Whoever chose to install those Torx bolts into every exterior part of the TJ deserves a serious beat down. The hinges on the tailgate of my 99 TJ have been frozen solid for at least the past year. They corroded so badly that it was impossible to open the tailgate. Fortunately, the roof has been completely off for 6 months and there's no need for opening the tailgate. However, as I consider selling the 4 banger and buying something a little newer/more powerful, I figured that I would bite the bullet and replace the hinges. I bought a set of hinges from the dealer and had them paint them to match the factory color. Unfortunately, the Torx hardware that secured the hinges to the body were completely uncooperative. So, being the good Boy Scout I am, I did everything I could to get prepared for the task of replacing them. I Googled and read everything I could find on these little bastards...I searched this forum from top to bottom...I studied, studied, studied. And with every article I read, I tried something new. I've soaked these bad boys with everything on the market - nothing penetrated them. I started with a 3/8 ratchet and a Torx driver - couldn't budge them. I tried a Torx driver and one of those manual hammer type impact tools - didn't even move them. Tried heating with a torch and repeating all of the above - nothing! Tried my electric impact driver - broke half a dozen Torx bits. Through all of that, I will say that I never stripped a single bolt - so either I'm very careful or they're pretty rugged. Next I tried drilling one out...broke my drill bit off inside the bolt...no possibility of drilling that one further. I tried swearing at the bolts, cursing the heavens, kicking my dog, and beating my wife - none of those things worked either. I tried excessive amounts of beer, Jaigermeister, and even wine coolers...nothing...not proud of that last one. I tried driving really fast down a bumpy road, water crossings, and a heaping helping of mud - still nothing.
So today I did what I knew I should have done all along...I had the tools...I was just too lazy to get them all out. Here's what I did...
1. Used a small die grinder to remove all of the paint from the head of the Torx bolts...taking care not to remove the paint from the surrounding area to decrease the likelihood of welding to the bracket.
2. Attained some super stout, highest grade available, stainless 5/16 x 1/2" coarse thread bolts. I actually tried longer ones but they kept snapping during step 7.
3. Using the appropriate drill bit, I drilled a 3/16 deep hole in the center of the Torx bolt with the intention of tapping it for the 5/16 coarse thread bolt.
4. Using a bottoming tap, I was able to tap the head of the Torx bolt just barely enough to insert my 5/16 x 1/2" screw. The idea of this was that it would be perfectly centered, parallel to the Torx bolt, and I wouldn't burn my finger holding it in step 5.
5. With the 5/16 x 1/2" bolt screwed into the head of the Torx, I used my MIG welder to weld the bolt to the Torx bolt.
6. Quenched with a bit of water in a spray bottle and waited a minute or two.
7. Using the electric impact driver on the head of the 5/16 x 1/2" bolt, it came right out with almost no effort at all!
8. I repeated this process for all 8 bolts with zero casualties and no drama.
The odd part is that careful inspection of the Torx bolts show no indication of rust or oxidation of any kind. However, there does seem to be a good 6 threads worth of some sort of Loctite from the factory. I'm guessing this was "permanent" threadlocker and not removable. I'm guessing that the heat of the MIG welding went a long way towards breaking down that bond before the impact driver did it's thing. Here's a pic of the final product. I hope this might help someone someday.