How’s Your Lug Nut Knowledge?

How’s Your Lug Nut Knowledge?

Examining the types, techniques and do's and don'ts of handling lug nuts and bolts.

Imagine you are on an automotive game show, and you’re down to your last question to win the big grand prize. Could you answer correctly? Say, for example, this is the question: What is the recommended pattern to follow when torquing a five-bolt wheel?

Having a hard time? Tire Review’s Christian Hinton digs into this from the Tire Review Continental Tire Garage Studio at Babcox Media.

Lug nuts may be small compared to other vehicle parts, but they play a big role in keeping your customers safe. Understand that these small parts are under tremendous force and are essential for keeping wheels attached to a customer’s vehicle.

It’s crucial to follow proper techniques when tightening lug nuts on wheels. Experts recommend technicians hand-tighten lug nuts ten turns first to ensure threading is correct and that there are no obstructions.

The “star pattern” is a common way to torque lug nuts and involves tightening the lug nuts by starting with one lug nut and then moving to the nut directly opposite it. The pattern continues around the wheel and is recommended for wheels with a five-bolt pattern.

Alternatively, the “cross-pattern” involves tightening the lug nuts in a diagonal pattern, starting with one lug nut and then moving to the nut opposite it and is recommended for wheels with a four-bolt pattern.

Using the proper pattern can also help prevent damage to the wheel, hub, or lug nuts due to uneven pressure or torque.

In general, working with lug nuts typically involves using the ones that were included with the wheels. However, if you need to change the wheels, it may be necessary to use different lug nuts. Failure to use the correct type of lug nut can cause damage to the wheel or even accidents while driving.

Different types of lug nuts include: Conical, the most common; flat, commonly used when with limited clearance between the wheel and the hub; ball seat lug nuts, a round shape for improved alignment; the tuner, often used on aftermarket wheels; spline drive, grooved teeth for enhanced grip; and lug bolts, that secure wheels using threaded lug bolts.

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