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Did anyone have similar experience with Lug Nuts Missing after driving back from repair shop?

I dropped my car off at a small local shop to get CV axle replaced today. After it was done, I picked it up, and on the way back I heard a knocking sound, especially loud and clear at a very low speed. I recorded the noise using my phone and took the car back. The mechanic was about to close the shop. He did not want to check anything. After listening to the recording, he simply said that “it is an old car (it is an 06 Honda), don’t worry about some small noise”. I said I am concerned it might be a new issue as the noise wasn’t there before. Then he got all defensive and mad like I hurt his pride, started to question me whether he fixed the CV axle noise or not. I answered that CV axle noise was indeed gone. I left there, thinking the knocking sound will eventually disappear. The mechanic locked the shop and left as well.

Long story short, while driving back to work the knocking sound continued. I googled “knocking sound driving low speed”, and found two threads from this site, both pointing to lug nuts. I went out to the parking lot to check right away, and sure enough, two lug nuts missing on the right front wheel!

I called the shop and left a message. Not feeling safe to drive the car, so I took the bus tonight, and did not get home until two hours later.

The whole thing made me very angry! I don’t know if he did not put the two lug nuts back on at all, or if they were loose and lost on the way back to my office. I also don’t know if there could be any damage to the wheel driving like that. The mechanic was recommended to me by a coworker. He’s got over 40 years of experience owning the shop fixing cars, and seems to be a nice guy. I need to speak to him tomorrow, to make it right whatever went wrong today. If anyone had similar experience dealing with such a repair shop/mechanic, I would love to hear it! Thank you!

I’m a driveway diy’er and one time inadvertently left the lug nuts too loose on one of the wheels of my own car, and experienced a bit of wheel wobble when they started to come loose. So I’m sure similar things happens at pro shops too. What I’ve noticed from pro shops however is not they don’t install all the nuts, but they install them too tightly. My standard practice when the shop has removed the wheels is to loosen, then tighten all the affected lug nuts by hand using a torque wrench as soon as I get home. They are almost always too tight.

I’ve had one occasion when the shop owner couldn’t stay any longer to deal with a problem I was having. Such a thing is understandable, they have an appointment. Suggest next time that happens do what I did, leave the car there and take the bus home. Repairing cars, especially older ones, is often an iterative process. Your expectations of the shop should be that they’ll keep working on it diligently until you’re satisfied with the results. But not that they’ll stay after closing hours.

Assuming you only have four lug nuts you could have taken one off another wheel , made sure they were all tight and driven home.

Your wheel is loose, the wheel and studs are likely damaged. If you had continued to drive like this wheel studs may have started breaking off.

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Had the brakes done before 535 mile vacation trip. Heard the clunk at slow rpm, one of the lugnuts was rolling around inside the hubcap. Put it on and checked them all, We don’t need 5 stinkin lugnuts! Nor do we need lugnnuts for car repairs.

Thankfully no, we had a similar low speed noise but went right back to the shop and it was one of the clips for the center caps that had fallen off when they put the new tires on our 1978 VW Rabbit (this was 1980 something) This was the color my dad actually wanted, instead we got the darker brown.

There could be. I would ask for the wheel to be examined for damage and for all studs and nuts to be replaced to be safe.

had car in shop and they had alum rims off for something. a few weeks later i went to meet friends at a bar 30 miles away and 1/2 way there i started getting a clunk. had no tools. went in trunk to spare tire well and wingnut holding wrench was seized on bracket. could not get it loose. friends all left. so i drove thru town at 30mph and had to take 45 turns on side streets. i live in mpls. had to go thru some sketchy areas.

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No matter how much experience he has and no matter how nice he seems you need to find someone else to service your car.
There is no reason he could not have spent a few minutes to find this problem even if it was closing time.

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I did the same thing, circa 1968.
After that one bad experience, I have been very careful to double-check my own work.

I bought tires from a chain store. Two weeks after they installed them, I did the rear brakes. Every lug nut on all 4 tires were extremely tight. Broke 9 studs off. Went to store and they said they NEVER tighten lugnuts on anything to over 100 lbs. Learned a lot about chain store shops.


I do most maintenance/repairs on our vehicles, myself. However, a couple of things I don’t do, and wheel alignment is one of them.

Only a couple of places in our small town, in my northern location, have alignment racks. So, a couple years ago I took a car to one for an alignment.

Following the alignment, a couple tires and rotation, which I waited there for, my car was brought outside for pick-up. I paid and as I always do, did a walk-around visual inspection, just in case the shop damaged something, etcetera (Who knows what… I hate taking my car or anything else for service these days!)

The car has alloy wheels and I noticed a couple of the lug nuts stuck out farther than the others??? I touched them and they turned! Without even getting in the car I headed back inside the business.

Inside, I voiced my problem and the response was something like “No problem! I’ll send somebody right out!,” which they eventually did. The lugs were tightened and torqued and I was on my way.

No problem? Yah, thanks to me!
Apparently the lugs got installed by hand and never tightened!! Guess which business I’ve NEVER been back to and never will?

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Like a number of you, I’ve had the opposite problem. Years ago my Pontiac had a flat, left rear. I stood on the lug wrench, even bounced up and down a bit, and the lug nuts wouldn’t budge. I felt less than manly having to call AAA to change a tire but there wasn’t anything else I could do.

I purchased breaker bars with the appropriate sized sockets and put them in both my vehicles for that problem. They are much easier to use than the lug-nut tools that come w/the car. I suppose the manufactures could include that tool w/their new cars without much extra expense, but for some reason don’t.

Whenever I have the tires rotated or worked on, the invoice says to check the studs and re-torque in 50 miles. I don’t wait though and as soon as I get home I re-torque them. mainly because I think they tighten them too much and warp the brake discs. At any rate it is a double check.

I mis-diagnosed loose wheels nuts on the kid’s car though once and still feel stupid. We were at the in-laws and he complained about front tire noise. I checked and didn’t find anything but thought the front tires should be replaced. I bought tires for it and when I drove it the few blocks to get them put on it was obvious something was wrong. At the station, we looked and wow they were all loose and several missing. I have no idea if it was vandals or not but it was only one wheel and hadn’t had any work done on it for months.

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It happened to me once; that’s why I always check now my car before leaving the shop.

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That is what I do, also.