Since the common introduction of torque to yield bolts, confusion has arisen, especially in regard to their reuse and as to when and if they can be re-torqued. Principally this is due to two sets of technologies existing side by side and often in the same engine.
Stretch bolts, or torque to yield bolts, when properly torqued, lose some of their diameter to the stretch but are elastic and if variations in the gasket material or other things occur, they keep their clamping force by varying their diameter slightly, but frequently, like breathing. The clamping force of stretch bolts is necessary to retain the inevitable variations of cylinder head composite gasket material deformations, due to heat etc. They automatically keep the necessary clamping force on the head gaskets for them not to not leak.
The clamping force of, Torque to Yield bolts, is greater than non-stretch bolts size for size. That allows for smaller engines with greater power, to be produced, that is the power for weight ratio, increases.
Once torqued, Torque to Yield bolts generally cannot be used again, consequently making repairs and correcting procedural errors, very costly.
Illustration #1: Whenever a manufacturer says it's OK to reuse a TTY bolt, they will nevertheless give strict parameters regarding the bolts length before you do proceed. Thus adding to the labour costs of any repair.
Illustration #2: Shows connecting rod bolts, one new, the other stretched beyond its elastic limit, now fit only for the melting pot.
Of course, the real test of Torque to Yield bolts, is do they work as intended?
If there are chronic complaints of leaking cylinder heads on a particular engine, the owner of that engine would say a resounding No!
Still, the theory is sound, make things smaller and more efficient is the creator's eternal call. Bugs will get sorted out, materials will improve. If Torque to Yield bolts themselves, are not improved, both in application and in cost, they will be replaced by something more efficient and cheaper.
TTY (Torque To Yield) bolts, lose their clamping force on reuse and unless they are strictly within the manufactures stretch limits, should not be used again. If they are used again, leaks will occur.
Do not reuse or retorque or retighten TTY(stretch) bolts, unless the manufacturer SPECIFICALLY says, it's ok to do so.
Do not buy non-genuine bolts unless they are clearly marked with grades that conform to recognizable international standards. If you can't recognize the bolt as belonging to one of the following standards, or some other standard that you trust, don't fit the bolt. I'll give you 10:1 it's sub-standard, only use OEM bolts.
Some examples of trustworthy standards are:
ISO: International Organization for Standardization
AISI: American Iron and Steel Institute
SAE: Society of Automotive Engineers
BS: British Standards
DIN: Deutsche Institut für Normung
JIS: Japanese Industrial Standards
Before discussing any particular case, let's bear in mind the above rules. It is reported that all the rules were followed but let's caution that we still, do not know for certain, if or how those rules were applied.
The above rules themselves testify to the necessity of finding more reliable and cheaper alternatives.
Development here would point to the type of bolts that are simple to use and don't need a complex set of rules for tightening. How about, for one, bolts that are truly elastic and will revert to their standard size after normal use and temperature variations? The science-fiction plasteel is an example of an ideal from a writers mind, knowing development is needed and will eventually come in this area, but postulating his fantastic solutions in the meantime. When will it come? Well, we shall see!
Chronic leaks, and wasting thousands of dollars trying to fix them by using Detroit Diesel agents who applied proper workshop manual procedures and used OEM parts to stop cylinder head leaks, on Greg's MBE4000 engine, led to one example of someone finding an alternative solution to a severe TTY problem. Actually he just reverted back to older technology using good quality materials and had studs and nuts manufactured. He fitted them in place of TTY bolts and they worked as planned, i.e. no leaks and no stretchy bolts. Click this link to read more about it, on our MBE4000 Page
Feedback a year after replacing Stretch Bolts with standard (non-stretch) studs and nuts
Greg updated us a year after doing the job on his MBE4000 as follows (his own words):
"I had the valve covers taken off a month or so ago, and according to the very experienced mechanic who did it, there was no evidence whatsoever of coolant leakage. Furthermore, I don't recall having to add any coolant in the past year, if I did, it would have only been a minor amount, once, but I don't recall for sure, at the moment."