Modern car manufacturers use plastic retainer clips to attach trim pieces to the body of the car. These body clips are common on the door panels, bumpers, and fenders of most cars and trucks.
There are two main types of automotive body clips. The single-piece pins and 2-piece push clips. In this post, I will look at the single-piece panel clips.
These trim retainer clips are popularly known as door panel clips because of their exclusive use in attaching plastic door panels onto car doors. You will often encounter them when removing the car door panels of most modern cars and trucks either to replace door speakers or do some wiring behind the panel.
Another instance where you may need to remove the interior door trims of a car is when doing car door upholstery repair.
Unfortunately, without a proper trim panel removal tool such as panel clip pliers, removing car trims and door panels can be a frustrating and messy task. You could end up with a broken panel, broken clips, or bad scratches on the trim or car paint. Not to mention it takes longer to get the trim panel out without a good trim remover tool.
In this article, I share about panel clip pliers and why you need them to remove car trims and door panels.
What are panel clip pliers?
Panel clip pliers or trim removal pliers are specialty pliers for removing car trim panels. They have two stepped blade jaws each with a groove in the middle. The top jaw is smaller in size and has a V-shape groove whilst the other jaw has a U-shape groove.
These pliers are suitable for removing single piece trim pushpins. Not the two-piece pins.
When removing a panel clip or push pin with panel clip pliers, both jaws go around the pin. The top V-jaw grabs the pin and pushes it out while the lower jaw presses against the body frame for leverage.
Typically, panel clip pliers are spring-loaded to keep the forked jaws closed and aligned together. This enables you to slide the pliers underneath the trim panel to remove the clips by simply squeezing the handles to open the jaws apart and pop out the plastic body clips.
Panel pliers are a handy tool for automotive technicians who specialize in car upholstery or interior wiring. They help pop off the retainer clips attaching trims and panels without breaking them. These auto pliers will hardly damage car trim panels or scratch the car paint.
Compared to other trim removal tools such as a pry tool or flat screwdriver, trim panel pliers do not require as much effort to separate the panel from the body frame. You only squeeze the plier handles together like regular pliers to pop off the panel.
With other tools, you have to pry out the trim panel and this takes a bit of effort. You can even break the panel when trying to pry it out.
How to use panel clip pliers
As I have mentioned, panel clip pliers are very easy to use on any car. This is how to use them to remove a door panel trim.
Step 1: Slide the closed thin jaws under the door panel.
You can slide the pliers at any place under the panel but the best position is over the panel clip so that the forked jaws will go around it.
Step 2: Squeeze the handles of the pliers to pull out the trim clip.
Once you put the forked jaws of the pliers around the trim pin, squeeze the handles to open the jaws so that the pin will come off.
Step 3: Remove all trim clips around the door panel.
Pop off the panel clips one by one around the perimeter of the door panel. Where you cannot get the forked jaws around the pin, just insert the pliers close by to pry off the panel. However, you risk breaking the trim panel when you pry it out. So be careful!
Best Panel Clip Pliers
Glarks Upholstery Trim Clip Pliers
The Glarks universal auto door car upholstery trim clip removal plier tool is one of the best on the market. It is spring-loaded like many other trim removal pliers and has comfortable handle grips.
These 9 inch panel clip pliers from Glarks are made from carbon steel. They are very sturdy and don’t bend or deform easily.
You can use them on multiple types of interior and exterior clips including dash trim clips, bumper clips, and door panel rivets.
Glarks panel pliers are inexpensive but don’t feel cheap in the hands.
Gearwrench Panel Clip Pliers 3705
The gearwrench 3705 panel clip removal pliers are another great quality tool from Gearwrench. They are well built with a spring-mechanism to enable easy operation.
These pliers have an overall length of 9-3/8 inches and have double-dipped handles. The handles provide great hand comfort while the length increases leverage so that you can remove pesky push pins with more ease.
Gearwrench door panel removal pliers are definitely a nice addition to your collection of automotive pliers. They are really handy for removing plastic fasteners for car panels and carpets.
These pliers are also inexpensive. You may consider them if you are a fan of Gearwrench tools.
ABN trim clip removal pliers
The ABN trim clip plier tool is another great tool for removing push pins on fenders and trim panels. It is one of the essential car upholstery tools you will find in the toolboxes of auto technicians who deal with car interior.
A friend of mine uses these panel pliers from ABN to remove the super tight door panel clips on Teslas and Chryslers and he says they make work so much easier and safer. They are strong and provide the leverage you need to turn a 1-hour job into a 10 minutes task.
The jaws can reach clips as deep as 2-1/2 inches from the edge. On the other hand, handles are long with vinyl coating for a firm comfortable grip.
Lastly, ABN panel pliers are strong, sturdy, and inexpensive. They are a perfect tool for digging under carpet clips or panel clips of most modern cars.
Overall, these 3 best panel clip remover pliers are well worth the money. Any of them will come really handy for many car models that use panel clips to attach fenders, door panels, or carpets.
These pliers are a must-have if you do interior auto repair or wiring because you will often need to remove trim panels. They will ensure you don’t break the plastic panels, or mar them, or scratch the paint of your lovely car. Panel clip pliers also minimize damage to the plastic car rivets for reuse.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can do two things to avoid breaking panel clips when removing them with panel clip pliers.
Tip 1: Use the pliers the right way. Get the neck of the clip fastener to sit on the V of the upper jaw of the pliers. Otherwise, you might break the clip or the panel if you try to pry out the door panel instead of pushing the fastener out.
Tip 2: Heat up the clip area with a heat gun so that the clip will not be so brittle. This might be more important during winter.
With all that said, make sure you have replacement clips at hand because no amount of caution will keep all the clips from breaking. Even professional body guys break panel clips. These tips only help you to avoid breaking too many fasteners.
Although you will hardly break clips or trim panels with panel clip pliers, some pliers have rough surfaces that will scratch the paint of your car as you slide them under the panel. The best solution for such types of pliers is to sand them down to smoothen the rough surface. You can use 1000-grit sandpaper or sander.
Alternatively, you can dress the jaw blades with masking tape to prevent them from marring the surface. But this will prevent the jaws from sliding smoothly underneath the panel.