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How To Fix Cigarette Burns In A Car Ceiling In 4 Steps (with Pictures)

hand holding a cigarette inside the car

The tip of a cigarette can reach temperatures as high as 1652 °F, so it’s hardly surprising that it can cause severe damage to the fabric, vinyl, and leather interior of a car. Cigarette burns are more common in seats, but they can also occur in the ceiling of a car, especially when driving over a bumpy road with a lit cigarette in your hand. The ceiling burns most often occur just above the window and as a result of catching the cigarette tip when trying to flick ash out of the window.

For what is usually a small area of damage, such a burn can really stand out, and as well as being an eyesore, it will deplete the car’s resale value. A car detailer may be able to fix the headliner, or you can buy a replacement and glue it in place, but those alternatives can cost several hundred dollars or more. Fashioning your own repairs could save money and leave you with a fully repaired liner that looks as good as new.

Whether you’ve bought a used car that has a burn in the ceiling, or you’ve done it yourself, try the following steps to fix the ugly-looking burn mark in your car.

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Car Headliners

The car headliner is a combination of layers attached to the ceiling. Not only are they used to cover up the bare metal and give a better aesthetic, but their use of foam and additional materials also helps to reduce noise and improve heat retention within the car. The outer layer of the headliner is made from a composite fabric and contains a foam filler.

car interior
Image Credit:, Unsplash

Headliner Burns

Burn marks in the ceiling rarely burn right through the liner because it would take a few seconds for the hot ash to penetrate the liner. More often, it is just the outer layer of the liner that is burned. It’s still ugly, but it means that it shouldn’t be necessary to replace the whole ceiling panel.

Fixing Cigarette Burns In the Car Ceiling

Your repair job may not be as seamless as a full replacement. You may see a seam where a homemade patch meets the existing fabric, for example, or the patch material may not precisely match that of the headliner. In either case, it will look better than a scorched burn mark.

Materials and Equipment

  • Cloth
  • Craft knife
  • Fabric adhesive
  • Patch
  • Scissors

If you’ve determined that the foam is undamaged, usually indicated by the fact that you can’t see any foam protruding from the burn area, follow these steps to repair the damage.

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How To Fix Cigarette Burns In A Car Ceiling (4 Steps)

1. Source A Patch

Before you start, you need the material you will use as a patch. Ideally, it should be the same material as is in your car. You can try contacting the manufacturer or dealer or even go to a wrecker or scrap yard and see if they have any cars of the same make and model. Alternatively, you may have to find something similar but not an exact match.

The material shouldn’t be expensive, and it is worth buying more than you need, especially if you find a close match. You never know when you might need to make another patch, and the material might prove more difficult to find next time around.

2. Clean and Clear the Area

Use warm water and a cotton cloth to clean the area. You can try a sensitive detergent, which might remove some of the staining around the area, but it won’t be able to fix the hole or scorch mark. Cut off any pieces of dangling material and try to make the hole as neat as possible. It will make it easier to apply the patch, and there will be fewer bubbles and creases, so the repair job will not stand out.

Cleaning inside a car
Image Credit: Have a nice day Photo, Shutterstock

3. Apply Solvent

Let the area dry once you’ve cleaned it, and then use a fabric glue and apply it around the burn area. Try not to stray too far from the burn hole, but cover any scorch marks that you have been unable to remove and create a square or rectangular shape because it will be easier to match the patch.

4. Attach the Patch

Ensure that the fabric is cut to the same size as the area where you have placed the adhesive, and push the patch firmly against the glue. Different glues have different drying times, but you will usually have to hold the patch in place for at least 3 minutes.

Cutting a fabric cloth
Image Credit: Ekaterina Iatcenko, Shutterstock


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Burn marks are a nightmare on any surface, but they are obvious on the ceiling of a car. Hopefully, the damage is only skin deep; otherwise, you might have to replace the whole lining to fix the problem. Minor burns are relatively easy to repair and may only require you to patch a small area of the ceiling. Although patching the fabric is a significant improvement, you will be able to see the seams of the patch and any color differences if it’s not a complete match.

Featured Image Credit: Антон Воробьев, Unsplash


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