What kind of lug nuts do I need for steel rims on Ford Focus?

Question: Can I use bulging lug nuts for the conventional steel wheels? I previously used the closed-end regular width lug nuts on steel wheels. (I used the same lug nuts on aluminum wheels.)

The story: I went to Costco to get a set of winter tires for my 2006 Ford Focus. I drove in with the summer tires on 16" aluminum alloy wheels, and I brought in a set of 15" steel wheels with old winter tires on them. The guys put new winter tires on the steel rims but would not put them on the car claiming that I had “wrong lug nuts.” What they mean was that the lug nuts for the aluminum wheels are different from those used on steel wheels. The holes on the steel wheels look like the conventional conical design, which appear to be the same as the aluminum wheels. (The contact surface on the aluminum wheels are greater, of course.) I had no problem with mounting the steel wheels over the last three winters with the same lug nuts. (I did the tire change over at home, so Costco didn’t have a say in the lug nuts until now.)

Since they refused, (these guys don’t listen that it was O.K. for three seasons.) I had to come home with the winter tires balanced and mounted on the steel rims in the trunk rather than on the car. I did the tire change over at home, but the new hub caps I bought don’t fit, because the closed-end type lug nuts extend too far out interfering with the hub caps. So, now I am looking for open-end type of lug nuts on eBay and found that there are the regular types and bulging types. The overall height (or length) of the bulging type is a little longer, which I think would be better, because there would be more contact surface between the threads. There is no side-to-side restriction for the bulging lug nuts to fit the steel wheels.

I searched the internet but found only that the lug nuts are 12M x 1.5. There was not mention of any other specification, and there was no mention of any difference in lug nuts between aluminum wheels and steel wheels.

Use the short conical lug nuts and the hubcaps will fit Capturelugnutsford

Thank you.
That’s what I thought. But can I use the bulging type as well? Besides the bulge, what’s the difference?

I always use the conical nuts on steel rims because they will fit perfectly inside the steel rim holes.These holes are always conical in shape.The bulge type nuts are too long so your hubcaps wont be flush with the rim.


this is the lug nut for my Taurus with alum rims. I am pretty sure ford says it is ok to use it with my steel spare tire? How would you mount your steel spare tire? Ford has to assume you will use the alloy wheel lug nuts with the factory steel spare. But, you may have non stock lug nuts?

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Do you mean the lug nuts with the rounded ends that look like acorns?
You can if the nut is correct for the stud, meaning proper seat and thread, AND the depth is sufficient to exceed to exposed length of the studs such that the seat is between the lug nuts and the wheels and not between the nuts and the tips of the studs. Any parts store should be able to help you with this. They’ll be able to look up the correct lug nuts.

My car came with aluminum wheels, and it has lug nuts with the seat that looks just like the photograph except mine has cap over it, because the lug nuts are exposed to the elements. (lug nuts for steel wheels don’t need the cap, because the hub cap would be protecting the nut.) I thought this type of lug nuts are the standard lug nuts for steel wheels, too. I don’t understand why Costco guys would think this is not the right nuts for steel wheels.

Thank you everyone for replying.

Because they are not the right ones for steel wheels.

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Because most folks who bust tires aren’t rocket surgeons and they will repeat any rumor they hear without evaluating its validity.

Slightly amusing anecdote…

Sister had a flat on her '94 Camry with alloy wheels. Lug nuts are these:

Picture 1

AAA told her they were “alloy wheel only” nuts and couldn’t be used with her steel spare wheel and sold her new nuts. Note that the conical part of the “alloy” nut is there so it can be used with the steel spare. (She’s still driving that Camry, by the way.)