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Replacing the foam in my sun visors

Emily Koch

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A common thing for 2002 owners: How many of you have sun visors that look like balloons? Over time, the foam just turns to dust, and the result is a floppy, poofy, sun visor. I decided to document my first DIY experiment to see if I could keep the original vinyl on a sun visor, but refill it on my own. At the end of the day, it's certainly far from perfect, but I figured maybe someone with steadier hands can iterate and improve on it.

 

For this project, I needed:

 

Step 1: Open up the visor

I started off by using my X-acto knife to cut around the top and sides of the black side of the vinyl, leaving a bit of black on either side so I could seal it up later and hopefully mask the vinyl repair kit work later. Very quickly, I found out that to really be able to open it up, I'd also need to make very careful cuts around where the sun visor usually attaches to a clip on the car. This was probably the most stressful part of the project, because once you cut, you can't undo it!

The goal was to avoid cutting the bottom of the sun visor as much as possible, since that's what the driver usually sees. Once open, I removed the metal frame and foam. That's all the sun visor is! I forgot to take pictures of this step, but here's one from later on after I was in the process of sealing it back up, so you can see just where the cuts were:

 

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Step 2: Cut foam and cardboard

To make sure the sun visor would always have at least a little bit of structure in the future, I decided to add some cardboard to the interior, in addition to new foam. With some trial and error, I found that 1/8" foam would allow the visor to seal with this arrangement. Using the metal frame and the sun visor shell, I used a pen to trace the forms on cardboard and the foam sheet, then cut them out with my scissors. You could also use an X-Acto knife for this step. Here's what I came up with-- two of the foam inserts, and one cardboard insert per visor:

 

 

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Step 3: Glue fabric

Next, I glued strips of fabric to the bottom of the inside of the visor so I could seal it up later. I experimented with both hot glue and E-6000, and  found that E-6000 was a good choice of adhesive because it was flexible and didn't dry instantly. It's safer to use a larger strip of fabric because you can always trim it. Here's that picture from earlier again:

 

20200727_221324.jpg

 

 

Step 4: Slide in the foam and cardboard

This step took the longest, because I wanted to make sure everything fit properly. I slid in the bottom foam insert first, followed by the cardboard, and then the frame. Finally, the second piece of foam! I made sure that the visor would seal properly, trimming the foam and cardboard as needed.

 

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Step 3.5 (optional): Trace final foam and cardboard inserts

Now that I knew just what shape the inserts needed to be, I took them all out and traced them on some more cardboard and foam. This is helpful if you're thinking of repeating this on another sun visor since you'll have a master template to work off of.

 

Step 4: Seal up the visor with a vinyl repair kit

Once I knew everything would fit inside, I started getting ready to seal! I glued the cardboard to the bottom foam sheet to make sure it would stay in one place. Then, the most important part:

 

IMPORTANT: Before you start sealing things up, insert the screw back into the visor frame, and wrap tape around the portion that goes into the clip to make sure the sun visor frame is aligned properly (see the first picture below)!!!

 

With the frame was in place, I put some more E-6000 on the top of the fabric strips and sealed it, using painter's tape and pressure to get the best seal I could. Once dry, I used the rubbing alcohol and cotton Q-tips to get any extra adhesive off. I left sealing the clip area for last. Since it didn't need any fabric, I just used some more E-6000 on the inside of the vinyl.

 

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When the whole thing was sealed, I used the vinyl repair kit to make the white fabric blend in better. The instructions on the particular kit I used said to use a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol to get a matte finish and blend a little better. I didn't use the vinyl repair kit on the clip area since it needed to have a specific fit inside the clip. My painting job wasn't perfect, but here's an example of what one side looked like:

 

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Here's the finished product! Structurally, I think it's a big improvement.

 

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