Rust coming through the chrome cap of a lug nut.

Why you should check your lug nuts and wheel bolts

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A lot of cars, trucks and SUVs have lug nuts or lug stud bolts – depending on the make – have a chrome coat or chrome caps. 

Over a period of time – due to normal wear and tear and the environment – they’ll start to rust between the iron part of the lug nut and the aluminum coating, or cap. This will cause the lug nuts to swell up. 

When you’re considering why you should go to your local repair shop over one of these speedy oil change places, keep in mind that an automotive technician can make recommendations and see what’s going on.

Why replacing a lug nut is important

If your lug nuts are starting to become damaged – whether they’re getting rounded off or they’re starting to rust underneath and the caps are beginning to swell up – it can make it difficult to remove wheels.

When they are replaced as needed, it’s easier to get your wheels on and off as you’re getting your tires rotated at your regular oil change intervals.  

This simple service doesn’t just permit maintenance to be performed on your vehicle. It also comes into play during unexpected situations.

Lug nuts that are swollen up due to the caps can also prevent you from replacing a flat tire on the side of the road. If you need to get your lug nuts off, your lug wrench may not fit correctly and you won’t be able to remove the lug nut. 

An auto repair shop over torquing your lug nuts or lug bolts is another issue you should look out for.

If the mechanics aren’t using a torque wrench to torque them correctly they could actually be over torquing them. Over a period of time, the threads start to stretch a little bit, damage you really can’t see until it’s too late.

How much are lug nuts? When should you change them?

Depending on the type of vehicle it is and the age, the lug nuts may need to be replaced anywhere between five and 15 years. The cost of lug nuts or lug bolts can range from $2 to $7 or $8 a piece on most vehicles. 

If your auto repair shop is taking the wheels off – whether it’s to conduct a wheel alignment, tire rotation, or brake repair – it may be worth your while to ask them if the lug nuts need to be changed. I can tell you right now that we would much rather put on new ones if we know they’re getting worn or damaged. This makes it easier for everyone all around.

Checking the lug nuts is part of our digital vehicle inspection that we perform as part of a normal oil change service. It’s one area we look at so we can provide that recommendation to you. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.