Frozen rear axle nuts

Capt. Mike

Transferred from another post to keep topics separate

Junior Member posted 09-16-2000 08:08 AM

. . . and I have broken two breaker bars with a 3 and 6ft cheater bar trying to get the wheel hub 46mm nut off. Thinking I better look at my brakes, the nut doesn't looked welded but it wont budge. Any suggestions?
The high torque of an axle nut alone makes getting them off tough. Add years of rust, and some pretty high temperatures from brakes, and the ft-lb. of for putting them on won't even begin to take them off.

Here's some suggestions:

As to the axle nut, there are a couple of products that help, one by the unlikely name of PB Blaster at most discount auto stores & Wal-Mart. But mostly it's a job for the BIG impact wrench. Take it by a (truck) tire dealer and ask them to break it free, then retighten enough to get home. When putting it back on, use anti-sieze. See the item on lock nuts & washers under TOOLS.


Member posted 09-22-2000 12:28 AM

One suggestion that may help in the removal of your axle nut, especially if it hasn't been off for awhile - is to use heat. When we used to race our Class 5, 1600 Baja Bug, it used to be really on there. So we would get our propane torch and let it get nice and hot. Then with the proper socket and breaker bar, it would come ever so nicely. Good luck and hope this helps. CGOTTS
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New member
1982 air cooled vanagon

I have been pounding away on the rear axle nut with heat, an impact wrench, and a big cheater bar with no success. I just ordered the axle nut removal tool from Bus Depot, hopefully that will help.
Before I go any further I have to ask, "am I turning it the right way?" It comes off by turning counterclockwise, right?

Thanks, JB

Capt. Mike

Yes it is standard (right-hand) threaded. Suggest you see the post on PB Blaster in the "Misc. shop chemicals" topic.


New member
I have removed these rear axle nuts a number of times on a variety of older VWs and each time it is a bit different and a new challenge.

The Muir "idiot" book suggests using a length of pipe as an extension to your breaker bar...this has worked for me most times in the past, but once I had to end up chiselling the nut off since nothing else would work. Even the attempts to use impact wrenches didn't work.

I've got one now on my 86 westy that has been particularly bad. I have already broken both a 3/4 inch breaker bar and a 1/2 inch craftsman breaker bar trying to get it off.

Not sure what to try next, but I just ordered one of these schley striker wrenches.

Capt. Mike

A length of pipe to a breaker bar is still a good way to get injured. The tool wasn't designed for that type of abuse, and even the 'sudden letting go' when one breaks can permanently wrench (no pun intended) a back. Use the right tool. You can always split the nut -- if it's that frozen, you probably should replace it anyway!

Air wrench users, understand the air supply at the end of the hose is rarely anywhere near the quantity the wrench was designed for. My 600 ft-lb. Snap-On impact wrench is luck to do 250-300 ft-lb. at the end of 75 feet of 3/8" hose. But I'm not wanting the compressor in the workbay attached with 10' of 3/4" hose, so everything is a compromise.


Remember your old highschool automotive class lesson,,, heat and quench. Heat as hot as possible with a hand torch, (map gas is much hotter) then quench with water or oil. (careful about flash point with oil though) Lots of tapping lots of heat and quench. It will come off eventualy, or as Capt. Mike suggests, split it off. I have never used "nut splitters" but a cold chisel works wonders.



New member
I had the same problem on my '79 westy. I used a breaker bar and ended up bending my new huge napa breaker bar with a pipe extension. So this solution may sound stupid but it worked. I took it to a local automotive shop (midas in my case). I usually try to steer clear of automotive shops, prefer to do it myself. But for $30 they agreed to loosen it and tighten it again (insurance reasons) They have the big tools we just can't afford. So after they loosened it and tightend it again, it was a cinch to open with my breaker bar (with a new one from napa, god bless lifetime warrenty) and do the work that needed to be done.
Hey $30 was worth the hassel!