How to Remove Door Panels

Careful but simple Interior door panel removal

Article updated October 2011

That's right. Removing interior door panels in your auto can be quick and easy, as long as you use the right trim-removal too. Brute force or even conventional garage tools may get you the kind of snap you don't want: a snapped inner door panel.

Why bother with this type of interior restoration project? There are a great number of reasons to remove an interior door panel in a car or truck. At the core of the problem is something behind the panel either broken or in need of an upgrade. Electric window motors sometimes go capoot. Window registers can skip off their tracks. Weather strips can stop fighting the elements. Factory door mount audio speakers can sound better with an upgrade. A ding or dent may require convincing via its backside. The list of reasons can go on and on, but the task at hand is always the same: Remove the door panel to access and repair the problem.

Carefully Simple

Removing a door panel or interior bit is a seemingly easy affair. Getting a door panel on and off without having it snap into three or more pieces is another story. The first instinct is to grab on to one corner and pull. This instinct is usually followed by some profanity and whatever tool being employed getting tossed across the driveway. After the cat squalls and runs under the fence, which in turn gets the neighborhood dogs barking in chorus, comes the realization that the money that was going to be saved by doing it yourself has just snapped in half. Replacement door panels are usually a dealer or salvage item and always pricey.

Removing and installing a door panel and keeping it in one piece is a textbook case of the right tools for the right job. It's what cannot be seen that causes the problems. Hidden behind the panel are all manner of fasteners that hold the panel in place. The panel itself is usually not strong enough to withstand any ham-fisted prying or bending. The fasteners, on the other hand, are usually strong enough to hold the panel onto the door right up to the point where it snaps. The right tools depend on the type of panel. The full set of plastic trim removal tools used here cost less than ten dollars and made the job an easy task.

Don't let the fear of breakage keep you from removing that interior door panel. With a set of trim removal tools, that door panel will come off in a jiffy, so you can take care of both interior repairs and upgrades.

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