Some things you learn the hard way. It probably common for someone who likes to save money or tackle a job themselves. Such was my experience trying to remove an EGR Valve. The nuts were securely frozen on the stud. I worked at it with my socket wrench and some liquid wrench without success. Eventually the socket started slipping. I suspected I had broken another cheap socket, I’d done it before – this time however, the nut was rounded.
The Hard Way
Thinking back, I recalled how I’ve seen this dealt with before – I got out my hammer a good screwdriver and a few other tools. I tried knocking it loose using the hammer and screwdriver – hitting it in the appropriate direction of course. After some time the nut was severely deformed, I decided cutting it off would be a viable option, that nut would not be going back on. I got out my cheap Dremel knock-off and started working on the nut with a cut off wheel. I’ve heard that a real Dremel tool would emit a shower of sparks under such a situation, but this tool would be lucky to get a single spark every 15 seconds. It did cut some, but it was slow going. I alternated between this and the hammer screwdriver method for a while. I tried some files, but the position made it too awkward.
Eventually the hammer and screwdriver did the trick and the nut turned. After several more minutes I had it off and in my hand. I figure it took at least a couple of hours to get that nut off, but it was done – I was relieved.
There was one problem remaining however, the second nut. The second nut was still securely fastened and not in the best condition, it wasn’t rounded as bad as the other one at the time that I resorted to hammer and screwdriver. But this second nut was harder to get to, and it was getting pretty late – I decided to turn in for the night.
An Easier Way
During this experience I discovered the existence of some new tools: bolt and nut extractors and nut splitters. One of the local shops used an extractor and got the other nut off without too much difficulty. This allowed me to finish my job of cleaning my EGR valve. Later I found some of these nut extractors on sale at Sears Hardware – I’d recommend using them before the hammer and screwdriver method. I don’t have a nut splitter, but if I get the chance, I’d like to try one out and write a post about it.
Thanks to the guy at the shop and a little research I learned a few things that day:
- Use Bolt and Nut extractors to get off rounded nuts and bolts before resorting to more brute force methods.
- 6 point sockets get a better grip on nuts and bolts and are better for highly torqued or stuck fasteners – they are less likely to round off the fastener.
- 12 point sockets are easier to use in tight spaces since they can fit on the nut in twice as many positions as a 6 point socket, however having less surface area contact with the nut they are more likely to round it off when used with a lot of force.