Loose Lugnuts

I have 2000 Voyager with 200,000 miles on it. In December I had new brakes put on the the van. Two weeks later I drove from Minneapolis to Kansas City for Christmas. ON the way back home, we started having trouble controlling the vehicle. We stopped in Albert Lea, Mn to have the vehicle checked. The truck stop directed us to a dealership 2 miles away. One block from the dealership, as we turned left to get to the dealership, the driver’s side rear wheel came completely off the vehicle.

Once the dealership got to looking at it, they said it appeared that all of the lugnuts had come off (except 1) and that the final wheel stud just broke off as we were turning. The dealership put in all new wheel studs, all new lugnuts and put our spare tire on. The garage that did the brake work replaced the rim as it was not usable. Since that time vehicle has appeared to be fine.

Until Now! In June, I replaced all four tires. On July 1, having driven 100 miles, I had the lugnuts re-tightened. The drove from Minnesota to Clevland, then to Atlanta. One week after having the lugnuts re-tighted, I heard a shaking sound from the driver’s rear wheel area and checked the lugnuts. I could turn two of them by hand. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE??

Do you have aluminum alloy wheels? Some aluminum wheels will loosen in time. The drivers side is worse because of the rotation of the wheels tends to want to loosen the lug nuts.

The current problem may fall back onto the shop that replaced the tires. Any chance they overtightened the lugs and pulled the threads?
It might be a good idea to check all of them, not just on the problem wheel.

If the vehicle has alloy wheels and if the original wheel was put back onto that LR it’s possible the wheel could have been damaged from the original incident. The lug tapers in the wheel may be beat up and not allowing the lugs to get a good bite on the wheel.

Wheel lugs should be tightened until they creak while tightening, by which I mean they should emit a high pitched sound like nails on a chalkboard. For five or even four lugs to loosen, clearly they are not properly tightened. I would guess that your mechanic used an air-ratchet at too low pressure, by mistake. You just need to tighten up each lug nut.

Maybe you’re not getting the nuts tight, or somebody is screwing around with you.

Your owners manual should tell you the correct torque for tightening the nuts. Use a torque wrench, not feel (or screeching sound). Most aluminum wheels get torqued to about 100 lb/ft, but check your van for sure. This serves 3 purposes:

  1. Helps prevent brake rotor warpage
  2. Prevents overtightening of lug bolts (which can stretch or break them off)
  3. Keeps the wheels on

When the mounting holes in aluminum wheels get hogged out after 220,000+ miles, the lug-nuts can no longer get the “jam fit” they must have to be secure. If all of your wheels were allowed to run loose at one point, the wheels were certainly damaged beyond repair and they never will hold torque again…The lug-nut to wheel interface must be an EXACT fit to be secure…

My tire shop requests that all customers return after 100 miles for a re-torque of lug nuts…If I don’t I do it myself…trust but verify!