PLUSNUTS® in Cargo Vans and Conversion Vans – A Guide for Truck Enthusiasts

August 11, 2022

Rivet Nut USA is America’s #1 source for specialty fasteners, especially rivet nuts & PLUSNUTS® that conversion van enthusiasts use.

Over the course of our nearly 40 years in business, we have seen a rise in blogs and forums on the internet sharing information about installing rivet nuts. While it is a reasonable idea for a weekender enthusiast to engage his/her community for inspiration and direction, best practices used by the experts in the fastener industry are often lost or miscommunicated in these forums. As a result, most Do-It-Yourself (DIY) methods result in a lack of quality and repeatability that are often cringe-worthy to industry professionals. We hope that by putting factual content out on the internet, we can correct some of the unintentional misinformation that has been made available to conversion van enthusiasts. Feel free to email us at or submit a question at and we will respond within one business day.

Which Cargo and Conversion Vans can PLUSNUTS® be Installed in?

The short answer: ALL VANS! Our PLUSNUTS® have been installed in all the different customizable transport vehicles, including Ford® Transit, Mercedes-Benz® Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz® Metris, RAM® ProMaster, Freightliner® Sprinter, Chevrolet® Express, GMC® Savana, and Nissan® NV.

Linguistics: Plus nut, Cross nut, and T-nuts—What is a PLUSNUT®?

A PLUSNUT® is sometimes referred to as a cross nut, an Atlas® Plus+Tite®, a slotted body rivet nut, a slot shank body fastener, or a slot body nutsert. A cross and a plus are basically the same thing (they both look like a “t”), hence why people sometimes call them t-nuts as well in ProMaster van forums.

Bollhoff® is the original manufacturer of the PLUSNUT® and owns the trademark to the PLUSNUT®. Rivet Nut USA is a preferred authorized distributor of the Bollhoff® PLUSNUT® and offers customers the best availability/variety. We also stock other manufacturers that make equivalencies to the PLUSNUT®.

A plus nut is a style of rivet nut and has its own unique properties to distinguish it from being considered a standard rivet nut. It should be clear that the terms “plus nut” and “rivet nut” should not be used interchangeably; however, some forums and low-volume users have done so. Internet searches to find correct information can be polluted with incorrect information. The plus nut is a special STYLE of a rivet nut and the plus nut style was invented many years after the original rivet nut was invented.

Why use PLUSNUTS® for Cargo and Conversion Vans?

PLUSNUTS® provide the ultimate pull out strength in thin sheet metals and soft plastics, while offering industry leading grip ranges for material thicknesses. For example, a typical 1/4-20 PLUSNUT® will come in two sizes, gripping either 0.020” – 0.280” or 0.280” – 0.500” material; most trucks just call for the first grip range due to the thin sheet metal used in the back of cargo vans. PLUSNUTS® feature a slotted body and shank that splits into four legs during installation. This provides a wide load-bearing surface on the backside of the parent material for superior engineering spin-out and pull-out resistance. Internal threads of this fastener are used as a base to attach secondary applications or modifications (i.e., a shelf, a foldout table, etc.) and prebuilt modules into the vans. In common terms, plus nuts provide anchor points for bolting different components into the body of the transit truck. If you’re a van enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of plus nuts in several, if not all, of your blogs or forums.

For the best spin-out resistance, it is important to determine the correct hole size, parent material grip range, and material thickness of your application. If you use a PLUSNUT® that is too small for its hole (i.e., the hole is too big), the plus nut will likely not install correctly, and it will lead to premature failure or spinout. If the fastener is not designed to handle the thickness of the materials (i.e., using a fastener meant for thin material, but installing it into thick material), the fastener will not install enough and lead to premature failure or spinning. We have catalog guides to select the best fastener based on your requirements, however, there may be some aspects you aren’t considering that may also influence the installation of your fastener. Many DIY-ers miss additional factors, then wonder why the install failed. Please contact us to talk with our skilled sales engineers to review the conditions of your application and we can offer advice on properties and installation conditions to consider.

Here are Some Truths to Various Bits of Misinformation Appearing in Forums:

• Please note that it isn’t normal for internal threads to be bad or stripped on quality fasteners. Your male bolt should freely spin into the female fastener both PRE and POST installation.
• Getting the cheapest fastener is not ideal, nor is it considered a best practice. These fasteners have special forming characteristics that need to be made with battle tested manufacturing methods and material. Poor quality fasteners will lead to cracking, spinning and field failure.
• Best practice would be to get the tooling and fasteners from the same place. Buying tooling from one place and fasteners from another place could put you in a bad position if you have a question or an issue. The blame game may ensue.
• Using a washer to “build up” the material thickness is not a good idea. A better idea is to buy the right fastener that was manufactured to naturally grip the right material thickness. Washers bring into issues of spin out, uneven load performance, etc.

A Few Words on Hex Nuts

It is important to know that a plus nut is NOT a HEXNUT®. A hex nut is a hexagonal-shaped body rivet nut. The hex body needs to go into a hex hole (usually created by a high-volume laser cutting process), which makes it less likely for the body of the rivet nut to spin since it is hexagonal. That element leads to increased spin out resistance, which high volume manufactures like. However, if you really want hex holes at low to medium volumes, we have a nice pneumatic tool that cuts hex holes. This tool punches the hexagonal shape into materials after a drill bit starts the hole.

Most low-volume users wouldn’t use HEXNUTS® because of the necessary prep work the holes require (necessary hex-shaped hole via laser or special cutting tool. If it is a DIY project, it is much easier to make a circular hole in the back of a Sprinter van using a drill bit and drill, or sometimes a hole already exists at which point they would just use that hole if the hole size is the same size the plus nut calls for, or you may have to drill the hole open a little bit larger for the PLUSNUT® to slide into the hole.

Materials Matter in Cargo and Conversion Van

High volume van integrators of the world use hundreds of thousands of zinc plated steel plus nuts every year when building the interior of cargo and conversion vans. Occasionally, exterior applications could bring into play “galvanic corrosion” due to the different noble proprieties of the materials (i.e., using a steel plus nut in aluminum material). Typically for interior applications, the environment is stable enough that “galvanic corrosion” is less of a concern and most of the time, it is steel parent material being paired with a steel plus nut anyways! For more information on the nobilities of metals, please refer to our Aluminum RIVNUT® article. Applying this knowledge increases the longevity of the fasteners in your application.

Why Not DIY?

Please don’t buy a $50,000 or $100,000 conversion Metris van, and then not invest the $$$ on the proper tooling needed to install the fasteners in a manner that will protect and enhance your van investment. There are several blogs, articles and videos that share “cheap” methods touting you do not have to buy a special tool. There is a difference between “cheap” (low cost, low quality = only batting 50%, not good) and “best value” (low cost, high quality = best of both worlds). We want to assure you are using the “best value” tool available in the marketplace that will efficiently and effectively install your rivet nuts. While it could be honorable to try to save money upfront by getting together a DIY homemade rivet nut installation hand tool, it likely will cost you more in the long run as explained below. A DIY tool that is not recommended for PLUSNUT installations

The main problem with rigging together a homemade tool is the lack of repeatability. Very few people have the time/skills to accurately fabricate a DIY tool to exacting tolerance and then use the homemade tool 100% correctly for 100% of the time. Most homemade tools use soft (non-heat treated) metals that will wear as quickly or quicker than the rivet nut itself (not good; tools should be hardened more than the fastener you are installing). Tools like the ones that Rivet Nut USA sell are made of high quality, tool-hardened metal that last for years (or decades, with care), minimize headaches, and facilitate maximum output while achieving high quality repeatable installations that any user could replicate. True masters of the craft know that when you cannot see the backside of your application to check if the install was good, then you must rely on that the install tool will take care of correctly installing the fastener. If you believe you need to spend the time to doublecheck every install, that is an indication that you are using a subpar install tool or are not confident in the install for some reason (if so, give us a call and we can help you gain the confidence you desire).

Some DIY rivet nut install tools won’t fully engage all the threads of the rivet nut. If this is the case, then the threads that are engaged may be OVERexposed to unintentional install pressures which damages those threads. Professionally made tools that Rivet Nut USA offers for your purchase will engage ALL the threads, applying equal, or fair, install pressure to each thread, which protects the thread integrity for easy engagement with your male bolt.

A vise grips and wrench are not recommended ways to install PLUSNUTS in conversion vansMany DIY tools rely on “grabbing” or “digging” into the top to the rivet nut head to hold the insert from spinning during installation, which will leave permanent damage to the head. If you are using aluminum or steel fasteners, you may be removing a protective coating as well (anodize over aluminum and zinc plating over steel). This will make the fastener susceptible to premature rust and corrosion. Corrosion is a big concern whenever anyone works with metal. Corrosion is like a cancer that will grow into and across your application. We hate the “C” word! Engineered tools are made to safely engage the fasteners and install them in a manner that will not damage, but firmly enough to get the pressure and torque right each time for reliable and dependable installation.

It’s better to do it right the first time with a professionally made tool, rather than to spend hours trying to create, install and fix sloppy installations created from bad advice that has spread across the internet. Sometimes, you may think your install is good with a DIY tool, but you will find out later in the field that the install was not good: something can break, or someone getting hurt! There are many videos, forums, blogs, and websites that encourage you to install rivet nut without professional tools. Please do not place your trust in these unvetted sources; there is no distinction of who is right and who is wrong out there. Rather, place your trust in Rivet Nut USA. We can take care of YOU, just like we take care of our customers throughout the automotive, aerospace and appliance industries.

Do I use Pre-Bulb or Regular PLUSNUTS®?

First let us define the difference, then you can decide.

A regular PLUSNUT® has a straight body while a pre-bulbed PLUSNUT® has a slight “bulge” mid-way down the body (see the visual reference for the difference in the photos below). The photo on the left is a straight body regular PLUSNUT®, while the photo on the right is a pre-bulbed body PLUSNUT®.

A regular PLUSNUT® has a straight body and is used for Cargo and Conversion Van upgradesA pre-bulbed PLUSNUT® used for cargo and conversion van upgrades

A pre-bulbed PLUSNUT® is easier to install (using low volume hand tools) than a regular straight body PLUSNUT®. This is the only reason why pre-bulbed PLUSNUTS® exist. This feature may be considered a good benefit for low volume installers like conversion van truck enthusiasts.

However, to have the bulge of the pre-bulb go into the material, a slightly larger hole must be drilled into the material (a larger hole than you would otherwise need with the regular straight body PLUSNUT®). If you get carried away and drill a “way too big” hole, then you could start bringing in concerns of spin-out or other poor performance once the Pre-Bulb PLUSNUT® is installed. But, if you follow the install instructions and drill the correct size hole, you will get good performance out of either PLUSNUT® style.Front, side, and rear view of a simulated view of a Plusnut installed on a van panel

If all else is equal, and you have a dependable, high-quality tool for the job and are running at medium to higher volumes, then go with the traditional regular straight body PLUSNUT® (the original). If you are trying to get by with an inexpensive (or worst case, an unadvisable DIY tool), then go with the easier to install (but larger hole required) pre-bulbed PLUSNUT®.

So, both are good options and fit a specific use case. In the end, it is up for you to decide.

How to Order PLUSNUTS® Kits for Conversion and Cargo Vans!

Most conversion van or cargo van projects don’t require thousands of PLUSNUTS®, reducing the chances that you’d qualify for significant volume discounts that most distributors might offer. Even so, Rivet Nut USA buys in large enough volumes that we can still offer cargo van enthusiasts competitive pricing with best of breed fasteners and tooling. Just give us a call or send over an email.

If you are using only a few fasteners, you can obtain high quality tools and fasteners via our Amazon store!!

Call 800.236.3200 for a consultation on high volume applications with a live person, email, or to quickly “grab and go” please visit our Amazon store!

If you’re local, you can even schedule a pick-up! Contact Rivet Nut USA – we’re just minutes off Highway 45 in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee, Wisconsin).