How to Install a Cotter Pin? Step-by-Step Guide

Before learning how to install a cotter bin, you first need to understand what it is and why it is essential, right? Well, cotter pins are crucial components in an automobile and assist in securing bolts or any other kind of fastener. These pins are put in bolts to prevent them from coming out of their position.

It is common for bolts in cars or other automobiles to wear off with time. Pins with bolts that connect to a vibrating part of an automobile tend to wear off easily. Fixing cotter pins appropriately prevents the loosening of parts. It also lowers the CV joint noise noted sometimes. Also referred to as a split pin, a cotter pin is available in different types. Keep in mind that it is essential to install a cotter pin carefully or else it can disrupt the entire structural assembly of your car.

So let's learn how to do it!

What Is a Cotter Pin Used For?

cotter pin uses

A cotter pin is basically a metallic pin that is used as a fastener for securing nuts into bolts. You can utilize these pins by creating small holes in the fasteners or bots. Cotter pins have numerous applications. This includes securing the nuts in their position and also eliminating the steering noise. Made from mild steel, these pins are usually durable. A split pin has two long spikes that allow securing a bolt or any other fastener in its position.

Other kinds of pins such as clips or hairpin cotter pins can be secured in position without any need for bending. In short, cotter pins consist of a metal piece that is in U-shape and is inserted into the bolt through the hole. The ends are then twisted together for locking the bolt in its position.

Cotter pin functions as a locking mechanism and can be used in various situations. For instance, a castle nut and cotter pin hold the front wheel of a motorcycle securely in its place.

Cotter pins provide a reliable and strong locking mechanism. Split pins are quite easy to remove and replace. A locking cotter pin is just inserted in the hole of the bolt until the pinhead securely rests against the bolt. You can learn more about cotter pins in our other blog post that you can find here.

Choosing the Right Cotter Pin

choosing a cotter pin

Before learning how to install a cotter pin, you need to also learn how to choose the right cotter pin for the purpose. This is because you always should use new pins whenever you want to install or adjust them. Here you will find our reviews of the best cotter pins available. You should never reuse them as the metal tends to weaken over time. You will come across cotter pins of different diameters in the market. These are available in different sizes depending upon the application.

You can also find cotter pins in different prong lengths and head sizes. You can learn how to remove an old cotter pin here. The usual norm for measuring the usable length of a cotter pin is to measure from just beneath the end to the shorter prong. You can opt for a pin that is a little long as it is easier to trim the prongs to an appropriate length.

However, using a short pin can prove to be disastrous. This is because it may not perform its actual job of securing the locking mechanism if its length is not appropriate for the task. Cotter pins are available in a variety of materials including copper, stainless steel, and steel.

You need to choose the correct cotter pin material depending on the applicability of your project. If corrosion is your main concern during the installation of a cotter pin, then you can go for a stainless steel pin. You can find them here on Amazon.

Also, choose the size of the pin according to the bolt hole. The best thing to do is to choose the largest size possible for the hole. The head of the pin should be slightly larger than the hole for ensuring that the pin will not wiggle in the bolt.

How to Install a Cotter Pin the Right Way?

Install a cotter pin

Installing a cotter pin is one of the easiest automobile repairs. You do not have to rely on any special cotter pin installation tool to accomplish the task. The first and foremost thing you need to do is identify the notched-out part of the pin at the edge. The manufacturers do it for leverage. Whenever you are installing the pin, you need to ensure that the longer side goes up. Make sure that the hole remains parallel with the spindle depending on the situation.

Choosing the position is an ideal way of installing and maintaining the cotter pin. You need to take the pin and put it inside the designed hole. While inserting, just ensure that you retain the longer side up.

Make sure that you do not bend the sides of the cotter pin. If you do so, then it may become difficult to take it out especially when it has rusted. Learning how to install a cotter pin is easy.

You just need to follow the simple tips mentioned in this guide, however, you can still have a look at this video:

Final Thoughts

The cotter pin is something that you should always have in your mechanics toolbox. It might look small, however, the role it plays in the functionality of every vehicle is huge, and therefore, it is super important to know how to install it as you never know when you may need this skill. Hopefully, this guide helped you learn how to do it fast and easily!

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