Ask Sarah, Problems with Nuts
By Sarah Forst
Got a difficult tech question? Email Sarah at email@example.com
I have a problem with my car and I'm too embarrassed to ask my friends. My problem is that I usually over-torque bolts/nuts on my car and I need your help. One of my strut tower nuts is over-torqued and when I tried to remove that nut, it started to round pretty bad. I even went to Sears to buy a socket set that removes rounded bolts/nuts but with no success. The nut looks pretty bad. What can I do? Thank you for any help.
The first time I ever worked on a car from the Northeast, I busted a few bolts completely off and generally cursed like a sailor, dropping F-bombs on the “enemy” from all of the corrosion and rust on most metal components caused by a few years of exposure to salt, ice, and freezing temperatures. Up until I moved east, the bolts on my cars were spoiled with San Diego sunshine and 70 degree temps. But corrosion and rust aren’t the only things that can cause a nut/bolt to become rounded. Trying to loosen a nut/bolt that has been torqued too tightly will also lead to rounding it off. Why some shops use air tools to tighten everything from suspension parts to lug nuts is beyond me. Tightening the bolts too much will only weaken and distort the threads, eventually causing them to break which can always lead to a much bigger problem. Engine bearing caps that are torqued too tightly can distort the bearings, cause out of round bores, and create incorrect oil clearances. This will produce excessive wear of other engine parts. Overtorqued or unevenly torqued lug nuts could cause the rotors to warp and perhaps a wobbly ride. Bolts that are too loose on your suspension could be dangerous, while too tight may lead to binding. The bottom line is use the FSM recommended torque specs and the proper torque order for everything on your car. Also, always use the correct size socket and do not use standard size tools on metric bolts and vice versa.
|Sarah sez; use a torque wrench on critical fasteners dummy!|