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How to Remove a Stripped, Rounded or Rusted Bolt (5 Methods)


Threaded fasteners of many types have been developed over the centuries and are generally used to join two or more parts together. In this article, we will cover almost all types of metal fasteners under the term single bolt.

If all goes well, moderate tension is generated for each bolt that is removed. Unfortunately, there can be difficult times. At such times, a once cooperative bolt may refuse to be unscrewed.

Here, we are going to discuss why it can happen and what to do about it.

What conditions make certain bolts difficult to remove?

stripped screw

stripped screw

This bolt was probably too tight (too tight). The threads of the bolt or the threads of the associated hole in which it is installed have been stripped. Or there may be a stripped nut to remove the bolts. The clip can be rotated but it does not come out.

rusty rust

rusty rust

This bolt is probably part of a corroded assembly, such as the exhaust system parts. The rust process has locked the bolt in place. It cannot be rotated through normal channels.

See also: Signs of a hole in your exhaust

round bolt

round bolt

At times, he tried to remove security from key floors. This usually happens when you use the wrong wrench or socket. A good set of sockets (and a set of wrenches) is something almost every garage should have.

Rounded oil drain plugs seem to be all too common. This usually happens because someone can’t find the right plugin, so they use the closest plugin.

Broken bolt head

broken bolt head

Often, the worst case scenario is when the bolt head is broken and you are looking at a rusty pin. If you’re lucky, threads will be posted to allow for removal.

What situation makes it almost impossible to remove a stuck bolt?

It may be impossible to remove a grip bolt when it is extremely difficult to access. An example of this could be a starter clamp located between the side of the engine and the fender of your car.

You would hardly be able to find a key or a plug-in that stomach. And it spins freely (it’s stripped) or it doesn’t spin at all (it’s stuck). And the bolt head is now round due to difficulty in removing it.

If this bolt was difficult to remove with a wrench, you probably won’t be able to get close enough to remove it using the methods described in this article. In this case, you will need to take the vehicle to a qualified technician for corrective action.

But if you have good access to any offending bolt, the techniques below and a little sweat can eliminate them.

How to remove a stripped bolt (best method)

stripped bolt removed with a screwdriver
stripped bolt removal method (shown in vise)

Generally, a stripped bolt can be turned, but it will not come out. If so, the bolt can be removed. This is how it can be done.

A sharp screwdriver or small chisel will be needed. Place the tool blade at the point where the bolt head meets the surface of the adjacent workpiece. Using a hammer, tap the sharpening blade into the space between the bolt head and the workpiece.

As you tap, the bolt should begin to come out of the hole. You may need to move the tip of your tool to the side in front of the bolt head and repeat this action several times. Do not hit the tool with too much force, as this could break the bolt head.

Once a gap is opened, you should spray WD-40 (or a similar thin penetrating oil) into the gap to help lubricate the bolt in its hole. Turning the bolt after applying the oil will spread the lubricant and make the next step easier. If the bolt refuses to turn easily, a few applications of WD-40, waiting five minutes between treatments, can help loosen it.

You may need to open the gap more completely to allow the latch to turn easily. In this case, insert a larger screwdriver blade into the gap and try to push the bolt further. It should start moving. If successful, the bolt can now be loosened enough to be gripped with jaws, twisted, and removed.

How to Remove a Rusted or Round Bolt (4 Methods)

A rusty or rounded bolt, seized in place, will be much more difficult to remove than the worn bolt described above.

Often, steel bolts installed in a cast iron or aluminum engine block can corrode enough to make them extremely difficult to remove. The corrosion process combined with galvanic effects, creates the chemical bond between the bolt and the threaded hole material.

The removal techniques described below attempt to break the chemical bond and loosen the bolt. If the bolt head remains in good hexagonal shape and in good condition, a standard wrench or socket should be sufficient to turn it.

In general, it is better to create a 6-point socket For that purpose. A 12-point socket fits into the high points of the bolt head and can secure the bolt more quickly when glued into place. If you’re looking for a good socket set, it’s hard to do better than the DeWalt 192-Piece Socket Set at its price.

If the bolt head is round, the head is broken, or the fastener is a stud and has no head, another means of fastening will be required. Most of these grip and shift methods are not the same as a good one, but all of them can remove a bolt.

#1 – Locking Pliers

vice grip

Grasp the head or shank of the bolt with a vice grip pair. Larger locking pliers work better than smaller ones because they can apply more pressure. Plus, you’ll have better leverage with a longer tool.

Please note that when using locking pliers, they can loosen the bolt, which can wear it down or reduce its diameter, and it may break.

On larger bolts, grinding or filing a pair of opposing planes on the bolt shank can provide a better gripping surface for the screw clamps.

If space permits, a socket wrench can be used instead of the locking pliers to tighten and tighten the bolt.

#2 – Rotary tool

rotary tool

Use a rotary tool (i.e., a tool) with a fine grinding wheel to make a straight slot in the top of the bolt. This slot should be wide enough and about 1/8 deep so that you can use a large screwdriver to try to turn the bolt.

Square-foot screwdrivers (or a hex screwdriver near the handle) work best for this because you can use an open-end wrench on the handle of the screwdriver to increase its turning power.

bolt extractor

A very effective way to remove a damaged bolt, nut, or stud is to use an external bolt removal tool. Quality manufacturers like Irwin offer such devices at a reasonable cost. These bushings have internal spiral teeth with a slight internal taper and are made of high strength steel.

Mounted on a round bolt head or broken bolt, the extractor should be screwed securely. It can then be turned with a ratchet or a traditional 3/8″ or 1/2″ breaker bar.

Gradually increase the torque applied to the bolt to prevent the handle from threading onto the bolt and tighten it.

#4 – Two Nut Methods (If One of the Bolts Lost)

remove the broken bolt

If the bolt head is missing but the threads are present and in reasonable condition, this technique can sometimes work. Clean the cables with a fine wire brush. Coat the wires with Loctite 262 Threadlocker.

Install two nuts on the end of the bolt and tighten them as tightly as possible with the two open ends of a wrench.

Allow Loctite to set completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The new pad surfaces can grip and loosen the corroded bolt with normal friction.

A variation of this technique is to weld a nut onto the end of the bolt or stud. Of course, a light-arc welder and welding skills are required to complete this step.

Related: Best Way to Remove a Stuck Wheel Nut or Wheel Bolt

4 Ways to Prepare a Bolt for Removal

A few extra preparation steps can help loosen a rusted bolt before you even put a wrench on it.


Using a portable propane torch, heat the stubborn bolt for several minutes. As the connecting pieces expand, heating can break the corrosion bond between the bolt and the surrounding metal.

Apply torque to remove the bolt as shown above as soon as you remove heat from the area.


Use a ball-peen hammer to tap the exposed end of the bolt. Hit him hard, repeatedly. Such an impact can break the corrosion bond that prevents the bolt from loosening. Then try removing the bolt as described above.

consequence key

If there is a lot of bolt head, try removing it with an impact wrench instead of a socket wrench. Otherwise, the applied impact can often freeze a bolt.

Keep in mind, however, that the force of a striking wire on a worn bolt head can cause the socket to rotate without rotating the bolt further around the head.


Where the bolt comes into contact, soak the metal with WD-40 or an equivalent penetrating oil. Let it sit overnight. In some cases of corroded fasteners, oil will penetrate and help soften the force required to remove it.



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