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How to Remove a Stuck Brake Bleeder Screw

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  1. step : Removing a Stuck Brake Bleeder Screw (0:53)
    • Use rust penetrant to loosen up the bolt
    • Crack the bolt loose a bit and tighten it
    • Repeat this process a few times and keep applying oil
    • Clean off the junk with a wire brush
    • OR
    • Tap the edges around the bolt with a hammer to loosen the corrosion and sludge
    • OR
    • Use a 3/8 drive air hammer bit with a wrench and loosen at your own pace
    • OR
    • Use a rounded bolt removal socket
    • OR
    • Place a small amount of heat on the base with a blow torch
    • Then lock vice grips to the bolt
    • Tap the grips with a hammer to loosen the bolt

Hi, I'm Mike from 1AAuto. We've been selling auto parts for over 30 years! We're dedicated to delivering quality auto parts, expert customer service, and fast and free shipping, all backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee. So visit us at 1AAuto.com, your trusted source for quality auto parts.

Here we have the driver's side rear brake caliper that we removed from our Chevy Suburban. Unfortunately for us, when we went to bleed our brakes, we had a frozen bleeder screw that snapped off. When this happens, you have to replace your caliper. If you can't get this out, you can't bleed your brakes. If you can't bleed your brakes, then you aren't stopping safely, and there's really no point in having this caliper on there at all.

We have the driver's side caliper off of our vehicle and in the vise to show you a few methods to try to remove this screw so you don't snap it off and need to replace your caliper. First and foremost with any frozen piece of hardware is penetrating oil. Just use whatever your favorite stuff is, everybody's got something they like. Now ours already started rounding off a little bit, unfortunately, but it is still a 10mm, so once the penetrating oil's on there, we'll try to work it back and forth.

The first method I like to try is with a little breaker bar. You can use a ratchet, but it's a little annoying to switch back and forth all the time. With a breaker bar and a 10mm socket, your goal is to crack it loose, and even just a little bit helps, and then tighten it up a little. Work it off a little, and tighten it up a little. And if it moves at all, and you take your time with this, keep applying penetrating oil, and keep moving it back and forth, you'll help clear the rust and corrosion from the threads. Hopefully, that'll get it to spin off for you.

Ours doesn't look like it's going to work that way, so we're going to have to try some more advanced techniques. Another thing you can do, for heavy, heavy corrosion like we have here, is take a file or a wire brush and just get all the junk you can out from the bottom, because this just means there are less corrosion and contaminants you're going to have to fight through here. This is an aluminum caliper with a steel bleeder screw in it. Dissimilar metals tend to get stuck together pretty bad. Of course, once we get all that rust and corrosion out of there, it never hurts to put some more penetrating oil in.

Another method you can try is using a hammer to tap the edges and shock some of that corrosion loose. Now you don't want to use a huge hammer, and you don't want to swing really hard here because this is just aluminum, and you could crack or break it and need to replace your caliper anyway, which is what we're trying to prevent. So just a small hammer and some light tapping, and give it another try.

In extreme cases, if you have the proper equipment you can get a 3/8" drive air hammer bit, which works really nice. This is like an impact tool, only you have a little more control over it, because when you hit an impact tool, it twists right away. With this, you can hammer and vibrate and break some of that corrosion loose, and just use a wrench to start rotating it at your own pace, rather than hitting it and forcing it every time, which is likely to break or strip it. Be sure to use safety glasses and proper hearing protection, especially when using the air hammer. Always be sure to use an impact socket with impact tools and not a chrome one, because they can break and shatter.

Another tool you can try, if you have access to it, is a rounded bolt removal socket. You can see this has like a left-hand helix inside of it, that's actually meant to cut into the edges of the round bolt to grip and turn it out. Sometimes you will need to tap them on with a hammer. If you use penetrating oil, be sure to wipe that off. You want to wipe off any other grease or oil in the area, especially if you're doing this on the vehicle. Always be aware of what is around the part. Where this is aluminum, and has a rubber seal just over here on the other side of the piston, as well as fluid inside of it if it's still on the car, you don't want to use too much heat, but a little bit can go a long way.

Always heat the base where the threads go into and not the actual bolt itself, as your goal is to expand the opening and free the tension on the threads, and heating the bolt up will only get it stuck in there tighter. Once you've warmed it up a little, and you can try this method with or without the heat, get a pair of vise-grips locked on there, nice and tight, and try to tap them around with a hammer. You could also try the rounded bolt removal again. Be careful installing this because the caliper is still hot. Let's heat it up a little more. I think this lives here now.

Sometimes even throwing everything you've got at it simply won't remove a bolt that's as stuck as this one, and you'll have to change the caliper. It's unfortunate, but sometimes these methods may work for you at home, so feel free to try them out. Be sure to do so safely. And if you get your bleeder screw out, change it with another one, otherwise, if you have what we had happen, you'll need to go get a new one.

Thanks for watching. Visit us at 1AAuto.com for quality auto parts, fast and free shipping, and the best customer service in the industry.

Tools needed for replacement:

    Air Powered Tools

  • 3/8 Inch Air Impact Gun

  • General Tools

  • Hammer
  • Wire Brush

  • Materials, Fluids, and Supplies

  • Gloves
  • Rust Penetrant
  • Safety Glasses

  • Pliers, Cutters & misc Wrenches

  • Vise Grip Pliers

  • Specialty Tools

  • Acetylene torch


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