How To Use Broken Fastener Extractors

Oh… now you messed up. 

You went too hard on the righty tighty, and now you have a righty loosey on your hands. You just sheared off the head of the bolt that you’re trying to tighten. Or even worse, you just sheared the head off a rusty fastener that you were trying to loosen. Yikes. Your “30-minute job” just got a hell of a lot longer.

Oh no… (Photo Credit: Cruzdelasadas technical)


At least use some penetrating fluid

Let’s talk avoidance, first. What should you have done? Well, at the very least, some penetrating fluid couldn’t have hurt. Penetrating fluids use an oily solvent that slowly works its way into the threads. It leaves an oily coating that, in theory, lubricates the threads. Pretty simple. Using penetrating fluid is easy. “Allow to soak. Tap or vibrate parts to help loosen – reapply and repeat process until parts come free.” Worth a shot. 

To quote Project Farm “When it comes to rusty bolts, something is better than nothing” Here is his penetrating fluid comparison video. Which Penetrating Oil is Best? Let’s find out!
Spoiler alert: Liquid Wrench Penetrating Oil is the winner. Penetrating Oil – Liquid Wrench.

I highly recommend the content on this channel, Project Farm is great. (Photo Credit: Project Farm – YouTube)


Inject some Heat

Now if you watched the end of the above video, you’ll see that all of the penetrating fluids were bested by heat. You can use plenty of things to pump some heat into the stuck area. A torch is going to be the most common. What I really like to use is the Induction Innovations Mini-Ductor Venom. This has saved me from so many Toyota Tacomas that it’s hard to count. I’ve had to use a Mini-Ductor for every lift kit video on this channel, ExtremeTerrain Toyota – YouTube, and it never failed me. 

Seems par for the course on a Tacoma (coming from a Toyota fan) (Photo Credit: Rust Repair, Inc.)

You can really focus the heat as well. With a torch, you have to be really careful around rubber boots, wires, ball joints, and more. With the Mini-Ductor, you’re focusing the heat on whatever is inside the coil. Also worth noting, it only works on ferrous metal so your fingers are totally safe around this took. However, you can put a hotdog on a metal skewer and cook it that way. Be warned, it’s pretty gross tasting. 

Hotdogs aside, This works because heat causes metal to expand. The fact that different metals expand at different rates means that you’re creating a tiny gap between the threads. Bobs your uncle, you get a nut that falls right off.

Here’s a cool video of it loosening a stuck exhaust nut: Tool Review: Mini-ductor Venom MDV-777 Chrome Induction Heater


Break Out the Tools

Now, this is going to depend on whether you’re dealing with a screw or a nut. (side note: a screw goes into a blind hole. A bolt has a nut on the other end.) We’ll start with a nut since that’s a little simpler. The kit we offer is the Eastwood 9 Piece Bolt Extractor Set. You’ll sometimes see these referred to as their generic name, “turbo sockets.” These sockets have a reverse threaded rifling inside to bite into a rounded nut/bolt head. The more torque applied, the harder they bite. The beauty is that these will work on a variety of shapes.  This will absolutely chowder your hardware, but since you’re probably already dealing with rounded fasteners, you should replace it anyways. 

Eastwood 9 Piece Bolt Extractor Set.

Sizes for our kit are going to range from ¼-inch to ¾-inch (6mm to 19mm). This kit also contains a steel punch that you can slide through the socket to tap out the fastener. The 9 included sockets are ⅜” drive and they also include a hex shape around their base so you can slip a wrench around them in a tight spot; good thinking. Last but not least, the kit also includes a blow-molded case, as well as a 1-year warranty. 


Worse Case Scenario… 

Alright, so let’s say you tried the turbo socket and sheared the head off of your screw. You’re in big trouble with this one, pal. You have something that’s really stuck. You’re going to need the Eastwood 6 Piece Screw Extractor Set. Here’s what you do. First, you want to level the broken head with something like a die grinder. Then you want to centerpunch exactly in the middle of the screw. Then you want to drill it out; some left-hand threaded drill bits are perfect for this. You might get lucky and back the screw out with just the left-handed drill bit. Then you want to use a t-handle like this one to slowly, and evenly rotate your extractor into the hole you just drilled. With any luck, the extractor with catch, allowing you to remove the fastener. 

Eastwood 6 Piece Screw Extractor Set.


Broken Extractors

Now, look, to be honest with you, these don’t always work. If you’re working with something that is truly stuck, you’re going to break the extractor. That’s a real problem. Now you’re working with broken, hardened tool steel stuck in your already stuck fastener. Go slow, take your time, even pressure, apply heat, and penetrating fluid in order to avoid breaking an extractor. 

Broken Extractor in an engine. Ouch. (Photo Credit:

Now that’s not to say that these tools aren’t worth it. They are. The screw extractors are <$15 for the case of 6. For that money, you’ll get 1/8”, 1/4”, 5/16”, 7/16”, 9/16”, and ¾” extractors, a carrying case that comes with a sizing guide right on the front, as well as an all-important 1-year warranty. It’s worth it to have a set of these in the shop before you need them. Having to run to the Eastwood store to go pick up a set just made a long day even longer.

If you do break an extractor, your next best option is going to be to grab a new bolt head and a MIG90 to weld to your screw. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to contact your local machine shop. The pros will be thrilled you’re coming to them for help… (They’ll hate you)

Oh yeah, you can also try to drill and Heli Coil too.
Best Damaged Thread Repair? Let’s Settle This! Heli Coil, TIME-SERT, E-Z LOK, JB Weld, HHIP, Loctite

Thanks for reading this article. Best of luck with your extraction,
Media Host/Eastwood Content Creator

You can find the Extractor Sets at
Eastwood 6-Piece Screw Extractor Set & Storage Case
Eastwood 9 Piece Bolt Extractor Set

Here’s the YouTube video made about this topic:
The Easiest Way to Remove a Broken Bolt or Rounded Bolt Head – Screw & Bolt Extractor Kits

Related Posts