How to Remove a Push Nut

by William Zane
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Cars aren't put together like they used to be. At one point in time, manufacturers bolted things together under the assumption that some mechanic later on would need to remove it in order to replace or repair it. That's part of the reason why there are still 80-year-old cars on the road today. Push nuts -- like glue and pop-rivets -- are one of the auto industry's concessions to manufacturing cost of ease of maintenence. And that, unfortunately, means destroying the fastener while removing it and paying to replace it afterward.

Step 1

Remove the plastic cover on the push nut -- if it uses one -- by gently prying it off with a flathead screwdriver. Once the push nut is exposed, use the screwdriver to pry it away from the surface it seats against. Place the vice grips onto the push nut and turn it while pulling it off of the bolt or rod it is installed on. This may take a little effort and a combination of prying with the screwdriver and pulling with the vice grips.

Step 2

Break the push nut with a screwdriver or chisel. One way to remove a push nut is by inserting the top of a sharp flathead screwdriver or a chisel between the teeth of the push nut and the bolt. Pry the teeth of the push nut up until they bend or break, allowing the push nut to be removed from the bolt. If you do not want to scratch the bolt that the push nut is installed onto, this is not the best removal method.

Step 3

Put on your eye, ear and face protection. Grind the push nut off of the bolt with an angle grinder. Ensure that you have adequate clearance and working room when using this removal method. If necessary remove components near the bolt and the push nut so they do not get damaged. Place a grinding wheel on the angle grinder. Carefully grind down the teeth on the push nut so it can be removed from the bolt.

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