The Dangers of a Broken Wheel Stud

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.  However, because the wheel stud is exposed to the elements and takes on tremendous daily stress, there are other issues that can cause these parts to wear out or break. Improper installation, over torquing of lug nuts, or under tightening of lug nuts can all cause a wheel stud to fail.

There are many warning signs that alert you to the potential of a broken wheel stud. Listed below are a few symptoms to look out for:

Damaged Threads

Tires and wheels are attached to the vehicle by lug nuts that have a similar thread pattern as 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. Many mechanics and car owners that change a tire on the side of the road often forget this fact before they start to quickly tighten the lug nuts. They should also be tightened in a star pattern and securely fastened to the vehicle’s hub before being placed back on the ground.
  • 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, make sure the lug nuts are installed correctly and slowly guide the lug nut onto the wheel stud until it touches the hub.

Rusty Studs

This can occur if you live in areas where your vehicle is exposed to salt water, or to winter road salt. 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 your studs are frequently exposed to salt, you should have your them examined for signs of rust once every year.

Properly Tightening the Stud

Most everyone who has worked on their own wheels has tightened the lug nuts on their car without using the correct tools. But doing so 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 and ask your mechanic.

If you’re not using the proper tools and the stud does break, like 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.

At V&F

If you think you have a problem with your wheel studs, it’s important to get it checked right away. At V&F, our expert mechanics use 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.

Written by Nicole Palange

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