Home Bodywork & Paint Remove Pin Stripe – How To Do It Without Damaging The Paint

Remove Pin Stripe – How To Do It Without Damaging The Paint

by Kelvin Yates

Pinstriping your car is a simple way to improve your car’s looks. It was a big trend back in the mid-2000s. And even today some dealers are still giving buyers the option to pin stripe their car for an extra bag of cash. Rolls Royce has a pinstriping option to this day and we think it’s rather excellent. But there comes a time you might want to remove the pin stripe on your car.

Whether it’s because you’re bored of the way it looks, or maybe you want to add a new one with a different design and color. Or maybe the previous owner liked it, but you don’t see the beauty of it. If you want to remove the pin stripe from your car, we’ll be talking you through all the methods. Including how to not damage your paint in the process, let’s start.

Know Your Pin Stripe Material

Pin stripes on cars are made either using vinyl or paint. Vinyl is basically like a sticker that you apply to the body of the car. It’s not unlike wrapping your car, but it’s usually just a thin stripe that goes on the side of the car’s body, or sometimes on the hood. Rather than covering an entire panel or the entire car like you would when you wrap a car.

The advantage of vinyl is that it’s often easier to apply without having to spend too much time on labor. And with high-quality vinyl, it can be more durable and resistant to stone chips. Even if it’s damaged, you can just remove them and install a new one.

As you can imagine, removing vinyl involves a bit of heat and peeling it off the car’s body. It’s mostly quite easy and requires just a little bit of patience. But the glue or adhesive may be a bit stubborn sometimes which can complicate the process. But don’t worry, we also have some tips for removing stubborn vinyl pin stripes.

Remove Pin Stripe

Meanwhile, painted pinstripe means it was applied by using a very thin layer of paint on top of the car’s primary paint. The technician usually applies this by using a specialized brush known as a pinstriping brush. Painted pinstripes are typically more expensive than vinyl, but when done well, they can last longer than vinyl. It also looks better if the technician knows what they’re doing!

But as you can imagine, removing painted pinstripes is going to be more difficult. This is because you’ll have to remove a layer of paint on top of the body’s paint, and that can be quite tricky without damaging the paint. But don’t worry, there are tools and tricks to help you to do that.

If You Have Vinyl Pin Stripe

Vinyl uses adhesives to stick onto your car’s paint. With most adhesives, you can use heat to reduce their solidity which leads to them being less rigid. This results in the vinyl moving or sliding as the adhesive gives way, allowing you to peel it off of the car’s body. This is why heat helps to remove the vinyl from the surface they’re stuck onto.

Here’s what you will need to remove pin stripe made from vinyl:

  • A hairdryer or a heat gun. A hairdryer will work just fine, but you can use a heat gun as well if you only have that lying around.
  • Plastic razor blade. Or anything that has a thin edge like a credit card or even a guitar pick. You will need this to get under the vinyl to start the peeling process. Don’t use anything sharp, such as a metal razor blade, since this can scratch your car’s paint.
  • Adhesive remover such as Goo Gone to remove any remaining adhesive and residue from the car’s body.
  • Quality car shampoo, car wax, and possibly a scratch remover. The last two items are optional, but it’s recommended since the paint underneath the vinyl will look different from the rest of the car. You can fix any imperfections with the scratch remover and give your car a seamless finish with the car wax (with some understanding into how often should you wax your car).
  • Clean microfiber towels.

With all of the things above on hand, here’s how you remove vinyl pin stripe from your car:

How To Remove Vinyl Pin Stripes

  1. Find a cool and shaded area to do the job.
  2. Apply heat to the vinyl in a sweeping motion, don’t apply heat over one area for too long as this can damage the paint (such as now knowing correctly how to remove Plasti Dip). If you’re using a heat gun, be sure to distance it about 4 feet away from the surface as it can reach temperatures that can damage the paint.
  3. Heat the area for about 3 – 5 minutes, then try to peel the vinyl from one end by using a plastic razor blade. Once the edge comes off, you should be able to peel it until it gets to a stubborn area.
  4. If you hit a stubborn area, try heating the area again and then peel it off. If it still won’t come off, we’ll have to try another trick which we will discuss later on.
  5. Once done, use Goo Gone to remove any residue from the adhesive. You will need to apply it onto the car and then leave it for about 3 – 5 minutes to let it penetrate. Afterward, wipe it clean with a clean and dry microfiber towel.
  6. Next, it’s recommended that you wash this area using a quality car shampoo to ensure the surface is clean.
  7. Afterward, check for any imperfections on the pin stripe area. If there are any, use a scratch remover (if there are scratches) and apply car wax onto the surface. This will help to create a seamless finish on the paint where the pin stripe was.

The steps above should remove your vinyl pin stripe relatively easily with little to no damage at all to your car’s paint. But it’s not uncommon to find stubborn areas when removing vinyl from a car body. If you hit any stubborn surface, here’s what you can do:

How To Remove Stubborn Areas

First, you’re going to need these things:

  • 3M Stripe Off Wheel and an electric drill. This stripe-off wheel from 3M is an attachment for an electric drill and it has one sole purpose: remove anything that’s stuck onto the surface of your car, including pin stripes. However, use this device with care as it can result in damage to the car paint.
  • Goo Gone or any adhesive remover.
  • Car shampoo, scratch remover, and car wax.

With those things in hand, here are the steps:

  1. It’s recommended that you wash and clean the area first before you start.
  2. Attach the 3M Stripe Off Wheel onto your electric drill, and then operate it at around 2,000rpm. Put the wheel onto the edge of the pin stripe, and carefully run the wheel over the vinyl. The wheel will take off the pin stripe from the car body.
  3. Use very light pressure to avoid damage and take your time.
  4. Once done, use Goo Gone to remove any remaining adhesive.
  5. Wash the area, use scratch remover if necessary, and wax the area to seamlessly blend it with the rest of the paint.

The video above is a great visual guide on how to use the 3M Stripe Off Wheel. The key here is patience and caution. Take your time and remember not to apply too much pressure to avoid damage to your paint.

Paint damage can be expensive to fix, especially if your car uses a special manufacturer color such as Mazda’s Soul Red metallic paint. Follow our guide and you should be able to remove the vinyl pin stripe from your car without damaging the paint.

If You Have Painted Pin Stripe

Removing painted pin stripes is not that difficult. Here are the items that you will need for this process:

  • You will need a cleaning fluid, ideally denatured alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. Lacquer thinner can do the job as well.
  • Paper towels.
  • Microfiber towels.
  • Masking tape.
  • Quality car shampoo, and just like removing vinyl pin stripes, car wax and a scratch remover may also be necessary.

With the items above on hand, here’s how you remove painted pin stripes:

How To Remove Painted Pin Stripes

  1. The first thing you’ll want to do is clean the surface area of the pin stripes. We recommend washing your car if it’s really dirty. But if it’s relatively clean, wipe the pin stripe area with a wet microfiber towel, and then dry it off. Cleaning it first will prevent you from rubbing debris into the area and damaging the paint.
  2. Cover the area surrounding the pin stripe with masking tape. This prevents the alcohol from getting to the rest of the car’s body surrounding the pin stripe, which helps to prevent paint damage.
  3. Apply the alcohol or lacquer thinner onto a paper towel, and then lightly rub it onto the pin stripes. Allow it to sit for around five minutes.
  4. Dip a microfiber towel into the alcohol or lacquer thinner, and then rub it onto the pin stripes in a circular motion until the paint stripes come off.
  5. Repeat the process as necessary until the pin stripes are off the car.
  6. Once the pin stripes are off, it’s time to clean it once again. Mix your car shampoo of choice with water, and then dip a new microfiber towel in and then clean the area. This is to clean the area from any remaining alcohol so you won’t damage it. Afterward, dry it with a dry microfiber towel. Make sure to not use the alcohol-dipped microfiber towel for this process.

Much like removing vinyl pin stripes, the key here is also patience and caution. Make sure you don’t rub the alcohol too hard as this can damage the paint surrounding and underneath the painted pin stripes. Gradually increase pressure while rubbing if the pin stripes aren’t coming off the first time your rub it. Take your time and don’t rush the process.

Can I Use An Oven Cleaner?

You might have noticed from the thumbnail of the video above that it may be possible to use an oven cleaner to wipe off paint stripes. While this is possible, and in fact, it’s a pretty popular method, we don’t actually recommend using an oven cleaner.

This is because oven cleaners are typically stronger and are heavy-duty cleaners. If you’re not careful, you can easily damage the rest of your car’s paint. It’s mostly for cleaning grease off of your oven and not intended for cars. Especially not for car paint, so best to stick with either denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or lacquer thinner.

The Pin Stripes Aren’t Coming Off, Anything Else I Can Use?

If the painted pin stripes are stubborn, you may be able to remove them with WD-40. It’s safe to use on car paint, but WD-40 attracts a buildup of dirt, dust, and debris. This means you’ll have to clean it immediately when you’re using it and clean it quite carefully.

Spray the WD-40 onto the pin stripes, and allow it to sit for about a minute. Afterward, use a soft microfiber towel that’s been soaked in water and wipe the area. After you take the pin stripes off, clean it once again with the water and car soap solution and touch up the areas that need it.

Questions & Answers

We’re sure you have a lot of questions, the answer you’re looking for is below:

Can A Body Repair Shop Remove It For Me?

Yes, chances are any decent body repair shop can do it for you. You can also try inquiring to the nearest auto detailing shop and they should also be able to remove it for you. But as for the price, we can’t really give you an estimate since they typically don’t list it down on their website. But you can expect them to charge you around $75 – $90 per hour of labor.

I Damaged My Paint While Removing The Pin Stripes, What Do I Do?

What you need to do will depend on the severity of the damage. As mentioned, you can use a scratch remover to remove any minor scratches. Using this is quite simple; clean off the area to make sure there isn’t any dust or debris. Apply the scratch remover to a microfiber towel or an applicator pad, and then rub it onto the scratch in a circular motion.

If this doesn’t get rid of the scratch, then this means the scratch is too deep. In this case, you will need to go to an auto detailer to do a paint correction. Paint correction is the process of leveling the paint and removing any imperfections. This process can remove scratches or swirl marks, water spots (and learning how to get water spots off car and how to get rid of water spots on car), paint oxidation, and other imperfections on the paint.

Remove Pin Stripe

The process typically involves using a polishing machine with a range of different polishing pads to fix the paint surface. Sometimes sandpapers are also necessary for the process. After the imperfections are gone, the technician will use a finishing polish and sometimes a sealant or coating to protect the paint.

The cost for paint correction starts at around $500 for the whole car. But it can go as high as $2,500, it depends on the size of your car and the extend of the damage on your car’s paint. You can do it yourself if you have the right tools, but we don’t recommend this unless you know what you’re doing as you can easily damage the paint further. Paint correction is usually enough to fix your paint, but in the worst-case scenario, you may need a body repaint.

I Want A New One, Should I Get Painted Or Vinyl Pin Stripes?

Thinking that maybe a new pin stripe will spruce up the look of your car? Should you get painted or vinyl pin stripes? It all depends on your preference. If you know that you’re the type of person that quickly gets bored with the way your car looks, we recommend getting vinyl pin stripes.

As mentioned, vinyl pin stripes are basically like a sticker that you put on the car’s body. Removing them is much easier in most scenarios and has much less chance of damage during the process. But if you’re sure you want to keep the design for a few years, then painted pin stripes are the better option. They can last quite a long time and are more resistant to stone chips than cheap vinyl.

Remove Pin Stripe

The cost will heavily depend on the design you choose. If it’s just a simple line down the side of the car, painted pin stripes will cost you around $120. Additional pin stripes on the trunk lid or gate will usually cost another $15. You can also have your initials written on your car’s body while you’re at it, which costs around $35 – $65.

More intricate designs are usually also available depending on the shop, and from here the price depends on the extent of the job. Meanwhile, vinyl pin stripes usually start at around $100 and go up to about $300 depending on the quality of the vinyl and how many pin stripes you’re putting on the car. In some cases, it may be as low as $50 but this means using very cheap vinyl.

Can I Apply Pin Stripes Myself?

In the case of vinyl pin stripes, you can apply them yourself. The process typically involves cleaning the area where you will apply the pin stripe first. Afterward, peel the backing paper off about 4 – 5 inches from the roll. Align it and gently install it at the starting location, peel back some more, and start laying in on the car.

Make sure that it sticks properly so it won’t result in air bubbles. And then leave it to stick and wait for 24 hours before you wash the car, allowing the adhesive to cure. There are pin stripe kits you can purchase and installing them on shouldn’t be too hard.

Painted pinstripes allow you to be more creative with the design and give you more freedom. You’ll need paint and a pin stripe brush to apply them. But unless you have very steady hands, we don’t recommend doing this yourself. We recommend leaving this job to a professional shop instead.

What Paint Should I Use?

The most commonly used paint for pin striping is 1-Shot lettering enamel. Professionals will sometimes add a 10% 1-Shot to increase the durability and also help with the drying process. Some tips if you choose to paint pin stripes, don’t mix the hardener in the enamel’s can.

Instead, put them in a container and then mix them. After painting, allow at least 24 hours for the paint to fully dry. If you wash them during this period, it may damage or wash off the pin stripes. Ideally, you shouldn’t drive the car either during this period as it can attract dust and dirt, and once they stick it will ruin the look of your car.

Another type of paint you can use is urethane paint, which is quite commonly used by custom shops these days. If you use urethane paint, then you won’t need to use a hardener.

How to Remove Pinstripe from Car Safely – Facts

  1. Pinstripes are decorative thin parallel stripes that are stuck onto a car’s paint for decoration purposes.
  2. Pinstriping was popular in the past but is now considered tacky and showy.
  3. Removing pinstripes is necessary if they no longer appeal to your taste, and if left on too long, they may damage paint colors, particularly red and black.
  4. Handymen who have removed pinstripes without following the correct methods have damaged their car’s paint job.
  5. There are two types of pinstripes – tape stripes and painted stripes, and the latter is more challenging to remove without damaging the paint.
  6. To remove pinstripes, you will need a hairdryer or heat gun, plastic cutter, rubbing alcohol, adhesive remover spray, electric drill, cloth, and car wax.
  7. Using a blow dryer or heat gun to loosen the adhesive of the pinstripe is the most convenient and safe way to remove them, and a plastic tool with a sharp, thin edge can peel it off.
  8. An electric drill with a suitable disc is ideal for stubborn pinstripes that other methods cannot remove quickly.
  9. Applying rubbing alcohol around the edges of the pinstripe is the easiest of all methods, but gloves must be worn, and caution exercised due to its toxicity.
  10. 3M’s Woodgrain & Stripe Remover and Stripe Off Wheel from 3M with a hand drill are the best products for removing stubborn painted pinstripes without damaging the paint.


To summarize, the method to remove a pin stripe from your car will depend on the material of the pin stripe itself. With vinyl pin stripes, you’ll need a hairdryer or some other heat source. Heat the area, and peel it off with a tool that has a thin edge such as a plastic razor blade. Once you got the edge off, you can pull to remove the pin stripe from the car.

If you hit any stubborn areas, using a 3M Stripe Off Wheel attached to an electric drill will solve your problem. But be very careful while using this device as too much pressure will damage the wheel. This should be a last-resort solution if the vinyl is very stubborn. Afterward, use Goo Gone to remove any remaining adhesive and residue, and then wash it off with a clean microfiber cloth.

As for painted pin stripes, using denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or a lacquer thinner should remove the pin stripe. Gently rub the alcohol onto the pin stripes, and then wipe them off with a microfiber cloth. Lastly, always clean the area afterward with quality car shampoo regardless of the pin stripe material.

We hope this article has been helpful and you can remove pin stripes from your car without damaging the paint!

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