Cars are more than just fluids and a great stereo system. There are, quite literally, nuts and bolts. It can be very rewarding to work on your car by yourself. It is also very frustrating when you run into trouble trying to remove those bolts and they are stuck.
Frozen bolts can happen on any car and on any model. It does not matter how much or how little you paid for your car either. Before you throw in the proverbial towel, let’s take a further look. What causes frozen bolts and what options do you have?
What is a frozen bolt?
A frozen bolt is quite simply a bolt that is rusted. It is so rusted that the bolt has become fused to the parts that it is connecting. This can happen over time. Considering the structure of a bolt, it can be extremely difficult to remove a frozen one. Typically, the threads of the bolt have become so rusted and fused as well. Imagine that all the physical layers of a bolt and the parts its connected to have become essentially one piece.
Where do you find frozen bolts?
You will find a frozen bolt anywhere on your car that has parts connected together. Over time and with exposure to the elements, the conditions become perfect for frozen bolts to develop. When metal parts are exposed to liquid, changes in the atmosphere and time, they can develop rust. Once this process starts, it permeates everything around it. The end result is a big, solid piece of metal.
What options do you have for removing bolts from your car?
If you have a stuck or frozen bolt, don’t panic. You have options and steps you can take that will help you remove it.
The first steps it to try some oil. Take a brush and some penetrating oil and coat the area. Use the brush to try and remove some of the corrosion. Then apply the oil. It is a good idea to reapply the oil periodically. After a while, try and loosen the bolt again.
You can then try using your socket wrench again. It can be tempting to bang on the rusted areas to try and loosen it up. This is not always a good idea. You risk damaging your wrench and it is possible that you will dent the bolt and make it harder to remove.
If you feel that the bolt is softening up, be very careful. It might actually be getting ready to break at this point.
How to get the best leverage to remove a stuck bolt?
When you have a frozen bolt and need to remove it, your best tool is a breaker bar. A breaker bar is similar to a socket wrench, but not quite the same.
A breaker bar is designed to allow you to use more torque when attempting to remove a bolt. This is thanks to its special design. A breaker bar looks like a socket wrench with a longer handle. However, it does not have a ratchet mechanism.
How does a breaker bar work?
A breaker bar is designed with a longer handle and sometimes has a swiveling head that you can attach a socket to. A breaker bar is built to be longer than a standard ratchet wrench. This design allows you to apply more way more torque and by using the same amount of strength.
There are no moving parts to a breaker bar, so they do not break very easily. If they do break, they are generally much cheaper to replace than other tools you may be using.
Are breaker bars all the same?
While there is little difference between brands, there are some subtle differences.
Breaker bars are made in a variety of sizes. This is to be able to accommodate almost any size of bolts or nuts. And most breaker bars will have a head that swivels. A head that swivels 180 degrees is ideal; it will allow you to work at just about any angle and allow you to reach just about anywhere.
Breaker bars can be made in different handle length. This is an important feature. The longer the handle, the more torque you will be able to apply. This is crucial for removing very stubborn, tight or frozen nuts and bolts.
What are breaker bars made of?
Most breaker bars are made from polished chrome steel. This allows them to be strong, and easy to clean.
What other features do breaker bars have?
Most breaker bars will have the ability to add sockets to the head. The anvil on the end of the flex head features a spring-loaded ball bearing so sockets snap in with a satisfying click and stay put once installed.
Is a breaker bar the same thing as a torque wrench?
These two tools may seem similar, but they are very distinct from each other. A breaker bar works by using leverage to remove a bolt or nut. A torque wrench is a type of ratchet that has a small handle. You continually adjust the handle to get your desired result.
A breaker bar allows you to use more torque.
Buying Guide for Breaker Bars
It is always a good idea to have breaker bars on hand. They can help remove tight bolts and nuts just about anywhere they are in place. You can use them on your cars and for other projects.
It is a good idea to have breaker bars in varying lengths. This will ensure that you are able to apply the right amount of torque in order to remove the stuck bolts. The longer the handle, the more torque you can apply.
It is also beneficial to have a head that turns in 180 degrees. This guarantees that you can comfortably work in almost any angle and direction.
Breaker bars can easily become a useful tool that reach for time and again. This workhorse has the ability to take the frustration out of trying to remove stubborn nuts and bolts.
Whether it is changing a tire or fixing something else, a breaker bar might very well be the tool that saves the day.