A sagging headliner looks bad and is a hazard because it also blocks your rear view vision. The only long term solution is to remove the headliner from the car, and replace the foam backed fabric. It’s a simple job, and requires a couple of hours of time (plus about 24hours to dry), and you’ll need to purchase some materials listed below.
- 2× cans of Permatex spray adhesive for headliners/carpets (you can get this at Autobarn for $20 a can) is the one I recommend, works a treat, (the more expensive version is from 3M) or any heat resistant contact adhesive that can bond the foam and cardboard headliner
- foam backed fabric/headliner material – Daley’s is the place to go (thanks eggrogue), just rock up on a weekday at working hours, and ask for about 2 meters of headlining material. You can use other materials but this is the real stuff. I got 2 meters ($80), and lengthwise, once attached I had a lot of unused area to play with, so you can definitely cut it down.
Here’s a before pic:
Start by removing the rubber weatherstrip seal from each of the four doors, starting at the bottom.
Now remove the interior trims. Generally for Magna’s just give the trims a tug. Make sure to apply an even force when prying off the trims. Take off the front trims completely, and the trims near the seatbelt and back can just be partially taken off.
Now, remove everything else attached to the headliner (the light, the hand grippy things above the window, the ‘sun visor’ mirror thing, and optionally though recommended the rear view mirror.) (As always be careful with electricity stuff, if you really want you can disconnect the battery, although I reckon it should be right as long as you’re careful.)
Once you’ve done this, you’re headliner is free, and can be carried out of the car. Please note that firstly, some of the trims you’ve unclipped may still be holding the headlining up. Don’t be afraid to bend the headliner slightly to get it pass the trims as it’s cardboard (but fragile, so care!).
Carefully pull the headliner out of the car. This step isn’t shown, but you should try and bend it as minimally as possible, while carrying it out from the front door.
It’s time to prep your headliner for redoing. First, rip of the old fabric from your headliner. Then, using a slightly damp cloth, or brush (a normal house sweeping brush will be fine, but the hairs of the brush will be clogged up by 10 year old foam and glue) remove all of the foam.
Now to glue the new headlining material on. First read the instructions on the spray can. You will need two cans for this part. One method (the one I used) is to lay the headliner fabric on top of the headliner, and then peel back half of the fabric. Then, using one complete bottle of spray on adhesive for each half, I did one layer of glue on the half of the headliner. I waited 5 mins, then applied another layer of glue to the headliner over the top of the other one. By then, I had just enough glue left to put on a layer of glue on the foam itself.
Note: the contact adhesive grips on touch, so it would have been wiser to get a mate rather then do it by yourself (as I did) and then one person gently lower the material down, while the other gently smooths the material over the headliner’s contours.
After gluing on the fabric, leave it for the night (best case scenario 24 hours for the bond to achieve full strength) to be installed the next day. Now is a great time to clean the car’s interior, as when I took out the headliner, the foam got everywhere.
The next morning: first cut to shape the headlining fabric – leave a bit of extra leeway as extra fabric can always be tucked neatly under the trims. Use a knife and scissors to cut out where the attachments should be. I gave my headliner a quick clean before installing it as during the night, the wind was stronger than expected and blew a bit of dirt/leaves on it (be careful not to press the fabric, as it’s foam lined so it will create an impression).
Here’s the finished product.
Even though I messed up the gluing on fabric part (I didn’t really smooth the contours where the sun visors, etc. should be, leaving air holes), you can see that visually, these are hidden when you install the sun visors and hand grippers. Total cost was $150 although if I had used 2 Permatex spray contact adhesive cans instead of one can and a 3M, and used a cheaper fabric/less fabric I could have got it down to maybe ~$100. It took a couple of hours, but I learnt more about the car, and that was a big plus. It’s definitely an easy project to freshen up your car over the weekend, and make it look new again! Also cheers to the aussiemagna and whirlpool forums where amazing users posted their own guides.