5 tips for loosening rusted, corroded, and stubborn nuts and bolts

5 tips for loosening rusted, corroded, and stubborn nuts and bolts

We’ve all been there before—you’re making great progress on a project when all of a sudden that momentum comes to a screeching halt. The culprit? A bolt so rusted it looks like it hasn’t been touched since the Ford Administration.

Of course, you’ve never been one to back down from a challenge. But what if, after you give it all the elbow grease you’ve got—not to mention a few choice words under your breath—you’re still no closer to making it budge?

There’s got to be a better way, right?

Here are five expert tips for removing even the most rusted, corroded, and indescribably stubborn fasteners.

Tip #1: Scrape away excess rust

If your fastener in question is covered in a thick layer of rust or another form of corrosion, the natural first step would be to remove as much of this excess buildup as possible before doing anything else.

Using a sturdy wire brush, you can have the head of the bolt and bottom of the threading (if necessary) scraped clean in no time. Now your tools will get a much better grip, giving you an increased chance for success.

Tip #2: Soak the threads with Deep Creep

Why work harder when you can work smarter? By spraying a premium quality penetrating oil on your stuck bolt, you can reduce the amount of torque you need to apply by as much as 50%.

Just don’t be impatient! Give it enough time to break the metal surface tension and creep deep into the threads to avoid having to drill out a broken bolt. Fortunately, Deep Creep works faster and longer than any other penetrating oil on the shelf, so you won’t need to wait long.

Deep Creep loosening rusted bolts

Tip #3: Add extra torque

If you remember one thing from high school physics, it should be that using a longer lever will drastically reduce the amount of force you need to apply. If you can’t get it loose with a typical wrench or pliers, grab a long-handled ratchet or—better yet—a breaker bar that was designed for just such an application.

Make sure to apply your newfound turning strength slowly at first. If you feel the resistance soften at any point, you could be stripping the bolt head which means you may need to try a different approach.

Tip #4: Apply heat

Like many things, when metal heats up it expands, and when it cools back down it contracts. This simple expansion/contraction process can sometimes be all it takes to break the iron grip rust has on your bolt.

Before you do anything though, take your surroundings into consideration. Remove any plastic, rubber, and other heat-sensitive parts and make sure you are nowhere near fuel lines, oil canisters, or any other flammable objects.

If you have a simple propane torch, that will do the trick just fine, although a more precise pencil-tipped torch will work even better. Heat up one side of the bolt head or nut until it’s nearly red-hot.

Once it’s hot, take this opportunity to spray more Deep Creep on the bolt. Unlike many other penetrating oils, Deep Creep is non-flammable and specifically designed to stand up to extreme heat. In fact, the expanded bolt will allow it to creep even deeper than before and loosen that bolt from the inside out.

Deep Creep with heat

Tip #5: Use an impact tool

If you own a pneumatic or electric impact wrench, then you know just how much torque you can apply with almost no effort at all.

That said, if your intention is to clean and reuse the fastener, then you’re better off avoiding this tip altogether. If the rust or corrosion’s hold is strong enough, the path of least resistance could very well mean shearing the head clean off your bolt instead.

Remove even the most stubborn fasteners with Deep Creep

Deep Creep works fast to break metal surface tension while resisting evaporation and extreme heat. It quickly cuts through rust and buildup of all kinds to loosen, lubricate, and protect even the most fragile parts and mechanisms. Compare Deep Creep to your favorite shop lubricant and discover how it creeps deeper, works harder, and lasts longer!

Then shop the rest of our Sea Foam products and see why we’ve been converting professionals and hobbyists alike for over 75 years.