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What Are the Different Types of Dash Kits?

E. M. Flanders
E. M. Flanders

Dash kits offer one of the easiest ways to personalize cars, trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) by giving the dashboard in nearly any modern vehicle a new look. They do that by covering parts of the original factory dashboard with thin pieces of coordinated, matching or contrasting materials to meet the owner’s taste. Dash kits are designed for specific vehicles, so they look and fit like they belong in them.

Manufacturers provide the kits in a wide range of materials and surfaces. Some produce them in real or simulated wood to blend perfectly as an addition to a factory wood dash or as a means to add wood dash trim to vehicles that were built without it. The kit’s wood might be anything from rosewood or ebony to walnut or cherry.

Dash kits are available in modern materials such as this woven carbon fiber.
Dash kits are available in modern materials such as this woven carbon fiber.

Owners who don’t care for the idea of adding wood have other choices. Suppliers have made the kits available in carbon fiber, aluminum and even exact matches to the materials installed at the factory. Carbon fiber dash kits are sold in an array of colors and color combinations to help ensure that drivers are able to find just the right look for their vehicles. Dash kits that match the original make a subtle change to the car interior, and those using aluminum or brushed aluminum are noticeable but less attention-getting than some of the more vivid carbon fiber colors.

The number of components supplied differs among dash kits. Some kits are basic and include only the major pieces, such as the radio and center vent surrounds, as well as accents for the gauges. Others include far more and provide everything from the glove compartment cover to the steering wheel center.

In some cases, dash kits include door handles, power window switch surrounds, shifter surrounds and other components that go beyond the dashboard to mount elsewhere in the car's interior. A number of suppliers sell individual components. These can be added to basic dash kits or used to create a minimal, elegant design.

Installing dash kits is not difficult, but it requires patience, care and attention to the manufacturer’s instructions. The pieces are test fitted and aligned to their proper locations. The dashboard is then cleaned and, if necessary, the kit’s pieces are warmed before being permanently installed with the supplied adhesive. After the pieces have been pressed firmly onto the surface, the surfaces are cleaned to complete the project.

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    • Dash kits are available in modern materials such as this woven carbon fiber.
      Dash kits are available in modern materials such as this woven carbon fiber.