How to Remove a Stripped Lug Nut (Step by Step)

When the lug nut gets stripped, it could cause some issues during a tire change. You may have a difficult time if you have no idea how to remove a stripped lug nut.

You don’t have to give up because the issue can be rectified with the appropriate equipment and method.

Instead of hard work, smartness is required during the removal of a stripped lug nut. This article will guide you on How to remove a stripped lug nut.

Stripped lug nuts can be removed in various ways, and it is advised to try out all the ways before contacting a mechanic.

The tools and methods you will need are listed below. You will also learn what causes stripped lug nuts and how it can be avoided.

Let’s begin!

How to Remove a Stripped Lug Nut

To remove a stripped lug nut, you will need

  1. Punch
  2. Chisel
  3. Mini sledgehammer
  4. Drill with different sizes of drill bits,
  5. A pair of locking pliers,
  6. Tire irons of various sizes
  7. Lubricant

There are various tools in the list because there are various methods for the removal process.

Step 1: Make Sure Your Lug Nut Is Stripped

how to remove a stripped lug nut

The first step is to ensure you have a stripped lug nut and not a wrong tire iron. Check carefully and be sure you are using the right tire iron.

Most lug nuts need a specialized tire iron for their removal. You may as well call whoever helped in the installation. They will likely know if there is a fault or if you just have to use another tire iron.

You can consider the next step if this does not do it.

Step 2: Apply a Lubricant

Lubricants like WD_40 can be applied to the nuts. It will loosen them, making removal easier. Then, with the help of tire irons, try taking them out. If this particular step is not successful, try the next one.

Step 3: Use the Vice Grip Wrench

Using a locking plier, hold the lug nut and take it out. The initial lubrication will be useful at this stage.

Place it towards the left, press down on the stripped lug nut, and rotate anti-clockwise. You can consider the next step if this doesn’t work out.

Step 4: Whack the Lug Nut With the Sled Hammer or Chisel and Punch

With the use of a sturdy tool, hit the lug nut. Then repeat the previous steps. Hitting the lug nut may loosen it, making the previous steps easier.

Just in case this does not work, try the next method. The next method may be a little tasking but has more efficiency.

Step 5: Drill the Lug Nut

Using your locking pliers, create a hole in the middle. Try taking it out with the pliers. But when it doesn’t shift or move, you can use a bigger drill bit for the drilling.

Pay attention to the inner threads so as not to hit them. This may lead to more issues.

Removal can be made easy by heating up and hollowing the lug nut. It can be difficult with lots of risks, but worth trying.

Also Read: Tire Won’t Come Off? Here Is What to Do

Step 6: Call a Mechanic

You should contact a mechanic or an automotive engineer if these procedures fail. Rather than create extra problems and spend more money, seek professional assistance. That’s why they exist.

Regardless of the price, getting an engineer who understands the job very well is better. Apart from taking out the nut, he should know how to fix it properly, so it doesn’t repeat itself.

Check out this video for more tips on how to remove a stripped lug nut

How to Remove a Stripped Lug Nut (Alternative Methods)

Tools Needed

  1. Powerful impact wrench
  2. Breaker bar, socket, and pipe

Using a Breaker Bar, Socket, and Pipe

A stripped lug nut usually has small corners making it difficult to take out with the actual socket size. A smaller socket will be needed to get a grip on the nut.

Hammer will help make it line up with the socket. Attach a breaker bar to the lined-up socket and try taking out the nut.

For more support, a pipe can be placed at the bar end. Don’t continue turning or applying force if the nut is fixed to avoid breakage.

Using a Powerful Impact Wrench

If, after using the previous method and the lug nut doesn’t come out, an impact wrench may just come in handy.

An impact wrench is a tool designed to loosen and tighten different bolts, screws, and nuts and provide the necessary power to lose a lug nut using short jolt blows and torque.

The highest variation provides a torque of about 25-foot pounds or more. This is large enough to smash a stuck or rusty lug nut.

Also Read: How to Reset Mass Airflow Sensor (Step by Step)

What Causes a Lug Nut to Be Stripped?

What Causes a Lug Nut to Be Stripped

A lug nut can be stripped or rounded for a variety of reasons. Here are some of them:

1. Excessive Tightness

The ultimate tensile strength of a bolt can go beyond normal if excess torque is applied to the bolt. And this may lead to the bolt’s corners getting smoothened or flattened with spanners.

2. Corrosion or Aging

Age and corrosion are factors that degrade lug nuts. They become brittle when old. In severe conditions, corrosion and rusting occur. Examples are exposure of exhaust bolts to humidity, heat, and other reactions that lead to rusting.

Living in salt belt regions can be considered worse because metal bolts and metals tend to rust in such an environment. Corroded and old rusty bolts become flexible and soft and get stripped easily when loosening or tightening

3. Cross-Threading

Cross threading occurs when the lug nut or bolt doesn’t align with bolt hole threads correctly. Fixing a lug nut from an angle may lead to this.

If much force is applied to the cross-threaded bolts, the head may no longer resist, and the corners may get rounded before you are aware.

A lug nut or bolt that has been cross-threaded can’t go smoothly compared to a properly aligned lug nut. Incorrect threading not only strips a bolt’s head but also ruins the thread.

The threads get damaged first, even before the head. Close attention should be paid to how perfectly it turns or align to avoid damaging the fastener and the thread.

4. Poor Quality Bolts and Nuts

Lug nuts with poor quality that cannot withstand stress tend to get stripped.

5. Using an Incorrect Wrench Size

Using a larger socket or spanner to tighten or loosen a lug nut will strip the edges. The wrench corner may get damaged when both metals go over each other.

Adjustable spanners that have no points of contact can also strip bolts. Therefore it should not be used to loosen or tighten bolts.

6. Using an Air Impact Wrench to Free Stuck Bolts

An impact wrench is suitable for smashing stuck bolts because it releases a large force needed to loosen a bolt.

Bolts are more delicate than nuts, so they need force control. Impact wrenches, unfortunately, do not have force management, so stripping of the bolts may occur.

Also Read: How Long Can You Drive on a Spare Tire? (+ Safety Tips)

How to Prevent Lug Nuts From Getting Stripped

These steps will guide you and help you keep your nuts and bolts from stripping during the loosening or tightening process:

  1. The appropriate wrench or socket for nuts or bolts should always be used. There should be no use of either large or small ones.
  2. Do not over-tighten bolts and nuts. A torque wrench will ensure the right quantity of torque is delivered.
  3. Avoid cross-threading bolt. Don’t fix them from an angle; put it right and fix it directly.
  4. Use only nuts that the manufacturers have recommended.
  5. When loosening hard bolts, a ratchet wrench should be used instead of an impact wrench. Another option is an impact driver.
  6. Lubricate stripped lug nuts for some minutes before trying to take them out.
  7. Ensure to replace old and rusty lug nuts before they get stuck.

Although these steps will help prevent stripped lug nuts, have an open mind to handle those that won’t go as planned.

how to remove a stripped lug nut

Conclusion – How to Remove a Stripped Lug Nut

If you try multiple methods to remove a stripped lug nut, you might be exhausted, but if it works, you’ll save time and money.

It can also be a source of pride since you have accomplished something challenging as removing a stripped lug nut.

A stripped lug nut can be quite frustrating. To prevent this from happening again, it is important that you understand what causes a stripped lug nut to occur.

If you have a trusted mechanic, they will ensure this does not occur again.

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