How to Remove a Stripped or Stuck Bolt

This article outlines some tips and tricks to remove a bolt that is stuck (with an undamaged head) or stripped (with a damaged head).

A stuck bolt has an undamaged head and can occur if there is dirt, rust, or paint on the bolt threads, or if a bolt is cross-threaded. A stripped bolt has a damaged head and can occur if the wrong tool shape or size is used to install or remove the bolt.

Follow the steps below to remove the bolt.

Caution.png If you are not confident in your ability to successfully and safely perform all steps, we recommend having the work performed or checked by a local, certified, and reputable bike mechanic.

Tools needed:

  • Penetrating lubricant, such as WD-40 or PB Blaster
  • Locking pliers, such as Vise-Grip
  • Masking tape
  • A rubber band or some steel wool
  • A tool matching the bolt head style and size
  • Hair dryer
Remove the Bolt
  1. Get the bike ready for maintenance. Turn off the bike, remove the battery, and press and hold MODE or the power button to discharge remaining power.
  2. Apply a penetrating lubricant, such as WD-40 or PB Blaster, to the area between the bolt head and the frame.
  3. Tap the bolt head several times with a tool to encourage capillary action to pull the penetrating oil down into the threads.
  4. Wait 20 minutes for the penetrating lubricant to work its way through rust or grime on the bolt threads inside the mounting point.
  5. To remove a bolt with an undamaged head, follow the steps below.
    1. Use heat to remove the bolt.
      1. Use a hair dryer on a high heat setting to apply heat to the bolt head for a minute or two. Be careful not to touch the bolt head or surrounding bike parts, as the area will be very hot. Allow the bolt to cool completely. As the bolt cools, the metal will contract and the bolt will pull material away from the mounting point, allowing for easier removal of the bolt.
      2. Use the appropriate tool to remove the bolt. Firmly press the tool into the bolt head. Apply firm pressure to the tool and turn the tool slowly to loosen and remove the bolt.
      3. If the bolt does not unthread, we recommend taking the bike to a local, certified, and reputable bike mechanic for help.
  6. To remove a bolt with a damaged (stripped) head, follow the steps below.
    1. Use extra friction to remove the bolt.
      1. Place a rubber band or steel wool over the bolt head. Firmly press the tool into the rubber band or steel wool and into the bolt head. The rubber band or steel wool will provide extra grip for the tool so it can stay in place in the bolt head as the tool is used.
      2. Apply firm pressure to the tool and turn the tool slowly to loosen and remove the bolt.
      3. If the bolt does not unthread, continue to the next step.
    2. Use pliers to remove the bolt.
      1. Apply tape to the area around the bolt to protect it from scuffs.
      2. Lock the pliers squarely on the bolt head.
      3. Turn the pliers to unthread the bolt.
      4. If the bolt does not unthread, we recommend taking the bike to a local, certified, and reputable bike mechanic for help.
  7. Once the bolt is removed, reinstall the battery, test the bike fully, and ride Rad!
How to Prevent Bolt Head Damage
We recommend following the guidelines below to help install a bolt securely and to prevent stripping the bolt head.
  1. Check the bolt and mounting point for any damage, rust, dirt, or grime.
    1. Check that the bolt is free of any rust, dirt, or grime, and that the threads are undamaged.
    2. Check the mounting point for any rust, dirty, or grime. If needed, clean the mounting point with a paper towel and some isopropyl alcohol, then allow it to dry completely.
  2. Prepare the bolt.
    1. Apply some white lithium grease to the bolt threads for lubrication.
    2. Thread in the bolt carefully by hand, making sure not to cross-thread the bolt.
  3. Use the correct tools.
    1. Tighten the bolt using the appropriate tool shape and size and torque wrench for the bolt.
    2. Press the tool into the bolt head fully and turn slowly.
    3. If the bolt head begins to show signs of stripping, stop installing the bolt, back it out, and replace it with a new bolt.
    4. Torque the bolt to the recommended specification in your owner’s manual. Do not over-tighten a bolt or the bolt head can become damaged.

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