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)

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.


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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