Torx Removal Tips

Any YJ Jeep owner that has have to remove, well, basically anything from their Jeep, has come to hate the Torx.

Here is a quite list of ways to get them out when the regular Torx Socket / ratchet does not cut it. I don't include heat because it almost always will destroy the paint.

Remember, that no matter which method you use, don't force it if it's not coming out. You'll strip it or snap your bit every time.

There are some prerequisites before I get to other methods. These are things that you should do every time, regardless of method used.

  1. Penetrating Oil
    When possible always use something like PB Blaster It can work it's way into the threads and provide lubrication to reduce the torque required to loosen the bolt. For bolts such as windshield hinges this might not work since they are sealed over by the paint and you can't access the back of the bolt. Spray on a few times a day for a few days before you attempt the bolt removal.
  2. Insert Socket, Hit with Hammer
    Yep. This does two things. It ensures that the Torx socket is fully seated into the bolt head. This is critical in avoiding stripping. It also can loosen the threads up a bit. Feel free to whack hard and ten or twenty or more times. Good idea to use a junker 2" socket extension to save your fingers and your sockets.

Ok, here are the methods for removal.

  • Use an Impact Driver
    When possible, the impact driver is your best friend. Not an impact wrench, an impact driver is a tool that you hit with a hammer which in turn rotates the bit on the end. This transfers the force of the blow into a rotation, and helps avoid stripping the head because the blow of the hammer also forces the bit into the head much, much harder than you could hold on your own while turning a ratchet.
  • Know When to Drill
    Some bolts are threaded into non-removable welded nuts, or another threaded hole that is integral and can not be removed. An example is the hinge bolts on the tailgate. There are captured nuts welded on the inside of the tailgate. If you drill the bolt and damage the threads of the nut your screwed. You've got to tap the nut to a larger size to get anything threaded in there again. It's just not fun..
  • Only Drill the Head off
    When the piece you are unbolting is removable you can consider drilling only the head of the bolt off. The lower tailgate hinge tub bolts are an example of bolts that you can safely drill the heads off. They are threaded into a removable bracket. Drill the heads off and the bracket will come out easily. (Three 1/2 inch hex bolts on wheel well also hold the bracket.) Then the piece comes off and you have a short bit of bolt shaft to work with. Try vice grips first. If that doesn't work...(keep reading...)
  • Weld a Nut
    If you have access to a tig welder (less heat spread, fewer 'sparks' to burn the paint) you can weld a nut onto the head of the bolt your trying to remove. Weld through the center of the nut to avoid damaging paint. Use a wrench or socket to turn the nut. The heat from the weld does help loosen threads also. By this point you should have been spraying PB on the thing is possible.
  • Easy Outs / Bolt Extractors
    If the above tips do not work, these probably won't either. Besides... do you have a plan on how to drill out hardened carbon steel when you do (you will) break the extractor?
  • Drill Through
    Drilling through the bolt requires a straight hole, starting on center. Getting the center of the Torx is easy without a center punch. Use a drill bit slightly larger than the bolt shaft and drill just until the tip bottoms out. That's your center mark. Use a small bit to start your first hole. 1/16th or so. Make sure your going straight! Move up to 3/32, 1/8, 3/16, etc until you are at the shaft diameter, or within a 32nd or so. As you get closer to the final diameter you can try turning out the remaining bolt. Sometimes the tension is released or the heat from drilling has loosened the bolt. Get as close as you can to shaft diameter with the drill bit, but be careful not to drill into the threads. Clean up the holes threads with a tap of the proper size and pitch.
  • Prevention
    Make sure it does not happen again by replacing the crappy bolts with stainless steel and apply anti-seize compound. If the bolt was a high sheer, requires high strength replace with grade 8 and use anti-seize.