Lug bolts shorter after rotor r&r

Lots of winter salt in NH makes corrosion, and on the brakes on my car, the slushbox, corrosion on the rotors hits the pad retainers and makes a terrible scraping sound, as if the pads were completely gone. So I pulled the rotor, pads, caliper, mounting bracket, cleaned the corrosion (mostly outer edge of the rotor), put it back together and the lug bolts are a half inch too short. The bolts are on, but don’t match the other wheels. I pulled the wheel only, and everything looks good. The brakes work fine, nothing scrapes, the rotor is flush on the hub, the wheel is on evenly, bolts torqued, been driving for a few days (at slower speeds) no problems.

The car has the original hub and bearing.

There are tight clearances between the parts, like the rotor and caliper mounting bracket.

I can’t imagine it’s normal, but can’t imagine how it could be off that much and still function.

Any ideas before I pull it all apart?

my: 1999

The bolts are on, but don’t match the other wheels
should be:
The lug nuts are on, but don’t match the other wheels

Do you have the lug nuts on in the right direction? The rounded side goes to the inside. Did you carefully center the wheel and tighten the nuts in sequence?

Yes, yes. See the photo.

That’s really odd (helpful, I know). I would get a pair of jackstands, put the front of the car up, remove both wheels, and start comparing what’s going on from one side to the other.

Do you happen to know if the studs originally looked like the other wheel?

I know, right?
I don’t remember what they looked like before I removed them, but it looked odd as soon as I put them back on, so I think it is different.
I’ll get in there today hopefully, and see whats up, and update.

OK. It looks like both wheels are fully seated on the hubs, so that’s why I’m wondering if maybe the ‘odd’ wheel had its studs replaced some time ago with shorter one. Hard to understand how both wheels could be seated ont he hubs and have different stud lengths.

After looking at your picture, I’m worried about safety issues here. It looks like only half of the thread of each lug nut is being used, which puts twice the force on that section of thread compared to the other wheels. I don’t know if it’s strong enough to handle that without deforming the threads and maybe coming apart completely.

Your picture is comparing the left front wheel to the right front wheel, correct?

Did you happen to notice if the shorter studs are poking through on the other side of the hub?
Maybe when they were installed, they were installed too deeply.

Might be worth while to pay someone to replace the studs, to get the correct ones installed. Peace of mind is important when the potential damage is a wheel coming off on the highway, and you lose control of the car.


It’s certainly weird enough. It’s probably an optical illusion but the photos look like the length of the axle protruding through the hub is shorter on the left wheel than the right. It also looks like the central bolt on the left has been removed and retightened recently. The threads are shiny. Any chance that the hub is coming apart and the wheel studs actually seat more deeply in the hub than the exposed surface that you have mated the rotor to?

Anyway, I think texases has the right idea. Two jackstands. Both front wheels off. Check for discrepancies between the two sides. Measure anything you have doubts about. Hopefully the problem – and I think there probably is one – will be revealed.

Thanks. I think the threads are in full or near-full contact, the part sticking out is hollowed out on the inside anyway.
I think I’m more worried that whatever it is hanging it up would give a little, removing the friction on the threads, and the nuts would loosen or fall off.

Yes, two front wheels. The studs on the rears match the longer one, so the three match.

Did you CHANGE the studs? or are these the original studs?
Is this the original rotor?
If you changed the studs, did you make certain you ‘pulled’ them ALL the way home, to seat them fully in the flange?

Everything is original on that side- hub, studs, just not rotors/pads.
The other hub in the photo is a replacement, but it matches the rear wheels. Also, this looked odd to me as soon as I put it back together.

IMHO this is definitely a safety issue. I recommend against driving this vehicle. Ther are clearly at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the lugnut threads that are not engaged.

Since all the parts are the originals I can only surmise that the rotor was not properly reseated on the bearings. You need to disassemble everything again and reassenble it, making sure that the rotor is properly seated and the castle retaining nut is properly installed and cotter-pinned.

I urge you, please do not drive this in this condition. The rotor is not pproperly installed.

The wheel was on correctly, the studs are different. In the photo, the blurry on one the left is the one in question, and protrudes about 7/8", all threaded. The one on the right, passenger side, is about 13/16" worth of threads and a superfluous nub which brings it out to about 1 3/16".
A mechanic changed the passenger hub/bearing, even commented that that side gets it worse because of the road edge and debris, curbs, etc., but apparently he did change the drivers side assembly, as it doesn’t match the other three and makes me post stupid questions on message boards.
Thanks for all your responses. I’ll try to contribute here and pay some back.

If the wheel is flush against the hub, and the lug bolts are the same length on all wheels, and are fully seated in their thru holes, this could not happen. If you removed the lug bolts, they will pull back into their holes when you torque the nuts down, if there is not enough thread exposed to get a good mate, then take off the hub and tap the bolts down flush from the far side. The far side, get it?

Compare the left and right rotors for depth at the lugs.

I’m glad yo checked it out. I withdraw my comment about it being unsafe, but I was unable to tell in the photo that that portion of the nuts was not threaded. My impression was that th estuds simply did not protrude high enough.

Nice work, by the way.