Anyone who has tried removing a stuck or stripped lug nut knows just how hard it can get sometimes. This is something you can prevent from happening, but if you already have a stripped lug nut, you need the proper ways of removing such a lug nut.
This guide looks at the options you would have when it comes to removing stripped lug nuts and replacing them with new and easy-to-use lug nuts.
The most used method is using a hammer and an extractor socket. A breaker bar is also vital for the whole process. You may also come across times when a blowtorch is important. We look at all these methods for you to pick the one for you.
How a Lug Nut is Stripped
A lug nut can be stripped because of a number of reasons. Here are some of them;
- Rust and corrosion
Depending on where you drive, it is possible to get corrosion and rust on the wheels and lug nuts. Considering they are made of metal, exposure to elements such as moisture may lead to rust and corrosion.
Once there is corrosion, the lug nut threads can easily deform with time. The result is that now you have a hard time taking the lug nuts off the wheel stud.
- Wrong socket
It always pays to use the right tools for the job. If you use the wrong socket size for the lug nut, it will slip and thus damaging the lug nut.
The problem with slipping is that it might come off this time, but the same will not apply next time. You would have to use more force to remove the lug nuts next time.
Also, using an old and worn socket can easily lead to such issues. It is best to get a new and high-quality socket to help prevent any additional issues later.
- Incorrect torque
Each car manufacturer would have the torque specifications you have to use when it comes to lug nuts. With an incorrect torque, sometimes you end up stripping the lug nuts.
It is not just when removing the lug nuts, but also when tightening. So, make sure to use the right torque setting to keep the lug nuts in great condition.
Removing a Stripped Lug Nut Off a Tire
Below we get into more details on which methods are the best to remove stripped lug nuts off the tires.
1. Hammer, breaker bar, and extractor socket
This is commonly the best method for you to try today as it is highly to work 99% of the time.
The tools needed include penetrating oil, extractor socket, breaker bar, and a hammer. Park the car on a flat surface and add wheel chocks to keep the car from moving while working on the stripped lug nut.
Start by soaking the stripped lug nut with some penetrating oil. This is key in loosening the rust around the lug nut thus making the removal process easier.
Hit the stuck lug nut with a hammer a few times to loosen it.
Keep soaking the lug nut with more penetrating oil to free the rusted and stripped lug nut.
Ensure that you watch your wheel and fingers too while hitting the lug nut with a hammer.
After hitting the lug nut a couple of times, insert the nut extractor over the lug nut and hammer it into place. Make sure it feels tight.
The breaker bar is then attached to the socket. Apply force to its handle. To remove the rounded or stripped lug nut, turn the socket anti-clockwise. You can still extend the handle of your breaker bar by using an iron pipe if the lug nut is too tight. This is for more leverage.
2. Using a blowtorch
A blowtorch is another way for you to remove the stripped lug nut. Not to worry, so long as you follow the correct steps, this is a safe method to attempt using.
A blowtorch is a replacement for penetrating oil. So, if you do not have WD-40 close, consider a blowtorch to loosen the stripped lug nut.
Heat up the stuck lug nut and let it cool down before trying to take it off. The heating process helps to expand the lug nut making it simple to get off.
However, this method may damage the rim paint, thus the reason other methods are more preferred.
3. Use a Wrench and Grinder
Before you can use a wrench or grinder, ensure the stripped lug nut is soaked in penetrating oil first. It would generally make it easier to remove it.
Using the grinder, make edges around the lug nut so that you can use a wrench to remove the lug nut using a wrench.
A grinder removes some material away from the lug nut so be careful to keep it away from the wheels. You may also want to try the other methods above first.
Here is a video on how to use a wrench for stuck lug nuts.
4. Chisel, hammer, and screwdriver
Yes, people also try to use a chisel, hammer, and screwdriver to remove the stripped lug nuts. It might seem as if you have run out of ideas, but it can still work. You just have to be creative with what you have available.
As always, apply some penetrating oil to the stuck lug nut and give it a few minutes to get in there. Next, place the chisel on top of the nut and hammer it down to create a notch. Proceed to insert the screwdriver in this notch and keep tapping anti-clockwise to loosen the lug nut.
How Long Will Lug Nuts Last?
Lug nuts being essential for keeping the wheel on the car are seen to be quite vital. So, you would always want such nuts in top condition to avoid any accidents.
Depending on the use, lug nuts can last even the lifetime of the car. However, they can get loose over time because of the normal wear and tear. Still, improper care might lead to you changing the lug nuts a lot sooner than expected.
Expect to find lug nuts being made of different materials including titanium, aluminum, and steel. Each material would have different durability.
Steel lug nuts are the most durable compared to the others. The aluminum nuts might look great, but they will not be the most durable.
If you have the budget, you can also consider the titanium lug nuts. Even if they are expensive, they are the most durable and will not strip easily. They are also the best choice for heavy usage.
How to Avoid Stripping Lug Nuts
Lug nuts do not just get stripped on their own. Most of the time, it is because of human error. So, if you can prevent the lug nuts from stripping, you never have to deal with this problem.
The first thing to do is stop taking your car to shady mechanics. If the mechanic does not know what he is doing, the chances are the lug nuts would get stripped. This leaves you with the trouble of removing it later.
Once you replace the stripped lug nuts, make sure they are installed correctly so that it becomes easier next time if you want to remove the lug nuts.
In case you ever decide to work on the car yourself, then use the right tools. If you lack the right tools, simply take the car to a shop where it can be handled correctly. Also, avoid over-torquing the lug nuts when tightening them. This could lead to stripping of the lug nuts.
It is still important to keep these lug nuts away from corrosion agents. This means that you should not allow the wheels to sit in water and dirt for long. Always wash the wheels more often to avoid corrosion.
Below are more tips to follow for removing stripped lug nuts.
Will a bad lug nut damage the wheel?
A bad lug nut can actually damage the wheel. This is because you might find it getting loose and falling off. This can be dangerous as the wheel will not be held tightly.
How often can you check lug nuts?
Checking lug nuts once a month is highly recommended. This is to ensure the lug nuts are always tight to avoid any potential damage. In case of damage, replace the lug nut as soon as possible.
Can WD-40 help remove stuck lug nuts?
Yes. This is because WD-40 is penetrating oil. Apply it directly to the lug nut and give it a few minutes for it to settle in. You should end up with an easy time removing the lug nut.
Will a blowtorch damage my wheel when removing stripped lug nuts?
It is possible to damage the wheel when using a blowtorch. It all comes down to your skills. If you keep the flame too close to the wheel for long, then expect some damage to it generally.