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Switch Exterior Fasteners to Something That Won't Rust?

I live in Connecticut. Winters are cold, nights go below zero degrees F some winters and the roads get covered in salt. Daily driver vehicles. Good idea guys, I should go to a salvage yard.

There are torque tables for “AN” bolts (Air Force/Navy) that we use in aviation. Maybe similar torque values would apply for bolts you can obtain locally?

That’s not a good environment for vehicles and their fasteners. The vehicle and its components will last about as long as the fasteners.

The fasteners will rust and turn to junk. The fasteners will rust and turn to junk. When I lived where road salt was used I’d buy used cars and drive then until rust made them unsafe and replace them and this pattern would repeat itself. I never got too “attached” to any vehicle because salt would kill it.

Buy a few stainless steel screws, the right size to hold license plates tot he vehicle. Replace the rusting fasteners with them. That’s the only fasteners that should be replaced so that when rust renders the vehicle unsafe it is easier to move the plate(s) to another safer vehicle. That procedure is actually the one I used for decades and it worked until I could move during winters!
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

John needs to go on vacation in the southwest to hit the salvage yard for bolts. Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego. Nice clean, not rusty fasteners by the thousands.

Or learn how to order them from Fastenal, Graingers or McMaster Carr.

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I go to my local ACE hardware for automotive hardware.

They have two aisles of nothing but hardware and have always had what I needed.


The only time they couldn’t match me up with a screw I needed, was for my Starrett edge scribe.


The case of the unknown thread size.


You’re lucky. Mine is not that big. They did have a 6mm screw for my chain saw but didn’t have a 3" 1/4-20 self tapping bolt that I wanted. I also had a little trouble getting an 8x1.25 45 degree grease zirk the other day but a tap and die did the trick. I feel kinda guilty though going in there and just getting a 20 cent 6 mm lock washer, but yeah they have been pretty good. What they don’t have, a lot of times I can make-until I’m able to travel to the big city again.

Replacing threaded fasteners because their strength has been compromised by corrosion is one thing.
Successfully removing these fasteners to replace them is another thing. Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie

Fasteners becoming overly corroded and weakened because of corrosion is just Mother Nature’s way of telling you to replace the surrounding parts and components too, in other words, the whole vehicle.

Any vehicle with trashed fasteners needs to have a mandatory “safety inspection”.

I hate salt applied to roads, I think it’s a low cost way for government entities to de-ice roads…
with the cost passed on to car owners. In my opinion the cost to vehicle owners renders the use of salt to be not a viable option. I would have rather had my taxes raised substantially to come up with a better idea. But, I don’t care now, I’m out of there! That’s the ultimate option.

:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

Take caution with that idea. If you remove nuts and bolts from salvage yard parts of value and show up at the front gate with a bucket of bolts this might not be well received. You can buy nuts and bolts from your hardware store for less than a trip to a salvage yard.

Hi All,

Thanks for the help. So is there some sort of database that I can look up the specif strength, thread, length, etc. of specific bolts for my car? Or do I really have to remove it, and use some sort of tool to measure the gauge, length, thread, and pitch? I’m surprised there’s not a database with all of this stuff already recorded.

Like you guys mention, living in CT, where the winters drop below zero, and the roads or full of salt, fasteners rust badly. Finding another car that is the same as mine (15 years old) at a salvage yard would probably also have rusted out fasteners. So I think I may have to resort to new ones.

I had some fasteners simply break in half from rust, because I had to apply a bit of torque to remove free them up. The rusted out metal I guess couldn’t withstand the sheer force and simply broke.

For your car in particular, yes and no…maybe. Dealer parts systems may list all the info you seek for the fasteners (thread, length, grade), but it’s not something you can look up yourself. I know GM’s system usually gives the fastener info, but I don’t know about Toyota’s.
In regards to dealer pricing, again I don’t know about Toyota, but I find GM’s pricing for bolts and such to be all over the place, sometimes very reasonable, and sometimes awfully high, depending on the particular fastener. For certain things (such as suspension), I’m not sure I’d trust general hardware store fasteners. For other light duty fasteners, it might not make much difference.

You used to be able to buy assembly manuals that listed every component in the car. I have several sets of full factory manuals for GM cars I used to regularly restore. I ordered replacement hardware from various online resources and even the dealership parts counter. I also spent many hours in Ace hardware aisles just like testers picture.

Proactively replacing fasteners is an exercise for someone with too much time. Kinda like waxing your car 50 times over 3 months…

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Those were also my thoughts… exactly.

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The Ace near me is not as large either, but they do have a good selection of fasteners. Ace stores are not corporate stores. I don’t think they are franchises, but are an affiliation of owner operated hardware stores. They specialize in whatever the owner sells a lot of. The one near me specializes in lumber, lawn mower parts, and Weber grill parts. If I need a grill part right now, it’s on the wall. I got a new starter, igniter, and flavor bars all without waiting two weeks for delivery. I don’t bother going to Home Depot or Lowe’s for grill parts anymore.

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Again I find myself going back to the idea that perhaps replacing corroded fasteners is possibly only a minor part of a much bigger concern.

If the issue is rust causing failing fasteners then I just have to figure that this car is one I don’t want near me on the roads on which I share.

I’ve had rusty cars. I have retired many cars due to what I (and professional opinion in some cases) have been deemed unsafe to drive. What strikes me about this is that I never had any fasteners on these cars that failed or were about to fail, and yet the cars were junk.

Please help me if I missed something in this regard in this long discussion…
@john.smith0909123_160324, I would like to know more about the last time this vehicle had a professional, experienced mechanic do a safety check on this car and found it roadworthy (excepting a recommendation of just replacing some fasteners).
How long ago was that?

If this hasn’t been done recently then that needs to happen before anything is repaired or replaced, in my humble opinion. Perhaps it’s time to remove those stainless steel fasteners that are holding the license plate(s), and the plates, and put them on a safer vehicle before somebody gets hurt or killed.

:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

So I think the fastener I’m trying to replace just broke because maybe I applied to much torque. I haven’t had a state inspection sense I bought the car.

This is the fastener I’m try to replace. Maybe someone can help me?

It’s approximately 19 mm in length.
It has a Phillips head indent on the top, and a 10 mm socket can be placed on the hexagon bit protruding from the top

It has a flange piece underneath the head of the fastener. I count a total of 5 threads.
This fastener holds the splash apron to the car, I ended up breaking one because it was rusted in.
Flange diameter is 16 mm
Flange thickness is 1.2 mm

Just go to a hardware store and find something close that will hold what ever it is supposed to hold. It does not have to exact . You are making things way to difficult.

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Looks like a self drilling screw.


You are missing the key element to this sheet metal screw… the diameter of the screw portion. Find that first, the length second and the large flange third. Or ignore the flange and its thickness and use a washer. Neither the hex not the Phillips matter. This is not a high strength fastener so it is not graded. You will find what you find. Not self tapping, probably drives into a j-nut. Used a LOT in body panels, brackets and other low strength joints in cars and trucks.

They are here:

Likely an M6.3 x 20 mm hex washer head for $11 for a pack of 5


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Hey thanks for the help guys. Does anyone know how to convert the Toyota bolt strength “Class” standard (why did they have to come up with their own???) to either imperial or metric ratings? Toyota bolts sometimes have numbers on them like “10” stamped on them for strength rating (yes “10” and NOT “10.9”) for example meaning that they are “10T” class bolts. How do I convert Toyota “10T” class to the imperial “Grade” or metric “Class” ratings for bolt strength. I’ve tried searching online and cannot understand how to convert the Toyota standard.

I ask because I can’t go to like a hardware store and get a bolt with strength “class” of “10T”. I can only get bolts with “grade” ratings or “class” ratings without the “T”

Good Grief John , how many places are you going to need to beat your brains out over a bolt . You have a vehicle , not a NASA space station.