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How does a Toyota Camry dashboard get sticky?
Does it help that it might not be your fault that your dashboard is sticky? While spilling liquids on the dashboard doesn’t help, most people don’t store too many food items or water on their dashboard.
Instead, dashboards like the Toyota Camry get sticky for a totally different reason. When a vehicle like the Toyota Camry is assembled, the manufacturer uses adhesive to make sure that the plastic and cloth offered are kept together properly. Many dashboards also have outer fabric.
So what happens? Well, heat and humidity happen. The sun comes through your side windows and windshield and gradually heats up your vehicle over and over again, causing the fabric to expand, and for the glue to soften.
The glue can then come through the fabric and make for a sticky dashboard. The problem is common amongst Toyotas and Lexus vehicles made in the earlier 2010s. A sticky, worn dashboard is also a bit of a hazard, as the dashboard is meant to reduce glare and make it easy to see out of your vehicle. A bad dashboard can produce excessive glare and make it more difficult to drive on bright days. It’s also unsightly and makes resale value more difficult when the dashboard doesn’t look right.
How dangerous is the problem of a sticky dashboard?
Drivers can’t complain so much about the fact that the dashboard is sticky. The problem is that especially at night, the dashboard becomes more reflective than it should be, and can make it especially hard to drive with street lights on. Imagine the glare and reflects you see from driving at night around lights with puddles and rain - applied to your dashboard. For older people who might already have a hard time driving at night, the problem gets worse.
How do I clean the dashboard?
Cleaning with soap and water
Cleaning the dashboard can alleviate the sticky issue - at least for a while. Start with the following material:
- A microfiber cloth
- Warm water with detergent soap
- Smaller brushes or Q tips
To begin, wipe the dashboard free of loose particles like dust, dirt, and debris using either the microfiber cloth or another towel. Get the microfiber cloth damp with the warm water and soap, and wipe the surface of the dashboard. Continue to do this, squeezing out the cloth or replacing it, until the dashboard is satisfactorily less sticky. You can either do intensive scrubbing or repeat gently, as the warm water and friction will help dissolve the sticky glue.
Cleaning the sticky dashboard with soap and water is usually the easiest and cheapest method of getting rid of stickiness as most of the products listed are available in many households.
Q-tips or smaller brushes are good for getting into smaller pieces and seams in your dashboard.
Soap and water isn’t the only method. You’ve probably seen or heard of products like goo-gone, which goes by many names across brands - with the removal of glue and sticky substances as a common benefit.
Read the instructions on the product itself, as they might differ a bit. They can be quite effective at removing goo completely, though it can take a bit of effort.
Rubbing alcohol has similar abilities and properties to goo-gone. Rubbing alcohol smells far worse, but works effectively at making the dashboard less sticky by dissolving the glue. Give your vehicle plenty of ventilation, like opening the windows, to keep the smell moving along and out of your Camry.
Get a Dash mat
So this isn’t technically cleaning or fixing, but an alternative. You can get a dashboard mat that covers up sticky areas and reduces glare. These work in a pinch, though if you intend to resell your vehicle, they do look kinda weird and might raise some questions. To give you an idea on how to handle a problem like this, most people who are intending to buy a used Camry probably care more about the efficient and durable engine than they do about a dash mat. You could help educate them a bit about what happened with Camry dashboards.
How often do I have to clean the sticky dashboard on my Toyota Camry?
The glue doesn’t release or melt all at once, so you’ll probably find yourself cleaning the dashboard again. There’s no telling how long it will take - it might be a matter of your tolerance for the build-up of stickiness.
How to prevent a sticky dashboard in a Toyota Camry
The biggest culprit that causes the sticky dashboard is heat. So here are a few options to keep your vehicle cool on a regular basis- that could help reduce the chances of getting your dashboard sticky.
This isn’t among the cheapest ways to fix the problem with your dashboard, but it should work. If you live in a hot climate, and especially if you have leather seats, a windshield cover can work wonders. Windshield covers are often made of foil or fabric - and are generally pretty lightweight. They stretch across your windshield and reflect the sun away to keep the car cool while parked outside in the sun.
The objective here is to consistently keep your vehicle at a cooler temperature to reduce the chances of having the dashboard glue melt.
Park in the shade
You can’t always control where you park. A temperature-controlled garage would be ideal, but that isn’t always going to happen. When you can help it, park in the shade of a tree, building, or anything capable of casting a cooling shadow.
Replace the dashboard
This is by far the most expensive and intensive method of fixing - and probably not worth it unless you have the expertise and parts to do it yourself. You could replace the dashboard with a less gluey and sticky one.
Are Toyota and Lexus being sued for their sticky dashboards?
Yes, some customers have tried to initiate class-action lawsuits. Starting in 2009, Toyota and Lexus drivers have been reporting that their dashboards began to melt and release the glue and surface types that create a glare-filled, unsafe drive. So far, these lawsuits have not yielded anything for affected drivers.
The dashboard was subject to a recall for earlier years, though they didn’t necessarily catch all dashboard problems because the recall doesn’t apply to all years - only till 2017. Vehicles older than 2009 do not qualify.
Note that recalls can be voluntary, but subject to limits like Toyota and government authorities applied above. Toyota has no further incentive to expand the recall, as they have to pay to remove and replace dashboards.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding