Wheel studs are designed to keep your tires and wheels safely secured to your car. In most cases, these hard steel components don’t go bad or wear out. But occasionally, there are issues that can cause these parts to wear out or break. Improper installation, over-torquing, or under-tightening of lug nuts can all cause a wheel stud to fail. Thankfully, there are many warning signs that alert you to the potential of a broken wheel stud. Below, we've put together a list of the common symptoms to look out for:
Tires and wheels are attached to the vehicle by lug nuts that have a similar thread pattern to the wheel studs. Occasionally, the threads of the wheel studs can be damaged due to:
- Improper installation: the lug nuts are supposed to be hand-threaded a minimum of four rotations to ensure they are properly attached to the wheel studs. Lug nuts should also be tightened in a star pattern and securely fastened to the vehicle’s hub before being placed back on the ground. If you've ever changed a tire on the side of the road, you know it's easy to forget this fact when you're in a pinch. But it's important to take your time and avoid quickly tightening the lug nuts.
- Cross threading the lug nut onto the stud: this happens frequently in quick change oil service and some tire service shops, especially when technicians get in a hurry or use the wrong wrenches. To avoid a cross-threading situation, ensure the lug nuts are installed correctly. Slowly guide the lug nut onto the wheel stud until it touches the hub.
If you live in an area near salt water, or if your car is exposed to road salt in the winter months, you might experience rusty studs. Most wheel studs are made from rust-resistant stainless steel, but this doesn’t totally prevent oxidation. If the studs start to rust, it becomes difficult to install or remove lug nuts without causing damage.
If you live in a place like New England, where salt frequently exposes your studs, you should examine them for signs of rust once every year.
Properly Tightening the Stud
Tightening the lug nuts on your car without using the correct tools can be a recipe for disaster. If worse comes to worse, you can break the wheel stud. The proper way to tighten a wheel stud is with a torque wrench. If you don’t have one or don’t know how to use it, it’s best to take your car in for service.
If you’re not using the proper tools and the stud does break, like in the photo above, don’t try to fix it on your own. Most importantly, don’t try to hammer out a broken stud. Hammer blows can destroy your wheel bearings, giving you a much bigger repair bill.
Repairing A Broken Wheel Stud At V&F
It’s important to have your wheel studs checked regularly. At V&F, our expert mechanics use the latest diagnostic equipment, and high-quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. If you are worried something may be wrong with your exhaust system, call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.