Star bit vs. screwdriver

Just curious, why do some automotive screws require a star bit (aka Torx bit), rather than a plain old screwdriver?

A theoretically simple task, changing a stoplight bulb on my '01 Saturn, recently turned into a 3-hour ordeal running around hardware stores to find the star bit required to remove the taillight assembly screws. How much simpler this would have been if a lowly screwdriver was the tool needed . . .

What’s the advantage of these screws with special heads? The cranky cynic in me says it’s just an excuse to force novices like me into the dealer’s shop for simple repairs. The optimist in me says there’s a legitimate engineering advantage, of which I’m just not aware.

the cranky cynic is pretty much correct.

BUT, the optimist is partially correct because torx have almost NO stripout. rust in, yes, but little or no strip out.

My guess is those type fasteners are better suited for robotic automation in the assembly process.

now that you know about them you can go to sears and get a set of torx T style wrenches and add them to your tool box. they are on most every thing nowadays. toasters, cars, kids toys. you never know where you may need one!

oh yeah, a GOOD quality allen head wrench will take then out too. BUT if you have worn allen wrenches, or a cheap china made set they may wobble enough to strip them.

On a headlight where it’s exposed to the elements, there’s less of a chance for the head of the fastener to erode to a point where a typical screwdriver will cam-out out of it’s slot when removal is attempted. With a Torx bit, most of the head of the fastener would have to erode away where the bit was inaffective.

If you even think about tinkering with vehicles, a good set of both Torx and E-Torx bits/sockets are a must.


Hardware stores for automotive tools?!! Maybe an automotive parts store, huh? Walmart has sets of Torx bits, and Torx screwdrivers.
Torx screws have been used on vehicles for 30 years. Somebody is late coming to the scene.

well… better late than never!

Turn of the last century cranky cynics said the same thing about Phillips screws. People used to grouse about Allen screws, too. Remember the early days of IKEA where everything had to come with that weird Swedish wrench? Nowadays, pretty much everybody has allen wrenches in their toolboxes. Torx screws are just the next progression in screw technology. They are really nice because you can put a lot of torque on a torx screw and they’re practically impossible to strip. It’s a bit of a nuisance, but not as much of a nuisance as a stripped screw in some recessed housing, such as your headlight bracket.

You can usually pick up a screwdriver with every tip known to man for 20 bucks or so at a hardware store.

Oh yeah, and if they’re actually trying to keep you out of something, they have torx screws with a little peg in the middle of it.

Yes, I guess “better late than never” is about right :slight_smile: Honestly, I had never heard of a Torx bit before this experience – and didn’t have a clue where to find it. A socket set was always sufficient for my needs.

I’ll tell you all, though, it was a fun search. Most employees at stores near me don’t speak English too well, if they can at all. And, I was looking for a tool that I didn’t even know the name of.

To all the posters, thanks for enlightening me on this one.

Ah, the early days of Ikea . . .

Let me throw one more question out there. So, there are torx screwdrivers out there as well as torx bits for a socket wrench. Is one better than the other when it comes to handling these screws? I would imagine you’d get more torque from a wrench, but I’m obviously not an expert in this area.

Torx fasteners strip out, or more accurately, round out plenty on the fastener head or the bit itself

More torque is the biggest reason for the socket wrench style bits, but the screwdriver handle ones are better for tight spaces.

Really? What do you do then?

You try to find a special Torx bit with a hole in the middle to accomodate the peg. Though, I’ll guess there are a few ways those in the know have to getting the peg out. I might start w/ a dremel and pencil point grinder bit - but I’ll bet doing that is a good way to mess up the star and head toward stripping - I’ve not tried.

The special bits are the most straightforward way to go.