Jammed Lug Nuts


#1

A friend and myself recently went on vacation, and while driving I hit a large pot hole and blew out the front passenger tire. So we called AAA and had the tire changed. The young man who changed the tire used a 4-way lug wrench to remove and tighten the lug nuts. Everything seemed fine, and we went on our way.
The next day we went to a tire store and purchased a new tire. While waiting for the new tire to be mounted, the mechanic called us outside to show that 2 of the lug nuts had been cross threaded and would not come off. He was using a power tool to take off the lugs. End result, he had to break both lug nuts which cost another $70 to replace them. The mechanic at the tire store said the guy who changed the tire was responsible, and the company who changed the tire said there was no way that it could have been hand tightened that bad and must have been the tire company!
Is it possible to hand tighten a lug nut so poorly that it has to be broken to be removed?


#2

Yes, it is possible to screw something down by hand and booger up the threads which in turn makes it impossible to remove them without damage.

It’s also possible that the threads on the studs were damaged to some degree when the tire blew out and this was just one of those Murphy’s Law moments.


#3

Did it appear that the AAA service man was struggling removing one or more of the lugs? The usual procedure for removing the lug nuts is to crack them loose with the wheel on the ground; raise the wheel; spin them off by hitting one arm of the 4-way lug wrench, and allowing the arms to rotate the nut off the stud. If the service man, had to crank them off, the nuts may have already been damaged. Taking them off and putting them back on would have done more damage to the studs and nuts.

It is unlikely that the nuts were damaged by the AAA service man. Anyone who has experience with a lug wrench would stop before they started to strip the nuts or studs. The most likely scenario is that the nuts were tightened with an air impact wrench without using torque sticks and a nut or nuts were partically stripped. Taking them off and reinstalling them finished the job.

So I would not fault the service man. You might mention it to the dispatcher just to let him know this happened, just in case the service guy IS hamhanded.


#4

Is starting to sound like the place that rotated the tires previously might have had a hand in this. The AAA guy did not appear to be using undue force either removing the nuts or tightening them back on. Thanks for your comments.


#5

If the AAA guy was able to spin the nuts on freely and easily, then they weren’t cross threaded. If he was working to get them on and snug to the wheel before tightening, then he may have cross threaded them. If he had to work them all the way off, then the damage was done before he got there.

He could have overtightened them with a 4 way.


#6

I guess anything’s possible. If the AAA guy seemed like this wasn’t the first time he’d changed a tire, my guess is the threads were already damaged.

I’ll add that it’s possible – in fact likely – you still have a problem with damaged threads on the affected studs. To avoid all this happening again next time you get a flat, consider to ask you local shop to take a look at the stud threads next time they have time for you to bring you car in. The shop may recommend to replace some of the studs with new ones.


#7

It’s impossible to tell who originally damaged the studs. Pay the $70 and get on with life. Stuff happens.


#8

would think that either the aaa guy or the next guy did it. , the aaa guy probably would have mentioned it if it had been that way when he found it