How to Repair or Remove Stripped Bolts

MHUB - February 17, 2015

If your bolt is stripped and you're finding that it is difficult to remove or repair, there's a few simple tricks you can try before turning to a professional for removal. Which method you use to remove the stripped bolt will depend on your particular circumstance. First start by using a suitable penetration fluid, such as PB Blaster or WD40 to help you along with the removal process of the bolt. Spray the fluid around the head of the stripped bolt. You want the penetrating fluid to work its way down into the threads of the stripped bolt as you are working on it so removal will be easier. It can mean the difference between the stripped bolt coming out faster or you having to resort to more procedures to remove the bolt. Craftsman makes an excellent damaged bolt or nut removal tool that works like a vice on the head of stripped bolts and nuts. The more you tighten down on the stripped bolt, the more it bites into it and helps turn it out. You may want to try this first before resorting to drilling out the bolt. If you have to resort to drilling the stripped bolt out, you will of course need a drill and drill bits. Use a 1/4 inch drill bit in the center of the stripped bolt. Drill down about an inch. This hole will help guide the larger drill bits so drill it as straight as possible. Once you have that first hole drilled, you can start moving up in sizes with your drill bits until you have one drill bit a little smaller that the actual diameter of the hole. If you go too far you can damage the inner threads of the hole and make it near impossible to get a new bolt back in once you're finished removing the old bolt. Take your time at this stage. Once you have most of the stripped bolt drilled out, you can use a screw extractor kit to remove the bolt. This kit basically has threaded screw type heads that dig into the inside of the drilled bolt and grasps it as the bolt is being turned outwards. One of the least popular ways to repair a stripped bolt is to heat the head of the bolt. Do not use this technique when the bolt is screwed into an aluminum surface. If you heat a bolt that is in aluminum, when you go to turn the bolt after heating, you will not only remove the bolt, but also some of the aluminum surrounding the bolt. Once the bolt is removed you may want to spray the inner surface of the bolt hole with WD-40 or PB Blaster so the next time you don't start out an easy job by stripping one of your bolts.