How to Remove a Stripped Screw

When you work on a powersports vehicle, sooner or later you’re going to do battle with a stripped screw!

Screws usually get stripped because the wrong size screwdriver was used, which damages the screw drive cut into the relatively soft aluminum screwhead. Another contributing factor is where the screw is located. If the screw is regularly exposed to moisture, there’s a good chance it will corrode and seize in place, increasing the likelihood of the head stripping during removal. This is especially common with motorcycle or ATV master cylinder reservoirs that are mounted horizontally and collect rainwater. 

Tips for removing stripped screws

We took a master cylinder reservoir with a stripped screw to show you several troubleshooting methods to removing it. Watch our video above or read on below for a few troubleshooting tips on how to remove a stripped screw.

How to remove stripped screws master cylinder reservoir

Stripped Screw Troubleshooting Method 1: Correct-Sized Screwdriver 

Sound pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised. Use a screwdriver that fills the screw drive in the screwhead once inserted. Apply plenty of down-pressure to the screwdriver to prevent it from slipping, and see if the screw will turn. If the screw refuses to rotate, stop before you strip the screwhead any further. 

Removing stripped screws

Stripped Screw Troubleshooting Method 2: Impact Driver

Once again, make sure you’re using the correct size bit, one that doesn’t swivel or rock within the head. Press the impact driver down and rotate it slightly so it’s loaded against the screw head, then hit with a hammer. The impact driver delivers a strong and abrupt combination of shock and rotation to the screw that usually breaks the screw thread free.

Striiped screw removal tips

Stripped Screw Troubleshooting Method 3: Drilling

Drill a pilot hole a short way down into the screwhead with a drill bit that’s narrower than the diameter of the screw’s threads. Then, use a drill bit that’s the same diameter as the screwhead, and drill it out so you can remove the lid of the reservoir. Finally, grip the exposed screw thread with pliers, then rotate and extract it.

Removing stripped screws drilling

Removing a stripped screw really comes down to using the right tools, particularly when it comes to screws that are prone to seizing. If all of the troubleshooting methods described above fail on a stripped screw on a master cylinder reservoir, you might be left with no choice but to buy a new reservoir. 

What if it’s a broken bolt instead of a stripped screw that’s making your life miserable? If that’s the case, watch the video above to see how to remove a broken bolt

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