Whether it’s for a holiday or birthday, this Tools Under 30 Dollars Gift Guide Series shows you important, yet somewhat uncommon, tools that any gearhead would want.

Today, let’s talk about Torx Sockets.

A star fastener can bring a project to a screeching halt if you don’t have the right 6-point tool to remove it. For instance, this door striker requires a T50 size Torx bit. (Image/OnAllCylinders – Paul Sakalas)


As an alternative to traditional hex (Allen) or cross (Phillips) fastener heads, the 6-point star design was developed in the 1960s to create a fastener head that can withstand higher torque without the fastening tool slipping out. (Anyone who’s ever tried to un-stuck a Phillips head screw knows that the screwdriver has a tendency to pop out when too much torque is applied.)

Here’s a closeup of a star bit head. The socket is the male end and it fits in the fastener head. (Image/OTC Tools)

Also commonly known by the trademark “Torx” name or simply “star” heads, these 6-point fastener types are often used where a degree of tamper resistance is required (like seat belts or door strikers). But you’ll also see star fasteners in other vehicle applications, including luggage/cargo racks, trim pieces, sensors, and electronics components.

And, if you don’t have a set of male 6-point bits ready to remove them, your project will be stopped dead in its tracks.

Note: there’s an entire subset of fastener types designed specifically for tamper resistance. For removing these bolts and screws, you’ll probably need a dedicated security bit set.

Instead of relying on inches or millimeter sizing like a traditional hex head, star bits come in their own size increments, typically T1 (small) to T100 (large) and beyond. A good set should range from about T5 to T50, which will likely cover most of the sizes in a car or truck—though all vehicles will differ.

Star bits are available for 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch socket drives.

While a lot of gearheads make-do by buying each Torx bit individually as the need arises, having an entire set handy can save plenty of frustration and wasted time. That makes a star bit set a smart gift to give and receive. Better still, there’s a good chance you can find a set for under 30 bucks.

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