Shear Head Bolt Removal
There are two common ways that locksmiths remove the shear head bolts or fracture bolts used on automotive steering columns. One is by using a pointed punch and hammer to strike the outer diameter in a counterclockwise direction to loosen them while the other is to grind a slot into the top to act as a screwdriver flat slot to unscrew them. Some locksmith even resort to using an impact wrench or needing to attach a vice grip to a square screwdriver to break the threads free.
These methods can often be problematic, and great care needs to be given to avoid damage if the steering column itself has not been lowered or removed enough to provide clearance for these tools between the dash and steering wheel. The Society of Professional Locksmiths recommends a few more creative time saving methods which can help to avoid potential damage.
Using an automatic center punch to remove the shear head bolts from automotive steering lock harnesses is very easily accomplished and does not require any steering columns to be lowered or removed. Placing the tip of the tool on the outer edge of the shear head bolt and depressing it while applying counterclockwise pressure will quickly loosen them. Using a rubber pencil eraser against the top of the bolt and continuing to rotate counterclockwise will remove the bolt.
Another removal method that does not require lowering the column is to drill into the center of the shear head bolts approximately 1/8th of an inch and then using a hex key like one from the Xcelite Hex Socket Driver Set to be inserted into the hole in order to easily unscrew the bolt. Inserting a slightly larger socket type hex key into the hole, and giving it a gentle tap will allow the hex shape of the key to cut into the drilled circle of the hole, thereby gripping the bolt firmly. To reassemble the column mounting bracket, you can reuse the old bolts and screw them in quickly.
Members of he Society of Professional Locksmiths participate in continuing education and professional development programs to provide the consumer the best possible service.
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You can also use a small diameter nail set on the edge of the break-away bolt head along with a small tapping hammer to back these bolts out without damage to anything. Once they are out I use a hack saw to create a slot just wide enough in the head of the bolt so that it can be installed using a flat head screw driver.
Very good tip! Shear bolts can be an absolute nightmare to remove any other way.
I have had some epic battles trying to remove these bloody things. Nice tip that will hopefully help me out next time around
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