Off-Roading and the Good Ol’ Texas Pinstripe

If you grew up in Texas and you love off-roading, chances are you’ve heard of the legendary paint scratches called the “Texas pinstripe.” If someone says they off-road in their pristine black Jeep Wrangler SUV or Ford truck, yet the sides of the vehicle are devoid of any status stripes then they probably don’t really spend much real time off the pavement.

Either they don’t go off-roading, or they spent some serious time and effort––or money–– into fixing the paint job. Mesquite trees are no joke. In fact, any type of thick brush will tear up a good paint job in one go.

2020 Roush Ford F-150
2020 Roush Ford F-150 | Roush Performance

After a good rain, pickup trucks of every shape, size, and age can be found resting in the parking lots of Texas Whataburgers riddled with Texas pinstripes barely visible through the mud left from the latest off-roading adventure. But how do you get those stripes rubbed off?

It’s definitely not just Texans that are dealing with this problem. People all over the world love taking their 4×4 SUVs and pickup trucks into the backcountry or the bush for some off-roading. And there are two kinds of people: those who proudly wear their bush stripes, and people who like to keep their 4×4 looking polished.

The DIY approach

2020 Nissan Navara Off-Roader AT32 | Nissan-0
2020 Nissan Navara Off-Roader AT32 | Nissan

It is doable to clean and polish those “Texas pinstripes” off of your paint job. Just a good wash will make the paint look quite a bit better. But using a clay cloth or clay bar––like in the video below––really helps to refinish a damaged area.

So, there’s no need to keep your 4×4 out of the wild places it was meant to go just because you’re worried about a little pinstripe damage. It actually comes off with some extra elbow grease.

Protective coat

If you want a little more pinstripe protection, you can have a clear coat applied to your paint. This will offer some extra armor against thorny bushes and trees. Plus, it makes it a bit easier to rub those pinstripes out when the off-roader gets a bath. 

The video below shows a man who recently returned from a trip in the high country. He has used a protective clear coat on your truck to ward off the bush pinstripes and gives a demonstration of rubbing them off. Texas pinstripes can be scratched into the side of your 4×4 in the morning, and buffed out by evening.

Deep Scratches

Sometimes, however, the pinstripes run deep leaving gashes along the sides of your truck. Unfortunately, the only way to repair this type of scratch is to sand down and repaint. The cost to remove deep scratches in the paint job can actually get pretty high. Depending on how bad the damage itself is and the type of paint your car has, the cust can run from a few hundred dollars to several thousand.

A truck off-roading through a big puddle of mud.
Nothing wrong with a little mud on the tires | NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This 1972 Dodge Challenger 4×4 Is Ready for Any Off-Road Challenge

Bush pinstripes

So if deeply scratched Texas pinstripes are going to be something you hate every time you walk up to your pickup truck or SUV, you might want to stick to gentle off-roading. Anything deep into the bush or backcountry is bound to gouge deep eventually. You can put on a clear coat, fastidiously maintain the paint scratches, and just write off the deep ones you can’t “buff out” as they say. Or, just wear those bush pinstripes as a badge of off-roading honor.