Tips For Removing Stuck Nuts And Bolts

May 14th, 2011

We’ve all encountered it. You are trying to remove a frozen nut from a wheel or some other component, and it just won’t budge. There’s just too much corrosion due to years of build up and oxidation. Or maybe the nut is stripped. These situations call for more than just brute force. You risk damaging some component of the piece that you are working on, or worse yet, your knuckles.
One of the first tactics technicians will turn to is putting a torch to it to see if that frees it up. Heat will cause metals to expand, thereby allowing you to free it up.¬†However, heat can result in problems in many applications. You can damage adjacent plastic or rubber components with the extreme heat, and some metals may even warp under the heat. Plus, common sense should dictate that you shouldn’t use a torch near any flammable components, or near any systems that utilize hydrocarbon liquids. In these cases, a viable alternative is to introduce cold to the fastener. It can have the same effect as heat in these situations. It will cause the fastener to contract, and any movement , whether expansion or contraction, will potentially free up those stubborn fasteners.
If it’s just a case of the nut being stripped, there are many tools on the market that will allow you to get a “bite” on the fastener. They are too numerous to name here, but they can be very effective in those situations where your wrench just can’t get a good grip on a worn out old nut.
When its just a case of plain old corrosion, a good penetrating oil or lubricant works extremely well. But sometimes you need to give these lubricants some time to work it’s way into the corrosion. And we all know time is money. Sometimes we need the fastener free now, not later. There are many different types of lubricants, and all have their place for certain applications. Some lubricants are not compatible with certain materials. Some may not be compatible with plastics for instance. Others may not be compatible with other oils or greases that may be nearby. Once again, some lubricants are flammable, and should not be used near a heat source.
As you can see, there are a myriad of concerns to consider when you have a car up on the Auto Lift and you are trying to tackle a stuck fastener. The method you choose should be considered carefully before jumping in head first.

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