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How to Remove a Seized Bolt

Bolt against a blurred background

A seized bolt has the potential to turn even the most basic DIY task into something truly daunting. Fortunately, in this case, a little knowledge goes a long way. Once you’ve learned how to remove a seized bolt, the task can be handled quickly and painlessly.

Removing a bolt that’s stuck in place usually takes about 30 minutes or so. You’ll need the following items:

Now that you’ve got the necessary tools, let’s get started.

Step 1: Spray Penetrating Oil on and Around the Seized Boltwrenches

Penetrating oil is a low-viscosity lubricant specifically designed to seep into the narrow spaces that separate a bolt’s thread. These oils are tough enough to cut through rust and corrosion. After you’ve applied the penetrating oil, let it sit for at least 20 minutes. This ensures that the oil has enough time to fully soak in and loosen the bolt.

Step 2: Put on Your Work Gloves

Before you get to work, make sure your hands are protected by heavy-duty gloves. If you lose your grip as you loosen the bolt, your hands could slide, getting injured in the process. You should make it a habit to always wear gloves when you’re working in your garage.

Step 3: Use Pliers and an Extended Wrench to Loosen the Bolt

Place a wrench extender bar over the handle of a box-end wrench. The wrench extender bar lengthens the wrench, giving you more torque as you loosen the bolt. Install the head of the extended box-end wrench around the head of the bolt. With one hand, grip the wrench at the very end of the extender bar. With your other hand, use pliers to hold the nut that contains the bolt firmly in place. If you have someone on hand to assist you, it might be easier to have that person hold the pliers. Tug sharply on the end of the wrench to loosen the seized bolt. Yank the wrench in short pulses — quick, powerful movements are the most effective way to loosen surfaces that have been choked by rust and corrosion. In many cases, the bolt will come loose at this point. If it doesn’t, continue to the next step.

Step 4: Tap on the Wrench With a Mallet as You Pry the Bolt Loose

Sometimes a seized bolt needs extra force to pry it loose. If the bolt still won’t budge after the previous step, tap on the wrench with a mallet as you pull. That will likely do the trick, finally freeing the stubborn bolt.

All it takes to loosen a seized bolt is the right tools and approach. Knowing how to remove a seized bolt will simplify many of your DIY projects.

Check out all the oils, chemicals and fluids available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on seized bolts and other parts, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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