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Missing a lug nut, is it still safe to drive?

#1 User is offline   WhiteS2k 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 10:55 AM

I found that one of the lug nuts on one of the front wheels is cross threaded, and so I had to leave it out. Now there is only 3 of 4 lug nuts installed on that wheel (FWD car). I wonder if it is safe to drive the car on the freeway up to 55 MPH. I'd feel much better if the wheel had five lugs and missing one, but since this wheel only has four lugs, I don't feel as confident if it is missing one lug nut. I will get the lug stud replaced soon, but meanwhile, should I use the car? What do you guys think?
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#2 User is offline   Legal Bill 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 11:56 AM

Get a die or thread chaser and clean the stud up. Buy a new lug nut. Install new nut on cleaned up stud. All that should take about an hour including the trip to sears to buy the tools if you don't have them.

#3 User is offline   Vanishing Point 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 12:24 PM


^
:iagree: Make sure you buy the right size metric thread chaser for the stud.
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#4 User is offline   Legal Bill 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 12:29 PM

^Yes. If you have another car, jack up the one with the bad stud and take off the wheel on the bad corner. Bring one of the lug nuts with you and tell the sales guy you need a thread chaser to clean up the matching stud. Do not let him sell you a tap. Clean up the thread with the die or chaser with the wheel off. Then remove the chaser and reinstall the wheel with a new lug nut on the cleaned up stud. Do not try to use the lug that corss threaded the stud. Toss that out and get a new one.

#5 User is offline   WhiteS2k 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 01:22 PM

Thanks for all the inputs. I've not heard of a "chaser" before. Actually I also thought the lug nut was bad also, so I swapped it with another one and hand threaded the "bad" lug nut onto another stud and everything went smooth. No binding or anything. I then tried the swapped out lug nut on the "bad" stud (by hand) and again, it would not go very far before it stopped. I my conclusion is that the lug nut(s) are all good and it was the stud that was bad. So will a "thread chaser" clean up the bad stud or would I need to install a new stud?

Meanwhile, do you think it is safe to drive the car (up to 55 MPH) with one missing lug nut? Thanks.


#6 User is offline   valentine 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 02:00 PM

^^ I would not drive with any lug nuts missing. It seems to be a fairly simple repair, so I'd get the repair done before getting on the highway. The balance may be off causing further damage to other lug nuts. Just sayin'.
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#7 User is offline   Lainey 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 02:46 PM

Quote


Meanwhile, do you think it is safe to drive the car (up to 55 MPH) with one missing lug nut? Thanks.

I often operate with a loose screw, but I prefer to drive a car with all lug nuts specified.
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#8 User is offline   RC - Ryder 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 03:14 PM

Since the harder stud usually survives, I'd install one of the lug nuts from the rear wheel, and then drive reasonably until I could get another one.

#9 User is offline   Legal Bill 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 03:20 PM

On a 4 stud wheel, I would be nervous about driving with three. that said, if I needed to use the car to get to sears to buy the tools, i would probably risk it and drive very carefully.

#10 User is offline   boltonblue 

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 05:24 PM

it all depends, what's your life worth?

it would seem the downside potential is much higher than the short term benefit of risking it.

getting old is not for wimps.

Y b

#11 User is offline   dlq04 

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 04:04 AM

Personally I would not drive it in that condition. But if I had to, I'd drive it as slow as I possibly could; certainly not at 55 mph!

Bill's suggestion to buy the proper thread chaser is the answer. You might try contacting the dealership to see what they recommend (it doesn't cost anything to ask) and also ask them for the specs on the stud to ensure you get the proper size and thread pitch. I would not put that much trust in a Sears employee; no way.
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#12 User is offline   MsPerky 

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 06:09 AM

The idea of driving at that speed with only three lugnuts sounds scary to me, but I don't know the technical details. I think I'd have to agree with others and say get it fixed, then drive! :hello:
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#13 User is offline   tof 

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 09:27 AM

No one has asked if the vehicle in question uses hub-centric wheels. If they are not then there is NO WAY I would drive any distance with three lug nuts.
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#14 User is offline   WhiteS2k 

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 10:52 AM

Thanks for all the input. I've looked into the "thread chaser" a little and it seems there are many different kinds of chasers. The price range from $10 to $200+. There are "universal" chasers and then there are chasers for specific thread sizes. There are also thread chasers that can work on both the nut and the bolt, but I don't think those will work on wheel studs because they are so long.

So what else should I know about thread chasers before I go down to Sears and pick one up?

#15 User is offline   dlq04 

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 07:24 PM

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So what else should I know about thread chasers before I go down to Sears and pick one up?

I am going to repeat myself...............

1. First, I would contact the service department at the dealership and ask them if they might have a proper thread chaser. If so, would there be any charge to bring the car in? It would only take them about two minutes if they have one.

2. If not, ask them if they can provide you with the specs on the stud to ensure you get the proper size and thread pitch.

3. As a last resort, take a wheel nut into Sears to see if they can match it up with a thread chaser for the stud.

#16 User is offline   WhiteS2k 

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 04:17 PM

Thanks.

I called my local dealer service department and spoke to them. The dealer service advisor told me that with my model car, to replace the ($5) stud would require replacing the whole wheel hub assembly (a 3 hour job, plus parts). So the total estimate would be more than $300.

So I guess I will be looking for a chaser this weekend.

#17 User is offline   Legal Bill 

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 10:19 PM

Quote

Thanks for all the input. I've looked into the "thread chaser" a little and it seems there are many different kinds of chasers. The price range from $10 to $200+. There are "universal" chasers and then there are chasers for specific thread sizes. There are also thread chasers that can work on both the nut and the bolt, but I don't think those will work on wheel studs because they are so long.

So what else should I know about thread chasers before I go down to Sears and pick one up?

$200 for a single thread chaser? What is it for, the space shuttle? Bring the lug nut with you to the local hardware store. Tell them what it is for and tell them you need a thread chaser or die for the stud that fits this lug nut.

All that said, if you are not really clear on the concept, then I say stop and let a local garage do this for you.

#18 User is offline   RC - Ryder 

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Posted 05 September 2009 - 10:29 AM

I've done one stud and one hub replacement in the last 6 months. The hub was rear on a 1999 Accord. The hub had a bad bearing and replacement was about 80 bucks at Pep Boys. Need to remove rear caliper and use a impact driver to get the rotor off. Then, that big wheel nut has to come off and it's torqued circa 140 pounds. Chisel out the crimp and remove nut. Replace hub directly and reassemble. Took about an hour.
The stud was a front 95 Accord. It was broken off courtesy of Sam's Club, during a tire replacement. Remove caliper. Must remove wheel nut first by same method. The torque on this must be near 200 pounds. Rotor on this model is a floater and removal exposes the hub. I rotated hub below dust shield and pounded broken stud end out with a couple licks from a 3 pound hammer. Reinstalled new 4 dollar pep boys stud, which would not fully seat because rear access is hard without removing hub fully. Reinstall everything and use wheel lug to seat it as well as possible by this method. Stud seated tight, not perfect, but clear of obstructions. Biggest issue is getting those 30 or 32mm wheel nuts off. Latter also took near two hours, mostly because of the first time discovery and getting that front wheel nut off without a large breaker bar. If you don't have the tools or airgun to get big wheel nuts off, don't bother trying.
I wouldn't go to a dealer, most any mechanic likely would do it for half or less the quoted price.

#19 User is offline   Kyras 

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Posted 05 September 2009 - 11:03 AM

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Since the harder stud usually survives,

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#20 User is offline   dlq04 

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Posted 05 September 2009 - 12:56 PM

I wasn't recommending he take it to the dealership unless they offered to clean up the threads with the proper thread chaser. Where's the money in that ...... none, but some dealerships do offer good customer service; whereas others only know how to charge top dollar for total replacements.

#21 User is offline   WhiteS2k 

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 12:38 AM

Everything is fixed. All four lug nuts are on the wheel. I went through all the local tool shops and none of them have any thread chasers. Most sales people don't even know what a chaser is and I had to explain it to them. Several tried to sell me a die though, but they did not have the right sized die (M12x1.50) available. So I went home and use a tiny file to clean up the threads on the lug stud and used a little bit of candle wax to get the lug nut to turn smoothly. Thanks for all the help.

#22 User is offline   dlq04 

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 04:39 AM

well done

#23 User is offline   MsPerky 

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 05:48 AM

:thumbup:

#24 User is offline   valentine 

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 05:56 AM

:egads: Now you're safe to zip down the highway!! ;) :)

#25 User is offline   RC - Ryder 

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 11:09 AM

Well done.

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