Are you having some problems with a stubborn stripped bolt that you cannot remove from your car? If this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover in this article where we will learn how to remove a stripped bolt.
These problems can be really frustrating to deal with. Especially for those who are not that experienced and they are just starting with cars. Removing a bolt like this that doesn’t have a grip surface can be a pain. But sometimes things are like that and we need to adapt quickly and solve the problem.
Why I’m telling you this? Well, I’m telling you because if you decide to take a car with stripped bolts at a shop, you will highly likely pay a fortune to get these bolts removed from your vehicle. They are not only labor-demanding for beginners but also for experienced mechanics.
So, the best way is to learn how to remove these bolts by yourself. Doing this will save you a ton of money and also a ton of nerves. And in this article, we are going to help you out with this problem and teach you how it is done right.
First, we are going to learn what is a stripped bolt. Then we will cover the possible reasons why this problem happens. Then we will learn the tools needed for the removal of these stripped bolts and then the methods of how this work is done. So, if you want to learn how a stripped bolt is removed, follow along.
What Is A Stripped Bolt?
So, before we dive into the more complex stuff, let’s first understand what is a stripped bolt in general terms. Since not all of us here are so experienced and understand what stripped bolt is. So, if you are quite more familiar with the topic you can jump to one of the following chapters. If not, keep up with us.
Now, I’m going to tell you my story about the stripped bolt problem. And this is a situation that I would not wish to happen even to my worst enemy. So, what happened?
Well, I was planning to do an oil change on my newly bought used car. I prepared everything that needed preparation. Bought oil, oil filter, ramps to lift the car. Basically, everything that you would possibly need for this job.
Then I go under the car to unbolt the drain bolt and you can guess what I saw. The grooves of the bolt were not there anymore. I saw that someone has been there before and his wrenching skills made my life even more difficult than it already is.
I just couldn’t get the stubborn bolt out. Using heat on an oil pan was out of the question, so my only way around this problem was to use a drill and drill a hole inside of the bolt and then with a bolt extractor to unbolt this stripped bolt.
And this work, took me a few hours. First to get a bolt extractor and then to do the work necessary. A real pain, to be honest.
The important thing is that I removed the bolt from the oil pan and flushed the oil successfully. And based on this input you now know what is a stripped bolt.
Causes Why The Bolt Is Stripped?
We learned what a stripped bolt is, now we can start covering the probable causes that could cause a bolt to get stripped and problems like this to happen? Well, there are a number of reasons why this could happen and bolts to get stripped.
The first cause is probably rust. Some bolts like the ones found on the exhaust manifolds are exposed to enormous heat moisture. All this is doing nothing good to the bolt and the threads that are used to tighten the bolt tend to rust like crazy.
All this rust buildup could cause the metal to deform when you apply a wrench to unbolt the bolt. The wrench will have no surface to grip. This is simply a stripped bolt. You cannot remove it with a regular wrench. Only remove it with a special method that we are going to cover later.
The second probable cause for this situation to happen is misuse. This misuse as I pointed out in the previous chapter is caused by inexperienced people who want to get the job done.
So, instead of using the regular size wrench, they are using pliers and other tools to tighten or untighten a bolt. Using these means to do a job will have some consequences to the bolt and will possibly damage the threads and will round them off. When you have a round bolt, good luck removing it from the vehicle.
And in the worst-case scenario, you might experience a bolt completely broken off and this is probably the worst problem that will require the most time to get sorted. These bolts often break, especially the ones located on the exhaust manifolds are notorious for this stripped bolt problem.
How To Tackle A Stripped Bolt?
We learned what a stripped bolt is and the reasons why these problems pop up. Usually, they happen because of misuse or rust buildup that destroys the bolt and it is unable to unscrew it.
If you are in this situation, you need to make a plan of how to tackle this problem quickly. The important thing is to sort the issue from the first try. For this, you need to think like an engineer and visualize in your mind what you will need to sort the problem.
But in order to help you out, we are going to list the most common tools that you will need to tackle this stripped bolt. And then we will cover the different methods that you could use to sort this problem. So, if you want to learn more, follow along because things are going to get pretty interesting.
Tools Needed To Remove A Stripped Bolt?
Now let’s cover the tools that you will need to remove a stripped bolt. We are also going to explain what these tools do in the first place. So, you to get the idea of what role they play in removing a stripped bolt.
Then we will discuss the different methods of removing a stripped bolt and based on our input, you should choose the right input to remove the stripped bolt from your vehicle. So, keep up with up.
The first thing that you need when you come across a stripped or a rusted bolt is to use some penetrating fluid. But why is the penetrating fluid so useful when it comes to removing a stripped bolt?
The penetrating fluid is a fluid that enters between the threads of the bolt and the object on which this bolt is bolted. This fluid is a lubricant. Meaning that it will get inside of these treads and lubricate the bolt. Making the removal quite a bit easier.
Most of these bolts were there for years and this fluid is basically a lifesaver. There are a ton of penetrating fluids out there. Most of them are good, though some of them are poor performers. Read some reviews to find the perfect one for your application and remove that stripped bolt.
A blow torch is another useful tool for removing a stripped bolt. But how a torch can help me remove a stubborn bolt? Well, that’s simple to explain.
A blow torch will heat up the metal, when the metal is heating up, it expands quite a bit. When the metal expands it is quite easier to remove any stuck bolt easily since it will not stick anymore to the treads of the engine.
This tool is perfect if you want to remove exhaust manifold bolts like hex nuts. It just works really well with them. But it is not recommended to remove hex bolts because they could easily break when you apply heat on them and they could stay inside of the engine. Not to mention that some components cannot be heated up and you could damage objects around the stripped bolt.
The next thing you might need to remove a stripped bolt is a hammer. Sometimes these bolts need a bit of persuasion.
And what is a better way to persuade them than with a hefty hammer? Just be gentle because they can break often and you might be needed to drill them out. The best thing would be to use the hammer only when it needs to and don’t go overboard with it. Because then you will not have a stripped bolt, but a broken bolt.
Welders are very useful. And if you are an experienced welder or even a beginner, you will be able to tackle this stripped bolt in no time.
In most cases using the welder to weld a hex nut on top of the stripped bolt would be enough to remove it.
With a welder, you can even remove broken bolts that failed completely. The downside with the welders is that not all of us have them and they are also an expensive tool to purchase. They could easily cost you a few hundred bucks.
And for a simple job like this, it’s not worth it in my opinion. But if you also want to learn how to weld then this might be a great purchase. And from a hobby, this could become a business. Since welding skills are often required and people pay top dollar for an experienced welder. Now let’s move on to the next tool.
A grinding tool is also useful to remove hex nuts but not hex bolts. This is the case because with the grinding tool you remove the head of the bolt. Making it really difficult to remove the bolt, in this case, you will have to drill into the bolt and then remove it with a special tool.
Also, even on hex nuts, it could be a bit tricky with the grinding tool because you can ruin the threads if you go in with everything you got. The bolt might be removed, but the thread will be ruined and you will not be able to mount a new bolt. So, beware of these things while using grinding tools.
These tools are also expensive and not everyone could afford them. Now let’s move on to the next tool in our list of tools to remove a stripped bolt.
A Drill Bit
A drill bit is often used to remove the stripped bolt. This is the only way if you want to remove a broken hex bolt quickly. Also, you need to find a good size drill bit in order to remove the hex bolt.
If you use a too large drill bit, you will ruin the treads and you will not be able to mount a new bolt onto the vehicle. If there are no treads left, there will be no chance to mount a new bolt. The whole thing will have to be resurfaced with a special tool and new treads created for the new bolt.
A more expensive way to tackle the problem. But also more effective since you will have fresh treads on which you will be able to mount the new hardware. But more on that in a bit, now let’s cover the last tools for removing the stripped bolt.
Another perfect tool to remove stripped hex nuts is using a pneumatic chisel. This chisel works on compressed air and you will only need an air compressor along with this tool. But you can also do the job with a regular chisel and this is also very effective.
A sharp chisel and a good hammer would do the trick just right. But these tools are not recommended for head studs since you will basically ruin the stud and you will have to drill it out. Now, let’s move on to the last tool to remove a stripped bolt.
Stripped Bolt Extractor Kit
And the last tool, if you want to do this professionally, is to get an extractor kit. These kits are affordable. And they work really well I must admit. Or, you could spend more to get a fully kitted-out extractor kit if you can’t seem to find a matching extraction tip.
For the best result when removing a stripped bolt, you need to use one of these kits. A spiral kit for hex bolts and a socket type for hex nuts. Remember that, because you cannot remove hex nuts with a spiral kit and the opposite.
Methods Of Removing Stripped Bolts?
We covered the stripped bolt problem and what tools could you use to remove these stripped bolts. Now let’s focus on the methods that you can use to remove these bolts.
There are a few of them that you can try and in the following chapter, we are going to elaborate on them in depth. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
Method 1: Using Heat And A Welder To Remove A Stripped Bolt
Let’s say that you tried everything to remove that stripped bolt and it simply doesn’t want to get out. You tried penetrating fluid, using pliers, wrenches, and nothing works. What you could do in this situation and overcome this problem?
The best thing you can do in this situation, presumably that you have the right equipment is to try to weld a hex nut on top of the stripped bolt. I presume that the hex bolt still has the threads, you can use this part as leverage.
Get a hex bolt and weld the bolt on top of the stripped bolt. Then apply heat with a blow torch if you can or penetrating fluid if you can’t use a blow torch.
Then get a socket and place it on top of the hex bolt and try to loosen it up. Heat and a little bit of persuasion work like a charm in these situations. But sometimes the bolt can break completely and you are left scratching your head. So, what do you do in this situation? Well, that’s what we are going to learn in the following chapter.
Method 2: Removing A Broken Stripped Bolt
Now let’s say that the bolt broke and you are left with no leverage, you can’t reach the treads and you are basically stuck. What do you do in this situation?
In this situation, you will need to get a bolt extractor kit. For this specific task, you will need the spiral one. Since we are going to drill the bolt. And since we know this, a drill bit will be also necessary for this job.
The first thing you will need to do is to find a drill bit of the right size and drill out the bolt in the center. The deeper you can go the better, just don’t go too deep, an inch or an inch and a half would be enough to get the job done.
Let’s presume that you drilled the bolt out and what to do next? The next thing to do is to get one of the spiral bolts in the kit. These turn into reverse, unlike a regular hex bolt. If they were working like usual hex bolts you would end up tightening the bolt even more, and you don’t want that. That’s why these tools were invented to make our life easier.
Just find the right one for your application and place it in the hole that you drilled. Then with a wrench, start removing the bolt. The bolt should come off easily. If not, use some heat and more persuasion and eventually should pop off.
This is a painstaking process. But it has to be done if you want to remove a stripped bolt. But what if you destroyed the treads on which the bolt is tightened? Then you will need to make new treads. And this process is called rethreading. And that’s what we are going to cover next.
Rethreading A Broken or Stripped Bolt
Rethreading a stripped bolt hole is also an option if you failed to remove the bolt without damaging the threads in the hole. Meaning that you will need to recondition the hole again and make it useful because if you don’t have threads, you will not be able to bolt on another hex bolt.
And in order to do this, you will need a kit specific for rethreading these bolts. At first, you will need to drill out the hole, and then with a special tool, you will need to create new threads so the new bolt would work with.
This process requires a little bit of experience. So, it is better to test once and then try to rethread a bolt. In the video above you could see how this process is done and overall, it is not that complicated, you just need to be extra careful not to mess up and redo it again and again. Practice makes everything perfect as they would say. So, this is in the case with rethreading stripped bolt holes.
Can I Leave It Like That?
We learned everything you need to know when it comes to this and here comes a silly question that most people ask themselves of whether to leave it like this since there are also other bolts that are holding the component. And the answer is no, you should definitely not leave a stripped bolt like that and make sure that you sort it out as quickly as you can.
If you can’t, then take the car to a professional to get this work done. You might pay some money for this work but the result will be perfect and no more stripped bolt problem.
Conclusion To Stripped Bolt
In this article, we covered the stripped bolt problem. First, we learned what is a stripped bolt and then we covered the reasons why a bolt can get stripped. This most often happens because of misuse and rust.
Then we covered all of the tools that are used to remove stripped bolts. The most common things are the blow torch and heat to loosen it up. Another way is to use a stripped bolt removal kit. These kits will do the job well.
Lastly, we covered two methods of how to remove a stripped bolt. One method is if the bolt head is still on, the second way is the way of how to remove a bolt when the bolt is broken. We finally covered how to rethread a bolt hole. If you can’t do it, your best bet is to take your car to a mechanic and let them do this work.