Whether it’s for a holiday or birthday, this Tools Under 30 Dollars Gift Guide Series shows you important, yet somewhat uncommon, tools that any gearhead would want.

Today, let’s talk about Trim, Clip, and Molding Removal Tools.


automotive clip removal tool with assortment of plastic fasteners
Your vehicle got about a million of these things too? (Image/OnAllCylinders)

If your car, truck, or SUV was made in, say, the last 30 years or so, there’s a good chance you’ve come across some push or twist plastic fasteners. These darn things are everywhere and we’ve seen them used for securing interior trim pieces, engine covers, air ducts, trunk/hood liners, and about a thousand other jobs.

Though it’s pretty dang robust, this body fastener assortment from Summit Racing is just the tip of the iceberg—there are hundreds of different sizes and styles out there. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

And while fasteners like these are lightweight, cheap, and waterproof alternatives to a typical metal screw or clip, after a few years they become as brittle as Grandma’s fancy china.

So even if you’re careful when you work around these guys, you’re still going to probably break about half of them in the process.

That is, of course, if you don’t have the right tool.

A good trim removal tool will grip the neck of the fastener and pull with even pressure to avoid snapping or breaking the clip. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

That’s where a proper trim clip remover comes in so dang handy. It’s purpose-built for the job at hand, so you’re not fiddling with flat blade screwdrivers, pry tools, or pliers.

Sure, those other tools may do the job, but they may damage the fastener in the process. And once you damage these suckers, it usually becomes a big headache to get them out. More importantly, using the wrong tool could nick, scratch, or tear the surrounding areas.

Or even worse, you could break the plastic trim piece entirely. If that sounds familiar, you may want to check this out: How to Repair Broken Plastic and Trim Tabs

These tools are particularly handy in removing those press-in style clips that secure fabric, carpet, and sound/heat deadening material. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

The beauty of this tool is its simplicity: At one end is a fork that’s narrow enough to slide under a flush fastener. The forked head itself is designed to provide even pressure along the fastener head, which goes a long way towards keeping the fastener intact.

At the other end is a stout handle with an angled neck that gives you vital leverage so you can smoothly pull out the clip.

You can use the tool’s flat edge as a screwdriver on these quarter-turn fasteners. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
Once the pin is turned, you can first use the tool’s fork to pull out the center plunger, then use it on the base of the clip to pull the whole thing out. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

All told, a good clip removal tool is one that you buy and toss in your toolbox so it’s ready to save you some frustration the next time you come across one of these delicate plastic trim clips—which in our experience happens on, like, every single job.

Notice how the tool’s fork jaws start wide then narrow down. This allows the tool to be used on a range of fastener shapes and sizes. (Image/OnAllCylinders)


But the best news here? A trim removal tool like the one used in this article is pretty darn cheap, so there’s no real reason not to pick one up, given how helpful they are. And there are even more versatile sets too if you do a a lot of automotive work—you’ll have no problem finding a good trim removal tool or tool set for under 30 bucks. .

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