What’s the Issue with the Sticky/Melting Dashboard?
Certain Lexus years and models have dashboards have a notorious problem of becoming sticky or melted over time. According to Lexus, this problem with the sticky/melting dash occurs over time due to heat and/or humidity with no real reason why this is occurring. The strange thing is that there are many affected owners who keep their vehicles garaged and even live in cooler climates with low humidity, yet they are still seeing the same issues.
The specific issue with the sticky melting dash is that the dashboard literally becomes sticky to the touch and becomes brittle. This is even a problem with the front and rear door panels showing similar symptoms. Both the dashboard and door panels seem to fail in several ways: they can become very glossy-looking, can crack, and/or can break off in pieces. Regardless of what the exact issue is that you’re experiencing, you might be wondering what options you have so that you can address the issue with the dashboard and door panels.
Which Years and Models are Affected by this Issue?
The following Lexus years and models are supposedly affected, although it is entirely possible that your Lexus year/model is not listed below, yet still have a sticky/melted dashboard and/or door panels. The models and years listed below are specifically addressed with the ZLD warranty enhancement program and the ZLZ warranty enhancement program.
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)
What are my Options for Fixing Sticky/Melted Dashboard and Door Panels?
It may seem frustrating to not know what to do about the cracked/sticky/melted dashboard on your Lexus, but you do have options. I’ve personally experienced the feeling of helplessness when I had to figure out how to fix the crumbling dashboard issue on my 2006 Lexus IS350. After all the research I had done, I put together all of the options that I came across with the hope that it helps you if you are running into the same problem.
The first thing you need to do is figure out is if you qualify for the Lexus Warranty Enhancement Program, which if you do, will provide you with a replacement of the affected dashboard and/or door panels for free. If you do not qualify, you can move forward with the rest of the options which have various pros, cons, and costs associated with them. I hope the options below helps you and gives you some insight into what might be the best choice for you.
Remember that the ZLD warranty enhancement program (currently expired) that addresses certain Lexus model years 2003-2009 and the ZLZ warranty enhancement program (still active) that addresses certain model years 2007-2019. Keep in mind that if you have previously had repairs done that should have been covered under the warranty enhancement program, that there is reimbursement consideration by Lexus. More on the reimbursements can be found on the specific ZLD and ZLZ warranty enhancement policies.
1. Take Advantage of the Lexus Warranty Enhancement Program
First, if you can get your dashboard and door panels replaced for free, then do it. In fact, with the more recent ZLZ warranty enhancement, the coverage extends to the glove box, console box, and other panels. Read through the two Warranty Enhancement Program details to see if you qualify and what the next steps would be if you do qualify.
The two warranty enhancements offers a primary coverage and a secondary coverage:
Primary Coverage: offers warranty enhancement until May 31, 2017 (ZLD Program) and until March 31, 2021 (ZLZ Program), regardless of mileage or date of first use of the vehicle.
Secondary Coverage: supplements the Primary Coverage for some owners by offering the warranty enhancement for 10 years from the date of first use of the vehicle (first use as a new vehicle, not first use if purchased used), regardless of mileage.
At the time of writing this post in mid-2021, we are pretty much past the timeframe that is offered for both primary and secondary coverage for the ZLD Program, but the ZLZ Program is still active. If your vehicle qualifies for the ZLD Program, you may still try reaching out to Lexus Corporate to see what they can do, since the ZLD Program has already expired.
2. Call Lexus Corporate to see if they will Still Offer Assistance
In a last ditch effort to try to get your Lexus dashboard and/or door panels replaced under the warranty enhancement program even though the deadline has passed, I personally called Lexus Corporate to see what they could do about the dashboard and door panels that have started to crumble and break apart on my IS350. I informed them that I never received a notice in the mail, but I was past the timeframe given in the warranty enhancement that I learned about online. To my surprise, the representative told me to call my local Lexus dealership to get a quote and to email it to them, and they would see what could be done.
I quickly scheduled an appointment with my local Lexus dealership to get my dashboard and door panels looked at. When I got there, the service consultant asked for my keys, went out to look at the dashboard and door panels, snapped some pictures, and said that he would send an email with the photos to Corporate for their assessment.
Later that day, I saw an email with a few ridiculously small photo attachments sent to corporate for consideration. A few days later, I got a call from Lexus Corporate telling me that they would unfortunately not be able to help me. I felt like that was the biggest waste of time especially when they had given me false hope all along.
At the end of that whole debacle, I ended up empty-handed. However, I do leave this option here as a Hail Mary for those of you out there that want to try their luck if your warranty enhancement period has passed. I still do think it’s possible to get your warranty enhancement honored even though you are past the timeframe given by Lexus…
The fact that Lexus still asked me to get a quote from the local Lexus dealership makes me believe that it is possible that there might be times that they will honor their warranty enhancement even though the deadline has passed. Perhaps, they would make exceptions for dashboards that present an immediate safety hazard (e.g. glossy dashboard that reflects off the windshield.) Since my dashboard was just crumbling is certain areas around the touch screen and climate control, perhaps Lexus did not feel it posed an immediate danger.
So, if you have a glossy dashboard and it reflects off your windshield causing danger to the driver (or some other dangerous scenario), maybe they are more likely to act. Continuing with the safety theme, I would imagine that there is little chance of them replacing door panels unless they had a compelling reason for doing so. But as for the dashboard, it might be worth explaining or showing Lexus how the damage on your dashboard is posing an immediate risk to you and your passengers; give them a good reason why they need to fix this problem (think about how inaction on their part could lead to a lawsuit on their hands.)
Obviously if the dashboard damage is not at all a driving distraction, then you should not say it is or try to reason it as such. However, I have found that even small cracks, sticky/melted, crumbling dashboards have been extremely distracting while driving, especially with the sun reflecting off these flaws in the dashboard.
3. Replacing the Dashboard and/or Door Panels through a Dealership or by Yourself
After dealing with the Lexus folks resulting in them not replacing my dashboard under the warranty enhancement program, I looked a little closer at the quote that the dealership provided to corporate. They itemized the replacement of the dashboard and the door panels by part and labor cost. I realized that if I really wanted a new dashboard and door panels, and I was willing to pay for it, I could always pay to get it done. Obviously if you are able to do it yourself, then you would just be paying for the materials while saving on labor costs. Here is the breakdown of the parts and labor costs for my IS350 when I got quoted at the local dealership.
Example Cost of Parts/Labor for 2006-2009 Lexus IS350:
|Part||Material Cost||Labor Cost|
|Left front interior door panel||$810.06||$80.00|
|Right front interior door panel||$810.06||$80.00|
|Left rear interior door panel||$659.02||$80.00|
|Right rear interior door panel||$696.77||$80.00|
Keep in mind that if you look online for OEM part numbers for your vehicle, you’ll get the “service” part numbers which would be the standard OEM part numbers. There are also “kit” part numbers that are basically a replacement for the “service” numbers as part of the warranty enhancement program. These new “kit” numbers may be part of a different manufacturing line and could be a part that doesn’t have the same issues as the previous “service” part numbers.
4. Installing a Dashboard Cover
Another option for dealing with unsightly damage to your dashboard is to simply get a cover for it. Yes, this just covers the damage (out of sight, out of mind), but it could be much better looking especially if your dashboard is pretty messed up to begin with. I’ve seen two main dashboard cover types out there: one is the Coverlay dashboard cover, which is an ABS plastic-molded cover that fits right onto your existing dashboard; the other is a soft felt/fabric type of mat cover that sits right atop the existing dashboard.
Coverlay Dashboard Cover
The Coverlay Dashboard Cover is molded to fit your specific year/make/model, so the fitment is usually quite seamless. I haven’t personally seen one in person, but based on all the videos and photos I’ve seen, it looks really good. Do a search online for photos to see for yourself. The Coverlay cover is installed by applying silicone caulking to the backside of it and sticking it onto the existing dash. There are even cutouts for the airbag cover as well.
The downside to using this product is that you’ll have to be pretty sure you’re going to keep the Coverlay dashboard cover on forever as I can’t think of how you’d ever remove this from your existing dash without causing some serious damage. So, if you’re okay sticking this cover with silicone caulking onto your existing dash as a permanent solution, then this might be for you. Just make sure to get the one made specifically for your vehicle year, make, and model to get the best fit.
Soft Felt/Fabric Dashboard Mat Cover
An alternative to a Coverlay cover is to use a dashboard mat cover, which is basically like a carpeted mat that is cut to fit your dashboard. If you’re okay with the look of a fabric mat covering your dashboard, then this might be a viable option. As for the fitment, the fit of the mat cover is probably not going to be as good as a fit as the Coverlay.
The issue that I have with these is that all the ones I’ve seen utilize sticky pads with hook and loop fasteners to secure the whole dashboard mat to the dashboard. In the future if you ever wanted to remove these sticky pads, good luck doing so without damaging the dashboard even more. This is a more affordable option if you just want to easily cover up the damage on your dashboard. Again, get the one that fits your year, make, and model for a better fit.
5. Repairing with a Moldable Glue such as Sugru
This is probably what I’d call a last resort if you could not get your car covered under the warranty enhancement, and don’t want to use a dashboard cover. I’d caution that fixing your dashboard with a moldable glue like I did will work mainly for spot repairs, not if you have extensive damage to your dash. The work involved with this repair is also not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of patience and finesse to make a repair with a moldable glue such as Sugru.
If you want to see an in-depth guide to repairing with Sugru, see this post: Repairing a Dashboard with Sugru
This is the option I took as I needed to fix some spots around the climate controls. I mixed up several batches of different colors of Sugru to color-match my IS350 dashboard, and then applied it while shaping it to match the existing dashboard. I then imprinted the dashboard texture onto the glue using a stamp that I made. The result is not perfect, but it does look a lot better than it did before the repair.
I wrote a full guide to how you can use Sugru to repair your dashboard on here, if you choose to go this route. Again, this is not for the faint of heart, but it can make the dashboard look a little more bearable to look at as long as you patient with the repair and ensure that the color-match and texture-match is done well. Obviously the downside is if you mess up it will probably not look very good and you are stuck with the results.
Conclusion on the Lexus Sticky Melting Dashboard Problem
When it comes down to what options you have if you are dealing with a sticky or melting dashboard on your Lexus, you have a choice to make as each option comes with its own upsides and downsides. You always have the option to just leave it alone if it doesn’t bother you. Otherwise, it may be reassuring to know that you actually do have options available to you especially if you’ve missed the warranty enhancement period.
For several years, I tried desperately to find a solution to my dashboard issue and wish that I had a resource to guide me in making a decision to rectify my dashboard issue. I hope that this post helps you if you are dealing with the same problem and that it provides you with enough options to help you make a decision with addressing the infamous Lexus sticky melting dashboard problem.