How To Remove Pinstripe From Car Without Damaging Paint

Pinstriping was quite popular just a few years ago, but they are no longer so popular now. If you are buying a used vehicle, occasionally they will have pinstripes or other stickers or vinyl stuck on the paint. In the likely case that the previous owner’s taste does not appeal to yours, you will want to get rid of these aftermarket decorations. Fortunately, there are simple yet effective methods on how to remove pinstripes from car without damaging the paint job of your newly purchased vehicle.

In addition, if the pinstripes stay on too long, certain paint colors may get sun damaged and the pinstripe will leave an undesirable visible mark. Be aware that if you are purchasing an older vehicle, some car colors are more prone to sun damage, particularly red and black. If the car has a tacky pinstriping job that you want removed, chances are the paint may be faded around the stripe.

Another note is many handymen have damaged the paint job on their cars for not following the correct methods. Removing pinstripes may sound simple, yet you might risk expensive maintenance if you try to do the job intuitively. Learn how to remove pinstripes without damaging paint with this comprehensive guide. 

What Are Pinstripes?

car pinstripes
Pinstripes are of two different varieties: tape stripes and painted stripes (Photo:

Generally observed in off-road vehicles, pinstripes are decorative thin parallel stripes that can be stuck onto a car’s paint. The only purpose of these pinstripes is decoration. Pinstriping is for people who like experimenting with customized looks for their vehicles.

These additions used to be fashionable a while ago, however nowadays, they are generally regarded as tacky and showy. If you are looking to purchase a used off-road vehicle, knowing how to remove pinstriping will come in handy.

Pinstripes are of two different varieties: tape stripes and painted stripes. You can easily remove tape stripes with any of the methods listed in this guide below. 

However, in the case of painted stripes, the process will not be so smooth. In some cases, it may not be possible to remove pinstripes without damaging the paint. At the end of this guide, you will find out more about how to remove painted pinstripes safely.

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How To Remove Pinstripe From Car: What You’ll Need

Removing pinstripes from car can be an arduous task without the right equipment. This is because one mistake can result in damaged car paint, and this is exactly what we are trying to avoid. 

Strictly follow the steps below to learn how to remove pinstripes from your car to make sure you don’t end up having to spend more time and money fixing the mess you made. Having your car repainted will cost more than all the equipment you’ll probably need to remove your car pinstripe properly. 

Depending on which pinstripe removal method you might choose, here are some things you will need:

  • Hair dryer or heat gun – this can be used to help loosen up the adhesive on the pinstripe.
  • Plastic cutter: this will be used to run through underneath your car’s pinstripe.
  • Rubbing alcohol: helps soften up the adhesive on the pinstripe.
  • Adhesive removing sprays, for instance, Goo Gone: to remove any residue from car decals, stickers, or pinstripes. 
  • Electric drill: one that you can attach a disc to. 
  • Cloth: for removing residue and cleaning the surface to prepare for waxing.
  • Car wax: regardless of how you choose to remove pinstripes, you will need a car wax to apply on the affected area afterward to keep your vehicle paint as good as new.

How To Remove Pinstripe From Car: The Right Ways

Blow dryer or heat gun

This is one of the most convenient and safe ways to remove the pinstripes and is the general method for removing any type of stickers and decals. Rather than scratching or knifing it, make use of a blow dryer or a heat gun to loosen up the adhesive of the pinstripe. This is also something you should do before anything else.

Start by its end or edge, where you will be peeling it off from, and make your way to the other end. Do not leave the heat source in one spot. It may lead to damage to the car’s paint. While using the heat gun, check multiple times to see if the pinstripe has become soft. 

Once you witness that the pinstripe has loosened a bit, you may use any plastic tool with a sharp, thin edge to peel it off, like an old credit card. Never use a knife, razor, or other very sharp object to remove the pinstriping. This can easily scratch or damage your paint. 

Slowly and carefully run through the plastic cutter underneath the adhesive to break it off from your car’s surface. Move slowly to avoid scraping off any paint accidentally. 

If you feel the need to use the heat gun to loosen up the adhesive further, do so until it gets softer. Repeat the whole process until you remove the pinstripe completely.

After entirely removing pinstripes from car, remove any residue left with the adhesive remover spray. You can buy these products at your local grocery stores, supermarkets, or hardware stores. Do not ignore this crucial step on how to remove pinstripe from the car if you want the peeled-off surface to look as sleek as the rest of your paint job. 

Simply spray some adhesive remover like Goo Gone and wipe or scrub off the residue with a clean cloth. The solvent will take some time to work. If you rush the process, you may end up scratching the paint. 

Then use a swirl mark eliminator or any mild polishing compound to remove minor scratches. Do not forget to apply wax on the affected area and the area surrounding it as well.

Refer to our comprehensive library of maintenance tips for suggestions on how to upkeep your car’s paint job.

Know About how to remove pinstripes
Learn how to remove pinstripes (Photo: usedcars)

Electric drill 

Equipment such as an electric drill or even Dremel tools has a facility to attach discs to its end for different purposes. In this case, we will use a disc designed specifically for removing pinstripes. 

The greatest advantage of using this technique is quick results. This method is also ideal for stubborn pinstripes that other methods cannot easily handle.

Step 1: Clean

Before you start with the process, make sure that the car’s surface is clear from the accumulation of dust or dirt. This step is essential when it comes to securing the car’s paint

Clean the surface area of the pin striping first as well as the area surrounding it. You can use gentle car paint cleaners and specialized clothes to do the job.

Step 2: Attach the disc to your electric drill

Dremel tools or other electric drills allow you to connect different types of discs depending on the purpose. Make sure to connect the most suitable one for removing the pinstripe. An example is the “Stripe Off Wheel” from 3M. It is a disc attachment that you put on a low-speed drill that will easily remove pinstriping. 

Use a blow dryer first to loosen up the end of the pinstripe. Once it loosens up, you can use the drill to make your way through its entire length, until it comes off completely. Take your time doing this to avoid doing any damage to the paint.

Again, whatever method you choose to do, always use adhesive remover and wax after the whole procedure to keep your car paint looking shiny, new, and scratchless. 

How to remove pinstriping off your car? Check out the tutorial below:

Volatile rubbing alcohol

The easiest of all methods is to apply rubbing alcohol around the edges of the pinstripe. You can easily find rubbing alcohol at your local supermarkets, groceries, and drug stores.

Once the solution is applied, you would have to wait a bit until the adhesive loosens up. Once you observe that the pinstripe is losing its grip, try peeling it off while wearing gloves in your hands.

One should always take precautions and keep rubbing alcohol away from your kids’ reach. These liquids are not safe for human consumption and are highly toxic. Remember to wash your hands, in case the solution gets to your hands.

Stubborn cases: 3M’s Woodgrain & Stripe remover

If you are dealing with stubborn cases when you can not just peel it away, try Woodgrain & Stripe Remover. This is a product from 3M especially designed for this purpose. 

This aerosol product works by loosening the glue and softening the vinyl. Do not overspray when applying this product, because overspray will loosen vinyl roofs and rubber gaskets. 

Painted pinstripes

To remove pinstripes without damaging the paint, the only safe method is to use the “Stripe off Wheel” from 3M with a hand drill. 

Stripe Off Wheel is specially designed for stubborn painted pinstripes. It contains polyurethane foam, and it is used with a hand drill. Stripe Off Wheel works just like a rubber eraser. The application is very easy. You just have to press it lightly on the pinstripes. 

The adhesive rolls up, the vinyl crumbles, and what you have left behind is a smudge. Although the product is easy to use, you have to be careful about two things. First, you have to make sure that there is no dirt on the panel. And second, when using it, you have to touch the pinstripe lightly.

To finish off, do not forget to remove the adhesive, then proceed with waxing.