Broken bolts and hardware is the bane of a classic car enthusiasts existence. It can ruin your day if they are bad. We have found that some methods are better than others for removing broken bolts. The process and time it takes to remove the old broken hardware depends on how delicate the area is that you’re removing the broken bolt from. Sometimes you can’t use heat because of rubber, plastic, or paint surrounding the area or others you surrounding area is a heavy cast piece of metal you can use the power of fire and heat. Read below for our favorite tools to help remove broken bolts and screws in metal.
- Screw Extractors- The great thing about adversity is that great inventions and solutions come from it. Screw Extractors work simply; drill a pilot hole or indention into the hardware and push the extractors into the hole. This allows you to turn the extractor and the edges will dig into the pilot hole and turn the bolt out. This process works on most moderately stuck bolts and will get you out of a jam in most situations.
- Drill Bits– A good set of drill bits that vary in size will allow you to slowly drill the center of a bolt out. This method is used when a screw extractor won’t work and you can’t use heat to loosen the broken bolt. This process requires drilling the bolt out starting in the center with a small 1/8″ drill bit and working up in size until the perimeter of the bolt is so thin you can knock it out with a chisel. This method takes care and patience as you can wreck the threads of the hole if you aren’t careful. This is one of the last lines of defense.
- Penetrating Oil- An oil is a tool? Yep! Use a good penetrating oil to soak into the threads of the stuck bolt and help free up the corrosion that is usually causing the binding. Pro Tip- Heat up the stuck bolt and the perimeter of the hole with a torch and apply penetrating oil to the area while still warm to let the penetrating oil wick into the threads. Penetrating oil can work wonders but does require patience and you may need to leave it sit for hours or overnight on extremely stuck hardware.
- Screw Buster- This is a more modern tool than some others in the list but works wonders. This tool takes the power of an air hammer or air chisel and the power of an impact screwdriver. As the air hammer vibrates the bit and the hardware you can also turn the handle slowly to vibrate and break the hardware loose. This method works really well for delicate hardware like small screws. Pro Tip- Turn the air pressure down on your air hammer and let it vibrate the hardware for a bit before trying to loosen it.
- Plasma Cutter- Is the broken bolt a lost cause? Will you need to repair the threads? Sometimes when all hope is lost you may need to burn the broken bolt out of the hole. Use a plasma cutter and gouge the bolt out of the hole. This method is about the quickest, but also is the most aggressive and should be used as a last ditch effort. Pro-Tip- Use fresh consumables to try and reduce the size of the arc and area heated.