The Ultimate Bed Bolt Guide (Tools, Parts, Tips, & How To Fix)

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MAMiller44

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I had half of this information already saved in a note on my phone, and have had more bad experiences regarding these than I care to remember, so I figured I'd use all of that info to at least help others.

Tools & Torques:
If everything goes as planned (which it won’t) these are the only tools you’ll need to remove and re-install/replace bed bolts:
1. T50 Torx PLUS impact bit. MAKE SURE ITS TORX PLUS, these are different from standard Torx bits and you will hate your life if you try to use a regular T50. Impact needed for torque.
2. Torque wrench capable of 59 ft/lb that works with your T50 Plus bit. I use 1/2” drive. Yes, 59 ft/lb is the factory torque.
3. Replacement hardware (see below). All factory bed bolts and nuts are one-time-use so don’t try to re-use them.
Other tools you’ll need when everything goes wrong:
- Ultra thin 18mm wrench. A standard won’t fit.
- Grinder with cutoff wheels. Need 6" to reach, 5" won't do.
- A jack tall enough to reach the bottom of your aluminum bed.
- A few scrap, short 2x4’s to use as spacers if you have to lift the bed
- Whatever tools are necessary to remove your rear bumper.
- Cold beer, weed, and anything else that can keep you calm/refreshed for a few hours.


Factory Hardware:
Factory Bolts
- 6 total, all are the same.
- Ford part number W717000-S901
- Should be $3-$4 a piece.
Factory Nuts (calling these nut clips)
- 4 total as these are only used at the center and tailgate bolts. The bolts closest to the cab are received by a nut welded to the frame.
- Ford part number W719379-S439
- Should be $2-$3 a piece.


Aftermarket Hardware:
DYOR research here. First, ask yourself why you want aftermarket bolts. Bypass racks and heavier duty items will require longer bolts so this makes sense. Most items like tire mounts, bed supports, chase racks, bedslides, etc. don't need longer bolts. I previously had tire/jack mounts on the cab and center bolts + bed supports on the tailgate bolts. None of these needed longer bolts but I used them anyways because yellow zinc pretty. I've since switched to a bedslide on the cab and center bolts and have gone back to factory hardware there. Why? Because dissimilar metals corrode like a mother f'er. Here's a thread (link) outlining my experience with corrosion on aftermarket bolts because you still have to use the factory nuts. Remember, factory hardware is considered one-time use, but it's cheap and you can get extras!

Now, if you absolutely have to get longer bolts. KHC sells a great kit including Grade 10.9 yellow zinc coated in two lengths (100mm stock or 120mm for racks). They're not common sizes so this is a good one-stop-shop. If I absolutely had to use aftermarket bolts for a bypass rack or something much beefier, I would make provisions to not use any factory hardware anymore and make sure all hardware is easily accessible for future access...which means some custom weld work. If this isn't an option, you better plan to regularly exercise, clean, protect, and replace the factory nuts. Side Tip: The factory nuts are not threaded, get an extra factory bolt to tap them because any aftermarket bolts are not self-tapping.


Tips for Success:
Removal
- If you have a spray on bedliner, cut out the washers as well and not just the bolt heads. They come out as one so if you don't cut out the washer you're just adding more resistance.
- Use lots of penetrating oil / lube and let it soak in. Hit it from underneath as well.
- Don’t loosely ratchet and maintain tension! The clips don’t hold the nuts very securely underneath, so if you’re ratcheting when you remove or install and don’t keep constant tension in the direction you’re going, they’ll wobble all over the place and this causes the nuts to snap off the clips. When this happens, your bolts will spin. What I do is use one hand on my torque wrench and the other on the bit, when ratcheting I hold hand-tight tension on the bit so it’s not bouncing around.
Installation
- Get the threading started on the nuts prior to installing. You'll notice they do not come threaded and the bolts are self-tapping. Holding the nut in a wrench prior to being snapped in underneath will allow you to get a much better grip on it and get those threads started.
- Use anti-seize in case you have to remove again.
- Same note from installation on not loosely ratcheting and maintaining constant pressure on the hardware to eliminate the nut clips from breaking loose.
- Coat with woolwax or similar from underneath when complete to minimize corrosion.


When Everything Goes Wrong (aka how to fix spinning or seized bed bolts):
Cab Bolts: Cab nuts are welded to the frame and easily accessible from below.
It’s stuck, seized, or stripped…what do I do? If you stripped the bolt on these or it’s just not moving, you’ll need to weld a nut or additional bolt to the head of the one you stripped so you can remove it or get more torque on it. Don't go cutting the bolt off from below because it's welded to the frame.
It’s spinning, what do I do? Congratulations, you’re so strong and mighty that you snapped the welded nut right off the frame (what we just said not to do). Grab the grinder and either cut the head or nut off allowing you to remove it. Either weld a new nut on or plan to always have a friend with you from here on out so one can tighten the bolt and one can hold the nut underneath.

Center Bolts: These use the nut clips and are easily seen (not easily accessed though) after dropping your spare tire. They are installed from the center of the truck, pushing them out to each side to snap them in place. With these they’re either spinning or you’re not trying hard enough. If the nut is seized, it’ll snap from the clip and start spinning.
Option 1: This is where you can use that ultra thin 18mm wrench. It’ll take a friend but you can grab hold of the nut underneath and remove it this way.
Option 2: Do NOT grind off the bolt head from above because the lower half will still be too long to pull out from underneath. Jack the bed off the frame at this bolt as much as you can and use a 6”+ cutting wheel to cut the bolt as close to the top of the frame as possible. This will give you enough clearance to pull it out from underneath. You may need to manhandle the broken clip fully off the nut with some needle nose pliers for enough clearance.

Tailgate Bolts: Similar situation as the center ones but way worse because there is zero access to the nut clips. The clips here are installed from the back of the truck, pushing in towards the cab. So they are essentially buried behind the rear bumper. Even if you can get these removed properly, removing the old ones and popping in new ones are difficult even with small hands. If they’re spinning, you have to go with Option 2 from the center bolts. Different rear bumpers may require removal, I know factory bumper and SVC Mojave don’t if you jack the bed up about 2-3 inches above the frame.
 

2slo4u

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I just went through this. One bed bolt next to the cab I had to weld a nut on top to get it out. The replacement bolt ended up stripping the nut when I reinstalled it. Had to tap it out and just to make sure it holds, I now put a second nut underneath. No problems with the middle bolts. Rear bolt I had one start spinning. After looking at it, I decided to have the ford dealership deal with it since I was getting some warranty work done anyway. They charged me $60 to put a new nut clip on it. In my opinion it was money well spent
 
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MAMiller44

MAMiller44

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I just went through this. One bed bolt next to the cab I had to weld a nut on top to get it out. The replacement bolt ended up stripping the nut when I reinstalled it. Had to tap it out and just to make sure it holds, I now put a second nut underneath. No problems with the middle bolts. Rear bolt I had one start spinning. After looking at it, I decided to have the ford dealership deal with it since I was getting some warranty work done anyway. They charged me $60 to put a new nut clip on it. In my opinion it was money well spent
If $60 is the going rate for Ford to deal with one of the center or tailgate bolts, I too would highly recommend going this route based on experience. lol
 

ImAllSCREWdUp

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Stripped the torx on the front two bolts, had my metal shop weld large nuts on the heads and broke free easily. They were rusted into the welded nuts below.
The middle bolts are spinning, the stupid clip-washers broke (see image). Bought a thin 18mm wrench and it wont fit latterally in the frame slot - even after thinning the wrench further and removing material from the width of the wrench. Gonna try again tomorrow, what a pain.
Planning on having the middle replacement nuts welded in place by the same metal shop.
Any thoughts on welding the new middle nuts in place?
 

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Aleriionn

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I know this is an older thread, but when installing d-rings in the bed, I had a tailgate bolt start spinning on me. After some trial and error, I found that placing the clip in the closed end of a long 18 mm in the correct orientation allowed me to insert the clip from the cab side with a little rearward force from a screw driver on the bumper side. It just takes a little patience. I hope this helps someone avoid lifting the bed and cutting the bolt.
 

dsiggi

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I think offroad alliance has a video showing how to replace these bed nuts without any of the bed lifting etc... I just pulled my rear most bed bolts to re powder my bed supports and install d rings. I sprayed them like crazy with corrosion x and used the TP-50 and a breaker bar and went real easy and direct when i broke them loose. I put heat on the driver side bolt with a torch because i didnt like the way it felt with the breaker bar and it came right out no issue. Just be patient. I'd stay away from impacts, and do this all by hand. I use impacts often but there is a time and place. Seen them cause many more problems that taking a few minutes by hand would have solved.

Also fwiw, reused bed bolts and nuts many times. I know your not supposed to but its not the apocalypse if you do. I did replace this time when I redid bed supports and d rings.
 

dsiggi

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Did the rest of my D Rings this weekend, just a little heat on each from underneath, and no drama. Didn't take much.
 
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