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What is a Panel Tool?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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A panel tool is a wide, flat tool similar to a screwdriver. It is used to remove interior door panels and dash panels. The wide blade of the panel tool aids in the removal of a panel without damaging it. The tool spreads the force out over a wide area, protecting the fragile panels from cracking.

A panel tool can be constructed from metal or plastic. The tools are designed so that only a minimum amount of pressure can be exerted from it. The tools come in a vast array of shapes and sizes, each suited for a specific task. When used properly, a panel tool is able to remove a panel while rendering its fastener re-usable. Most panel tools are easy to operate with little practice needed.

When removing a door panel from a vehicle, a panel tool is used to loosen the plastic push pegs that hold the panel in place. By sliding the panel tool between the door panel and the steel door, a slight twist of the tool is all that is required to pop the fastener loose. Once all of the fasteners are free, the panel can be removed. The locations of the fasteners may be obtained by sliding the tool along the perimeter of the door panel until it comes into contact with a fastener.

When removal of a dash panel is required to gain access to a stereo or instrument cluster, a panel tool can be used to free the panel without damaging the dashboard. By utilizing a small panel tool, the delicate dash panels can be removed and reused in most cases. Gentle prying is needed to preserve the panel and accomplish the task. Often several different shapes and sizes of panel tools are utilized to remove a single panel.

If available, a vehicle manual detailing the interior panel that is to be removed can be very helpful. By noting the locations and type of fasteners used to secure the panel in question, the proper tool can often be chosen to perform the task in a rapid manner. Patience is a virtue when removing a panel with unknown fasteners. Moving too quickly will nearly always result in a broken panel.

Panel tools are also helpful in reinstalling a panel. The tool can be slid behind the panel and used to urge a fastener into its mounting hole. Many fastener designs are prone to falling out of place while the panel is being reinstalled. By using a tool to hold the fastener in place, the panel is often reattached without issue.

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