How to Break a Lug Nut Off

Stubborn lug nuts are not new to the world of mechanics, but beginners might not know what to do in this situation. If you need help with this problem, you have come to the right place.

Here, you will learn all about how to break a lug nut off, what situations call for this measure, proper prep work, precautions, the tools to use, and common questions asked.

This article will also provide links to videos that you can follow to help you in this process.

Why Do You Need to Break a Lug Nut?

So why would you need to break a lug nut?  Each might be the fault of a mechanic you took your car to or maybe your own, but whichever the case, here are three reasons why you need to do so.

Rusty

There are situations where rust will someday affect your components. In this case, you might need to break a lug nut or two because of excessive corrosion that may cause your lug nuts not to budge an inch, probably not even a millimeter.

If you clean your components with water, some issues may arise when your components don’t dry properly. Rusting could especially happen if your lug nuts have cracks that cause water ingress, increasing the chances of corrosion.

Overtightened

Over-torqued lug nuts are very common in this situation, and when it’s time to take the lug nut off, forcing the nut to budge will strip the screw head for sure. Strip refers to the screw head being rounded off.

If you want to prevent over-torquing or tightening your lug nuts too much, you can use a torque wrench and set it to the recommended torque when screwing in your lug nuts or any kind of fastener.

Stripped

Lug nuts are stripped or rounded off most of the time because of over-torquing. Also, tightening your bolts and forcing them to unscrew makes the metal worn out. And this is tedious when you are in the middle of nowhere or rushing to be somewhere.

How to Remove a Lug Nut

Now that we have talked about why you would need to break a lug nut, you need to learn how to remove a lug nut in these situations.

When Removing a Rusty Lug Nut

In this video, you can follow along with removing a rusty lug nut. In addition, the video shows a simple way to easily make a rusty bolt turn by using the tools you might already have at home or in your car.

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A good way to remove rust is by soaking them in an oil-based lubricant like WD-40. Bolts that have been corroded for a long time tend to get cemented down in place, so soaking them overnight can give you the best results.

When Removing an Overtightened Lug Nut

To learn how to remove an overtightened lug nut, you can watch this video. The process in this video might be very lengthy, but you can get a good grasp of what to do and follow along.

Another method to remove an over-torqued lug nut is to heat it gradually. The heat slightly expands the metal, making it easier to budge but avoid overheating it.

You can keep trying to turn the lug nut with a little more force by using an impact wrench without forcing it too much that might cause damage to the screw head. Once it becomes easier to turn, you can continue unscrewing it by hand.

While you turn the bolt, make sure that your brakes are engaged to restrict the car from moving. In addition to using your hand break, you can wedge the wheels to make them more secure.

When Removing a stripped Lug Nut

If the lug nut is stripped or rounded off, you can check out this video. You’ll go through what tools you’ll need and a step-by-step procedure to take out the stripped lug nut.

The first thing you’d want to do is to double-check if the lug nut is stripped for sure. There are situations where a bolt might look stripped, but it turns out that it just had minor damages and got damaged in the process instead of being repurposed.

After ensuring it is stripped, you want to apply a lubricant like WD-40 to start loosening the lug nut. When the lubricant is applied, get a vice grip wrench to grip the bolt tight enough to start forcing it to unscrew.

How to Properly Break Off a Lug Nut

Park your car on an even surface. Then, as an additional precaution, engage your parking brakes. And the next step is to get the right tools for the job.

Generally, a screwdriver and a slug wrench are among the common tools you will need to break a lug nut off easier. Using a floor jack is also an option.

Using a screwdriver, gently take the hub covers off to access the lug nuts and remove them. Next, secure the lug wrench on one of the lug nuts and pull it counter-clockwise until it comes off loose. Continue pulling it until it is loose enough to be removed by hand.

5 Tools for Lug Nut Removal properly

Now that you know how to manage situations where a lug nut is stuck in place, you need to learn about speciality tools that will help you get the job done.

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1. ABN Wheel Lock Removal Tool Kit

ABN Wheel Lock Removal Tool Kit Lug Nut Key Set 16p SAE/Metric Master Wheel Lock Key Set Lug Key Wheel Lock Removal Kit

The ABN Lock Lug Nut Removal Tool Kit includes a master set of double hex-headed, hex, and tuner type keys to fit a variety of automobiles with aftermarket lug nuts (for universal wheel locks); thin-walled socket style lug keys with extra-long length to prevent wheel damage.

Includes: 8 spline key/ 8 hex and star keys

Brand: ABN

Material: Alloy Steel, Plastic

2. BELEY Wheel Lock Lug Nuts Removal Set

BELEY 22pcs Wheel Lock Lug Nuts Removal Set, Automotive Wheel Anti-theft Screws Remover Socket Keys Remover Kit for Audi

1 1/2″ Square & 21mm Hexagon Socket, 1 90mm Extension Bar, 20 Key Adapters are included in the bundle (Type A, B, C, E, F, G, H, I, J, L, M, N, P, etc.) It’s perfect for installing and removing Wheel Lock Lug Nuts on most AUDI vehicles, as well as for Master Mechanic use at home.

Includes: 1/2″ Square & 21mm Hexagon Socket/ 1pcs 90mm Extension Bar/20pcs Key Adapters

Brand: ‎BELEY

3. TOPEC Locking Lug Master Key Set

TOPEC 16 SAE Metric Piece Locking Lug Master Key Set, Wheel Lock Removal Kit for the Purpose of Easily Removing Locking Lug Nuts on Aftermarket Wheels

This wheel key lock lug remover is manufactured of chrome-molybdenum steel and black oxide-coated to withstand years of use. As a result, it is difficult to break while in use.

Simply match the key size in our wheel lock removal kit to your combination wrench (not supplied). The lug lock key can also protect your wheel from damage.

Includes: Spline, Star, Hex, and Fluted hex

Brand: Topec

Material: Alloy Steel

4. Maximum Impact Bolt & Nut Remover Set

Maximum Impact Bolt & Nut Remover Set 13 pieces

This set has been pre-treated to provide enhanced corrosion resistance. Flat wrenches, adjustable wrenches, and sockets can all be used with this set. This is a fantastic set to keep on hand when you have rusty, chewed, or rounded nuts and bolts.

Includes: 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 11/16 SAE; 10, 12, 13, 17 mm; 5/16-8mm, 7/16-11mm, 9/16-14mm, 5/8-16mm, & 3/4-19mm, Universal sockets

Brand: MaXimum

Material: Alloy Steel

FAQs

Can you remove lug nuts with a cordless impact driver?

So, can you use a cordless impact driver for lug nut removal? Technically, you can, but realistically, the answer is no. A lug nut torque chart shows that most lug nuts should be torqued from 80 to 100 ft-lbs. Some require less torque, while others need more.

There are several things to consider. First of all, lug nuts can become stuck, rusted, or frozen. And lug nuts might have been over-torqued during past maintenance services.

If a lug nut is tightened to 100 ft-lbs, you should be able to remove it using a tool capable of delivering 100 ft-lbs of torque. It may not always be the case, but a fastener tightened to a certain torque should require the same torque for removal.

What are lug nuts used for?

A lug nut is a fastener where one end is tapered and comes in various shapes. In addition, they fasten a wheel’s hub to threaded studs on the vehicle’s axle, securing the wheel and centering on the axle.

Lug nuts are typically chrome-plated steel to resist corrosion, but titanium or anodized aluminum lug nuts exist for lighter weight, typically for racing cars.

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The size and model of lug nuts will depend on the car model and the axle used, and the correct lug nut seat depends on the wheel itself. While aftermarket wheels are often made to match OEM lugs for a vehicle, some models need a new set to make the right fit.

How to prevent breaking off a lug nut?

Careless mechanics tend to over-torque the lug nuts with impact wrenches. You need to remember that every car has different requirements for torquing lugs.

So you should ensure that the correct torque is applied before letting a mechanic work on your vehicle.

Can you use a butane torch when removing a lug nut?

Yes, you can use a blowtorch to remove a stubborn lug nut. First, heat the outer part of the lug nut carefully. The heat will cause the metal to expand slightly.

However, you don’t want to overheat it to the point where it glows red but just enough to warm it up to make the removal process easier for you.

In addition to that, you can also use a candle simultaneously. Melt the candle wax into the bolt. The wax will serve as a lubricant.

Can lug nuts be frozen?

Check out this tutorial on youtube. You will learn how to manage this situation and work on your wheels properly.

To unfreeze the lug nuts, you will need some isopropyl alcohol. Any rubbing alcohol would do, but the potency should be no less than 91%. Next, you need an anti-rust or oil-based lubricant. And lastly, you are going to need a tire tug wrench.

The first thing you want to do is apply a generous amount of Isopropyl alcohol to each lug nut, including the threads. Allow it to soak into the metal parts for around two or three minutes and reapply alcohol to each lug nut and let it set. Isopropyl alcohol does not freeze and will work in unfreezing the lugs and nuts.

Next, put the tire wrench on the lug nut and remove it. The lubricant material could freeze if left for longer without breaking it free with the wrench.

Apply a small amount of alcohol and immediately loosen the lug nut. Apply additional lubricant and alcohol onto each of the lugs when loosening each bolt, as needed.

Conclusion

Before deciding whether or not you need to break your lug nuts, you want to ensure that the lug nut is severely rusted or rounded off. You don’t want to accidentally destroy a perfectly usable lug nut when all you had to do was loosen it.

Lug nuts tend to wear off when it is screwed in too tight. So remember to take the necessary measures and try one of the techniques mentioned in this article. Or better yet, you can watch the video tutorial so that you can easily follow along.