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Readers Respond: Share Your Tricks on Loosening Stuck Nuts and Bolts

Responses: 42

By

Stuck nuts and bolts are a real pain in the neck. We like PB Blaster as a penetrant, along with a little flame to move things along. What tricks do you know that might help our readers loosen things up?

In defense of WD-40

Original spark plug, '95 bronco, 147K mi., Plug would not budge. I soaked it with WD-40 for 24 hours, plug came out with little effort. Bought a breaker arm and didn't even need it.
—Guest matt

jc

kroil is the only thing I have ever seen loosen a rusted muffler.
—Guest john

More industrial methods

Striking wrenches work great on larger stuff as does more leverage. But if all else fails use a drill bit to drill out the center and melt the rest with a cutting torch. Or use a nut buster.
—Guest Ar

loosening stuck nuts and bolts

Try Kroil made by Kano company. It is what WD -40 wants to be when it grows up. I have never found any other product that comes slose.
—Guest lord bear

wrenchhead

50/50 mlx acetone and transmission fluid best penetrating oil ever
—Guest troy

dont no it all havent done it all

after heat try some ice cold h2o before u strip if no result heat again.be sure to follow fire saftey precaution
—Guest franko

Doc

You can pervent having problems loosening Lug nuts by puting lub grease on them the first time you have them off.
—Guest Sam Harris

broken spark plug removal

I had to use a lot of torque when I removed spark plugs from an 86 S10 2.8 and one broke leaving the shell still threaded in. I thought an easy out might break so I used a plumbers tool called "pipe nipple extractor". I found the right size that locked into the shell. It had a 5/8 bolt head on it. I used a 1/2 inch drive breaker bar and it backed out with no slippage.
—chevylama

retired tech

After using a rust penetrant, including up to a couple of days soak time, and this FAILS, I will then heat cycle the frozen part with a propane torch, heating, letting cool, and repeating as many times as necessary. The more times you heat cycle, the greater the probability of success. In really stubborn cases, applying high torque while the frozen part is still very hot usually does the trick. If you want to prevent frozen threaded fasteners in the future, apply a removable threadlocker (242) to the threads before assembly, it does wonders in preventing corrosion, as well as preventing loosening due to vibration.
—Guest toyotawhizguy

bolt blaster

I run a parts dept.a sales person walked in ask to try bolt blaster.my old fashen back yard mechanic old school boss knows all the tricks in the book.but this one he had antique tractor tryed every trick to remove bolt nothing worked she sprayed (bolt blaster)let it set for one hour every one in shop wanted to see this someone put a ratchet with a slight push the bolt moved with such ease needless to say my bosses chin hit the ground he was speachless now he only will use bolt blaster and tells everyone he loves to show people how it works.it cost a little more but well worth it my mechanic save a lot of time less work .pb blaster can't compair !!
—casey36

bolts

heat bolt or plug that is frozen and stick a household type candle to bolt, the wax will wick into threads helping to lubricate and free bolt. this works well on removing oil passage plugs on engine blocks.
—Guest junkman

WD40 AND AN IMPACT DRIVER

STUCK AND RUSTED NUTS AND BOLTS ARE REALLY, DIFFICULT TO BREAK LOOSE WITHOUT DAMAGING THE SCREW HEADS AND CORNERS OF THE NUTS AND BOLTS. PATIENCE PAYS OFF HERE, THOUGH. SOAK THE STUCK AND RUSTED THREADS WITH WD40 OR ANOTHER PENETRATING OIL, AND LET IT SOAK IN FOR AWHILE. DON'T RUSH. LET IT IS SOAK. THEN, WITH AN IMPACT DRIVE, YOU CAN JOLT THE STUCK NUT OR BOLT ENOUGH TO CRACK IT LOOSE WHERE YOUR REGULAR WRENCH OR DRIVER WILL WORK TO FINISH THE JOB. THE IMPACT DRIVER HAS A BUILT IN CAM TYPE OF DESIGN THAT WILL IMPART A SLIGHT TWIST TO THE END OF THE DRIVER WHEN YOU HIT IT WITH A HAMMER. THE FORCE OF THE HAMMER ASSURES THAT THE DRIVER IS SOLIDLY ENGAGED ON THE NUT OR SCREW HEAD WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY ROTATING THE STUCK NUT OR BOLT WITH A GOODLY AMOUNT OF FORCE FROM THE HAMMER HIT. VERY SELDOM WILL YOU HAVE TO EMPLOY AND DRILL AND BOLT EXTRACTOR , WHEN USING THIS SIMPLE AND LOW COST TOOL.
—Guest HOWARD DAHLBERG

Veterans tricks for rusty fasteners

I've worked on cars for 40 years in Rochester NY where they salt away small snowfalls of six inches or less. You wouldn't believe how rusty things can get. I've seen hex nuts shrivel to 1/3 their original size. The previous suggestions are good- here's a couple more. A trick I use frequently is to apply penetrating oil, and then vibrate it in with a blunt punch on a pneumatic hammer. Dial the pressure down to about 20 psi to avoid damaging things. Put the punch on the head of the bolt & on the flats of the nut and give a few seconds burst on the trigger, working your way around all sides. If the fastener is inaccessible, you can also use the punch directly on the part the fastener attaches to. The big time vibrations will cause the penetrating oil to creep where it's needed. Last trick works for sleeved parts, not nuts or bolts. A 20+ ton hydraulic press may remove stubborn parts after you try everything else. Patience is your most important tool.
—KwazyKwaig

getting things moving

Try tightening bolts a little extra turn before trying to loosen them, the tightening gets the bolt moving and doesnt take the side of the bolt that you neeed in order to loosen it.
—Guest Gordon

oh nuts!

I always try to tighten the nut, just to move it alittle this will crack the rust, this has worked well in the past.
—Guest Matt Stanway (UK)

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