Edmunds Answers



  • Stever@Edmunds 07/05/08 2:08 pm PST

    I had that problem one time after having my tires rotated. When I had a flat a few weeks later the lug nuts wouldn't budge with the tire iron tool that came with my car. The service station had used an air gun/impact wrench to install the lug nuts and over-torqued them.

    I was able to borrow a 4-way lug wrench from a neighbor and that did the trick. I think I had to stand on part of the wrench to break one of the nuts free - you may have to find a length of pipe to use as a cheater bar. If that doesn't work for you, sometimes it's cheaper to call a cab company and ask if a driver can change your flat tire (instead of calling for a tow truck). When the nuts really get frozen on, sometimes the studs break before the nuts come loose, and that requires a trip to the tire shop or dealer.

    As a general rule it's not a good idea to use penetrating oil or other lubricant on lug nuts/bolts when installing your tires by the way. Using oil or anti-seize compound on lug nuts lets you put more torque on the bolts than you can on clean dry threads.

    Over torquing can lead to warped brakes or wheel hubs and can over-stress the bolts themselves. So I'd recommend you dry the nuts and bolts good once you do get the wheel off. And then I'd visit a tire shop and ask them to remount the wheels to the correct torque spec so you'll be able to remove the next one.

    Good luck!

    Source: http://www.tirerack.com/wheels/tech/tec

  • patrick88 07/05/08 4:21 pm PST

    Agree 100% with Steve's answer.
    Didn't know a cab co. would do that.
    We've noticed lately that a certain tire chain (no names S) has been using inpacts to tighten the lugs down (or just the opposite and can tell you a horror story or two about that!). This is not an acceptable way of doing this. I do realize that in our profession speed and time is money (especially if you are flat rate) and there is certain ways to speed the process up but not this way. It's alright to use a inpact gun or air ratchet to snug them down and THEN use a torque wrench.
    As steve pointed out, over torquing (and not using the correct tightening sequence) can cause a lot of damage, not only to the wheel/rim but the studs, and brakes.
    (Sorry to ramble)
    If you do not have an inpact gun to loosen the nuts up, and do not have a four armed lug wrench, try like steve said with a cheater bar or if you have a good 1/2" (or bigger) ratchet set with a good sized breaker bar use that.


  • canddmeyer 07/05/08 7:55 pm PST

    Call AAA or a towing service. If they can't help then you'll have to have the vehicle towed to a tire shop (or dealer). Just for kicks try to loosen just one lug off another wheel. If you can break one lug then just retighten it. If you cannot do it then whoever last had their hands on your vehicle is responsible for your situation. While you may need them to correct this issue, I'd avoid them in the future as all your wheels will need to have the lugs removed and put back on correctly to avoid a repeat of this in the future. Overtightened lugs can also cause other problems.

    If you've been considering air tools for yourself, now would be a perfect time to consider a compressor and air wrench.

    Last but not least, my wife wouldn't be able to remove the lugs even if they were correctly torqued. Without knowing anything about you, have someone else give it a try.


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