Writeup - headliner removal, repair, recovering and refitting on a 2dr mk2 Golf (no sunroof). I’d normally be posting this on the 8v site but its down at the moment until I find a new host.
Apologies in advance for poor grammar, spelling etc, typed it all in a bit of a rush. Hope it is helpful.
A lot easier if you have someone to help you, especially when it comes to taking it out in one piece without snapping it. Take out all grabhandles, sunvisors and plastic clips and rearview mirror. I couldn’t figure out how the rearview was held in at first but (contrary to advice i heard from others) i twisted/rotated mine 90s and it popped out. no screws or anything like that. Then take out the strip that runs along at the top of the hatch/boot. pull the dome light out (it unclips) and let it hang down. Remove c-pillars - 2 screws and 2 bolts. Remove from rubber trim aorund windows, working slowly from one end with a finger. Remove the 3 clips holding it to the ceiling (they don't come out easily, get replacements for 50p/50c from the dealership) and it is then held up only by its own rigidity and the two B pillars. little tricky but you can bend the headliner slightly and pop it out one side, then pull it back to that side and pop it out the other side. take it out of the hatch, careful the wind doesnt catch it, its like trying to use a giant wafer as a sail - it'll just snap.
Remove the dome light bracket by unbending the integral clips. If you do this carefully you can refit it like factory when you go to refit the headliner. My headliner was the one-piece board type (a kind of thin, easily snapped fiberglass). It was covered from the factory in a kind of soft vinyl, not fabric. I did not attempt to remove this since it was bonded far too well to the fibre/foam behind it. There were a couple of areas where I think moisture had got to it and it had “bubbled” up a bit. I cut out the bubbles with a razor back until the edges were flush and not raised. I filled in these holes – warning, unorthodox methodology coming up – using pieces of cardboard I cut to size. I resined them completely first to seal them from moisture, then glued them in using more resin adhesive. It gave a perfectly flush finish. My headliner didnt look in that good condition already and I'm pretty sure I hurt it a bit taking it out of the car. The two main problems with it were:
- seperation of the materials around the edges, unbonding from one another
- small cracks right through the headliner, most running from the edges inwards
I used staples (just your average staples) in a few places around the edges to hold the edges that were starting to seperarte. And then I repaired the minor cracks. To repair the cracks I first stapled across them a couple of times – mainly to hold them in place for the main repair – and then repaired them using fiberglass. I went down the auto repair shop and bought myself some fibreglass sheeting, Tetrosyl polyester "professional use only" resin and hardener (about $30, and I didn't use half of it). I also got a bunch of technical advice on performing this work as an amateur, which I tried to pass on in this writeup. DO THIS OUTSIDE AND WITH A MASK/RESPIRATOR. I patched it on the back to leave the surface smooth. cut fiberglass sheeting to shape and paste over with mix of resin and hardener – only mix the hardener to about 1 in 100 concentration, the resin is like jelly out of the tub and dries to a kind of slightly tacky rubber almost immediately, certainly within a few minutes. When it gets like this – the “snot” or “booger” stage, it then obviously becomes very difficult to spread. You need to to mix up small amounts and hence do small areas at a time. Anything more ambitious and your adhesive will be half set before you get it on, and won’t smoothe nicely over your fiberglass sheeting. I found it is fully dry within about an hour. I then sanded it smooth. You don't want to use duct tape to fix cracks (or adhesive spray to stick fabric on) because the key element is *heat resistance* - most glues will unbond slightly in heat, and you don't want this or you will be back to a sagging headliner in a year or two. You want to do this one time and have it last. You want to cut the sheeting so that it is way bigger than the crack it is covering, at least an inch wider in all directions. You also want to lay the resin down in the same way - ie not just over the fibreglass patch, but a further inch in all directions. This will aid in stiffening the board in the crucial areas where it is prone to cracking.
Unlike the spray adhesives generally advocated on this forum I was provided with a "professional use only" can of Dunlop toluene-based liquid adhesive. Again, like the resin adhesive used in the fibreglassing this stuff is jelly-like and “boogers” fast, so work quickly on one small area at a time. This stuff is NASTY. You want to do this outside, with a respirator and, hell, probably in a full hazard suit. you don't want to go breathing this stuff in or getting it on you. You lightly cover both the fabric and headliner in it using a spreader, leave for a minute or so, and then press together. I managed to cover the entire headliner using a single length of fabric – it is remarkably stretchy. The material is difficult to shift when its in place so try and get it right first time – go for the “troughs” or “valleys” in the headliner first, work the fabric into these areas first and the raised stuff pretty much falls into place.
I took no pictures as I was going along but I will have pictures of the finished product when I install it tomorrow (getting late here now and I need to pick the roof clips up from the dealership tomorrow). I will if of course answer any questions anyone may have.