How to Tighten Lug Nuts

Install Wheel Lug Nuts Properly

Materials Needed

  • Jack and jack stands
  • Breaker bar or lug wrench
  • Socket
  • Torque wrench
  • Vehicle’s owners manual for torque specs

Step 1: Inspect wheel studs and lug nuts for damage. Take a moment to carefully inspect wheel studs, lug nuts or bolts to make sure threads are clean. Spin ALL lug nuts onto studs to ensure smooth engagement. This will allow you to verify that the lug nuts are the right thread size for the vehicle, and the lugs are safely threading. If any lugs don’t thread smoothly stop and inspect the lugs for defects. It’s important to do this every time lugs are installed.

Step 2: Raise the car. Use jack stands when appropriate. Be sure to put the vehicle in park and apply the emergency brake.

Step 3: Install wheels and install lug nuts or bolt by hand. If necessary, use a socket wrench to tighten the lugs just enough to hold the wheel on the vehicle.

When installing your wheels, it’s important to tighten your lug nuts properly to ensure safe operation. When you tighten your lugs to the right torque specification, in the right order, the wheel gets centered which is not only safe but also reduces the chance of high-speed vibrations. When you tighten a single lug nut or lug bolt, the wheel can shift slightly and won’t seat properly against the hub. You should always start with a lug, and tighten your lugs across in a star pattern as seen in the diagram below. Once tight, do the sequence again to ensure all lugs are hand torqued to proper specifications and secure.

Step 4: Lower the car. Once the lugs are tightened enough to hold the wheel on the vehicle, slowly lower the car and remove jack stands

Step 5: Torque the lugs to vehicle manufacturer specifications in a crisscross pattern, according to the diagram below. Set your torque wrench to the vehicle manufacturer’s torque setting, and tighten the lugs until the torque wrench clicks. NEVER use an impact wrench. Once you’ve tightened all lugs to back through the pattern a second time to ensure that all lugs are tightened properly.

Step 6: Re-torque after 30-50 miles. Take a moment to re-torque all lugs after driving 30-50 miles to ensure safe operation.

If having your wheels professionally installed

Ask the technician to hand torque your lugs. Most impact guns are capable of torquing to 3X higher than what most cars require. Impact guns save time, but frequently result in over-torqued lugs and the damage often isn’t apparent until you try to the remove the lugs in the future. It’s not worth it. Use a torque wrench and tighten by hand!

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