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Ford Focus swollen lug nuts

My granddaughter had a flat tire while driving our 2014 Ford Focus SE. She said the lug wrench wouldn’t fit the lugs. I went to the car and ,sure enough, the lugs were too big for the factory installed lug wrench. I took the wrench to the Ford dealer which was 4/10th of a mile away. The service adviser said that in the Northern climates the lugs swell up and need to be replaced. I shook my head and called AAA, they put the spare on after trying the head to their power wrench that they thought was correct. It wasn’t. After a couple of tries they found the correct size and changed the tire. I went to the Ford dealer and had 20 new lugs installed at a cost of $65.00 plus tax. A few weeks later I took our 2014 Escape in for an oil change, and the service adviser suggested changing the lug nut on those wheels which I had done. Is this normal? If it is it seems unacceptable for Ford to expect their customers to replace their lug nuts every few years. I have owned many GM and Mopar vehicles and never encountered this. What do you think?

I think you have swollen lug nuts. Not just Ford has the problem but I beleive some Ford owners have banded for a class action lawsuit. Personally, I changed mine to one piece solid lug nuts. Life is too short to worry about something so trivial.

It’s not an uncommon problem. I seem to see it more often on Chrysler products, but any make car that uses chrome caps over regular lug nuts can have this happen. I see it enough that I own sockets in “half sizes”, like 19.5 mm, 21.5 mm, etc.

By the way, I had this problem on the first car i ever owned, a 1977 Oldsmobile. So it’s certainly not new.


We in the repair business call these lug nuts with condoms.

What happened is, you went to the Ford dealer and had the lug nuts replaced. So what kind of lug nuts do you think they installed on the car?

The same lug nuts that came on the car! OEM!

So now, you still have lug nuts with condoms.

The advisor probably saw that you still have these type of lug nuts, and recommends installing solid lug nuts.

I know I would.


Why would a lug nut have a chrome cap?

You’re against safe wrenching?

When I read the title and OP’s message I thought it was a prank. Swollen lug nuts sounds like a social disease.

Cosmetic look and lower cost .

Yes. It sounds painful.

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Yes, those “capped” lug nuts are famous for swelling in the manner described here. The solution is to buy a set of lug nuts that do NOT have that dress up cap on them. Personally, I was never a fan of the capped style for several reasons, swelling being just one of those reasons. There are non capped alternatives out there…just look around. In fact Ford themselves sell them, they may be for a different vehicle however, but as long as they fit the lug and in general fit properly, have at it… My 04’ Explorer uses lugs that are chrome and have no cap, they are solid and many other Fords use them as well.

A year or so ago, I chose to have all of the lug nuts on my 2009 Dodge changed for this exact reason. Some of them would just “spin” when I would try to remove them. The mechanic told me basically just what you all are saying, and recommended replacing all of them. The thought occurred to me, if I have a flat in the night, do I want to be stuck on the side of the road with lug nuts I can’t remove?

GM used chrome covers. Had a 70 Cutlass, with the cover was SAE, w/o cover, seemed to be metric. Had them all replaced.

Not chrome, stainless steel. SS won’t rust so it looks pretty for exposed lug nuts. The cap won’t rust, but the nut underneath will, hence the swollen nuts.

One piece chrome plated steel lug nuts are a better solution but not a perfect one. Chrome plated lug nuts, while looking great at first, will tend to rust at the point of the hex over time as the chrome plate gets cracked by wrench sockets.

Stainless steel lug nuts can seize and gall if not used with anti-seize. And we don’t want to open up the anti-seize on wheel studs issue again!

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Why would a wheel have a hub cap? Why wear a necktie that matches your coat? Why comb your hair? Because it looks good and shows attention to detail.

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I have had this happen on my "07 Dodge Ram. I just keep several replacements on hand and check the ones on the truck periodically, and replace the ones going bad. I think I’ve replaced a total of five in the 4 years I’ve owned it. There are solid stainless steel nuts available for my application, but they are much more expensive than the OE style.

It costs less to add a chrome cap? Isn’t the underlying nut the same?

It gives petty thieves something to start on. I was riding with a friend when we heard something clanging in the wheels. The sound disappeared when we got up to speed then returned when we slowed down: a lug nut had come off and was riding in the hub cap. I don’t have them and keep a few spare nuts.

Because I’m with my mom. If they represented a danger or significant expense I wouldn’t. Physicians figured out that neckties carried germs from 1 patient to another and warn against using them.

I’m surprised that I have never encountered them. They sound like useless trash J.C. Whitney would sell. I think they sold wire wheel covers with fake knock-offs.

They have been making those for years and I suspect every auto maker uses them to cut costs.

I too replace mine with solid lug nuts.

I’ve had to chisel off a few that others have rounded off so bad that there was no other way to get them off.


Why not just use a rounded off lug nut removal socket?


I own two sets of those and sometimes they work. other times they either continue to slip off the nut when you put pressure on them with a wrench, or they are too fat to fit into the hole in the wheel. With some wheels the nut is so far recessed that the fat part of that socket is too big to fit into the bore in the wheel.
Just like some wheels have too small a hole that you cannot use impact sockets and you need to use a standard socket with a thinner wall.

Those Nut removers have been a great help at times though.

I think twice a year someone brings a car to me that they stripped some bolt or nut and they are at their end of ideas to remove it. Many times it is in the most inconvenient place too!!!
Many are just that they or someone else used the wrong wrench.


I’m sure you jest as in the discussion on oil change procedures, but this is such a minor issue to worry about. First, like many other studies that have caused irrational responses and government regulations, it was based on about 8% of the ties tested in a very small sample. Second, docs usually wear lab coats during patient contact and there is little or no contact with normal clothing such as shirts, suit coats, pants, etc. Third, worry more about the sick folks in the waiting areas spreading whatever they might have. Fourth in a surgical setting, they only wear scrubs and low temps and air filtration help to control transmission risks.

I’m not going to mention any sandwich shop names or even attempt to find the studies, but there has been some indication that the common practice of wearing plastic gloves when handling food can actually be worse than none at all. Why? Because hand washing becomes only cursory because they put gloves on. Then the tongs and the counters and sneeze glass are even more filthy. Then worry about your own kitchen where generally home counter tops are among the worst. Of course then you have no control with the massive fruit and vegetable farms in and out of the country with who knows what kind of sanitation and shipped around the country. You never find out until there is an after the fact outbreak. Of course then there is the argument that too much hand washing reduces building immunity. So lots of stuff to worry about more than a doc wearing a tie.

But yeah, check those lug nuts from time to time to make sure the socket fits. Mine are all healthy as can be and not swollen.

I’ve seen nutcracker-like device to bust nuts in half. These sound brittle, easier to break than the studs they’re mounted on.

I’m as serious as the medical journals I cite.

'Cause you practice safe wrenching.

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