#1324: The No-Headliner Look

Jun 15, 2013
This week on Car Talk, the headliner in Cheryl's Chevy is falling down, and causing a series of bad-hair days. She'd like to fashion a replacement. Can Tom and Ray offer any interior decorating tips, or just suggest she use a better cream rinse? Elsewhere, Brent's Audi is leaking very expensive "mineral oil" power steering fluid. Does he need to spend big bucks to fix his steering, or can he try a cheaper fluid, like, say, Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil? Also, Keller's got a wobbling wheel, but a much too interesting name and graduate major to get a clear answer; and on Stump the Chumps we find out if Tom and Ray correctly diagnosed Tim's misdirected air conditioner, and if Tim was able to re-direct the repair bill to his mom. All this and lots more, this week on Car Talk.

Show Open Topic

Just in Time for Father's Day: Tales of Tom and Ray's Dad

This Week's Puzzler

Why did the Scott Muffler Company die?

Last Week's Puzzler

What adjustment did Gus Wilson make on one of the fire trucks, enabling it to win the race?


More headliner info

I was surprised the guys resorted to the idea of using a broomstick. Sounded more like they were trying to be funny than helpful. The other reviews here have some great ideas, but the first thing that came to mind was upholstery pins. They have a plastic head, and a pin that is shaped like a corkscrew or pigtail. I have used these in the past and they worked ok. I also tried staples, and they just fell out. I have also tried these thin metal rods, that work like bows to hold it up, but after a while, they tend to rust. The best is to do a proper replacement of the fabric. They do sell kits that you can do yourself, with new fabric, glue, and use a wire or stuff brush to remove the rotten foam from the headliner.
Favorite Moment: 
When the show ended.. hehe.

Falling Headliner

Having owned many GM products I am aware of a neat fix for the sagging liner: There are a tapered nylon pins available (I use Car Quest in Midwest) about 3/8" long and 1/8" in Max Diameter. One end has a rounded disk for pushing and the other (min-taper end) is serrated for holding into the styrofoam board above the liner. Just push them into the car ceiling as required or form your own version of the night sky using white pins.
Favorite Moment: 

sagging headliner

as every older saab owner knows, the headliner will eventually sag. started in 1976 on my first saab, a 76 99 EMS, and continues to this day, about a dozen saabs later, on a 1992 9000 turbo. the only exception being my wife's 1992 900 convertible, which has no headliner anyway. the only (non- replacing) method that fixes this is stapling. open your stapler, and apply staples at say, 12 inch intervals, like dotted graph paper. this has to date always survived the car.
Favorite Moment: 
getting a 26 foot telephone pole home in a 1981 900 turbo (fat end in passenger foot well strapped to seat support crossmember, rear bumper supporting at 11 foot mark, 15 feet out in space with red flag at end). felt very light on the steering, but no problem backing up our long 30 degree driveway.

DIY headliners

Love your show! This is for the lady who had the sagging headliner. I was surprised that you said it was uncommon - I have been in quite a number of old cars with drooping fabric (usually owned by guys) with the peeling fabric gathered and safety-pinned everywhere. - Having lived on a boat - I know that the cabin headliner and car headiners use the same materials. These can be ordered from Sailrite. Here is a video for installing on a boat - http://www.sailrite.com/Installing-a-Foam-Backed-Headliner-in-a-Boat-Video
Favorite Moment: 
when i relaized I actually knew the answer to the puzzler

Head-ache-liner Repair

Gents, Long time listener and NPR supporter. Although I normally agree with Ray, sorry Tommy, I have to disagree with both of you on your advice to the owner of the 86 Nova with a falling headliner. These headliners are repairable by most auto upholstery shops or by the owner. The headliner material has a cloth surface (the part that falls), a foam layer and a board made of either formed styrofoam or paperboard. The headliner must be removed, the cloth discarded and the deteriorating foam cleaned off the board with a wire brush. Then new headlining material (cloth/foam combo) is glued to the board, trimmed with scissors, then reinstalled. The result looks identical to the original headliner when finished. So, it is repairable and there's no need for the owner to take drastic measures to stand out in the crown with a velvet Elvis painting and/or a broomstick propping up her head-ache-liner. The most astonishing part of this story was that there is still an 86 Nova on the road! Take Care boys, Lance Langdon Cincinnati, Ohio
Favorite Moment: 
The part where the hero fights back the clan of ninjas to save his girl. Oh wait...sorry, wrong show!

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