy every car owner that loves his car and doesn’t like to see something like this happening to it.

But it is a common thing, especially in older vehicles that are produced in the 90s or the early 00s. But why is this the case with these cars?

This is the case because these types of headliners were first introduced back in the day. The manufacturing processes were not that perfect as they are today and these headliners are the most affected when it comes to sagging. Modern cars that are less than ten years old also have problems with sagging but these problems happen less often compared to an older vehicle.

This is the case because in the past they have used low-quality foam between the headliner and the headliner board. This foam material that offered insulation and held the headliner started to give up after years of use.

Under the harsh weather conditions, this material has started to fall apart and the headliner would simply unglue and fall down. This is most notable in cars from states that have an enormous amount of heat during the year like California, Nevada, Arizona. Basically, all of the southern states are the most affected by the sagging headliner issue. The heat isn’t helpful when it comes to preserving the headliners.

Another aspect is the low-quality glue that some manufacturers are using on their cars. This low-quality glue starts to give up after some years of service and the headliner will start to sag.

These low-quality materials are an unavoidable problem and you should not be surprised if your headliner starts to sag all of a sudden.

Ways To Prevent Your Headliner From Sagging

There are two ways that you can try in order to keep your headliner in good shape for the years to come. And we are going to cover them before we answer the question of how to fix sagging headliner. So, which are these ways to prevent the sagging of the headliner? Let’s find out.

The number one way is to always garage your vehicle. This is key if you want to keep the health of the headliner good and prevent the headliner from sagging. Especially if you live in the southern states where there is a huge amount of heat. Doing this will extend the life of your headliner by many years and you will not have any troubles with it.

In this case, the foam that is inside of the headliner will not start to degrade from all of the heat and your headliner will be in mint condition.

Another piece of advice for car owners is that when you take your car to a dry clean service to tell the guys not to touch the headliner. But why, a good clean will do no harm right? Wrong.

Most of these services are using steam for cleaning. This steam is extra hot and will make the glue of the headliner become soft. After a couple of weeks, your headliner will start to sag.

That’s why when taking your car to a dry clean, tell the guys to leave the headliner alone and not touch it. This will guarantee that the headliner will be in mint condition and your headliner will never start to sag. But my headliner is already sagging, how to fix a sagging headliner? Let’s find out.

How To Fix Sagging Headliner

There are a couple of ways that you can try to fix a sagging headliner. Some of them are dirt cheap while some of them involve a little ingenuity and effort by your side. Thus, delivering a better result in the process. That’s why putting a little bit of effort into this work will pay off in the long run. Your headliner will look perfect and you will not be ashamed to take your friends into your car for a ride. But which are the ways of how to fix sagging headliner? Let’s take a look.

Gluing The Headliner Back In Place

One of the first things to come to your mind is probably gluing the headliner back in its original position. And you are correct. This is the best method to repair a sagging headliner.

This method requires a lot of work and dedication from your side to make sure that everything looks perfect when you finish with it.

This job involves the removal of the headliner board completely from your car and then you need to remove the headliner material from the board.

Then you need to spray glue on the material as well as on the board. This is necessary for the headliner to stick back in its position. Remember that you cannot use any glue for this job. You need to use special glue that is intended for headliners and similar applications where the glue is used to glue down cloth materials.

After gluing down the headliner, you have to repeat all of the processes and return the headliner board back to its original position. Gluing the headliner will guarantee that you will never have any issues in the future and you will never have to look at how to fix sagging headliner. But what are the other options when it comes to fixing this issue? Is there a simpler way? Yes, there is a simpler way and we are going to cover these simple methods next.

Rip The Headliner Off – How To Fix A Sagging Headliner

The simplest method when it comes to solving this issue permanently and for cheap is to rip off the sagging headliner.

If you don’t care about the looks of the interior of your car you can just take the headliner off and drive the car like that.

Just get a sharp knife or a scalpel and cut the material at the edges where the headliner ends.

This job is simple to do and you can do it in a matter of minutes. Then you are good to go. If you want to further improve the look of the headliner you might want to use an abrasive to remove all the foam material and make the headliner look smooth. Then you can lay a few coats of gray paint and the headliner will look splendid.

The downside of this method is that once you remove the foam and other insulation materials, you would be left without any real protection against noise, heat, or cold.

This is not a big deal for some of the owners. So, doing this work will not going to affect much of your driving experience. Since the headliner board will still be in its place and you will not have to worry about extreme noise or heat.

A pretty decent method of how to fix sagging headliner. But what are the other methods that you could use to fix your headliner? Let’s see.

Use Thumbtacks

Thumbtacks are another inexpensive way to solve your problem with the sagging headliner. They cost a few cents and you can use them to fix your problem with the headliner.

Get a pack of thumbtacks and press them to the headliner board. The thumbtacks should poach the board and stay in place.

Don’t use too many of them. Use one on every few inches and you will be good to go.

The downside of using thumbtacks is that they will fall off eventually. The car usually is exposed to a lot of vibrations and stress while driving on the road. The thumbtacks are not secured from both sides and they will eventually fall off. Causing the headliner to sag again. And you can also get hurt on these if they fall on your seat and you sit on them by accident. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend them.

Twist Pins – How To Fix A Sagging Headliner

Twist pins are another great way to secure the headliner to the headliner board in few simple steps. These twist pins as their name imply twist onto the headliner board.

This makes them a better option than the thumbtacks to secure the headliner. They can be more expensive than thumbtacks but they are still fairly inexpensive considering the job they do.

With just a couple of them, you will be able to secure the headliner. It won’t be perfect but it will do the job. Another thing is that the twist pins are not going to fall off easily. This means once you apply them, the chances for them to fall down are minimal. That’s why doing this is an excellent idea. Go to your local hardware store and grab a bunch of these. Then apply them on your headliner and you are good to go. For application, you will only need a screwdriver to make them sit permanently.

Use Stapler To Staple The Headliner

Another cheap way to secure the headliner and make sure that it doesn’t come off is to use a stapler. The stapler is using metal staples that will secure the headliner permanently to the roof of your vehicle.

The only drawback is that the stapler can cost a bit more and if you need it to do only one car, it will not fit the bill. Paying a lot of money for a tool that you are going to use only once is not something that is economically feasible.

How To Fix Sagging Headliner

But if you have a friend that has a stapler, you can borrow this tool from him and staple your headliner.

The con of using these methods with the stapler, twist pins, and thumbtacks is that the roofline will not look very presentable. These staples are going to be visible and the headliner will still sag at some places because the gravity is going to take the headliner down.

That’s why if you looking for how to fix a sagging headliner and you want to do this work permanently, you might want to read our last method that will fix your problem once and for all. But first, let’s cover the other methods that you could try to fix the headliner.

Double-Sided Tape

Another good way that you can try is to use double-sided tape. This double-sided tape can be found at any hardware store and you can use it to glue the headliner back in its place.

The downside of this method is the difficulty to perform this work. Similarly, the first method involves gluing the headliner to the headliner board using glue. This method is also involving the complete removal of the headliner board from the vehicle.

Then the next step would be pealing the headliner material completely and then you need to clean the headliner board from the irregularities.

After this step, you can try to glue the double-sided tape and slowly glue the material to the headliner board.

This work will take a couple of hours to perform and is labor-intensive. The payoff is not that great since the headliner could unglue again and continue to sag since the double-sided tape is not approved for cloth materials.

Try To Use Steam Machine

A steam machine is another good idea. If the headliner has fallen then using a steam machine to loosen up the glue and glue it down to the headliner will be the way to go.

Normally, if you have a steam machine at your disposal. The downside of this method is that this doesn’t always work and the headliner will be less likely to stick. Because in most situations there is not the headliner glue that is the problem. But the headliner foam degrades. So, If the foam is the one that failed, then this method will not work.

But how to fix sagging headliner permanently? Is there a way to do this job? Yes, there is a way to return your headliner to factory spec and we are going to cover it in the next chapter.

How To Permanently Restore Sagging Headliner DIY

In this chapter, we are going to cover the permanent way of solving this problem with your vehicle. This will be the perfect beginner DIY task that you could do to your car.

In order to tackle this problem, you will need to get supplies first. These supplies are the new headliner material that has both the foam and the cloth. This means that you will have to completely clean off the headliner board with sandpaper. Another thing you will need will be spray glue. So, how this work is done? Let’s discuss.

Step 1

The first step will involve the removal of the headliner board from the vehicle. You need to remove all the handles, dome lights, and pillar panels. Then unbolt the bolts that are holding the headliner. After this remove the panel and place it somewhere where you can work on it.

Step 2

Now it’s time to peel off the headliner from the board and clean off the board from the old material and foam. For this purpose, you are going to need sandpaper. Remove everything you can in order to clean the contaminants. After cleaning it, you can move to the next step.

Step 3

This is the important bit. You need to glue the new headliner to the board. Spray both the board and the material from the inside and slowly start to glue down the material in place. Be gentle with it and form the material in line with the board and slowly massage it down in order to take shape. Don’t rush, slowly find your way around the crevices.

Step 4

After gluing down the headliner, cut the excess material from the headliner board and mount the headliner to the car. It is useful to wait a couple of hours for the glue to stick properly and then place the headliner onto the car. Then you are good to go. Enjoy your perfectly new headliner.

Can I Drive With A Sagging Headliner?

Driving your car with sagging headliner is not the solution. This is the case because the sagging headliner will impair your vision and would possibly involve you in some incidents on the road.

This is especially frustrating if the headliner is sagging at the rear window or on the top of your head. These two places can be a huge distraction and driving like this is not safe.

It is more useful to rip the headliner off completely than driving like this.

Conclusion – How To Fix A Sagging Headliner

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the sagging headliner problem. We learned what a headliner is and why it starts to sag at some places.

Then we have covered all the ways how to fix sagging headliner. As we noted these ways were by using glue, double-sided tape, screws, or thumbtacks and stapler.

Then we have covered the way of how you can permanently fix this problem on your car and that is by purchasing a new headliner material and gluing the new material onto your headliner board. This is the only way how to fix sagging headliner on your car.

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1 comment

Max Jones 04/27/2022 - 3:23 PM

Thanks for the info about fixing a headliner. My brother needs to fix a headliner. I’ll share this info with him as he looks for a service that can help with headliner repair.


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