How to remove a broken bolt

How To Remove A Broken Bolt From An Engine Block?

A broken bolt can cause additional pressure on the other bolts as they have to provide extra support to the engine, which leads to vibrations and wear and tear of the machine. So, how to remove a broken bolt from an engine block?

Consider, you may be working on the engine when you must have noticed a bolt break. The extraction of a broken bolt can make you go baffled.

Therefore, removing the broken bolt has to be carried out carefully not to worsen the condition. Machinists use several methods; one is punching the center of the bolt. Machinists can do this by drilling the center of the screw. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you out. Read on to understand the process.

Extracting Broken Bolt from an Engine Block: Methods

There are several methods of extracting a broken bolt from an engine block. However, most of the processes initiate the process with lubricating. Hence, experts recommend freeing up or loosen the broken bolt before attempting to remove it. A lubricant shall be applied and left for a while to be effective.

While extracting a bolt, various circumstances can arise, which can become challenging and take more time than expected. An experienced machinist must take over such tasks or guide a rookie machinist.

If you are looking to maintain the engine and your car more efficiently, you must give the best rust converters a try. They help limit any rust formation and prevent bolts from breaking due to rusting.

Here are some of the most common methods to answer your question, how to remove a broken bolt from an engine block?

1. Punching the Center of the Bolt

In this method, the professional punches the center with a spring-loaded punch tool to drill out the center of the bolt itself. You may use a traditional punch if the spring-loaded punch is not available. The professional must carry out the process accurately to safely remove the center bolt, avoiding any hazard leading to injury. 

Use the correct tool for the given equipment.

2. Drilling the Center of the Bolt

Step 1: Machinists use a hardened drill bit is to drill the center of the screw

To start, a mechanic toolbox is necessary. With the set of hardened drill bits, drill through the center of the bolt. Ensuring that the drill bit is of the correct size of the broken bolt.

Step 2: Using center punch for proper grip

Before beginning to drill, use a center punch to dig. It ensures that a proper grip is secured to have a regular drill and avoid free movement of the drill bit.

Step 3: Size of the drilling bit

Using the correct size of the drill bit for efficient drilling without shredding metal equipment. In any case, metal particles, if any, can be withdrawn with the magnetic screwdriver. A machinist can do this by bringing it close to the area of particles.

3. Welding

Another method that professionals can use in this situation is welding. The first step of this process is to choose a flat washer or nut with an inner diameter similar to the bolt.

The second step is to place the flat washer or nut against the broken bolt. Start welding from the top of the broken bolt to the inside to the nut.

Next, grab a wrench with a proper grip to extract the flat washer or nut and, in turn, the bolt. Using this method, professionals should be vigilant to maintain the right temperature for the welding to hold.

Although this method is not a sure-shot, it can be handy as an alternate option. The welding method requires competency and experience to carry out. The preparation requires considerable time, keeping in mind the equipment set-up.

The process may not be successful in the first attempt. 

4. Extracting with a screw extractor or mole gripper

When asked how to remove a broken bolt from an engine block? The expert’s first suggestion would be to use a screw extractor or a mole gripper; that is when you have access to these tools. 

In this method, professionals can use a unique tool called a screw extractor. A person using the extractor must be familiar with this tool and its operation, as incorrect use may break the extractor. It can cause problems if the broken part gets stuck in the screw.

A great deal of time and effort gets wasted in recovering the tool. The equipment may also result in damage.

An alternative tool that professionals can use effectively is a mole gripper. A mole gripper is a unique tool known as locking pliers, with adjustable jaws that hold on the top of the broken bolt.

The mole gripper has multiple pivotal handles that multiply the mechanical force exerted by ten folds. Machinists essentially use them in removing the broken bolts, screws, and nuts.

If there is sufficient space around, Machinists may use a gripping plier to remove the broken bolt.

If an extractor is not available, use a wide rubber band, wide rubber band, and a bigger size up from the bolt head, building a torque. Apply slow and steady force to turn the bolt; the band will fill the gaps and extract the broken bolt.

5. How to remove a broken, rusted bolt

A rusted bolt will not be accessible due to rust, so firstly, remove the rust by applying hydrogen peroxide. That will dissolve the rust and is an effective method. Scour the surface with a hard brush and all the remaining rut. That will loosen the broken bolt. Try hammering a little, and then use an extractor to remove the damaged, rusted bolt.

Common Obstructions Experienced While Removing A Broken Bolt

How to remove a broken bolt from an engine block when there are additional obstructions to the situation? Here are some of the common obstacles and the solutions that can provide aid.

Stiff Broken Bolt

In cases where the broken bolt has stiffened, machinists may use an advanced grip technology tool. The broken bolt can stiffen due to rust, material, or age. You can easily remove the hardening broken bolt once you position a fastener’s center point or a hole. That reduces the effort significantly, and you will be able to remove the broken bolt eventually.

Snapped or Worn-out Bolt

Snapped bolts are usually severely damaged and broken. Thus, they are more challenging to remove. There are several extraction kits available to remove snapped or worn-out bolts.

The working of this extraction kit is they create a hole at the center of the bolt with a drill. Machinists use this tool to remove the broken bolt out of the system. This kit also helps to remove the excess metal particles generated due to drilling.

Machinists must take the necessary care while using this kit as there is the possibility of damaging engine parts while removing snapped or worn-out bolts.

Seized Bolt without a Head

Removing a seized bolt is perhaps the most challenging task amongst all the others. Removing a stuck bolt, especially a seized bolt with no head, can be very complex. This problem generally occurs with using the wrong tool used with excessive pressure to tighten the screw. 

To resolve this problem, first, you have to ease the seized bolt. Apply lubricant on the bolt and allow it to free up. Then hammer the middle of the broken bolt with a center punch. Create a hole in the center using a left-handed drill to remove the broken bolt.

Ensure you use the drill at low speed. If drilling does not remove the bolt, then use the bolt extraction tool. 

Limitations to Access (Location of the Broken Bolt)

At times extracting a broken bolt is not tricky, but the task of reaching out to the location itself is a problem. For instance, a broken bolt situated deep can be an intimidating task to extract. Machinists can utilize a systematic approach with special tools employed to resolve this problem. Generally, the first attempt for an inexperienced machinist is difficult.

When the bolt’s head gets broken and the body is deep, use a smaller drill bit and drill through the center and then use the extracting tool to remove the broken bolt without a head.

Reasons Why Bolts Break in the Engine Block

Now that you know how to remove a broken bolt from an engine block, let’s shine light over why bolts break in the engine block. Learning the reasons can help avoid inconvenience in the future.

The most common reason why the bolts break is that the engine is not maintained well. Engines need good mileage oils for their smooth functioning.  

Here are some of the common reasons why bolts break in the engine block.

Life of the Bolt

Professionals must carry out a regular inspection for the condition of nuts, bolts, and engine components. Machinists must replace any worn-out nuts and bolts when the next opportunity arises. Companies must never use substandard parts.

A bolt easily breaks when it gets old. Therefore, it is hazardous to keep them; machinists must replace them as soon as possible.

Old engines tend to make a lot of noise; mufflers are the best choice to prevent that from happening. 

Low-Quality Material

Professionals must procure quality nuts and bolts from a standard supplier with certifications where applicable. 

Standard products in the market must be sourced, and machinists must never compromise the quality of components.

The quality of a bolt and all the other components can play a massive role in the engine’s functioning. Therefore, always aim in procuring high-quality components.

Lack of Planned Maintenance 

Companies must carry out periodic planned maintenance for components, including nuts and bolts and the performance of machinery. Companies should record these for future reference. 

Professionals should also carry out appropriate replacements of worn-out nuts and bolts where required and recorded. Professionals must take proper training to inspect the condition of the equipment.

The bolts also tend to break due to overheated engines. To prevent engines from getting overheated, installing radiator fans is vital. 

All the engines require regular maintenance and replacement of the parts that can be a potential hazard. If a timely inspection is not performed, then the bolts or any other components may break, causing an issue in the future.

Tips to Follow while Removing a Broken Bolt

  • Consider removing a broken bolt a critical repair.
  • It requires precision equipment and competency.
  • Machinists should use the correct tool for a given kit.
  • Machinists must follow the proper procedure laid down for the given job.
  • Professionals should use the right PPE gear for the safety of the personnel.

Final Words

A common circumstance faced by many amateur machinists is how to remove a broken bolt from an engine block? To conclude, it is needless to say that the ways mentioned earlier can be highly beneficial to solve this problem.

Undermaintained engines also tend to leak. The leak results from a hole in the radiator. A solution to this is to get a radiator stop leak

Regular inspection and planned maintenance can ensure the smooth function of all components in the engine. Hence, companies can avoid a situation such as a broken bolt by using the correct tools. Similarly, the deployment of competent workers is equally significant. 

Don’t let the pressure of time tempt you to cut corners and compromise safety.


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