Car Trim Removal Tools come in all different shapes, sizes and materials.
They’re all used for the same thing though. Removing pieces of trim, plugs from connectors and general prying.
The most common trim tools are plastic and after a bit of heavy use, start to breakdown becoming blunt and hard to use.
In this article, I’ll list the various types of trim tools and what to use them for. I’ll also recommend what I consider to be the best auto trim removal tools.
As an auto body apprentice I’ve gone through my fair share!
Types Of Trim Removal Tools
The main distinction between the types of trim removal tools is the material they’re made up of.
Plastic tools are generally used for painted surfaces so that you don’t scrape or scratch the paint as you try to remove a moulding or door card.
Metal tools are better used on hidden areas. You can use them on painted areas too, but, you need to be really careful how you use them.
I’ve seen people create a bunch of dents and scratches using metal tools incorrectly.
A lot of the time I’ll find myself using both. Normally I use the plastic ones to pry the piece of trim from the surface creating more room for my metal tool to get behind and unclip the clips.
Anyone that’s worked on cars will know how stubborn some clips can be.
Other things to consider are the length, thickness, and how the tools are shaped.
Best Car Trim Removal Tools
While It’s a bit of a deflective answer, there’s not actually one trim tool that’s better than the other.
As you try new ones out, you’ll have preferences, but you’ll probably find that you use a variety of them, rather than just the one.
I personally use these Sealey ones as well as this plastic set. That said, I am looking to change it up a little.
Here’s a list of the best car trim removal tools on the market.
Neiko Auto Trim Panel Removal Tool Set
For anyone that’s looking for a complete option this Neiko Trim Tool set will give you a tool for every situation.
When buying this set, you’ll receive 5 different tools that are all the same length but with different heads.
Every head will offer a different solution to each problem. The clips between cars vary massively.
Mercedes clips have smaller heads so you’ll need a small “v” notch, whereas Ford clips may requires a bigger gap.
With this selection of tools you’ll be able to remove anything and everything.
While I don’t necessary believe that the grip is too important on these tools, you certainly dont want them to slip out your hand.
The soft rubberized grip is easy to hold and sticks in your hand allowing you to remove clips without the tool flying across the side of the garage.
Just be careful when you’re using them. Metal tools can cause damage to painted surfaces, and when used incorrectly can create dents.
This is one of the downsides of using metal tools. However, a lot of clips and panels are so stubborn nowadays that you have no choice but to use metal tools.
For the price you can’t really go wrong. Each individual tool works out to be around $6-7, you’ll not find a better set of trim tools for this price.
ABN Premium Trim Removal Tool Kit
Once you’ve got your metal tools sorted out, you’re still going to need a set of plastic trim tools.
Plastic trim tools are good for creating spaces, removing grommets and can even help remove belt mouldings and tight lock barrels.
These are the tools that you should use when trying to pry a moulding free on a painted surface.
If you can’t get the trim free using these, normally they’ll create enough space to use a metal tool without causing any paint scratches.
You’ll probably find that most of these tools are very similar. Especially in build quality.
They’re cheap to manufacture and the sets come with various different tools. You’ll probably find that you only use a select few, but, over time as the tools deteriorate you may find the need to rotate.
While the build quality on the set I recommended is certainly very good, overtime they will become blunt and less sturdy. It’s just how it is.
What I love most about the ABN set that I recommended is the easy storage. I have all my trim tools laid out on one shelf and this carry pouch helps to keep them organised.
Another bonus is the fact that they’re pretty damn cheap. Meaning that even if they do deteriorate within 5 or so years, you’ll not need to break the bank to replace them.
Sealey RTOO5 Trim Tool Set
This Sealey set is the one that I’ve used the most. They’re pretty great and you can remove most, if not all, clips without issue.
While some trim tools can feel super flimsy, Sealey have designed these to be thick and robust tools and can pry literally everything.
Unfortunately, due to the thick and robust nature of them, it makes stripping some plastics and clips harder than its needs to be.
If you’re stripping plastic grilles and chrome trims from a bumper, using these tools with a little bit of force could break them pretty easily. The same goes for clips.
Having said that, In most cases these are great tools. I use them day in day out for stripping bumpers, you just need to be a little careful when it comes to fragile chrome & trims.
Because there’s only 2 trim tools, this sealey set is significantly cheaper than buying the Neiko set.
However, if you buy these tools, you’ll probably need to buy a trim tool with a thin head too.
If these tools aren’t for you… they offer a return guarantee. This means there’s 0 risk in buying them!
Vector Trim Panel Remover (Extra Long)
Despite having listed 3 other tools before this one, I still consider this to be a necessity.
Every trim tool so far on this list has had a different use, and so does this one.
If you’re ever working on a car that has long door mouldings and you need to preserve both the clips and the trim itself, this is the tool you should use.
A lot of the time it’s recommended that you strip off the door card and access the clips from behind for safe removal of the moulding, however with this tool you can slip it in and unclip the trim with ease.
This is more of a utility tool, you’re not going to be using it everyday.
However, having this tool can 100% be the difference between damaging the panel you’re working on, scraping paint or breaking the moulding you’re trying to remove.
The tools not expensive by any stretch of imagination, so if you’re a professional, there’s no excuse for not having it!
HONBAY Stainless Steel Auto Trim Removal Tools
These stainless steel trim removal tools are similar to the plastic ones, but… they’re metal.
What’s great about these is that they slip in pretty much anywhere and don’t do any damage.
I use these mostly on door cards and mouldings, however they can also be useful for other pieces of trim.
The main downside is that they don’t actually have a handle and they’re pretty damn slippy at times.
You may also struggle to get much leverage at times because they’re pretty much just flat pieces of metal.
While I wouldn’t use them as my go-to trim tool, they can be pretty useful to have around.
They’re not expensive at all. You can find them on amazon, or even get them super cheap on ebay.
Everything Is A Trim Tool
Whether it’s called a trim tool or not, everything can be used as a trim tool
The only purpose of a trim tool is to remove clips, trims, mouldings and other fixings from cars.
As well as the trim tools listed above, I’ve found pick and hook sets, flat head screwdrivers and body filler spreaders extremely helpful for removing pieces of trim.
Whatever you use, just think about what could go wrong before hand. You don’t want to be scraping paintwork or creating horrible dents in a car you were trying to repair.