What do I do about the headliner coming down in my 1981 Chevy Caprice? It has been slowly coming down over the past year and it's now touching the top of my head. I've spoken to several people, including the auto parts store and they all suggested using a spray adhesive.
I did what they said and it was down again in a couple of days, and now the adhesive is making a real mess.
A car's headliner is made up of three parts: The visible fabric covering which is colored to match your interior, a thin fiberboard type shell, and a padding material in between the two. Over the years the padding material and adhesive decompose, and the fabric liner will work its way down to the driver's head.
As you have already discovered, attempting to secure the cloth with the use of a spray adhesive is a fruitless effort. The reason is that you're spraying glue onto the decomposed padding and it simply continues to fall apart.
What are your choices? Number one, of course, would be a brand-new headliner if it has not yet been discontinued by the manufacturer and the price does not exceed the market value of the car.
Number two would be a used one if you can find the right car in the junk yard with the right color headliner in good condition.
Number three is an upholstery shop that can properly install new fabric and padding to the original shell. This may be expensive, but nothing compared to a new one from the dealer.
Please don't laugh. There is one more alternative that is somewhat functional, but can be cosmetically embarrassing. Staple the fabric through the padding and into the shell in several strategic locations while being careful not to punch a hole in the roof of your car.