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Old 08-19-2010, 01:22 AM   #1
Simon Jester
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1996 SL2
Default (cheap/free) Black Dash Dash Restoration

For those interested in trolling:
Yes, I know I could have bought armorall or back-to-black... but I just can't see me tossing 10 bucks at a bottle of stuff that just keeps my plastic black.

For those not interested in the story, the tl;dr version:
1: procure some clean conventional motor oil.
2: Wax on.
3: Wax off.
4: Embrace the shiny.

---------------------
*Always remember to test on a small, inconspicuous area before applying this product to your dash.

The Defiant, my 96 SL2 purchased at 228k, is in ROUGH shape. I don't think the interior has every been cleaned beyond *maybe* a quick wipe down ever 50k or so. POUNDS and POUNDS of dirt later (no joke, my mpg's went up ), I'd finally got the interior looking like your average '96 eco-beater in her early 200's...

I was pretty pissed about all the black dash and console panels. They may have been black once, but they've likely been this ugly shade of crusty gray for around a decade. The fading is so bad that the sun reflects onto my windshield, making it almost impossible to see out of. I tried most every cleaning product I had around, and was beating my head trying to figure something when I remembered one of my favorite trailerpark remedies.

I grabbed up some old Penzoil 10w30 conventional, slopped some on a rag and rubbed it into the fuse panel cover, and BAMF... that **** looked SWEET! Rinsed and repeated all over the dash and console trim, doing the rest tomorrow (I'll post pics, my gf didn't lose my camera when she rolled my satty off a cliff while looking for my lost dog in a volcano while being chased by scissor-wielding nihilists or anything).

Let me tell you though... it works pretty damn well, and costs... whatever an ounce or two of conventional runs these days. Same can be said with your headlight covers when they get a lot of surface gnar, just don't use penz (too much yellow left behind)... try o'reilly cheapasss conv, it's not as colory.

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Old 08-19-2010, 05:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: (cheap/free) Black Dash Dash Restoration

Don't do that. The oil is going to gradually (or perhaps not so gradually) destroy the plastic. Your plastic dash isn't made to be oil-resistant.

Something like 303 Aerospace protectant is what you want. You can find that at any boat/marine supply store. That will provide the shine and it contains UV blockers to protect the plastic from future/additional damage from the sun.

...
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Old 08-19-2010, 08:19 AM   #3
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Default Re: (cheap/free) Black Dash Dash Restoration

You should be able to pick up a used dash in like new condition pretty cheap at a junkyard. Once you get it in, the 303 Aerospace is an excellent protectant. ArmorAll has a terrible reputation... not sure if it is warranted.

I wouldn't think that constant exposure to oil is really healthy for you.

...
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:45 AM   #4
Simon Jester
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Default Re: (cheap/free) Black Dash Dash Restoration

Yeah, motor oil is corrosive to plastic as with most petroleum products, but If you use it very infrequently you shouldn't have a problem. I did my buick's dash every six months for around three years, and did not have any problem with corrosion. Of course you want to make sure there's as little oil as possible left on the plastic, and do it as infrequently as possible. My uncle did it bi-weekly to his Caravan, without cleaning off the excess oil, and melted the dash.

And as I said, I know that there are products out there that would work better... but being only able to snag part time jobs here and there, my disposable income is almost zero. I'm not going to spend money on something that just cleans my dash. Besides, my panels are on their way out anyway. I'm going to pick up some pick-n-pull dash panels and sand/paint them at some point in the future (I hate leather-grain plastic).

The point is... my dash is fuqt, I'm broke, and this works for now. If you have a nice pretty dash that doesn't need replacement anyway (or have the cash to toss at a plastic cleaning product, hopefully some critical thinking would tell you NOT to do this. Otherwise, hit it with some 10w30 and marvel at the shininess.
--------------------
And as far as the health effects are concerned: I assume a little more critical thinking would prompt you to wear gloves when handling any toxic substance, such as motor oil. You may also find that a respirator is a good idea if you don't have proper ventilation. Seriously, did that even need to be brought up? I didn't bother suggesting skin/eye/lung protection for the same reason I didn't remind you not to apply motor oil to your steering wheel. I'm assuming you have the presence of mind to handle that on your own.

Last edited by Simon Jester; 08-19-2010 at 11:51 AM..

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Old 08-19-2010, 12:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: (cheap/free) Black Dash Dash Restoration

To quote you....

*facepalm*

But whatever...it's your ride. You can dress the dash with napalm if that floats your boat.

Best,

...
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:22 PM   #6
Simon Jester
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Default Re: (cheap/free) Black Dash Dash Restoration

It's okay... I have a ridonkulously beautiful shiny dash. Sure, the plastic is sustaining very nominal damage, but I'll be able to stand if for many more months before I'm forced to visit the pick 'n pull. Really, I've done this hella times, I've always been careful and have *never* damaged a piece of plastic trim on any of the three vehicles I've done this to.

And seriously... this is a HUGE safety issue. A corroded dash won't kill me, but not being able to see out of my windshield almost has on many occasions. I don't have the cash to drive to Sacramento and pick up a can of aircraft plastic polish or order it online. Either of those involve driving behind a DANGEROUSLY BLINDING dashboard longer than I'd like, as well.

Notice I said "restoration", not maintenance or touch-up. I'm only suggesting this as a fast, easy remedy for those who seriously can't drive their cars in the daytime, unless they're tail to the sun the entire trip. Obviously you're not going to smear motor oil on your dash if there's a better option (It makes your car smell nice though).

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Old 08-19-2010, 01:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: (cheap/free) Black Dash Dash Restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Jester View Post
The point is... my dash is fuqt, I'm broke, and this works for now.
I think I would do just about anything else than put oil on my dash - spare piece of cloth, blue painters tape, whatever I had laying around. Grayed nasty dash isn't that hard to live with except for the glare you mentioned.

Quote:
And as far as the health effects are concerned: I assume a little more critical thinking would prompt you to wear gloves when handling any toxic substance, such as motor oil. You may also find that a respirator is a good idea if you don't have proper ventilation.
OK, you have this toxic oil on your dash. You used gloves and a respirator while applying it.

What do you wear when you drive it? whatever you put on the dash is still there. The oil itself isn't likely to kill you but there's a cumulative effect with all the nasty stuff we are exposed to every day.

I appreciate your sharing a cheap tip for rejuvenating a dash, just saying it is not something I would do (esp if preganant women are riding in the car)

...
I'm not worthy to grovel in the shadow of Signmaster's wisdom

11/2016 red 2002 5 spd SC2 124k DD
7/2010 Craigslist white 1997 SC2 project
12/2008 eBay silver 1998 SL2 5 spd 102k, now 201k+ miles

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Old 08-19-2010, 02:42 PM   #8
Simon Jester
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Default Re: (cheap/free) Black Dash Dash Restoration

Update: For all you hypo's out there, Veggie and canola oil work just as well. Might smell funny and wear off quicker though.

lol, I'd never allow a pregnant woman in my car in the first place. The Defiant is sensitive to hormones and bad vibes in the passenger compartment, she doesn't like them (or it could be my right foot, but anyway). I'd deliver a meat raisin myself before I risked having amniotic fluid dumped onto my floorboard. THERE is a prime example of something I'd never put in my car. And call me vain... but I'm not the dash cover type. If I was, I'd probably have a bra on my nose and bobbleheaded cats on my package tray.

I've honestly never thought about how much oil is in the air, but it's not really a problem for me. I'm a devout smoker and A/C hater who lives in California, so I have my windows down 24/7. With the amount of ventilation I get, I'm sure I inhale far more asbestos, rubber and metal dust, not to mention all the CO, from outside the car than all the oil I'd ever get from the inside. We breathe in a crapload of oil every day, cars spew burnt oil into the air all the time, it COATS the roads in the summer, you smear it onto the carpet in your home every time you come in from walking on the road or your driveway... it's everywhere. Not to mention the lube, solvents, paint, shampoo, protectant, etc etc etc that we all use on our car interiors on a regular basis that are no less harmful than motor oil (unless you like to caress and lick your dashboard).

Besides, I've never heard of any injury from breathing in motor oil smell. Last I heard it can only be a problem if it's misted then inhaled. I'm sure it's not good for you, but then almost anything you could use to re-black your dash is going to spew little bits of itself into the air as well, and who knows what's in that. If the smell of motor oil was really that harmful, why do I see so many 50-60-70 year old mechanics, who've worked around it for a quarter of their lives?

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