Stripped screw in a car — how to remove it
Most drivers tend to leave the mechanical stuff to their mechanics, but if you are a car enthusiast that enjoys working on a car, there are some problems you may face. One of the most significant issues is if you run upon a stripped screw while working on your vehicle.
A stripped screw can cause a lot of trouble since the screw slots or thread could have degraded and now it’s challenging to take it out. Don’t worry, though, we’ll help you get the screw out and replace it with a new one so you won’t have to lose time and patience dealing with this issue.
What’s a stripped screw in a car?
A stripped screw in a car is simply a screw that has deteriorated and you can’t use a proper tool to take it out due to degraded slots. It probably simply spins in place, or you can’t approach it which could make you swiftly lose your patience.
It mostly happens when the screw is too old or the metal part where it’s located is degrading. While this won’t be a problem until the time comes to replace it, there’s another side to this story. A stripped screw could also cause problems since it won’t be able to hold tight anymore in some cases.
So, it’s essential to take it out and replace it with a new one to avoid compromising your driving safety and vehicle construction. The broken slot and thread of the screw might also mean that the structure of the screw is bad as well, and it’s not the best thing for the structure of the parts where the screw is located.
Where are screws used in a car?
Numerous car parts use screws to hold the two parts firmly together. It’s either in a component like a circuit board or within a part that affects the drivability of the car like the brake rotor. Either way, the screw must do its job and if the rotor isn’t tightened correctly, you can encounter braking performance issues.
So, it can also compromise your driving safety and all that for a small screw that’s simply not holding the parts together anymore. In the automotive industry, stainless steel screws are the most used type, and there are several ways you can remove a stripped screw without taking your car to a mechanic.
Ways of removing a stripped screw
There are several methods of removing a stripped screw as recommended by experienced mechanics. You’ll need some basic equipment and tools to do the job, such as a flat-head screwdriver, screw extractor, pliers, and a ratchet with a quarter-inch bit.
You can get most of these tools in auto parts stores, and here are the main methods to remove a stripped screw once you’ve got all the tools:
- Cut into the screw
- Use a bit with the ratchet
- Pull it out using locking pliers
- Use a screw extractor
There are also some other methods you could try, including applying a rubber band into the voids of the screw to generate more grip for the power tool. However, it’s best to use the basic methods if you aren’t much of an expert, and cutting a new slot could be one of the easiest fixes.
Removing the screw by cutting a new slot
This is one of the best solutions if you can’t seem to remove the stripped screw regularly. You can use a cutting tool or anything else that’s sharp enough and compact enough to cut a slot within the screw head. Once you’ve done it, you can try using the flat-head screwdriver to remove the screw by using it on a new slot.
Sometimes, all it takes is to slightly cut into the existing slot and make the void accessible for the screwdriver to fix the issue. It’s best to save this option for the end since you’ll be making a new slot within the screw.
Use an extractor set and a ratchet
One of the easiest methods that you can try to remove a stripped screw is to rely on the extractor set and remove the screw with a help of the ratchet. To do it, you’ll first need to choose the right extractor bit size accordant to the size of the screw’s head.
Once you’ve found the right size, you can try to fit it into the slot and lodge it in powerfully so it can be rotated. If you can’t get the screw out by rotating the extracting bit counter-clockwise, you can use a ratchet along with the extractor for easier turning.
It should be enough to get the screw out in most cases, and the next challenge could be to take the screw off the extracting bit if it has cut into it. In this case, you can use the pliers to powerfully grip the screw and take it off.
Removing the screw with locking pliers
Using the locking pliers could help in case you can get the screw at least a tiny bit out. You can also apply the pressure of the flat-head screwdriver and push it into the metal while you are rotating the screw counter-clockwise with the pliers.
This should get the screw out but it might take a bit more time and patience until you lock the pliers around the screw head for a decent grip.
Extractor set with a double-sided drill bit could help
Sometimes, it’s possible to use the extractor set without a ratchet to remove the screw. In this case, you must find a professional extractor set with a double-sided drill bit. The trick here is to make use of the double-sided bit to flatten out the damaged screw.
Once that’s done, you can apply the other side rotate and remove the screw. You can add the support of the screwdriver to make the job easier with the extractor set.
If you are working on your car by yourself, you’ll eventually end up bumping into stripped screws. These can cause a huge headache when it comes to the removal process, so this guide hopefully helps lead the way.
As a last resort option, you can apply the screw gel that should help increase the friction and get a better result from the screwdriver and your effort. If nothing else seems to work, you can try cutting the slot within the screw head to finally get it out and replace it with a new one.
What to do when you stripped a screw?
The key factor when dealing with a stripped screw is patience and getting the necessary tools to deal with it. Using a screw extractor set can be the easiest way to remove along with a ratchet to help rotate the screw more easily.
What happens if a screw gets stripped?
If a screw gets stripped, it means that the metal thread is damaged and it might not hold as tight as a new screw would. So, it’s crucial to take it out and replace the screw, especially if these are holding important components together like brake rotors.
What is the reason why a screw becomes stripped?
A screw might become stripped if you are using the wrong size of a screwdriver or have cut into the metal with a degraded slot that makes it difficult to remove it.