Rusted screw removal

The roof rack on my 2004 Subaru has Torx screws that have never been removed over the life of the car. I want to attach a roof top box and need to move the rails to make it fit but I could only get one out cleanly; 3 appear rusted in place.

I’ve applied Liquid Wrench and will try again but in the event that doesn’t work does anyone have good recommendations for screw extractors? Or addition techniques?

Is the head exposed or is it flush with the surface of the rack? Make sure you give the LW time to work and hit it from both the top and bottom of the screws if you can.

Easy-outs. If the screws are really small, this may not work, as you need to be able to drill a hole into the center of the screw first, then insert the extractor and unscrew it.

The heads aren’t fully flush, but I do need to give the LW time to work. I’ll try again tonight - it’s been warm today.

The Easy-Outs are what I’m looking at as I think they will be needed. The one that came out was the first, and it was easy but the others aren’t budging. There’s plenty of room to drill - I’ll stop by at Home Depot on the way home to see what they have. Are any brands better than others?

Are they just rusted in, or has the head of the screw deteriorated badly enough that the hole is stripping out when you try to unscrew it? If the latter, and they’re exposed enough, you might try dremeling a slot across the head of the screw and removing it with a flathead driver. (Be careful not to cut too deep, obviously.)

Aside from that, I’ve found SeaFoam Deep Creep to be more effective than Liquid Wrench. When I was doing the teardown on my DeLorean, it freed up bolts that hadn’t moved in over 30 years and were little more than lumps of rust.

I was having trouble getting the Torx driver to stay in the socket, so maybe the heads have deteriorated. But I don’t know if I could get the Dremel bit in there to cut a slot without also cutting the surrounding metal.

Have you tried vice grips?

I stripped the hell out of a couple of screws from an old shower door frame I was trying to remove.

I tried everything offered up from the google links.

My neighbor suggested using vice grips and the screws came out with no fuss.

Can’t grab the bolt heads with vice grips - they are pretty flush with the roof rack.

But sometimes you can but the vice grips (or some other kind of wrench) on the screwdriver to get some leverage. Then it just take someone else to put some downward pressure on the it, or you being up above it so you can lean into it.

HD will likely have store brands just like Lowes has Kobalt. For a screw extractor, probably any brand will work just fine. Easy Out used to be the go-to, and may still be.

they have a new tool out I have been seeing on TV. It goes into the cordless drill, one side of the tool prepares the hole for the extractor, you flip it around and extract, works on any type of screw. Another trick is to take a very light ball bean hammer and give it a few sharp taps before trying to remve screw. It can tighten up the torts head and jar the screw loose.

Insert the driver and give it some sharp raps on the end with a metal hammer. Don’t just whale on it because you might damage the threads, but it could help to break the free.

Also, try turning it clockwise to break it free.

Or yeah, a screw extractor.

Screw extractors are for when the head can’t be used. Extractors do not enable one to apply more torque for a rusted in screw or bolt; if anything substantially less. If there is any way to get it out with the existing head, use it.

Screw extractors are useless. They work maybe one time out of 20, and once a screw extractor has worked once, it’ll never work again.

Just drill out the offending screws. If you need to refasten whatever it was, you might be able to get away with just using a larger screw next time, or you might need to use a tap to establish new threads. It’s kind of situational.

I wouldn’t say they are useless, it’s just that they are best for when the screw is not stuck but the head has broken off/rusted away. They work quite well for that situation.

Liquid Wrench sucks.
Good penetrant and vibration are your friend. Soak the screws overnight. Make sure the holes where the bit goes is fully clean.
Put your Torx bit in and tap it with a hammer.
It would be worth it to go get a Torx bit in 3/8 or 1/4 drive an extension and a T handle. That way you can press down while trying to turn.
I would not try to drill it out. If you make a mistake you will have damaged the body of the car.

Can’t you remove the head, remove the racks, and then get vice grips onto the stubs left behind ?

The roof rack on the Suby is above the car - so no chance of damaging the car unless I slip dramatically. The drill is at home (I’m at work) and I have some carbide bits that should work. If I do go the drill it out routine what diameter drill bit should I use in relation to the bolt?

I’ll try more LW today and use the hammer approach with the Torx socket to see if I can get any more purchase. Since the first one came out so easy maybe there’s still hope.

This. Use a drill bit slightly larger than the threaded shaft of the screw. Drill down into the Torx socket until the outer part of the head starts spinning, at which point you know the head has been separated from the threaded shaft, and you can separate the rack/roof parts.

If a vise grip wrecks the remaining screw stub when you try to twist it out, use a hand file to create a flat top on whatever is left of that stub. Use a center punch to make a divot as close to center of that stub as you can, then use a very small drill bit to start the hole down the center. Graduate to a whatever bit is recommended for tapping that thread size, e.g. if it’s [url=]an M6 screw, choose a 5.25 or 5.5 mm drill bit (if you don’t have metric bits, choose the closest standard drill size). Then you can run a tap through the hole. Ideally, the tap will “find” the original female threads and just clear out the rusted bits of the screw threads.

Success! Soaking in Liquid Wrench, the Torx socket hammered onto the heads, and they all 4 came off. One however sheered in half so I’m trying to get the remaining piece off but that’s been all disassembled and shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll replace all 4 screws since the 10 year old bolts are looking a bit worse for the wear.

Thanks all.