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Home | DIY | How to Remove Stripped Bolt – [8 Ways]

How to Remove Stripped Bolt – [8 Ways]

March 13, 2024 | Victor Lukasso
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Stripping a bolt is something that should be avoided from the onset. However, there are instances where we come across bolts that others have already stripped. This can occur either with the head of the bolt, the nut, or the threads.

When the head of the bolt or the nut becomes rounded off or stripped, and the bolt remains tightly secured, it presents a significant issue and leaves you with the question of how to remove a stripped bolt.

In this article, I will teach you eight ways to remove a stripped bolt.

What Causes Stripping

Stripping a bolt commonly occurs due to excessive tightening or using a twelve-point or slightly oversized socket. Regular use of an impact wrench to tighten bolts can exacerbate the issue, as the socket’s slipping rapidly rounds off the nut or bolt’s corners to the extent that even the correct size socket becomes ineffective.

Corrosion serves as another factor that can contribute to stripping, often intertwined with overtightening. Rust accumulation and exposure to heat further increase the issue, mainly seen in bolts securing the header pipe to the exhaust.

How to Remove a Stripped Bolt (8 METHODS)

Dealing with a stripped bolt can be a frustrating experience, especially when you need to remove it to complete a repair or maintenance task. A stripped bolt can seem like a formidable obstacle, whether due to overtightening, corrosion or wear and tear. However, with the right tools and techniques, you can remove a stripped bolt without causing further damage.

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In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of removing a stripped bolt safely and efficiently. There are several methods of removing a stripped bolt based on how badly the bolt is stripped, but here are some;

  1. USE PENETRATING OIL: If the stripped bolt is stuck due to corrosion or rust, applying a penetrating oil can help loosen it. Spray the penetrating oil generously onto the bolt and allow it to soak for several minutes or even hours, depending on the severity of the corrosion. Repeat this process as needed until the bolt begins to loosen.
  2. APPLY HEAT: Heat can also be effective in loosening a stubborn bolt. Use a propane torch or a heat gun to apply heat directly to the bolt for a few minutes. Be cautious not to overheat the surrounding area, especially if flammable materials are nearby. Once the bolt has been heated, attempt to loosen it with a wrench or socket.
  3. USE A BOLT EXTRACTOR: If the above methods fail to loosen the bolt, you may need a bolt extractor. A bolt extractor is a specialized tool designed to grip onto the stripped bolt and remove it with minimal effort. Start by drilling a small hole into the center of the bolt using a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the extractor. Insert the extractor into the hole and turn it counterclockwise using a wrench or socket. The extractor will bite into the bolt, allowing you to remove it quickly.
  4. USE A SCREW EXTRACTOR SET: If a bolt extractor is not available, you can also try using a screw extractor set. These sets typically contain a variety of extractor sizes and are designed to remove stripped screws and bolts. Follow the instructions provided with the set to drill a hole into the center of the bolt and insert the appropriate extractor. Apply pressure while turning the extractor counterclockwise to remove the bolt.
  5. USE VICE GRIPS OR LOCKING PLIERS: In some cases, vice grips or locking pliers can grip onto the stripped bolt and turn it counterclockwise. Position the vice grips’ jaws or lock pliers securely onto the bolt and apply pressure while turning. Be cautious not to apply too much force, as this can cause the bolt to break or further damage the surrounding area.
  6. FILE FLAT SIDES: If the head of the bolt is still accessible, you can try filing flat sides onto it using a metal file. This will provide a better grip for a wrench or socket, allowing you to turn and remove the bolt. Be sure to fill evenly on all sides to avoid damaging the bolt further.
  7. DRILL THE BOLT OUT: You may need to drill the bolt out entirely as a last resort. Start by selecting a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the bolt. Carefully drill into the center of the bolt, not damaging the surrounding material. Once the bolt has been drilled out, you can clean up the threads with a tap and die set and replace the bolt with a new one.
  8. USE A CHISEL AND HAMMER: To use the chisel and hammer method, choose the right-sized chisel for the stripped bolt. Position the chisel on the nut’s flat edge and tap it with a hammer to make the nut turn. If the nut isn’t too damaged, you can use a regular socket to unscrew it.
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FAQs

How do you unscrew a striped thread?

To unscrew a stripped thread, particularly with soft metal screws, try tapping a manual screwdriver into the head of the stripped screw using a hammer. This action should secure the screwdriver in place, providing additional torque to twist the screw out.

Can you fix a stripped bolt?

You can fix a stripped bolt by drilling out the damaged threads and tapping the hole to create new threads. This process allows you to insert threaded inserts requiring slightly larger holes to accommodate the new hardware. By drilling and tapping the hole, you can restore the bolt’s functionality and secure it with new threads.

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Should I put glue in screw holes?

Yes, adding glue to a screw hole can indeed strengthen the connection of a wood screw. When you apply glue to a screw hole before inserting the screw, it fills any gaps or voids in the wood fibers, enhancing the bond between the screw and the wood and thus reinforcing the connection.

Conclusion

Removing a stripped bolt can be challenging, but with the right tools and techniques, it is possible to do so safely and efficiently. Whether you choose to use penetrating oil, heat, bolt extractors, or other methods, patience and persistence are essential. Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully remove a stripped bolt and confidently complete your repair or maintenance task.

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Meet Victor Lukasso, the owner of V. Auto Basics. Through this blog, Victor Provides Insights on the latest tips, maintenance, repair, and techniques in the automotive world.

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