As a car owner, you have to understand the importance of properly tightened lug nuts. Sometimes, the best way to know if they are properly tightened is to have your vehicle checked by a professional. The right torque can ensure you get the most value out of your investment.
Over tightening lug nuts on your wheels can cause mechanical and operational defects to your car, leading to expensive repairs. But how do you know whether you have overtightened your lug nuts?
The symptoms of over tightened lug nuts are often not obvious. Keep reading to learn more, but first, we discuss the leading factors of lug nut over-tightening.
Symptoms of Over Tightened Lug Nuts
The most common cause of over-torquing is using a wrench incorrectly. Because lug nuts are generally not torqued to a specific value, it’s easy for you to accidentally over tighten them without realizing it. And as mentioned above, this can only happen if:
You’re not using a torque wrench correctly.
You should use your torque wrench correctly because any blunder will lead to over-tightening.
If you’re using an analog or digital torque wrench, make sure you have read and understood its manual guide for efficiency.
Your torque wrench isn’t calibrated regularly (at least once per year).
Calibrating your torque wrench means checking its accuracy against known values by placing it beside another device that measures force, like a scale or spring scale. If they match up perfectly, then everything’s good—but if there’s any discrepancy between them, you should calibrate your device as soon as possible because the readings from both devices aren’t accurate anymore!
The symptoms of over-tightened lug nuts are extremely common and easy to overlook. Here are some of the most common symptoms of over tightened lug nuts:
1. Inconsistent Wheel Weights
If you notice that your wheel weights are uneven or not spaced equally, it could mean that the lug nuts were over-tightened, leading to uneven weight distribution.
2. Stripped Threads
When you tighten a nut too much, you can strip the threads inside the bolt hole. This will render the bolt useless because it won’t hold well enough to keep anything together. If a bolt comes loose while driving down the road, it could fall out, cause an accident, or even get tossed right through your radiator or engine block!
This is by far the most common consequence of over torquing lug nuts. When you apply too much pressure to the nut, it causes the threads in the wheel hub to strip out, making it impossible to remove the wheel without replacing the hub or having it professionally repaired.
This can happen with just one or two nuts if they are over-tightened or if all four are hardly torqued evenly so that there is too much pressure on one particular area of the hub instead of evenly distributed among all four bolts.
3. Distorted Brake Rotors
If you’ve ever heard a grinding sound when you applied your brakes, it could be due to over-tightened lug nuts. They can even damage your brake rotors.
The constant friction between the rotor and brake pads will cause warping leading to damage.
4. Damaged Wheels Studs
Overtightened lug nuts can damage your wheel studs. Although they are designed to withstand considerable amounts of pressure, they can break in case of lug nuts over-torquing.
5. Possibly Shear Off the Lug Stud
Over tightened wheel lug nuts can break studs or shear off completely, creating an unsafe driving environment. In this case, you will need a new set of wheels.
6. Alignment Issues
If your car pulls to one side or feels unstable when turning, this can point towards alignment issues with the wheels or suspension system.
If this happens suddenly or within a few days after having new tires installed, there could be an issue with installation and not just normal wear and tear from driving.
If you feel a vibration while driving due to underinflated tires, you may have overtightened one or more of your lug nuts. This could also indicate a flat spot on one or more tires and worn suspension components and ball joints.
8. Wheel Lockup or Wheel Hop During Acceleration
Overly tight lug nuts can cause wheel lockup or wheel hop under acceleration. They prevent the tire from flexing and absorbing road shocks properly. And this is especially true on vehicles with stiff suspension setups.
9. Tire Pressure Changes
If your tire pressure changes without explanation, it could be due to the over-tightening of the lug nuts. You may also notice that one tire has higher or lower pressure than others on your vehicle.
10. Warped Wheel Bearings
The extra pressure exerted by over-tightened lug nuts can warp wheel bearings in some vehicles, causing vibrations at higher speeds.
If you want to avoid over-torquing your lug nuts, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Go slow and steady.
When you’re tightening the nuts on your wheels, don’t try to rush it — take your time and make sure each nut is tightened evenly.
Use a torque wrench.
Using the right wrench size will ensure you measure the correct amount of torque to apply.
Measure before tightening
You should always measure your lug nuts before tightening. It will ensure they’re seated properly before applying extra force.
Be consistent with where you measure from
If possible, try to use the same point for each measurement. So as not to introduce any inconsistencies into your calculations—this will make it easier during maintenance.
Ultimately, use an impact wrench if possible.
It will apply more force than hand tightening and is less likely to cause damage by over-tightening due to “hammering” when applying more pressure.
While many drivers never give the torque specs for lug nuts much thought, paying attention to these specifications is important. Too much torque on your car’s lug nuts can do more harm than making it hard to drive.
So be sure that you’re aware of proper torque specs when tightening lug nuts and avoid malpractice like over-tightened lug nuts.