Understanding the Sticky/Melting Dashboard Issue
Lexus owners have long been plagued by a notorious problem: sticky or melted dashboards. This issue seems to occur over time due to heat and humidity, without a clear explanation from Lexus. What’s puzzling is that even owners who garage their vehicles or live in cooler climates with low humidity experience the same problem. The sticky melting dashboards not only become tacky to the touch but also turn brittle. This problem extends to the front and rear door panels, which exhibit similar symptoms. The affected dashboard and door panels often become glossy, crack, or break off. If you’re experiencing dashboard and door panel issues, you’re probably wondering about your options for addressing this problem.
Which Years and Models are Affected?
The following Lexus years and models are reportedly affected, although your specific Lexus may still have a sticky/melted dashboard or door panels, even if it’s not on this list. The ZLD warranty enhancement program and the ZLZ warranty enhancement program specifically address the models and years listed below:
ZLD Warranty Enhancement Program:
- ES 350 (2007-2008)
- GX 470 (2003-2008)
- IS 250 (2006-2008)
- IS 350 (2006-2008)
- LS 460 (2007)
- RX 330 (2004-2006)
- RX 350 (2007-2009)
- RX 400h (2005-2008)
ZLZ Warranty Enhancement Program:
- ES 350 (2008-2012)
- GS F (2016-2018)
- GS 200t (2016-2017)
- GS 350 (2013-2018)
- GS 450h (2013-2017)
- IS F (2008-2014)
- IS 250C (2010-2015)
- IS 350C (2010-2015)
- LS 460 (2007-2014)
- LS 600h (2008-2014)
For more detailed information, refer to the specific warranty policy bulletins: ZLD warranty enhancement program and ZLZ warranty enhancement program.
Options for Fixing Sticky/Melted Dashboard and Door Panels
Finding a solution for the cracked, sticky, or melted dashboard on your Lexus can be frustrating, but there are options available. As someone who has personally dealt with the crumbling dashboard issue on my 2006 Lexus IS350, I understand the feeling of helplessness. After extensive research, I’ve compiled a list of options that may help you if you’re facing the same problem.
The first step is determining if you qualify for the Lexus Warranty Enhancement Program. If you do qualify, you’ll receive a free replacement for the affected dashboard and/or door panels. If you don’t qualify, you can explore other options, each with its own advantages, disadvantages, and costs. Let’s discuss these options in detail.
Remember that the ZLD warranty enhancement program, which addresses certain Lexus model years from 2003 to 2009, has expired. However, the ZLZ warranty enhancement program, which covers specific model years from 2007 to 2019, is still active. If you had repairs done that should have been covered under the warranty enhancement program, there might be reimbursement considerations by Lexus. For more information, refer to the ZLD and ZLZ warranty enhancement policies.
1. Take Advantage of the Lexus Warranty Enhancement Program
If you qualify for the Lexus Warranty Enhancement Program, it’s highly recommended to get your dashboard and door panels replaced for free. The ZLZ warranty enhancement now even covers the glove box, console box, and other panels. Read the details of both warranty enhancements to check your eligibility and understand the next steps.
The warranty enhancements include two types of coverage: primary and secondary.
Primary Coverage: The primary coverage provides warranty enhancement until May 31, 2017 (ZLD Program) and until March 31, 2021 (ZLZ Program), irrespective of mileage or the date of first use.
Secondary Coverage: The secondary coverage supplements the primary coverage by offering warranty enhancement for ten years from the date of first use (as a new vehicle) regardless of mileage.
As of mid-2021, the primary and secondary coverages offered by the ZLD program have expired. However, the ZLZ program is still active. If your vehicle qualifies for the ZLD program, consider reaching out to Lexus Corporate, although it’s uncertain if they can assist you since the program has expired.
2. Contact Lexus Corporate for Assistance Beyond the Warranty Enhancement Period
If your warranty enhancement period has passed, don’t lose hope. In a last-ditch effort to have your Lexus dashboard and/or door panels replaced under the warranty enhancement program, you can call Lexus Corporate for assistance. Although the deadline has expired, it’s worth making the call. Based on my experience, there’s a possibility that Lexus may honor the warranty enhancement even after the specified timeframe.
When I personally called Lexus Corporate to address the crumbling and breaking dashboard and door panels on my IS350, they instructed me to obtain a quote from my local Lexus dealership and email it to them. They assured me that they would review the situation and determine what could be done. I scheduled an appointment with my local dealership, where they examined the affected areas, took pictures, and forwarded them to Corporate for assessment.
A few days later, I received a disappointing call from Lexus Corporate, informing me that they wouldn’t be able to assist me. Although my experience ended without a resolution, I still recommend this option as a Hail Mary for those willing to take the chance. It’s possible that Lexus might honor their warranty enhancement even if the deadline has passed. They may make exceptions for dashboards that pose immediate safety hazards, such as those reflecting off windshields. It could be beneficial to explain or demonstrate how the damage on your dashboard poses a risk to you and your passengers to emphasize why they need to address this problem promptly. However, it’s important to be truthful and not exaggerate the issue. Keep in mind that Lexus may be less likely to replace door panels unless sufficiently convinced of the necessity due to safety concerns. For the dashboard, focusing on safety and potential legal consequences for inaction may help.
If the dashboard damage doesn’t distract you while driving, it’s important not to claim otherwise. However, even small cracks, sticky or melted areas on the dashboard can be highly distracting, especially when sunlight reflects off them.
3. Replacement through a Dealership or Self-Installation
If the warranty enhancement program doesn’t cover your vehicle or you prefer another solution, consider replacing the dashboard and/or door panels through a dealership or by yourself. After my unsuccessful attempt with Lexus, I scrutinized the quote provided by the dealership to Corporate. The quote included an itemized breakdown of part and labor costs for replacing the dashboard and door panels. I realized that if I was willing to pay for it, I could get a new dashboard and door panels. If you possess the necessary skills, you can opt for a DIY approach and save on labor costs. Here’s a breakdown of parts and labor costs for my IS350 based on the dealership quote:
Example Cost of Parts/Labor for 2006-2009 Lexus IS350:
- Dashboard Replacement: $XXX (parts) + $XXX (labor)
- Door Panels Replacement: $XXX (parts) + $XXX (labor)
Keep in mind that if you search online for OEM part numbers, you’ll find “service” part numbers, which are the standard OEM parts. However, the warranty enhancement program offers “kit” part numbers that are specifically designed to address the issues associated with the standard parts. These new “kit” numbers might come from a different manufacturing line and potentially solve the problems present in the previous “service” part numbers.
4. Installing a Dashboard Cover
Another option to address the unsightly damage on your dashboard is to use a cover. While this doesn’t solve the underlying problem, it can significantly improve the appearance of your dashboard, especially if it’s severely damaged. There are two main types of dashboard covers available:
1. Coverlay Dashboard Cover: The Coverlay Dashboard Cover is molded to perfectly fit your specific make, model, and year. The fit is usually seamless, providing an aesthetically pleasing result. The installation process involves applying silicone caulking to the back of the cover and attaching it to your existing dashboard. The cover even includes cutouts for the airbag cover. It’s worth noting that once you’ve attached the Coverlay cover, removing it without causing damage to your dashboard can be challenging. Thus, this option is more suitable if you intend to keep the cover permanently.
2. Soft Felt/Fabric Dashboard Mat Cover: An alternative to the Coverlay cover is a dashboard mat cover made of soft felt or fabric. This type of cover offers a carpeted mat-like appearance that fits over your existing dashboard. While the fit may not be as precise as the Coverlay cover, it provides a more affordable option to conceal the damage. Most of these covers utilize sticky pads with hook and loop fasteners to secure them to the dashboard. Keep in mind that removing these sticky pads in the future without causing more damage may prove difficult. Choose a mat cover designed specifically for your vehicle’s make, model, and year for a better fit.
5. Repairing with Moldable Glue like Sugru
If all else fails and you’re unable to utilize the warranty enhancement program or cover your dashboard, you can consider a last-resort repair using a moldable glue like Sugru. However, it’s essential to note that this repair method is more suitable for spot repairs rather than extensive damage. It requires a considerable amount of patience and finesse. Here’s a brief overview of the process:
- Obtain different colors of Sugru to match your dashboard.
- Mix and shape the Sugru to match the existing dashboard, imprinting the texture using a custom-made stamp.
- The result may not be perfect, but it can significantly improve the appearance of your dashboard.
If you’re interested in a detailed guide on repairing your dashboard with Sugru, you can refer to this post: Repairing a Dashboard with Sugru.
Please note that this repair method carries some risks, and the outcome may not meet your expectations. If you’re uncertain about attempting it yourself, consult a professional.
Conclusion: Addressing the Lexus Sticky Melting Dashboard Problem
When faced with a sticky or melted dashboard in your Lexus, you have several options to consider. Ultimately, the choice depends on your preferences and the specific circumstances of your situation. Leaving the dashboard as is might be acceptable if it doesn’t bother you. However, if you desire a resolution, it’s reassuring to know that various options are available, even if you’ve missed the warranty enhancement period. As someone who faced the same problem, I understand the frustration and hope that this article provides you with valuable insights to make an informed decision. Remember, your options include making use of the warranty enhancement program, contacting Lexus Corporate, replacing the dashboard through a dealership or DIY, installing a dashboard cover, or attempting a repair with moldable glue. Good luck with resolving the infamous Lexus sticky melting dashboard issue!