How To Remove Plastic Rivets – The Most Effective Methods

How to remove plastic rivets on a car is straightforward; you only need to choose the right tools. One of the most effective tools is the plastic fastener remover, a pry-bar-like tool with two prong forks at the end, which you slide underneath the rivet head, and once you have a good grip, pull the rivet out without damaging the surrounding plastic or breaking the rivet.

How To Remove Plastic Rivets

Check out the details, including other methods that involve using the standard tools you have at home, such as a flat screwdriver. In addition, we will answer some patient questions you might have in our FAQ section below.

How To Pull Out Plastic Rivets on Your Car?

To pull out plastic rivets on your car, you can use a hammer claw or flathead screwdriver. If you don’t mind spending a few bucks, you can buy a tool like a panel clip remover, which is safer and more effective. You can also use an electric drill.

Plastic screw rivets are strong and sturdy and are used in areas where metallic rivets would be inappropriate. Unlike the standard screws, these rivets are installed differently. They work the same way with a wall molly. The fastener is inserted into the hole, then a tool pushes it in until it snaps into place. That forms a permanent bond between the two plastic pieces.

Thus, they can be tricky to remove, mainly if this is your first time. So, when you want to service your car but (first) must remove some plastic panel covering held in place with plastic rivets, it can seem like the most challenging part of that DIY task. However, that should be different if you use one of the methods mentioned above.

Depending on your tools, you can easily pull out the rivets without causing any damage.

See more of the details on how to remove plastic fasteners.

  • Use a Hammer Claw

One popular method to pull out rivets is by using a hammer claw. It is a practical alternative if you lack the appropriate tools. You need to work the claw underneath the rivet head, and once it slides in, pull it out gently. Similarly, those wondering how to remove plastic push pins can also use a hammer claw.

Using Hammer Claw

If your hammer doesn’t have a claw, a chisel (or a slot-head screwdriver) will be handy. You’ll place the sharp end underneath the rivet head’s edge and tap on it repeatedly with the hammer until the head breaks off. After that, drive the chisel through the surface to remove the rivet stem. Alternatively, you can buy the CRL rivet stem removal tool specially designed for that.

  • Plastic Fastener Remover

A Plastic Fastener Remover is a straightforward tool to remove plastic rivets, particularly push clips. It generally looks like a pry bar with two prong forks at the end. You can buy it at most auto parts stores or online stores like AutoZone. A DIYer bought a Lisle 35260 plastic fastener remover on Amazon for about ten bucks.

Car Plastic Fastener Remover

Slide the claw underneath the rivet head to remove the rivets with it. Take your time to get a good grip on the rivet. Once you do that, apply pressure on the handle, and the rivet will pop without damaging anything. The plastic fastener remover is one of the best tools to remove push rivets without breaking them.

  • Rivet Remover Pliers or Panel Clip Remover

A pair of rivet remover pliers is a hand-held tool designed for pulling out plastic panel clips and push rivets. This plastic push rivet removal tool looks like standard pliers but has two claw-like points at the end, allowing you to easily remove your rivets. The two claw points will slide underneath the rivet head. When you press the pliers with your hand, one claw part will pull the rivet out.

At the same time, the other will push the panel down so the rivet can come out smoothly without damaging the surrounding area. On the other hand, a panel clip remover is a small tool with a claw on one end and a screwdriver on the other. It’s the best for removing screw rivets. The claw end helps to pry the rivet off the hole, while the screwdriver end will do the rest to get the rivet out.

You can get any plastic rivet removal tool, home depot or other reliable online stores. The only challenge in using these tools is that getting a good grip on your rivets can take time. And without a good grip, damaging the surrounding area is easy. Be careful when working the tools underneath the rivet, and take your time before pulling the rivet out.

Note that you can buy the tools as a kit. It will include a set of panel clip removers in different styles, one rivet remover pliers, and a pair of pry-bar-like rivet removers. Depending on the seller, the kit may consist of other essential items, and the cost will vary based on the number of tools available. You can get the kits from various online stores.

  • Use a Flathead Screwdriver

Using a screwdriver is the least effective technique, as you may struggle to grasp the rivet. But if you don’t have any other tools, it’s worth trying, especially if you want to know how to remove rivets without drilling. You’ll need a pair of needle-nose pliers to work together with the screwdriver.

To remove the rivet, work the screwdriver under the rivet’s head to try to lift it up. Ensure you’re doing it gently to prevent damage to the surrounding plastic. Once you’re able to lift the head a bit, slip the need-nose pliers in and pull the entire thing out – the whole fastener needs to come out and not just the little plunger bit.

Flathead Screwdriver To Remove Plastic Rivets

For those who want to know “how to remove push pins without tool”, a screwdriver and pliers are the option. Just like with the rivet, you’ll grab the neck of your push pin with the needle-nose pliers and pull it outward. Then take a flathead screwdriver and pop the base out once the pin has come out.

  • Drill the Rivets Out

You can use an electric drill (which can be used to remove pop rivets, although there’s a special tool for that) to take the rivets out but as a last resort. The risk of damaging the surrounding plastic is high. You’ll need a drill bit of the same size or slightly smaller than the rivet’s head. A 1/4 or 3/16-inch drill bit should be ideal for a 1/4-inch rivet head.

Before you begin, many DIY experts recommend creating a hole at the rivet head center to facilitate the drilling process. So, find a punch and hold it against the rivet’s top. Using a hammer, gently strike the end of your punch to create a tiny hole into which your drill bit should snugly fit. Ensure the drill bit is also long enough to penetrate through the rivet.

Install the bit onto the drill and tighten the chuck to make it tight and secure. Note that you don’t need to add cutting lubricant to the end of the bit. Drilling plastic will create little friction and heat, unlike a metallic rivet. Thus, the drill bit can penetrate through the rivet without getting damaged due to overheating.

Drilling Car Rivets Out

Fit the drill bit into the dent on top of the rivet and apply gentle pressure to hold the bit against the rivet. Now start the drill slowly and bore through the rivet, maintaining a steady speed. Continue to maintain a constant speed and pressure as you drill through until the rivet is pushed down through the hole.

Once the drill bit penetrates through to the other side, use pliers to pull the remaining pieces of rivet out. Note that you can use the CRL rivet head removal tool (buy online) instead of the standard drill bit, particularly for removing blind fasteners. This tool features a 1/4 inch (6mm) shank that fits most electric drills.

According to the CRL (a reputable provider of architectural materials), its solid steel tip will cut the rivet’s head off while the “hollow center” traps the rivet’s stem. Also, it’s good to wear safety glasses to protect yourself from plastic fragments that could fly off and injure your eyes (you can use standard eyeglasses if you don’t have safety glasses rated for drilling).

Frequently Asked Questions

Do a Rivet and Screw Refer to the Same Thing?

No, a rivet and screw don’t refer to the same thing. A rivet is inserted into a hole and then pushed or hammered until it snaps into place and is removed by pulling, cutting, or drilling. A screw features a threaded shaft and is tightened and removed using a screwdriver.

Do Rivets Hold Better Than Screws?

Yes, rivets hold better than screws because they support both sides. Therefore, they won’t open or shake loose down the road. On the other hand, screws only have a head on one side, making them more likely to shake loose, particularly when subjected to a lot of vibration.

Are Plastic Rivets Better Than Their Metallic Counterparts?

Plastic rivets aren’t always better than their metallic counterparts. It depends on where they are being used. Plastic rivets may be more appropriate in some areas than their metallic counterparts and vice versa. However, they offer many benefits, including ease of installation, corrosion-resistant, and lightweight.

Why Are Bolts Becoming More Popular Than Rivets?

Bolts are becoming more popular than rivets because of their ease of installation. High-strength structural steel rivets require skilled workers to install, which is expensive. On the other hand, it’s relatively easier and more economical to install and tighten high-strength bolts, even with unskilled labor.

Can Plastic Rivets be Reused?

Yes, some plastic rivets can be reused. These are the removable plastic push rivets, which have a push-pull design that makes it easy to remove with a tool and reuse up to 25 times. Therefore, consider this push-pull type if you’re looking for highly economical rivets.


You’ve learned all you need on how to remove plastic rivets. But before we leave you to put it into action,

let’s do a summary:

  • Many ways to pull out plastic fasteners/rivets exist, and you can choose based on effectiveness and the tools available.
  • You can use standard tools like a hammer claw or flat screwdriver if you don’t have the appropriate tools for rivet removal.
  • The most effective tools for removing plastic fasteners are the plastic fastener remover, rivet remover pliers, and panel clip remover.
  • You can also use an electric drill with a drill bit the same size as or slightly smaller than the rivet head.

You’re now set to remove those plastic rivets and complete the repair project on your car. So, please choose the best method for you and get it done!


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