OOPS! I didn't tighten lug nuts, now my rims are damaged.. Is it still safe?


#1

After a long tiring day following an all night college study session, I needed to take a break from studying. I decided putting on my summer tires on my '97 Mustang would be a productive excuse to go outside for some air. After removing my winter tires, I felt like I could sleep for a week, but I pushed forward and finished putting my summer tires on.

The problem is that in my exhausted state, what felt like the lug nuts getting tight was really just my arms being tired–because apparently they weren’t tight at all. All of the lug nuts were loose, and needed about 2-4 full rotations to tighten. I felt a strange vibration and when I mentioned it to my dad he suggested that I check my lug nuts right away–and I should have listened.

The wheels must have been wobbling against the nuts, because there is a quarter-sized (as in the 25 cent coin) abrasion now carved into the metal rim around each of the nuts. I don’t recall there being any indent previously, although the nuts are normally covered by the stock plastic cover, I would have remembered that… plus there are heaps of metal shavings between the cover and nuts.

One lug nut actually broke off from deep inside, and is not connected to the wheel. From the research I’ve done, I should be able to get away with using 4 out of the 5 nuts for a while, but I’ve made an appointment to get it fixed.

The question is: at what point should the rim be completely replaced? The abrasion looks pretty serious, but I’m hoping the thickness remaining between the rim and the nut is still in the safe zone–but I don’t know where the line is for when its too thin to be safe, because the lug nuts don’t even matter if the rim itself breaks!

The “Attach a file” link to share pictures on this forum doesn’t seem to be working, so here are some pictures I took of the damage: http://postimg.org/gallery/39fbdz042/

Once again, this is for a 1997 Ford Mustang.

Thanks for reading,
pray my wheels don’t fly off in the meantime!


#2

It looks to me like the rims are trashed. There is no longer enough material so that the nuts will hold the rims in the correct location. I wouldn’t drive the car faster than 20 MPH.


#3

I agree @BillRussel. That wheel is trash totally. If there are still 3 good holes/lugs 20 mph could be safe but are there any solid mounts left?


#4

You also need to get the studs checked with a go/no-go gage and inspected. Wheels flopping around on them can cause damage to the base that will preclude lugnuts ever properly tightening on them again… and could even leave them subject to snapping.

You may even want to get them pressed out and new ones pressed in. That’s what Id’ do.


#5

Can you (slowly) drive to a Ford dealer tomorrow for an inspection?
Those quarter-sized abrasion areas don’t appear to be connected to loose lugs, just standard lug wrench abrasion.


#6

I would agree to have them looked at by the dealer or a good tire shop but frankly I can’t see a big problem. There is no evidence of the stud itself elongating the hole since there are no witness marks on the threads of the stud at all or on the one hole you show in the picture. The only witness mark on the one hole you show is from the shoulder of the lug nut. I’d just have them looked at.

That happened on my son’s car once and no idea how many miles were put on it by the time we discovered it, but one stud was replaced and the nuts tightened and never had a problem after that. I still suspect someone did it.


#7

The wheel appears to be sintered powdered metal to me. And if so it is crumbling like a cookie at the damaged lugs.


#8

I’m undecided about this without seeing it up close. A lot is going to have to do with how well the taper on the lugs fit against the taper on the wheels. I wonder what Prussian Blue would show if used on new lugs mated against the wheels…

Given they were all loose and banging around I have to wonder how weakened all of the studs are. It may get a bit pricy paying someone to replace all of them but could be considered cheap if it saves your life.
They’re looking a bit rusty anyway.


#9

OP writes: I should be able to get away with using 4 out of the 5 nuts for a while

I wouldn’t risk that myself, except perhaps for short trip neighborhood driving in the 20 mph range. Don’t make a bad situation worse.

BTW, you aren’t alone, I’ve done the same thing, noticed the problem straight away, luckily, no damage.


#10

Nascar just changed its rules back to requiring 5 lug nuts on each wheel on pit stops. When they left it up to the teams earlier this year, teams were putting 4 nuts on the right side and 3 on the left on their 5 hole wheels. And they were going 200 mph.


#11

“4 nuts on the right side and 3 on the left on their 5 hole wheels. And they were going 200 mph”

But they are 5/8 inch, hardened, alloy steel studs. NOT what street cars are built with.


#12

This happened to my camper years ago on one wheel. I needed a new wheel and also a completely new hub since the studs were well worn as well. You may only need new studs and new wheels.

Get a torque wrench if you are planning to do this again in the future; it will indicate the needed torque to sufficiently tighten the nuts.

If you are not strong enough spend some money and have a competent professional do it.


#13

A torque wrench wouldn’t be of any use on those rusty lugs and lug nuts @Docnick.


#14

Those wheels are toast. Two pictures are very telling. In one, the nut is missing and you can easily see that the chamfer where the nut is supposed to seat is wider on one side than the other. In another, you can actually see the gap between the lug and wheel from the elongated hole in the wheel. All that material floating around came from somewhere- the inside diameter and chamfer of the wheel holes…Those lugs will not properly seat against or locate the wheels. An expensive lesson…


#15

Are you sure there are not different lug nuts for these summer wheels. I would expect those holes to be egg shaped. Instead they look pretty round.

They look more like this kind of lug nut is supposed to be on those but with the chamfered edge below the nut head and the larger shank fits into the larger hole of the wheel. I couldn’t find a picture of the exact ones I’m thinking of, but this is close.

http://www.napaonline.com/napa/en/p/NDP6413394/NDP6413394

This is the one I’m thinking of.
http://www.napaonline.com/napa/en/p/BK_7358821/BK_7358821

Yosemite


#16

Here’s the one.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj4yr6EptDMAhVr6oMKHenmDqcQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.corvetteforum.com%2Fforums%2Fc6-corvette-zr1%2F3449863-is-it-safe-to-run-5mm-spacers.html&psig=AFQjCNHkh61D2YbWSjWzmzr_vTiS_y9bAA&ust=1462996576660634

Yosemite


#17

Straight shank mag wheel nuts.

You might be right. I initially thought the same and went looking for stock lug nuts and most OEM appeared to be acorn style. Maybe this is a performance wheel that came with different package? Inner ID seemed tight for the shank style but the wheel material and oversized flat depression seem to be appropriate for shank style…there is certainly enough sloughed off material to be from the wrong lug nut wearing on it…


#18

Are you sure there are not different lug nuts for these summer wheels. I would expect those holes to be egg shaped. Instead they look pretty round.

They look more like this kind of lug nut is supposed to be on those but with the chamfered edge below the nut head and the larger shank fits into the larger hole of the wheel. I couldn’t find a picture of the exact ones I’m thinking of, but this is close.

That was my impression as well. Those are acorn nuts being used, probably for steel wheels with the snow tires mounted. But those wheels look like they’re aluminum and should have a completely different style lug nut. That’s also why they worked loose. The hole is much too big for just the stud, the lug nut should go down into it as well. And they should NOT be acorn nuts.


#19

Mustang’s rims are hard to withstand vibrations at high speed. That’s the reason, you are still able to ride. I had a similar experience in the past. But my car was Ford focus. The wobble was harsh and I took my car to the nearest car care center immediately. They said I’m lucky the rims didn’t crack. My suggestion, 4 out of 5 nuts not a good idea. It’s better to repair it before too late.


#20

This is silly. How was @Feri25 spam??? Mentioning Ford, Mustang, or a generic car care center? I protest but maybe whoever it was can explain their rationale.