Skip to content
After 1pm EST, Expedited Orders are NOT Guaranteed to Ship Same Day | UPS Ground Processing Time is 1-3 Business Days
After 1pm EST Expedited Orders are NOT Guaranteed to Ship Same Day | UPS Ground Processing Time is 1-3 Business Days

HOW TO REMOVE A BROKEN ENGINE BOLT: WELDING VS DRILLING

HOW TO REMOVE A BROKEN ENGINE BOLT: WELDING VS DRILLING

This article breaks down the pros and cons of welding and drilling out broken exhaust manifold bolts, the level of experience each method requires, and the average success rate with both repair methods.

At ProMAXX Tool, we do not compete with the technique used to weld onto a broken exhaust manifold mounting bolt, we actually complement it. You may find this surprising, but just like you do every day, you diagnose problems and determine the correct approach and application of the tool or tools to make the most effective and efficient repair. After all, a flat rate doesn’t pay the bills, your expertise and efficiency do.

In the case of a broken exhaust manifold bolt, welding is an option, but not the only option... and some technicians rely on this single approach. We all know that one approach does not fit all applications so the application is the driver for this repair. Completing the repair in minutes or hours depends on which process you use to determine the method you use.

We know a thing or two about broken bolts because we work with technicians every day, developing tools that will boost their productivity. Moreover, our founder continues to remove broken bolts in dealerships and shops around the USA. He stopped counting at his 500th removal, just over three years ago. A broken bolt is one of the most frustrating things a technician is going to experience; in fact, it’s often avoided. When a technician comes across his first broken bolt, a quick Google search will most likely suggest the two options:

Option 1: Welding on a Broken Stud

A MiG welder is the preferred tool for this job, but a stick welder, depending on where the break occurred (depending on the application: above, below, or flush with the cylinder), may also do the trick.

To start, select a nut or flat washer with an inner diameter roughly the size of the stuck threaded bolt. Place the flat washer and/or nut on the bolt and weld the inside of the nut to the broken top of the bolt. Then use a wrench to remove the nut and bolt together. Some technicians avoid the washer/nut combination altogether and simply “build” the weld creating a custom-fitted bolt that once above the surface of the head can be removed later. The welding process can be lengthy; the remnant needs to be cleaned in order for the weld to adhere, the temperature needs to be right in order to avoid burning the head and the steel you are welding to needs to be understood. For example, titanium alloy bolts found in most turbocharged engines take a great deal more heat to fuse to and much greater caution. Plus, getting a welding head into limited access, low-vision areas presents another set of challenges. Lastly, welding is not 100 percent effective in every situation. Just like other repairs, not any one solution works universally across all situations - again application.

THE PROS OF WELDING OUT BROKEN BOLTS:
  • Welding is relatively low cost and can be quick given the right application
THE CONSOF WELDING OUT FRACTURED STUDS:
  • Requires a solid knowledge of welding and heat transfer
  • Not 100 percent effective
  • Can be time-consuming with equipment set up, heating & cooling and multiple attempts
  • Modern engines contain a lot of dissimilar metals, which can make getting welds to stick very difficult
EXPERIENCE REQUIRED:

Moderate – MiG welding, metalworking

SEE 60 SECOND EXHAUST MANIFOLD REPAIR VIDEO
“Best tool I ever purchased. Took me longer to take off the front bumper and turbo off of a 2018 Ford Transit E-350. Took me about 45 minutes to drill out 2 broken studs. And rethread hole. Recommend this tool whenever removing broken exhaust studs. Saves A-Lot of time and money. Now I feel confident in replacing broken studs on a 3.5L Ford EcoBoost motor. Great tool to have” - Raymond C
OPTION 2: DRILLING THE BROKEN EXHAUST MANIFOLD STUD OUT

Drilling out a broken stud or bolt can be an intimidating task for some technicians, especially if the bolt is of a smaller diameter, as in the case of an exhaust manifold bolt (8MM) and a cold reminder that there is only a few thousandths of an inch of cast aluminum web separating the water jacket from the manifold bolt. The traditional method includes taking a punch and creating a divot (or center point) on the broken bolt surface, drilling a pilot hole freehand, hammering in an easy-out extractor, then attempting to back the bolt out. Even the greenest technician can manage this task, however, it can come with a series of things that can go wrong or create a bigger mess than when you started.

The most common issue comes from using cheap materials and off-the-shelf drill bits which can lead to off-center drilling. Walking drill bits and extractors can break and lengthen the repair cycle and rob your productivity and profitability. Lastly, drilling free hand and off-center introduces a torque moment at the center of the bolt that increases the energy required to remove the broken remnant, often exceeding the torque specs of the extractor.

Make sure to use ProDrill Platinum or Micro-Edge Gold Drill Bits for the broken stud and bolt removal.

BROKEN EXHAUST MANIFOLD BOLT REPAIR MADE EASY
A tool fixing broken exhaust bolt.

PROCUTTER - BROKEN EXHAUST MANIFOLD BOLT DEBURRING TOOL

THE CONS OF DRILLING BROKEN BOLTS:
  • Without the proper tooling, you can turn a difficult job into an absolute nightmare
  • Using cheap drill bits and extractors will almost always lead to a botched job
EXPERIENCE REQUIRED:
  • Low – basic drilling operation
OPTION 3: SPECIALTY TOOLING

Understand the application. Use the right tool for the right application, one size does not fit all. At ProMAXX, we think these two approaches can be used together, not compete, and depending on the application, exceed expectations.

For broken bolts above the head, weld. Broken bolts flush or below the head, drill.

A specialty tool we recommend with drilling: The ProCutter - Deburring Tool

When manifold bolts are heated to high temperatures when exposed to water from the road or condensation, they can break under the slightest bit of tension. When these bolts break, it’s because they are actually stretched, thus elongating the threads. This environment often leads to a partial thread being left behind locking the stud into the softer aluminum of the head. You’ve got to go in and clean the debris, corrosion and partial thread that is left behind and this is where and why welding will fail. Introducing the ProMAXX® ProCutter™. The ProCutter™ is a unique; tool which consists of an aggressive four-blade cutting edge screwed onto an arbor and attached to a ¼” drill, that can knock the burr of the broken remnant in just five seconds making it ready for extraction.

BROKEN EXHAUST MANIFOLD BOLT REPAIR SUMMARY

Remember, you are attempting to make a critical repair that requires machine shop precision and capability at the point of repair. Use the right tools, for the right application, and from the right manufacturer.

  • Select the proper tooling to do the job: high quality, machine grade center point, (not split point) precision turned and ground tooling.
  • Use screw-in drill bushings and precision-made guide plates keep your tooling on center and perpendicular to the surface of the cylinder head.
  • Be sure to use tooling that can drill through a case hardened bolt with a hardness exceeding a Rockwell “c” scale of above 35, Rc35.
  • If you are going to use an extractor, avoid the left-handed tapered style. All they do is elongate the repair by deforming the broken bolt pinching it into the head. They also only turn left-handed, against the burr created when the stud broke in the first place. Choose a splined straight extractor that first, does not expand or deform the stud or bolt into the head. Second, turn it clockwise first to unlock the stud then counter-clockwise to remove it.
  • Another option that we at ProMAXX trademarked – Extractorless, e.g., avoiding the extractor altogether: simply drill, tap, done.

An exhaust manifold repair approach depends on the type of application; not one tool, or approach, but let the application along with your diagnostic thinking to determine the best path to a successful and efficient repair. Oh, one more tool needed to make this repair, patience. Being smart, choosing the right application and the right tools for the job you have practiced for many years in your career is the difference between flat-rate success and flat-out failure.

As always, please consult with your local authorized shop before making any repair decisions. If you have any questions, feel free to call (724) 941-0941 email info@promaxxtool.com and we will provide the expertise you need for your exhaust manifold problems!

CHECK OUT BROKEN ENGINE BOLT REPAIR KITS

ECOBOOST 3.5L EXHAUST MANIFOLD BOLT

EcoBoost ProKit Part #: PMXEII200PRO

Ford EcoBoost 3.5L Remove broken exhaust manifold studs / bolts. For Ford F-150 and Ford Transit. Made In the USA. Twin turbochargers, broken titanium bolts, small engine bays, along with dimensional changes in the cast iron manifolds due to extreme heat create new problems for the servicing technician.

Elizabeth II facilitates the removal of broken exhaust manifold bolts on Ford EcoBoost 3.5L and 3.7L engines.

GM EXHAUST MANIFOLD BOLT REPAIR

Platinum Drilling Bits

Platinum Bits: PMXPLTV125, PMXPLT188, PMXPLT266, PMXPLT270, PMXPLT420

High-performance tooling bits engineered to cut through the hardest materials and drastically increase productivity. Excellent for drilling extremely hard materials including broken extractors and taps. Also great for exhaust manifold repair, water pumps and valve covers.

Cobalt Gold Drilling Bits

ProDrill Gold (Small) 3-Pack Part #: PMXSSSC125

Drilling through extremely hard material including Titanium, Boron, Ultra-Strength, and even Stainless Steel is easy with ProMaxx Tool's premium gold drill (tooling) bits. Exceeds Aerospace Specifications. These are the best drill bits for drilling out exhaust studs and more.

Previous article WHICH SCREW EXTRACTOR SHOULD I USE?
Next article REFURBISHED PROMAXX TOOL KITS

SHIPPING INFO

For Saturday delivery or special shipping instructions, please contact ProMAXX Tool M-F 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST at 724-941-0941. Expedited Orders Placed by 1pm EST will be Processed Same Day | UPS Ground Processing Time is 1-3 Business Days

WARRANTY INFO

Offering a range of policies

NEED HELP

Contact our support team today
724-941-0941

Promaxx Tool Address

1121 Boyce Road
Suite #2000
Pittsburgh, PA 15241

Any motor company logo on this site is a Registered Trademark. ProMAXX Tool is not affiliated with any of the motor companies on this site.