Words & Photos: Giancarlo Pawelec
Tech: Project Acura 1.6EL – Carbon Fiber Dash Trim Kit
Kit by Dynomite Dash
There are endless ways to personalize one’s vehicle – be it a daily driver or project car. One of the fastest and least expensive forms is by installed what is known as a dash trim kit. Put simply, a dash trim kit is a unique accessory that covers the bland looking OEM’s dashboard trim with a material of choice (be it carbon fiber, high gloss colour, brushed aluminum, etc) and is encased in a gel-like coat with a 3M adhesive backing.
To some enthusiasts adding a dash trim kit is seen as tacky and we couldn’t agree more – generally speaking that is. However, with the right combination of material and vehicle, the overall appearance not only adds a touch of personalization, but also a different appeal from the original look of the vehicle. In simple terms, consider a dash trim kit like a car’s underwear – surely few will ever see it, but when they do they’ll be intrigued!
The donor vehicle for this tech install is once again the AMF Project Acura 1.6EL – nice isn’t it? The vehicle continues to have a great life with low mileage and is near mint condition (inside and out), but it still needs some dressing up. Without going overboard on this daily driven budget project, we decided to call our friend Mick Dynomite at Dynomite Dash for a carbon fiber kit. The situation that we faced was that no full kit exists in the market for the Acura 1.6EL, thus a custom kit had to be fabricated resulting in a unique product now available to anyone with a 1.6EL – you can thank AMF and Mick Dynomite later for it!
The beautiful carbon fiber dash trim kit from Dynomite Dash is unique to the market as it is not only the first of its kind (as stated above), but is also made of real carbon fiber! Yes, there is no fake graphically printed carbon fiber here – it’s the real deal! This particular kit retails for $299 + tax and is available for the Acura 1.6EL. If you want the similar finish, but for another vehicle feel free to contact Dynomite Dash (see contact info below) as they carry a kit for almost every make and model of vehicle made in the past two decades (and older)!
Step 1: Open and Inspect Interior Trim Package
- Count the number of parts and ensure there are no damaged parts during the shipping process. If there are any damaged parts, call customer service (855-310-DASH) to report the issue. Once the trim package has been fully inspected leave out in the sun or a warm spot prior to and during the install to maintain proper install temperature.
Step 2: Gather Tools / Cleaning Spray
- Interior trim package, masking tape, cleaner or diluted degreaser (Simple Green is highly recommended), rubbing alcohol (diluted, 99% not recommended), clean cloths
Step 3: Dry Fit Parts (Test Fitting)
- Dry fit parts by holding parts up to where it is to be installed. Leave adhesive liner on where possible. Some Interior Trim Packages are manufactured without individual liners, if this is the situation hold parts up to proper location and check features to ensure parts will fit properly. Be sure to examine cut out areas so you understand how to position the parts around controls and knobs to ensure they are still functional once kit is installed
Step 4: Clean and Prepare Trim Surfaces
- Once all parts have been dry fit, clean all dash surfaces where Interior Trim Package will be applied. Use a diluted degreaser such as Simple Green on a clean, lint free cloth. Apply the cleaner to the cloth and do not spray directly on the dash. Be sure to pay special attention around control buttons and knobs where your fingers often touch. The natural grease from your fingers around window, radio and vent controls can contaminate the adhesive and cause it not to stick.
Step 5: Perform Adhesion Test
- Perform an adhesion test by sticking strips of masking tape to the various surfaces that you have cleaned. Peel the masking tape off of the surface and if the tape resists and is stuck well, the interior panels are clean. Perform the cleaning of trim surface again to assure no further contamination.
Note: If you can hear the masking tape peel off, this is usually a sign the interior has been properly cleaned.
Step 6: Apply 3M Adhesive Promoter
- Apply adhesive promoter to the surfaces which will be covered by the Interior Trim Package. Tear open only a corner of your adhesive promoter packet and use a cotton swab to dab onto the saturated sponge within the packet. Use the cotton swab to apply the adhesive promoter to your dash surface similar to a glue stick. You do not need much on the the interior surfaces, just enough coverage. Simply apply into key areas such as corners, edges, around buttons, thin sections and near any curved areas.
Note: If the promoter packet is opened all the way, it will evaporate.
How it works: The promoter is a chemical that bonds to your dash surface. After a minute, the promoter dries to the interior surface and once the trim kit adhesive is applied on top, the adhesive bonds to the promoter matting the plastic trim piece to the trim kit.
Step 7: Begin Install Trim Pieces
- Begin installing parts. Remove all or part of adhesive liner depending on the difficulty of part. Sometimes part of the adhesive liner is left attached, especially on long parts to allow for adjustment as the part is installed without having the part falling into position by accident.
Note: Be certain when placing the part and removing the adhesive liner as once it is stuck, you will not be able to move it for adjustments!
Step 8: Securing Trim Part
- Place part in position. Start in one key area and line up any important features or buttons and tack part into place by pressing down on part in that location. Progress outward from your starting point ensuring adhesive is firmly and carefully laid into place. Ensure to apply firm pressure over entire part surface especially and thin areas.
Step 9: Repeat Steps for Remaining Trim Package
- Repeat for remaining Interior Trim Package parts inside vehicle.
Step 10: Sit Back and Enjoy!
- With all pieces installed, sit back and enjoy your new freshened-up interior! It is always nice to take a before and after photo so you can compare the difference a dash trim kit makes.
No Dynomite Dash trim kit would be complete without the thumbs up from Mick Dynomite himself! Based on his appearance (despite the serious face), I’d say he is pleased with the work and finished product – KUDOS!
The carbon fiber dash trim kit install on the AMF Project Acura 1.6EL took roughly one-hour to install including the careful prep work. Now the Acura’s interior looks updated with a slight race car feel thanks to the real carbon fiber. For the small cost in money and time, the Acura has gone from bland to bling – a worthwhile investment!
Dynomite Dash – (Real) Carbon Fiber Dash Trim Kit for Acura 1.6EL
Retail: $299 (MSRP)