Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How to Remove a Stuck Cylinder Head Bolt

cylinder head

Removing a cylinder head is a tough job. Running into frozen cylinder head bolts makes the job even harder. Fortunately, there are tricks to removing a stubborn cylinder head bolt that will make life a lot easier.

Method 1 of 3: Use a breaker bar

Materials Needed

using a breaker bar to remove the head bolts

Step 1: Use a breaker bar. Head bolts are usually torqued down really tight.

One way to remove really tight head bolts is with a breaker bar. This method allows for more leverage than a traditional ratchet and socket.

Method 2 of 3: Use impact force

Materials Needed

using an impact wrench

Step 1: Use impact force. You can hit the center or the head of the bolt with a chisel or punch to try to free the corrosion between the threads.

An alternate approach to this method is to use an impact wrench on the bolt a several times in both the forward and reverse directions.

Method 3 of 3: Drill the bolt out

Materials Needed

  • Chisel
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Protective gloves
  • Repair manuals
  • Safety glasses
  • Screw extractor

hole punched in the top of the bolt

Step 1: Punch a notch in the top of the bolt. Use a hammer and punch to make a notch in the top of the bolt.

This serves as a guide for your drill bit.

drilling out the bolt

Step 2: Drill through the bolt. Use a drill bit one size larger than the notch made with the chisel to drill straight through the bolt.

Then, follow up by drilling through the bolt again using a bit that can drill a hole large enough for a screw extractor or easy out.

using a screw extractor

Step 3: Remove the bolt. Hammer an “easy out” or screw extractor into the hole you drilled.

Then, turn the tool counterclockwise to remove the bolt. You may need to hold the head of the tool with a pipe wrench or locking pliers.

Head removal and repair is a job best left to professionals. As you can see, the task can get really nasty if things don’t go as planned. If you’d prefer to leave your cylinder head repair to a professional, give the experts at YourMechanic a call.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed Related Trouble Codes: P2441: EVAP Vent Valve Stuck Open EVAP trouble...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...


Related questions

Q: Rear brake cylinder leaking

You will need to have the brake cylinder replaced. I recommend replacing both sides so that brake pressures will be equal. Once replaced, its a good idea to flush the brake system with fresh brake fluid. I suggest having a...

Q: Car shakes and the check engine light is on

Hello. If you have misfire codes on all of these cylinders, then the problem is much more in-depth. Most of the time when this occurs on one side of the engine, it is because the timing belt is worn out...

Q: Misfire at cylinder #6 and EVAP system not ready

Hello. The misfire that you are getting on that cylinder may be caused by a dirty or failing fuel injector. If compression is fine and if there is good ignition then it may be a fuel issue. If the engine...