How much do you hate sagging headliners?
I guarantee you don’t hate them nearly as much as Jason Torchinsky, a writer for Autoblog. He says the phenomenon of sagging headliners is “America’s most embarrassing automotive engineering failure.”
He recently wrote an epic rant about it that you have to read. It’s as funny as it is spot-on! Below is an excerpt:
We’ve all seen cars with this problem: the fuzzy fabric that lines the ceiling of, say, a 1982 K-Car or a 1991 Buick Skylark becomes detached from the adhesive holding it to the roof, and begins to sag down in big, billowy arcs, pushing up against your head and making you feel like you’re driving a Bedouin tent.
Usually, the central dome light is the only thing holding the whole thing in place, at least until you start jamming thumbtacks and pins in the fabric in a desperate attempt to keep it out of your face.
What makes this materials/adhesives/engineering failure so egregious is the relationship of how minor a thing it should be to fix, how much it devalues the experience of driving the car, and how damn long the industry had to correct it.
Cars were doing this since the 1970s; by the early 1980s American automakers should have seen that the problem was widespread and worthy of attention, but, somehow, this ridiculous, drapey bullshit continued for two more decades.
What’s especially maddening is that solutions were already well-known: American cars of the 1960s did not have these issues, because they tended to use vinyl, stitched headliners. […]
What was going on in the American automotive industry that nearly every major manufacturer somehow couldn’t solve or, even worse, couldn’t be bothered to solve this gigantic annoyance? If the adhesives development over those two entire decades wasn’t up to snuff, why the hell didn’t they revert back to the headliners that were proven to work? Was that fuzzy crap really that much cheaper, or were focus groups demanding a mouse-fur-touch experience above their heads with such vigor?
In all seriousness, sagging headliners stink. But auto trimmers can’t knock the phenomenon too much because the money earned off their repairs has put food on our tables for decades.
Also, someone needs to tell Torchinsky that adhesives have gotten stronger since the 1970s. But in the end, gravity always wins.
To read the full rant on Autoblog, click here.
Jim's Upholstery says
Thank you car makers we fix a headliner one or too a day keep up the good work they are easy to do and I can send a less expanded help to do them .
Bob Roush says
That’s funny stuff. I spent about two years as an engineer on the machines that make those headliners. The subject of lifespan never came up. If it looked good at the end of the line it was good! By the way the board was made out of recycled materials in another super cool machine. My machines just bonded the material to the board before going to the press (shape) and then the robotic water jet for trim.
jim bentley says
I would be very interested in knowing the process of how headliners are made. Are you saying the material is (flame?) bonded to the board, then pressed to shape? Sounds very interesting to know the whole process. Do tell, do tell.
Dave Studer says
Adhesives have never been the problem with the exception of the type of glue used for replacement with NEW material.
The problem has always been the foam breaking down, causing the separation.
Geoff Horsfall says
Rightly said Dave, it’s not the glue. A good way to check the condition of the foam is to push on it with your finger. If a dent is left behind it will come down soon, if the foam pops back right away it’s good.
Michael Lee says
I did not think that I would have as many problems as Jason has with sagging headliners. I am thinking about getting a car roof lining replacement so that I can get rid of the sagging in my roof lining. It is a big annoyance that can be solved.