Introduction: How to Remove Rusted or Seized Truck Bed Bolts

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Video tutorial on how to loosen and remove rusty bed bolts. For this truck, I need to lift the box off in order to replace the cap corner, however you maybe simply removing the box, or you can also tilt the box on the one side for accessing a fuel pump instead of dropping a fuel tank or cutting a hole in the bottom of your box. Here I’m working with a 1998 Ford Ranger short box which has a total of 6 bed bolts.

Tools/Supplies Needed:

  • penetrating oil
  • wire brush
  • ratchet
  • johnson bar
  • torx drivers
  • brush

Step 1:

First start by safely elevating the truck if you need more room to gain access to the underside. For this I am using drive on ramps.

If you have a box liner like this truck, you’ll need to remove that. Remove any fasteners if it has any, open the tail gate, and then lift it up from the center to retract the sides. When there is enough movement for the sides, retract the sides. You’ll most like need a helping hand to remove the box liner.

Step 2:

Now knowing exactly where those bed bolts are, you can use the locations to determine where exactly they fasten to on the frame. Unfortunately you can always have direct access to these bed bolts underneath. You should see bolts coming though the frame which fastens to a clip. I’ve seen these clips have a few different names, either a bolt clip, j clip, c clip, u nut, speed clip, or body clip.

Using a wire brush, clean up the exposed threads. These threads will be going back through the threaded portion of the clip, so if they start to bind, you can either break the clip or bolt. A hand brush works fine, but a power tool can also be used too. Once satisfied, apply a penetrating oil.

Moving onto the other exposed bolt, this truck as been oil sprayed at some point in it’s life so some of the metal is protected. Unfortunately in other areas it’s worn off due to being driven down gravel roads. Cleaning off the dirt, we can see the threads are almost like new. Penetrating oil will also be applied just to be safe.

Unfortunately I’m unable to get access to all the bolts as two are hidden behind the bumper frame work and the other behind the fuel tank. If you are working close to the fuel tank, be mindful about sparks.

Step 3:

Using a hand brush is best. While this truck did have a box liner, the bolts are filled with some debris. Use a brush, pick, nail, or even wire brush to clean out the heads of the fasteners. If they’re not clean, we may not have good contact with the torx bit, risking the chance of stripping the head. If that happens, you’ll either need to cut, grind, or drill the bolt. Blow out the debris and even insert the bit with may help loosen debris too.

This truck uses T55 bits, you can use an impact, however not everyone has access to one and I don’t have impact torx bits, so I’m using regular hand tools. A hand impact driver can be used, I’ve shown this tool in previous videos. This I will be tackling with a johnson bar. The johnson bar allows for more leverage, you not use an extension as this can twist your pivot point and risk stripping the head of the fastener. I do have a short adapter here, 1/2” to 3/8” so I’m able to use my 3/8” drive torx bit -once the bolts have been broken free, work them back and forth, loosening and tightening them. This will reduce binding of the threads and allow for the rust or dirt to break up and drop out.

You may need to go underneath and apply more penetrating oil if needed. I managed to get all these bolts broken free and up about a 1/4”. I will be leaving this over night, each bolt has penetrating oil applied from the top under the washer which should help soak into the threads of the clips.

Step 4:

The next day I then tightened up those bolts a couple threads to help that oil work into the clips. Then took my time and to loosen them, using the same process as previously if they’re binding and finally they are removed with no broken bolts, clips, or damaged threads.

Step 5:

If you are elevating the box up on the one side, I would recommend placing wood blocks between the frame and box. The fuel filler neck may also need to be disconnected so you have the extra movement.

When reinstalling the bolts, a dye nut is recommended to clean up those threads so installation is made easy.

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