Inside any vehicle, lots of nuts and bolts are used to attach and tighten the parts. Over time, these nuts can get corroded or lose shape for different reasons, making it impossible to remove stripped nut. Ultimately, these stripped nuts become inefficient, making disassembly, restoration, andmaintenanceofcertain parts difficult.
If you are facing issues with these stripped nuts in different parts of your vehicle, this article here will be a great help for you. Whether it’s the battery, the oil pan, orthe wheel, I have brought you a comprehensive guide on how you can remove the stripped nut from each of these parts.
Additionally, I’ll tell you why the nuts get stripped and what problems these stripped nuts cause so that you can understand the whole thing better. So without wasting any more time. Let’s dive in.
What’s a Stripped Nut?
As you are reading here, it’s safe to assume that you already know what stripped nut is. But in case you don’t, a stripped nut is that nut that lost its hexagon-shaped head for various reasons. I’ll come to the reasons later.
Due to this loss of shape, regular sockets or wrenches can’t grip the nut head, making it near impossible to remove. As these are hard to remove, it can turn an easy maintenance job into hours of frustration.
What’s even more disturbing is that you can completely break the nut head, leaving the rest of the nut inside the hole. To fix that, you’ll have no way but to go to a mechanic and end up paying more for a simple repair job.
What causes these nuts to be stripped?
Before I discuss the solution, we need to figure out the reasons behind the stripped nuts. It’ll help you get a better idea about the whole situation and avoid stripped nuts in the future. So, what are the causes? Let’s find out.
The most common reason behind a stripped nut is over-tightening or over-torquing. Each of the nuts has a specific torque specification, and we need to tighten the nuts according to that. While loose nuts do not tend to be a problem, overtightening the nuts can cause stripped nuts.
Corrosion is another prominent reason behind stripped nuts. If you use your car roughly or in extreme weather conditions like heavy rain or snow, the chances are that nuts in your vehicle can easily get rusted. Eventually, this rust buildup will wear out the nut, and you’ll end you with stripped ones.
Lastly, using the wrong tools can be another potential reason behind stripped nuts. Depending on the nut size, there are different types of wrenches sold on the market. When you were first screwing the nuts or trying to unscrew it now, using the wrong wrench size can cause the nuts to lose their hexagon shape.
Related: Remove Car Battery Corrosion
How to remove a stripped nut from a car battery
The battery is an integral part of running any vehicle properly. Whether it’s maintenance or battery replacement, you might need to remove the nuts from the clamps of the battery to get the battery out. Now, if the nuts are stripped on the clamps, it can pose a problem for you to remove. Additionally, if you force it, you might also end up ruining the whole battery terminal. So, before you do that, let me show you how to deal with the stripped nut from a car battery.
- Step 1:
Park the vehicle in your garage or a safe place before starting the removal process. First, turn off the engine and other electronics inside the car like the music system, lights, and the air condition.
- Step 2:
If you have been driving for a long time, the engine, as well as the battery, might be hot. Open the car hood and give it some time to cool down before you get to work. Meanwhile, gather the necessary tools required for the job.
- Step 3:
Among the different reasons I mentioned above, corrosion is the most probable one when it comes to stripped nuts in your battery. So, clean off the corrosion first with a terminal brush. If the corrosion buildup is severe, use baking soda.
- Step 4:
As the nut head has already lost its shape, regular wrenches won’t come in handy now. Instead, carefully grab the nut with locking pliers and try to loosen it up.
- Step 5:
At this step, you will need to cut the bolt out from the terminal as there is no way to unscrew it. You have to be super careful about the whole process so that you don’t cut the battery or the terminal. Otherwise, your battery terminal might need to be replaced. Use constant and slow motion of the saw to cut through the nut and remove it.
Related: Oil Drain Plug Stuck
How to remove a stripped nut from the oil pan
An oil pan’s nut also referred to as an oil drain plug, is a significant yet underrated part of a car’s oil management system. This plug sits right at the bottom of the oil pan and prevents the oil from pouring out.
Due to over-tightening or corrosion, this plug can getdamaged and leak oil from the oil pan. In that case, you’ll need to remove the plug and replace it with a new one.If the plug is stripped, the job won’t be as easy as removing a regular plug. So, let me show you how you can remove the stripped nut from the oil pan.
- Step 1:
Before you start, park the car is a safe sport, and let the car rest for a few minutes to cool it off. Then slide underneath the car to start.
- Step 2:
Place an oil collection tray just beneath the plug to contain any oil spill. Then, like the previous method, try to dislodge the plug with a pair of locking pliers or ratchet.
- Step 3:
From step 2, you’ll end with two possible results, either the plug nut is removed, or you just broke the head off, and the rest of the plug is still in there.
- Step 4:
If the rest is still in there, smoothen any part that sticks out from the surface of the oil pan with a hand grinder. Then, put a hole in the remaining part with an automatic center punch.
- Step 5:
In this step, you have to drill through the last hole you made with the center punch. Use a 1/4-inch drill bit first and then a 3/16-inch one. Keep repeating the process until the remaining plug doesn’t loosen up or come on its own.
- Step 6:
If it still doesn’t come out, put a straight bolt extractor through the hole and slowly rotate counter-clockwise. This should remove the rest of the plug nut from the oil pan.
How to remove a stripped nut from a wheel
A stripped nut on your wheel rim can be a nightmare while repairing or changing the wheel. Like any other parts, stripped nuts on wheel can happen either due to corrosion or overtightening.
No matter the reason, the time, money, and most importantly, the frustration this stripped lug nut will cause is hard to deal with. So to save you from this problem, I am here with the simplest way of removing the stripped lug nut from a wheel.
- Step 1:
Again, start by pulling off your vehicle someplace safe. Try to avoid doing it by the side of a road. For this process, you’ll require a bolt extractor, breaker bar, penetration oil, and a hammer.
- Step 2:
First, you have to put the socket onto the stripped nut according to the size. Then tap the socket with the hammer to dig the socket onto the nut. You need to hammer hard so that you dug enough to get the necessary torque for the removal.
- Step 3:
Now that you have installed the socket on the stripped nut, try to rotate it with the driver and breaker bar and see if it comes off. In most cases, it should come off easily at this point.
- Step 4:
If it doesn’t come off, then you have to assume the nut is severely stripped. Additionally, the drive can break off and remain inside the extractor. In that case, you’ll need to spray some penetration oil on the stripped nut.
- Step 5:
After spraying the penetration oil, the job should be fairly easy. Try again with the breaking bar. If you previously broke the drive head, you’ll need to put a bigger socket to rotate the previous socket.
- Step 6:
Use as much force as possible in a counter-clockwise motion. Instead of rushing, try to rotate it slowly with constant pressure. Eventually, the stripped nut will come off easily.
Additional ways of removing lug nuts
Above I have discussed some very specific methods to remove stripped nuts from certain parts. However, there are various tricks out there that general people and mechanics use to pull this job off. If you find the previously mentioned methods a bit challenging, you can use these new methods too.
Depending on the nut, use the method you feel most comfortable with. Let’s find out some of the common techniques used to remove stripped nuts from a car.
- Using a Pipe Wrench
This is not the most foolproof method out there, but you should definitely give it a try. Almost everyone has a pipe wrench lying around their toolbox; this method is easy to follow. Instead of any particular shape, pipe wrenches can work depending solely on the pressure it creates on the object. So, you can try grabbing the striped nuts with the pipe wrench and see if the nuts can be removed.
- Using a Hammer
This method is just as straightforward as it sounds. Sometimes when you don’t have enough time or equipment to try the more sophisticated ways, a chisel and hammer can quickly solve your problem. However, keep I mind that this method is only for slightly stripped nuts. If the nut is heavily stuck or corroded, this method won’t help you much.
- Cutting through the Nut Head
This method is pretty similar to the one I discussed for the battery. But instead of cutting the whole nut head off, you can just make a few cuts through the head. These cuts will eventually loosen up the nut. Then, you can try rotating it with pliers and see if you remove the stripped nuts.
- By Welding a New Nut
This method is a bit complex, but it’s worth trying if you have the right tools nearby. The main problem with a stripped nut is that it has lost its hexagon shape, and that’s why it’s impossible to grip. But when you weald a new nut onto the stripped one, you have the grip you need to grab the nut with a wrench and remove it.
- Using Heat
Using heat to remove stripped nuts is another excellent alternative. For this method, you need a blow torch to heat the stripped nuts. Due to the heat, the nuts will soften up and expand. Then when the nut cools down, the thread and nut will get back to their original shape, allowing you to remove it easily.
- Rocking the Bolt
Sometimes, what happens is that the nuts get stuck inside the thread because of the rust buildup. For these stripped nuts, you can try to simply rock the bolts and see if you can remove them before trying out more complex methods. Using an extractor and ratchet, move the nut back and forth until you feel that the nut has loosened up. As the nut keeps loosening up, using some penetration oil will further help you remove it completely.
There you have all the methods to remove stripped nuts from different car parts. As car owners, almost all of us are more or less familiar with the pain of stripped nuts and how it can complicate a simple repair job. But now that you know how to remove stripped nut, you won’t have to worry about it anymore or pay a mechanic for this job.
James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.