Why are there typically 5 lug-nuts on a mid-sized wheel?

It seems like there should always be an even number, as that would make the wheel symmetrical, in order to minimize vibrations; i.e. with an even number, every lug nut would be matched with another spaced at 180 degrees. So why is 5 so common? Is there some advantage to the number of lug nuts being an odd number? A prime number? Or is it just that there was space available for 5, but not enough for 6?

there have been smaller vehicles with 4 lugs and pick-ups with 8 lugs

Yes, my Corolla and my Prior VW Rabbit had 4. The Rabbit used lug bolts rather than lugnuts. I’ve seen wheels w/as many as 12. I don’t recall seeing any wheels w/7, 9, or 11. But maybe there are such wheels.

Prime numbers are better for vibrations than even numbers since they cannot create half or quarter wave harmonics.

The French sometimes use only 3.

Cars use as many as needed to keep the wheels in place and clamp evenly. Mid size cars are heavy so they use 5.


I would imagine the amount of engine power would have something to do with it. Five would be much stronger than 4.

There used to be a show on TV called Pinks which involved drag racing for titles.
In one episode someone had a Fox body Mustang with a built up 5.0 in it. When the light turned green they dropped the hammer and the left rear wheel broke off and went rolling.

During the slow-mo replay it could be seen that the car was still running the 4 lug wheels. Those Fox body Cobras and the SVOs ran 5 lug but all the rest used 4.

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You come up with some interesting questions, George. You are a man of deep thoughts. I always assumed they put as few fasteners as practically possible for the application (vehicle’s weight, hp, etc). My current truck (GM) has 6. Now I’m wondering if they’re a thinner diameter stud than older trucks that I’ve had with 5…:thinking:

I remember that my '62 olds Jetfire only had 4 lugs per wheel, but the car only weighed 2,800 lbs, and had 6.50 x 13 tires.

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GM trucks use 14mm studs, a Metric replacement for 5/8 of an inch. Typically 2wd had 5 and 4wd had 6 on GM trucks and SUVs from mid 90s at least. They may have made them all 6 now, not sure, so many 4wd around.

GM is all 6 (2wd and 4wd) since around 1999, I believe. My 98 Dodge 4wd (which had a 360 with quite a bit of torque) had 5 lugs. No idea on the diameter of the Dodge’s studs though. The rest of the Dodge was pretty heavy duty in comparison to this GM. Solid front axle, etc.

Remembering bus in Guatamala, room for maybe 9 places for lugnuts, but got by with 4 :wink:

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Obviously balance isn’t a problem, right? No inherent vibration with 5 lug designs.

Prime number is best. There was a period of time where Ford used 7 studs. I don’t remember when that was.

OK, just looked it up: 1997-2001


Years ago, even from a distance, you could always distinguish a 4-cylinder Accord from one with the V-6 because the 4-cylinder models had 4 lug nut wheels and the sixes had 5 lug nut wheels.

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My father’s '59 Plymouth used lug bolts, rather than lug nuts, so I imagine that Chrysler used those fasteners for at least a few years. He never noticed this until it was time to change a flat tire, and then it became obvious that it was MUCH more difficult to do with lug bolts.

Our Saab and now our Audi has those. Pretty common if not standard for Euro cars.

Ford light duty F-250’s had 7

Smart Cars had 3

Pontiac, as a popular option in the 60’s, offered 8 lug wheels.

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i buy/sell equinox wheels. they fit on vue’s so i have more buyers. i always see caddy srx wheels in junk yards. but they have the darn 6 bolt pattern. why did gm do that?
old equinox 5 x 115
new equinox 5 x 120
srx 6 x 115
ranier 6 x 127
truck 6 x 5.5"

I have heard that before and I don’t understand what the problem is I have owned several Chrysler products over the years and never had a problem the wheel had a smaller hole between the lug holes that fit on a guide pin on the hub to line the bolt holes up. The only problem I could see was if the guide pin was broken of

I can’t say for sure whether our '59 Plymouth ever had guide pins, but by the time that we bought it–as a used car–there were no guide pins, and as a result changing a tire was automatically a 2 man job.