Lug Nut vs Lug Bolt: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to keeping wheels firmly fastened to a vehicle, automakers have a few choices to choose from. The battle may be between lug nut vs lug bolt.

Lug nuts are certainly something you’ve heard about. This is because most street vehicles are equipped with either wheel nuts or wheel bolts when they leave the manufacturer.

Lug Nut vs Lug Bolt

These nuts come in sets of four or five per wheel and keep your rims linked to your vehicle. On the other hand, the lug bolt is a second, less frequent fastening.

The functions of a lug bolt are similar to a lug nut. However, it is used on a fewer number of cars.

So, what elements determine whether you should use lug bolts or lug nuts? We’ll go through the two choices and their significant distinctions throughout this article.

What is a Wheel Fastener?

What is a Wheel Fastener

Although they are frequently underappreciated, wheel fasteners are the single most crucial hardware component on any vehicle. You can use wheel bolts threaded into hubs or a mix of hub-mounted studs and detachable nuts.

There are three most important elements of wheel fastening. There are:

  • Proper seat style
  • Proper clamping value
  • Correct thread size (diameter, pitch, length)

Moreover, when referring to any and all-wheel fasteners, avoid using the general phrase “lug nuts.” However, nuts aren’t used in every vehicle as in German vehicles; bolts are used. As a result, referring to all-wheel fasteners as “lug nuts” is inaccurate.

Other than that, the name “acorn” nut is a great example of a widely misunderstood and deceptive phrase. When referring to the seat style of a wheel fastener, the term “acorn” refers to a ball-type or radius-type seat.

What is a Lug Nut?

A lug nut is a fastener that secures the wheel of your car. Lug nuts may be found on various vehicles, including automobiles, vans, and trucks; this kind of wheel fastener is found on virtually all big vehicles with rubber wheels.

Lug nuts come in various forms, colors, and sizes. In addition, there are a few things you should know about log nuts.

  1. Typically made of chrome-plated steel (the chromium provides corrosion resistance).
  2. Titanium or anodized aluminum lug nuts are available for lighter-weight components.
  3. The vehicle’s model and axle determine the size and lug nuts required.
  4. The wheel determines the correct lug nut seat.
  5. The most popular lug nuts are conical/tapered.
  6. Ball/radius and flat-seat lugs are also prevalent.
  7. The wheel determines the correct lug nut seat.
  8. Lug nuts that have been scraped or damaged can make changing a wheel extremely hard; therefore, you should replace them as soon as possible.
  9. Many contemporary automobiles have locking lug nuts, which need a wheel lock tool for removing lug nuts.

Types of lug nuts

It’s critical to understand that lug nuts come in various shapes and sizes. Hence, this video will teach you about the many types of lug nuts and the significance of each type’s use.

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According to the video, the 12 types of lug nuts are:

  • Hex Nuts
  • Spherical Lug Nuts
  • Flat Seat Lug Nuts
  • Conical Lug Nuts
  • Mag Seat Lug Nuts
  • Tuner Style Lug Nuts
  • Extended Thread Lug Nuts
  • Spline Drive Lug Nuts
  • Flange Lug Nuts
  • Open-Ended Lug Nuts
  • Double-Sided Lug Nuts
  • Left-Hand Threaded Lug Nuts

What Is a Lug Bolt?

A threaded stem is attached to a tapered head using a lug bolt. Hence, you can consider it a lug nut constantly linked to a wheel stud screwed into the hub.

Furthermore, a lug bolt does not require a wheel stud. Because of its construction, the wheel and brake rotor may be mounted directly to the hub.

Lug bolts are more often seen in European vehicles, including Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen.

How to Choose the Right Wheel Fastener

It’s simple to find the proper wheel bolt design appropriate to your vehicle. As a result, this video will guide you through the basics of selecting the best custom wheel for your car.

Seat type

Here, the correct nut seat design ensures that the nut forces the wheel into the hub and that everything is tightly secured. The nut’s end that makes contact with the fastener pocket is the ‘seat.’

Flat-seat, spherical, and conical are the three most popular seats.

In particular, a 60-degree tapered lug nut is a very common lug nut form. Circle track racing wheels, on the other hand, are more likely to have 45-degree tapered seats.

You should avoid using a 45-degree lug nut on OEM wheels with a 60-degree tapered seat.

Thread size and pitch

To fit like a glove into each other, all nuts and bolts must have the same thread size. The diameter and pitch number are usually indicated on the nut.

Hence, It is essential that we understand the diameter, thread pitch, and thread length, whether in inches or metric. When dealing in inches, for example, a nut labeled “1/2 x 20 x 1” denotes the following:

  1. One-half inch would be the thread diameter (the diameter of the stud it will receive).
  2. The thread pitch, often known as the “count,” is 20 threads per inch. The amount of threads per inch of length is referred to as thread pitch.
  3. The inner length of thread engagement is one inch, as indicated by the “1” designation.

If the fastener is metric, the diameter is measured in millimeters, the pitch is the distance between each thread, and the thread or shank length is measured in millimeters.

Wrenching type

The three most prevalent forms of wrenching are as follows:

  • Hex
  • Spline
  • A hex key (or tuner style)

Hex lug nuts are the most common, and they may be installed or removed using both sockets and wrenches. While this makes it easier for your local mechanic or a tire shop to remove your wheels, it also makes them more vulnerable to theft.

Consider getting a pair of wheel locks if you’re concerned about theft. On the other hand, you’ll need a specific key or tool to install and remove spline drive and hex key lug nuts.

Spline drive lug nuts are utilized to complement a certain wheel type or to alter the overall appearance. Therefore, you can use one spline drive lug nut per wheel (often called wheel locks) for further protection.

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Even more, hex key lug nuts have a smoother appearance and are frequently used on wheels with a small counterbore for the lug nut to fit exactly into. The main advantage of these lug nuts is that they won’t harm the finish because none of the exterior surfaces is contacted during installation or removal.

Appearance

Nuts have two appearances. It can either be:

Open

The threaded hole runs through the nut.

Closed

The threaded hole does not run through the nut; therefore, its threads terminate inside the nut. Here are some examples of closed head types for better reach and handling and more wrench contact area.

  • Flush Tops
  • Raised Conical Domes
  • Raised Flat-Top Domes
  • Enlarged Hex Walls
  • Radiused Domes

Body length

In terms of drive area or thread engagement area, all of the wheel nut and wheel bolt designs described are available in a wide range of lengths.

The wheel’s central hub or the wheel’s design may determine the drive area’s height (maybe the nut or bolt head needs to project out further for easier wrench access).

The critical thread engagement area will also affect the length, and depending on stud length; it will include either inboard thread reach or outboard projection.

Furthermore, a tapered (conical) seat-type nut with a short, straight shank is frequently used with lug-centric wheels. The shank may help wheel centering on the hub by increasing thread engagement length.

How Can Lug Nuts and Bolts Assist My Wheels?

Lug nuts are little components on your wheel, but they are critical in keeping your tires connected to the hub. The appropriate amount of torque on these pieces is critical for your vehicle’s safety.

Understanding torque, what wheel lug nuts do, and how to inspect your lug nuts can assist you in maintaining the safety of your car.

Benefits of Lug Nuts vs. Lug Bolts

The video will guide you on everything you need to differentiate the two to understand further the benefit of a lug nut vs lug bolt.

The real benefit of wheel studs over wheel bolts is that they allow you to elevate the wheel and tire onto the studs. Hence, it will be more convenient for you to hold and locate the assembly during tire replacements rather than having to hold the wheel and tire while aligning up the holes to insert a bolt.

To help with this, many bolted wheels feature one or more tiny locating pins: the wheel is raised onto the pins, then the bolts are inserted. The pins have no function when the car is driven once the nuts are tightened, and the wheel is fully mounted.

Another benefit of employing wheel studs is that they are replaceable, requiring fewer parts to repair in the event of stripped threads. On the other hand, when the threads of the whole hub have been stripped, it needs to be replaced.

FAQs

Where would you use lug bolts?

As mentioned above, there are different lug bolts, and each lug bolt has its use:

Spline Drive

These, like the tuner nut with hex socket, are mostly used on aftermarket wheels for extra security. Because of their smaller diameter, they are often lighter than other types of lug nuts, making them a desirable choice for weight-conscious racers.

Spherical Seat

It works with wheels that have dome-shaped lug holes, which are prevalent in European automobiles that don’t utilize lug bolts.

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Conical Seat

It’s most commonly seen on aftermarket wheels with lug holes tapered at a 60-degree angle. Typically built of steel for racing uses, aluminum or even titanium may be used. These are also the lug nuts used in NASCAR (until 2021, when NASCAR switches to a single lug nut) and many other motorsports.

Lug Bolt

These may be seen on a variety of European models, including BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, and Mini, to mention a few. For simplicity of usage, many owners who often change wheels opt to replace lug nuts with aftermarket wheel stud kits.

Mag Type with Flat Washer

These are most likely the lug nuts that came with your vehicle. Many OEM wheel applications with a chrome-plated finish use the mag type with a flat seat washer.

Open-Ended

This is common when wheel spacers and longer wheel studs are utilized.

What tools do I need to loosen and tighten lug nuts?

A torque wrench is an ideal tool for loosening and tightening lug nuts. These tools are available in analog and digital formats, and anybody who works on cars should have one in their garage.

Furthermore, you must always follow the manufacturer’s torque requirements specified in your vehicle’s owner’s handbook when tightening.

What is torque?

Torque is a unit of measurement for rotating force. As the wheels revolve, a vehicle with higher torque will supply more power to the wheels. It is especially significant in high-performance automobiles and trucks utilized for towing or heavy carrying.

Moreover, the amount of torque necessary for your wheels is determined by the vehicle’s size and the bolt or stud’s size. Hence, you must always torque your wheels according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Failure to do so might lead to serious problems with your car.

What are the advantages of lug bolts?

Manufacturers can save money by using a bolt arrangement since they need a threaded hub and a bolt, which are only two pieces, compared to a three-part stud application that includes the hub, stud, and nut. The setup will be less expensive if there are fewer pieces.

Because there are fewer elements in a bolt system than in a stud application, it is usually lighter. Moreover, faster acceleration and shorter braking distances are possible with less rotational mass, although the difference is unlikely to be noticeable.

What are the most common sizes of lug nuts?

The most prevalent lug nut sizes in use today are shown below.

For easier understanding, the thread size (diameter) would be the first number, while the pitch is the latter (amount of threads).

  • 9/16″ x 20
  • 1/2″ x 20
  • 7/16″ x 20
  • 14mm x 2.0
  • 14mm x 1.50
  • 14mm x 1.25
  • 12mm x 1.75
  • 12mm x 1.50
  • 12mm x 1.25
  • 10mm x 1.25

Choose the Right Wheel Fastener

Despite having similar functions, lug nuts and lug bolts have distinctions that can affect your wheel. Hence, It’s crucial to understand the difference between lug nut vs lug bolt while working on your car’s wheels.

So, the next time you work on your wheels, you’ll be able to choose and utilize the appropriate equipment for the job.