Shiny Dashboards are a Common Plague of Newer Cars

Dear Car Talk:

Toyota recently had a recall on Toyota Camrys for melting dashboards. I did not respond to the recall, because my car did not have this problem. However, now that the recall has ended, my 2019 Camry has started having it.

I don't want to go to the expense of treating the dashboard. My main concern is that the melting dash reflects onto the windshield and obstructs my vision.

Is it possible to tint the windshield and alleviate this problem? -- Olivia

I'm not sure your dashboard is melting, Olivia.

Toyota and Lexus had a problem with dashboards that would crack, melt, ooze and stink in extremely hot weather. But all the cars we know about that were affected were made between 2003 and 2011. After a bunch of people sued, Toyota initiated a "customer support program" and agreed to replace these Salvador Dali dashes.

So, if your 2019 Camry's dashboard is actually melting, Toyota is going to be very upset, because they're quite convinced that they fixed it years ago.

If your main complaint is the reflection of the dashboard onto the windshield, that's a different story. That's a problem that plagues a lot of cars whose dashboards are not melting. It's worse than it used to be, because most windshields are now installed at a steeper angle, for better aerodynamics. That makes for more reflection off the dashboard.

The biggest offenders are dashboards that aren't black. The worst one we ever experienced was a Chevy Bolt from a few years ago that had a black and white dashboard. It was like trying to see the road through a game of chess.

So, what can you do?

Number one, keep the windshield clean. You want to clean the outside and inside of your windshield. A film of grime and out-gassed vinyl will build up on the inside of your windshield, a little at a time, and you don't notice it until the reflections nearly blind you. So clean both sides regularly.

Second, try polarized sunglasses to cut the glare. The glare is often worse at certain times of the day, when the sun is beating down at a certain angle. Try keeping a pair of polarized sunglasses in the car and see if they help.

Third, don't clean your dashboard. One thing that makes windshield glare much worse is cleaning the top of the dash with a product like Armor All, which is designed to make surfaces shine. Shiny surfaces are your mortal enemy, Olivia.

So, if you recently had the interior cleaned, that could be the problem. Try removing the shiny residue with soap and warm water and see if you can get it back to a matte finish.

Finally, there are some people who recommend dashboard covers, sometimes called "dash mats." It's basically a non-shiny cloth that covers the top of your dashboard. We've never tried one, and I'm not sure it'll make much of a difference, but you can experiment with a piece of dark cloth. If that helps, you can buy one that fits. Just make sure you leave room for your dashboard defroster vents. And don't go for the shag carpet dash mat. That's very 2019.

Todays Car-o-Scope

What the stars say about your car for 9/17/2021
Wear comfortable walking shoes when using your car this week.
Select your sign
  1. Aries
  2. Taurus
  3. Gemini
  4. Cancer
  5. Leo
  6. Virgo
  7. Libra
  8. Scorpio
  9. Sagittarius
  10. Capricorn
  11. Aquarius
  12. Pisces