Lug nuts secure the wheels on your vehicle. They may be small components, but loose lug nuts mean loose wheels and that can spell disaster on the road.
Here are some general maintenance tips for your lug nuts:
Installation and tightening
- When installing lug nuts for the first time, make sure that they are tightened in a certain order to ensure uniform distribution of the weight across your wheel's mounting surface. They should be tightened in a star-pattern order. For wheels that require only four lug nuts, tighten the nuts by following an X-pattern order.
- Be sure to inspect the tightness of your lug nuts regularly. But be sure you don't overtighten them as this may damage your wheels. Putting most of your weight on the lug wrench until it stops moving is tight enough-there's no need to stand on your lug wrench.
Lug nut removal
- Loosen or "break" your lug nuts before you jack up your vehicle.
- If the lug nuts prove extremely difficult to remove, you can use a breaker bar or an impact wrench. You can also try wiggling the nuts by alternating quickly between tightening and loosening them.
- Always jack up your vehicle before completely removing the lug nuts. Never really on just your floor jack to hold up your vehicle. Set up jack stands and wheel chocks as well.
- After you have loosened the lug nuts and raised your vehicle, we recommend removing the lug nuts starting with the one at the three o'clock position first and working your way clockwise, leaving the one at the top for last. That way, your wheel hangs on the top bolt and stays in place 'til you're done.
Locking lug nuts require a key for their removal. If you've lost the key and you need to remove your tires, there's a neat trick you can do.
Difficulty level: Easy
Here's what you'll need:
- Lug nut socket set
- Heavy-duty ratchet wrench
- Short and sturdy piece of pipe
Step 1: Pick a socket that is a bit smaller than your locking lug nut.
Step 2: Align that socket over the locking lug nut and hammer it until it is securely wedged over the nut.
Step 3: Insert your ratchet wrench into the socket.
Step 4: Slide the pipe over the end of your ratchet wrench.
Step 5: Apply force until the locking lug nut comes loose. As mentioned earlier, alternating between tightening and loosening can help.
You won't be able to use that locking lug nut again, but at least you got it off when you needed to.