How to Remove Rusted Bolts From Shocks

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Severely rusted shock bolts represent a danger to both you and passengers of your vehicle if the rust is severe enough to compromise the integrity of the bolt. They should be removed and replaced immediately under these circumstances. Usually the only time these bolts are removed is when doing suspension work. Rusted bolts make it much more difficult to work on the vehicle. If you live in an area that gets a lot of moisture or in northern climates where there is a lot of salt on the road in the wintertime, removing these bolts will be extremely challenging.

Things You'll Need

  • Propane torch
  • Lubricating oil
  • Socket wrench
  • Socket set
  • Heat the area around the bolt head with a propane torch. Do not let the head of the bolt glow red, but if it starts to turn slightly red, this is OK. Expand the area around the bolt to make it easier to remove it.

  • Shut off the torch and immediately spray the area around the bolt head, along with the head itself, with lubricating oil. This will cause the oil to immediately smoke, so do not inhale the fumes. The oil will seep down behind the bolt head and work to loosen the rust on the threads of the bolt.

  • Wait 15 to 20 minutes for the penetrating oil to finish working on the rust.

  • Remove the bolt with a socket wrench and the appropriate-sized socket. Turn the bolt counterclockwise to remove.

Tips & Warnings

  • Lower shock bolts that are extremely rusted may break under load if the corrosion is severe enough, or if they are overtorqued, and may cause serious injury to you or passengers if the vehicle is in motion. A more common danger is in the servicing of the vehicle. Rusted bolts break much easier than bolts that are not rusted. The bolt head is what usually breaks off. If this happens, you may not be able to remove the bolt from the shock tower or the lower suspension. Always replace rusted shock bolts for these reasons.

References

  • Automotive Tools Manual: Guide to Buying and Using Automotive Tools; Thomson Delmar Learning; 1999
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