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How to Remove a Stripped Lug Nut and Prevent It

A stripped lug nut could become your worst nightmare while changing your car tire. If you don’t know what to do, it’ll give you a hard time. Don’t get discouraged though, because, with the right tools and procedure, you can fix this problem in a snap.

Removing a stripped lug nut requires you to work smart, not hard. That’s why we’re here to teach you how to remove a stripped lug nut. There are different ways to remove a stripped lug nut, and we recommend you try each one before giving in and calling the mechanic.

Read on below for the tools needed and the procedure. We’ve also included a short section on why lug nuts become stripped and how to avoid it.

How to avoid stripping your lug nuts in the first place

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s pin down the cause of the problem first. Why are your lug nuts stripped? A stripped lug nut usually occurs when they’re not torqued properly. This usually happens when it’s over-torqued or overly tightened.

Sometimes, when you take your car to the mechanic, they don’t torque the lug nuts to specifications. This causes problems in the long run, one of which is a stripped lug nut. Sometimes it can also cause the wheel actually to fall out which is extremely dangerous.

When you get any work done on your tires, check your lug nuts if they’re properly torqued. If you still have the manual, you can try to retorque them yourself according to specifications. This makes sure you drive safer, and you wouldn’t have to deal with stripped lug nuts.

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But of course, you’re probably here because you’ve already gone and stripped one, or at least your mechanic has. Below are the following steps on how to try and remove a stripped lug nut.

Steps to Follow

When removing a stripped lug nut, you will need a lubricant, a small sled hammer or chisel, punch, a drill with drill bits in various sizes, a pair of vice grip pliers, and tire irons in different sizes.

The reasoning behind all these different tools is that we will try different methods to remove the stripped lug nut. There are different ways to go about this, so if one method doesn’t work, do not be disheartened.

Step 1: Make sure your lug nut is stripped

lug nuts are removed

You might think that your lug nut is stripped, but in reality, you’re using the wrong kind of tire iron. Before we proceed to the following steps that are a bit more drastic, check if you have the correct tire iron. Some lug nuts require a special tire iron to remove them.

If you know who installed these lug nuts on your wheel, you can try to give them a call and check. They might know if you have a problem or if you just need to try with another tire iron. If this is not the case, proceed to step two.

Step 2: Apply a lubricant

Liberally apply a lubricant such as WD-40 to the lug nuts. This might make it easier for you to take them out by loosening them up. Try removing them again using the tire irons. If this doesn’t work, proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Use the vice grip wrench

Use a vice grip wrench to grip onto and remove that pesky lug nut. Since you’ve already lubricated it beforehand, it might also help you in this step. Position it to the left, clamp it down onto the lug nut and turn counter-clockwise.locking pliers

If this does not solve your problem, try the next step.

Step 4: Whack the lug nut with the sled hammer or chisel and punch

Apply blunt force onto the lug nut using your tool of choice. Anything sturdy will do as long as you whack on it. After doing that, try the first few steps again. By pounding on the lug nut, it might loosen it and make the other steps more effective.

If this doesn’t help, the next step might be a bit more effective albeit a bit more drastic.

Step 5: Drill the lug nut

drill

Take your vice grip wrench and drill a small hole in the center. Try to remove it with the vice grip. If it doesn’t budge, you can step it up and drill it with a larger drill bit. Just make sure you don’t hit the interior threads because that will cause you more problems.

This works by both heating up the lug nut and hollowing it out, making it easier to remove. It’s a bit of a hassle plus it’s quite risky, but it’s worth a shot!

Step 6: Call a mechanic

If all else fails, call a mechanic. If you’re not particularly mechanically inclined, call an engineer. You might do more harm than good, and it will probably cost you just as much if you ruin something. There is no shame in asking for professional help. After all, that’s what they’re there for.

Though it might be a bit pricier, it’s worth it to get a mechanic who knows what they’re doing. Aside from removing the stripped nut, they’ll also be able to properly fix your tires so that it doesn’t happen again.

To cap it off

Trying multiple methods to remove a stripped lug nut might be exhausting, but if it works, it will save you some money and time. As they say, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It can also be a source of bragging rights since you accomplished a daunting task.

Being aware of what causes a stripped lug nut will help you prevent the problem from reoccurring. If you have a skillful mechanic, they will make sure this does not occur ever again.