A stripped lug nut can be one of the most frustrating problems you will come across while doing vehicle repairs. Most of the time, lug nuts become stuck when someone goes a bit too far while tightening. In this post and the video below we’ll show you 3 ways you can try to remove a stripped lug nut.
A typical lug nut has a cap. When torqued beyond the manufacturer’s specification, the cap separates from the lug nut and allows moisture to get in. This then causes the nut to rust and stick to the hub assembly.
If you ever find yourself stuck with a stripped lug nut that won’t come off, you’ll need to have an extra set of tools nearby. We’ll take a look at some of the most effective ways you can easily remove a stripped lug nut that’s stuck to the wheel.
3 Ways to Remove a Stripped Lug Nut
- Breaker bar, socket, and pipe
- Powerful impact wrench
- Drill bit
1. Breaker Bar, Socket, and Pipe
Normally a stuck lug nut will have smaller corners, and this makes it hard to remove it using the original-sized socket. You may need a smaller socket to provide the grip needed. If you experience difficulty lining the socket, use a hammer to tap on it until it fits.
Once the socket is lined up, connect a breaker bar and try to remove the nut. You can place a pipe at the end of the bar for extra leverage. If the lug nut is too stuck and won’t turn, don’t keep turning the bar to keep it from breaking.
2. Powerful Impact Wrench
If you try the breaker bar and socket method and still find that the lug nut won’t come off, get your hands on a powerful impact wrench. Impact wrenches are designed to tighten or loosen various nuts, bolts, and screws, and use torque and short jolting blows to deliver the necessary power needed to loosen a lug nut.
The most powerful variants deliver up to 250 foot-pounds of torque or more. This is enough muscle to bust a rusty and stuck lug nut. If your impact wrench doesn’t get the job done, try a drill.
A drill bit is a much safer tool to use when removing a stripped lug nut compared to an air hammer, an air chisel, or a torch, which can cause serious damage to the wheel easily if handled the wrong way.
When using your drill, start with smaller-sized drill bits and work your way up. Aim for the center of the lug nut. You can start by making an indentation at the center using a center punch to prevent the drill bit from slipping. You could also use a burr attachment with a die grinder.
Drilling can often be a long and tedious process. For safety purposes and to prevent the drill bit from dulling, have a cup of oil nearby. Dip the drill bit every once in a while into the oil to cool it down before drilling any further.
As you move from the smaller-sized drill bit to the larger ones, keep checking to confirm that you’re still aiming for the center of the lug nut. You can use a parts cleaner to remove the chips that may be filling the hole as you do the job. If by any chance you happen to drill off-center, use the burr tool with the die grinder to correct the hole.
After a decent amount of drilling, the wheel should slide out easily. You may find the lug nut remains stuck to the wheel sometimes. You can remove it using a pair of channel lock pliers, a torch, or an air hammer.
Remember to shop for new lug nuts at 1A Auto when replacing your wheel. If you penetrated the other side of the lug nut while drilling, you may need to replace the wheel stud as well in the case it’s damaged.
Parts featured in this post:
- How To Replace Front Wheel Hub Assembly On Any Car, Truck, Or SUV
- Got Wheel Wobble? Test for a Bad or Noisy Wheel Bearing
- How To Install 1AAuto.Com GM Lug Nut Caps: Keep Your Wheels Looking Good!
- How to Remove a Stuck Tire
- How to Check Tire Tread for Wear
- Slow Leak in Tire? How to Find and Fix Tire Leaks
- Why You Should Rotate Your Tires
- Low Tire Pressure in Cold Weather
- Tire Size Guide—What the Letters and Numbers Mean
- How to Put Air in a Tire