Here's A Comparison Of Different Tools To Help You Remove Rounded Bolts

Illustration for article titled Here's A Comparison Of Different Tools To Help You Remove Rounded Bolts
Screenshot: Project Farm

Working on your high-mileage warrior can be a challenge. If your car happens to have lived much of its life in the Rust Belt, wrenching on it is likely to be a nightmare. For the DIY wrencher, this often means running into a bolt so rusty that the corners of the head go round as soon as you apply any twist. To help with those bad wrenching days, here are some rounded bolt and nut removers.


Earlier this year I purchased a delightfully cheap 2008 Smart Fortwo. My plan for the diminutive city car was to turn it into a Gambler 500 off-road car. I watched some videos about taking apart the Smart’s suspension and figured I could have lift kit parts installed in a couple of hours, tops. Bless my heart. I bought the parts, and on the night before a rally I decided to put it all together. I made it as far as a single bolt in before the head rounded off due to rust. I wished I had a rounded bolt remover on that night because I had to send the Smart with a worn out stock suspension.

Illustration for article titled Here's A Comparison Of Different Tools To Help You Remove Rounded Bolts
Photo: Mercedes Streeter

There is an alarming number of these tools out there, so I wondered which ones were the good ones. Thankfully, Todd from the YouTube channel Project Farm put a bunch of them to the test in the below video. It’s definitely a must-watch.

I like the methodology used here. Todd takes each tool and tests it to see if it’s able to remove a completely rounded bolt. When a tool fails that test, it gets a shot at redemption through trying to remove slightly-rounded bolt or an undamaged bolt. Todd also tests which nut splitters can remove a nut without damaging a stud, and a few stud removers, too.

In the end, most of the tools performed their jobs well. I used a universal socket years ago working on someone else’s car and the tool actually made the the bolt even worse. Sadly, it looks like not much has changed. The good thing is that you have a decent variety of other tools to choose from, depending on the size of your working area and the severity of the rounded out bolt or nut. If the pile of rust you’re working on puts up such a huge fight the bolts completely snap, we have you covered there, too.

For a few of the wrenching projects I have heading into this winter, I am sure to find some use for these tools. I’ll give one a try and report any findings and misadventures!


Do you know of an unique but must-have tool you think every wrencher should have? Shoot me an email or drop it down in the comments!

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, NovaBus RTS, VW Jetta TDI (x2), VW Touareg V10, Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...



Despite being forever in the grays and never having my posts seen, I’m still going to comment on this anyhow...

I have one of these in my tool box. While I’ve never fount this useful for rounded nuts and bolts, they are fantastic for turning wingnuts, eye hooks, and thumbscrews. Otherwise, as the video clearly demonstrates, the pins and springs aren’t strong enough to work on anything without a significant edge to grip on.