How To Remove Interior Car Trim? (Explained For Beginners)

Interior car trims are some of the parts of the car’s interior that make the vehicle look better and more comfortable.

While they are more decorative than functional, they still serve a purpose. However, there are some people who might want to remove the interior car trims to replace them.

So, how do you remove interior car trims without causing damage to the vehicle?

Here is how you can remove interior car trim

You need to first identify the mounting location and remove the panels by prying them away with bespoke plastic tools to avoid marks or scratches. Then remove the adhesives of the car trim by using a hairdryer or a heat gun to make it easier for you to peel the adhesive off. Be careful when you remove the trim to avoid damaging the vehicle. After that, clean off any of the remaining adhesives on the vehicle by using an adhesive remover.

mercedes wooden trim

Your car’s interior trims may only be decorative in nature, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be careful when you are removing them.

It is important for you to see to it that your interior trims are removed properly so that you can make sure that you don’t affect the car’s overall appearance. Of course, you might want to upgrade your trims as well after removing the old ones.


Is it hard to remove interior car trim without damage?

When it comes to your car’s interior, the trims are actually quite important in terms of the car’s overall aesthetics and comfort.

You may have noticed that, even though the cars are the same model, they may differ in terms of their price because of the trim level. And the trim level we are talking about usually refers to the car’s interior.

In that regard, the interior trims make all the difference in the overall price of the vehicle because they add aesthetic value and comfort to it.

For example, leather steering wheel and seats and fabric ceiling and mats are some of the more common high-end interior trims on most vehicles.

These make the vehicle more expensive, and that’s why some cars of the same model are more expensive even though their specifications are the same.

So, if you have a car that is on the lower end of the trim level, you can still perform some after-market modifications that will allow you to upgrade the car’s interior trims. This is where you might want to remove the old interior trims to make way for the new ones.

So, in that regard, is it hard to remove the interior trim without damaging the vehicle?

Generally speaking, it shouldn’t be hard to remove your car’s interior. However, this is only true if you actually know how to remove the trim and that you are very careful with the entire process of removing the interior trim. But if you don’t know the process of removing the trims, it should be quite challenging for you.

Remember that it is important that you know how to remove the trim carefully because you are dealing with an adhesive that is very strong. That means that ripping off the trim and not being careful with how you remove them will most likely damage your car.

And you will end up having to spend more money if you damage your car’s interior if you remove the interior trims in the worst way possible.

Then again, not all people are equipped with the basic knowledge of how to handle their vehicles and how to remove the interior trims. That is why most people would rather pay a body shop or a mechanic to do the job for them.

But if you do know how to remove the car’s interior trim and you are very careful with your approach to the job, this should be something that you should be able to do.

How to remove interior car trim?

As mentioned, interior trims are interior parts of your car that are more decorative than functional. They are usually placed there to make the car’s interior look better, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t serve a purpose.

Of course, the interior trims make your car look more aesthetically pleasing while adding a bit of comfort to the ride. However, they may also protect some of the parts of the car, such as the leather steering wheels, which reinforce the steering wheel from damage. And, of course, leather seat covers are also there to protect the car seats.

So, there will be instances wherein the leather may have faded due to environmental or natural effects, and that is when you might want to remove them.

There will also be instances when the interiors were simply damaged due to accidents or carelessness, such as a child poking holes through the car’s fabric ceiling. That is when you might want to replace the car’s interior trims by removing them first.

As such, we are here to show you a quick yet very informative way of removing the car’s interior trim without damaging the vehicle’s interior:

Remove any panels to access the trim

To remove the trims you first need to get access to them and trims are usually hidden behind those panels.

These panels are clipped with mechanical fasteners and are usually screwless to give a smooth finish. But if they are held with screws or bolts, they are usually hidden away under some components that can be pried off. As an example, vents or switch panels on your dashboard can be an easy thing to pry off to find the mounting location held by screws or bolts.

You got to use specialized plastic tools to pry away the panels or you can even use an unwanted credit card if you don’t have specific tools but never use a metal screwdriver or a metal tool as it will leave marks and scratches.

Gently slide the panel removing tool into the gaps of the panel and feel the retainer location to pry away the panel. Continue up and down the panel feeling each of the retainer locations and pry them open.

Inspect the removed panel location to find any hidden screws or bolts. Remove them to gain access to the trim.

Below is a great video that will help you understand how to do the trim removal process:

Remove the trim’s adhesive

This is the most important part of removing the interior trims of the car because you should know that the trims are there because of very strong adhesives that keep them stuck on the car’s interior for a very long time. That is why it is necessary that you know how to remove the adhesives carefully.

Before you remove the interior trims, it is essential that you “soften up” the adhesive first because you can’t just rip the trim off. This is where the heat comes into play, as you would have to use something that produces enough heat but not too much to melt the adhesive on the interior trim and make it easier for you to peel the trim off.

Remove the car’s interior trims carefully

As mentioned, you shouldn’t remove the car’s interior trim like a band-aid on a wound. You shouldn’t approach it in a sudden way because doing so will damage the car’s interior. And this is true even though you already melted or softened up the interior trims’ adhesive. 

When removing the car’s interior trims, you need to make sure that you do so in a gentle way so that you won’t end up denting or ruining the car’s interior.

It is best that you use heat as you remove the car’s interior trim so that you can keep the adhesive soft while you peel off the trim in a gentle manner. Never remove the trim suddenly because this can cause damage to the car.

Remove any remaining adhesive on the car’s interior

If you have noticed, when you remove a band-aid on your wound or a piece of tape on the wall, there will always be some leftover adhesive on the surface.

The same case applies to a car’s interior when you remove the interior trim in the most careful manner possible. This is true no matter how well you removed the trim, as there will always be some leftover adhesive.

In that regard, what you need to do here is to clean any of the remaining adhesives on the surface of the car’s interior where the interior trim used to be. It is best that you also approach this in a gentle manner so that you don’t damage the surface of the trim.

The way you approach it should be quite gentle, as you might need to use an adhesive remover that will soften the adhesive up so that it will be easier to simply wipe it off. In some cases, soap and water can work, but it still is best to use an adhesive remover.

Just like how you would remove a vinyl sticker on your car’s exterior, removing an interior trim should require the same level of care on your part. Then again, removing a trim requires more patience and skill because it is just as challenging as removing a car’s interior panel. Then again, if you did a great job at removing the interior trim and replacing it with a new one, you will see how rewarding it is in terms of the car’s overall aesthetic value when it’s time to sell it.

What can I use to remove car trim?

As mentioned, one of the most important things to keep in mind here is to make use of heat when you are removing the car’s trims because the trims are kept there using a strong adhesive that needs to be melted off.

That is why the best way to remove a car’s trim is to use a hairdryer that can reach a considerably high enough level of heat but not too hot to the point that it will damage the vehicle. Hairdryers should be great to use, but you can also use a heat gun that is often used to remove vinyl stickers on a vehicle.

Meanwhile, when you are removing the car’s trim, it is best to use your hands instead of sharp tools because you may end up damaging the car’s interior. And as you remove the trims, it is best to apply heat using your hairdryer or heat gun while peeling them off.


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