You’re driving down the road and hit a pothole, sending your car bouncing. As you pull back onto the road, you hear a loud *thunk* and realize that one of your lug nuts is now loose. What do you do?
If this happens to you, don’t panic! There are a few ways to get that lug nut off, even if it’s stripped. Keep reading to learn more.
The most common challenge people have when they have a stripped lug nut is figuring out how to remove it. If you’re not sure what to do, it can be difficult to know where to start.
If you’ve ever had a stripped lug nut, you know how frustrating it can be. It can seem impossible to get that nut off the wheel, especially if you don’t know what to do. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll teach you how to remove a stripped lug nut from your tire, no matter what tools you have available.
What is a stripped lug nut and why does it happen?
A lug nut is the threaded metal cap that holds your tire in place. A stripped lug nut occurs when someone overtightens the lug, causing it to turn past the point where the threads meet and stretching them out or snapping them off so they can’t hold on to the lug stud.
This can happen for many reasons, including accident damage or corrosion on the threads themselves, but it is most often caused by over-tightening.
Tools you’ll need to Remove a Seized Lug Nut
Unlike having a flat tire, there are several different ways to remove a stripped lug nut. Many of these solutions require the help of tools, but others do not. If you have access to any one or all of these tools, they can be incredibly helpful when it comes to removing your lug nut.
Tools you’ll need to remove the lug nuts include a wrench, a socket wrench, or an impact wrench. If you have access to any of these tools, they can make the process much easier.
- Lug wrench
A lug wrench is a special tool with a circular end that is designed to fit over the lug nuts on your tires. When you turn this tool, it clicks as it gets tighter or looser, giving you an indication whether or not the nut has been successfully loosened. It’s important to note that a standard lug wrench is not going to work on every kind of wheel, so if you don’t see your lug nut in the tool’s grasp when it turns or if the end is flat rather than circular, this might not be the right choice for you.
- Socket wrench
A socket wrench is another helpful option for removing lug nuts. This is a tool that lets you grip and turn nuts using the socket lug end. Just like with a standard lug wrench, this tool will not work if your lug nut does not fit securely inside it or if your wheel does not have the right kind of tread.
- Impact wrench
An impact wrench is similar to a socket wrench, but it uses a power drill instead of being handheld. This can be an invaluable tool if you have one, as it will allow you to wrench the lug nuts free much more quickly than with a standard wrench or socket wrench.
Steps for removing a stripped or stuck lug nut from your tire
If you’re not able to use any tools, don’t panic. There are still several different steps you can take to remove your lug nut, even if it’s stripped.
1. You’ll need to loosen the lug nuts before trying to get them off. Using an adjustable wrench or a set of pliers, turn each nut counterclockwise until they’re free enough that you can remove them by hand. Once they’re loose, remove them completely.
2. Before you get the lug nuts off the tire, make sure your car is secure. Take it to a flat surface and set out wheel chocks behind the tires so that it doesn’t move while you work on loosening the nut.
3. Once the tire has been jacked up, use your wrench to grip the lug nuts and turn them counterclockwise until they’re free from the axle for as far as you can reach them with your arms before having to reposition the jack. If this doesn’t work, try removing a bolt or two first so that you have more room to work. If you can’t remove the lug nuts from one side of your car, just repeat the process on the opposite side until there are no more lug nuts on either tire.
4. Put some muscle into removing the lug nut from the axle itself.
Sometimes this will require that you stand on top of the wrench with all of your weight, so make sure you have a good grip. You can also try lying on the ground and putting your foot through the lug nut to get it off. In this case, an adjustable wrench will be especially helpful.
5. Use a hammer or crowbar to try loosening the lug nut.
This may work best if you can do it from underneath the tire, using one of these tools to give you leverage on the nut itself.
6. Apply A Lubricant such as WD-40 or a similar product.
Let the lubricant sit on the lug nut for at least 30 minutes before trying again to remove the nut from a tire with an impact wrench. WD-40 will loosen most stuck lug nuts, making them easier to work within less time than many other products.
7. Use the Vice Grip Wrench if all else fails.
The Vice Grip is the last resort when you’re trying to remove lug nuts that simply won’t come off, no matter how much torque or force you apply.
The Vice Grip is probably the most effective tool available when you need to remove stuck lug nuts, but it is also one that should be used with caution because of the amount of force it puts on the wheel’s metal parts and you might damage the wheel.
8. Always Consider Calling Call A Mechanic!
If you still can’t get the lug nut off after trying these steps, it might be time to call a mechanic. Although your lug nuts may be stuck because of something easy like rust or corrosion, this is not always the case. Your stripped lug nut could also signify that there is already damage present on your car’s rim. If you still can’t get the lug nut off after trying these steps, it might be time to call a mechanic.
Preventing having a stuck lug nut in the first place
The best way to avoid having a stuck lug nut is to maintain and take care of your vehicle. This includes:
- Using the right kind of tools when changing or rotating your tires.
- Driving appropriately for the conditions you’re driving in. Be careful on snow and ice, as well as gravel roads that may be too loose or bumpy.
- Checking your lug nuts periodically to see if they’re loose. If you have a spare tire with a locking lug nut, it’s even more important to check these frequently so that you don’t needlessly waste time trying to remove one.
- Ensuring that each of your lug nuts are screwed on tight after you’ve changed or rotated your tires.
- Rotating your tires regularly, if this is part of the maintenance schedule for your vehicle.
- Having a high-quality wrench that can provide enough torque to get stuck lug nuts off without stripping them. If you’re not sure whether your wrench is strong enough, consult the label on the back of the tool for directions on how much torque it can apply.
- WD-40 is your friend! Keep one in the trunk of your car at all times.
It will help to break up any rust or corrosion that is present on stuck nuts, as well as make it easier to remove them if they’re stuck.
Here is a great video tutorial: 3 Ways to Remove a Stripped Lug Nut
There are many reasons why you might have a stuck lug nut—rust or corrosion is one of them. Sometimes vehicle damage from a car accident can cause your lug nuts to stick as well. In rare cases, your lug nuts may be so stuck because you have a locking wheel nut on the opposite side of the wheel.
Make sure to use a high-quality wrench when working with a spare tire.
If you’re not sure which wrench to use, consult your owner’s manual or the label on your wrench for more information about torque limits. If you have a locking lug nut on one of your wheels, it will need even more torque than usual.
WD-40 is the most widely known and used lubricant for stuck lug nuts. You can use any product that has a similar concentration of oil as WD-40, such as PB Blaster Penetrating Catalyst or Liquid Wrench.
Yes, but you must be careful that you don’t damage the metal parts of the wheel or the lug nut itself.
Rather than applying heat to a specific part, you can let your engine run for a few minutes before removing the tire. This will heat up the entire metal surface and make it easier to remove your stuck lug nuts. Never use an open flame on your wheel or apply heat directly to the lug nut!
If you have an impact wrench, but it won’t loosen your stuck lug nuts, it may be due to a lack of torque or power behind the tool.
You might need to upgrade your impact wrench or use a higher amp power source. If
you’re not sure, read the label on your impact wrench to make sure it will provide enough torque for this application.
If you are unable to remove a lug nut with a wrench, there is another option. You can use a hammer and a chisel to break the lug nut free. Place the chisel on top of the lug nut and strike it with the hammer. This will create a groove in the lug nut so that the hammer can grip it better.
This depends greatly on your location and what type of vehicle you’re driving. Mechanic fees can vary greatly from place to place, so it’s hard to say precisely how much the cost will be. A good estimate for removing a stripped lug nut is $50-$100.