Steering Column Pinch Bolt; Heater Core Replacement

Just had the heater core replaced on my 1994 Grand Marquis.

Asked my mechanic if he discarded and replaced the Steering Column Pinch Bolt.

This link indicates that this “is a safety-critical item and the factory manual specifies a new bolt must be used.”

My mechanic said he didn’t remove it, but only loosened it and it doesn’t need replacement.

Should I insist he open up the dash and replace it?

Only if you’re willing to pay for him to do it.

It’s called a jam nut.

Once a jam nut is loosened, it can’t be reused.

He has to back and replace the jam nut.

This is one of the reasons you have access to factory manuals for vehicles.


I’d say if the factory service manual requires it be replaced w/a new one (whether that be the bolt or the nut, not sure what it says), then you pretty much have to do that. Otherwise, since you know of this fact now, you could find yourself liable for any damage that occurred , like a car accident that injured somebody for example, if you knew it wasn’t properly replaced, and it didn’t hold.

So the key question here: Does the factory service manual actually state that as a requirement? The only way to know is to have someone qualified look it up in that make/model/year’s FSM.

Thanks for the responses guys.

FYI: My 1994 Grand Marquis has 200,000 mi.

On another forum I was told “The Ford manuals say just about every bolt needs a new one, I would just check it every so often if it concerns you.”

I personally don’t have access to the factory manual, just the indicated thread for a 2005.

I would be willing to pay him to do this (not happily) and I’m sure I’m going to be charged for second guessing him anyway.

In response to GeorgeSanJose and liability, wouldn’t my mechanic be responsible?

Is it easy enough to check “every so often” and would there be warning signs?

Just tell the mechanic you are concerned and politely ask if he would split the labor charge. Your worries will be gone and he could be correct that it is fine the way it is.

There are many one time use nuts and bolts on cars that don’t get replaced. The main reason is because the parts department does not stock these parts because there is no demand for them, nobody replaces them.


Perhaps somebody will condemn me . . .

I’ve reused steering column pinch bolts many times

I make sure the threads are clean and then drown them in blue loctite

Haven’t had one come apart or loosen. Since I’m a fleet mechanic, I constantly see these same vehicles, so I would know if something had happened.


When a threaded connection is seperated and the telltale red or blue ring from a locking compound is found it is somewhat critical to either replace the bolt/nut or apply loctite when reinstalling the original. The failure of that particular pinch bolt can go unnoticed until the steering wheel is suddenly disconnected from the steering gear.

Could the factory shop manual’s instruction to replace the bolt and nut be based on avoiding future liability when the bolt/nut are reused without reapplying the loctite. If the bolt/nut are replaced with parts that had a locking compound applied at the factory there is some certainty in the connection’s integrity.

Like I said . . . I admit that I technically didn’t follow the manufacturer’s rules

However, I know for a fact . . . without a shadow of a doubt . . . that those vehicles have been driving around for years with those reused pinch bolts drowned in blue loctite

And I’ve had my head under the dash a few times, since then, for other repairs. Absolutely nothing happening, as far as the pinch bolts are concerned.

Some of these are pretty big vehicles, driving on rough roads, FWIW

I’d also be happier to replace those pinch bolts. That said, it’s often very hard to actually get your hands on a brand new pinch bolt, versus some more common parts. I can guarantee you the dealer who brings us our Ford parts does not have pinch bolts in stock. They only have common things in stock, and ordering a pinch bolt would probably mean the truck is in the shop several days longer than it otherwise would be. And there are certain situations where the vehicle is desperately needed NOW. I’m sure many of us mechanics will acknowledge that it’s not always possible or practical to torque every single bolt according to the factory specs, or replace every single pinch bolt, self-locking nut, etc.

Perhaps somebody will condemn me, as I suggested earlier

Not you, apparently, but maybe somebody else

I had a similar discussion with my Coast Guard A&P mechanic BIL years ago. Nylock nuts on an aircraft that get used once and tossed. In the “real world” outside the Coast Guard, this doesn’t happen. They get re-used until they look bad or spin on with no resistance. It made him very nervous to do a little outside work on small private planes.

Huge liability make manufacturer’s require this. They never test re-used bolts and nuts, it is too much work. Like @db4690 said, Nobody does this so the dealers don’t stock the parts.

Wire brush the dried LocTite off, apply more, tighten to spec and sleep well.