Removing Seized Nuts and Bolts

This article attempts to allow you to arm yourself with knowledge about removing stubborn fasteners. The items are listed from what we believe is a first to last resort. Happy wrenching, or in this case, hopeful wrenching.

Penetrating Fluid
This stuff is usually the best start on removing a stubborn nut or bolt. It is very simple to use. Spray it on, wait a while and try to break the problem loose. Usually gently rocking the nut or bolt is more effective than the strong arm approach. If a fastener is being a problem try a second application 24 hours later to see if it makes a difference. Our favorite kind on fluid is PB Blaster Penetrating Catalyst but there are several others…Liquid Wrench and WD40 to name a few.

Nut Splitters
These handy tools can cut a nut off from a bolt. A small tool is fitted around the nut and using a wrench a blade is forced into the side of the nut usually causing the nut to break. Sometimes it can even do so without destroying the bolt.

A bolt or screw extractor can be useful for removing a broken bolt or a bolt with a destroyed head. Extractors are used by drilling a properly sized hole in the stuck bolt and inserting the extractor. The extractor is reverse threaded so by loosening the extractor the tighter it tries to threat into the stuck bolt. Be careful not to exert too much force on the extractor. A broken extractor is near impossible to drill out.

Heat – aka the “Gas Wrench”
Using heat usually comes as a last resort. Heating the bolt breaks the bond and usually allows for easy extraction. BE CAREFUL! Using a torch under or around your vehicle can be dangerous. Make sure you are aware of the surrounding area. An acetylene torch usually works the best. High heat that can quickly heat the stuck bolt will give the best results and will avoid heating the surrounding area.

Occasionally a bolt just refuses to come out. If you are lucky you can cut off the bolt and let the other side fall out. It usually seems that this down and dirty method is inappropriate most of the time. Obviously you can’t cut a bolt that threads into something that can’t be removed, like a cross member bolt. Although on some occasions you can decide to cut off a bolt head to allow a piece to come apart and allow access to the shaft of the bolt. Usually in this situation a vice grip is clamped onto the bolt and heat may be applied.