Lug Nuts

On Sunday I got a flat tire.  My car has a full-size spare, which I was quite glad for on this, my first flat tire in 7 years with the Golf.

But Golfy’s tire wrench isn’t one of those huge plus-sign-shaped ones that’s 18 inches long on both bars.  Instead it’s shaped like an allen wrench, and is only about 10 inches long.  I never thought this would have been a problem until I had to use it to loosen the lug nuts.

It was virtually impossible to get them loose.  Of course they’re tightened with pneumatic drills at the garage that installs them, and they also appeared to have a slight amount of rust on them.  I pulled with all my might and they didn’t budge even slightly.  Kim and I both tried standing on the wrench, to no avail.

I started thinking about opening my phone and getting our GPS coordinates, and calling my parents or one of my siblings, asking them to bring us some stronger arms and/or a different tire wrench, when I had one last idea.  I stood on the wrench again, then jumped up off it, and slammed my heel back down on it.  Finally the nut gave way!

The interesting thing is that it made a terrible screeching noise when it first loosened, and upon tightening the nuts they made the same noise at the very end of the tightening process.  I’ve heard the noise before, of course, at any number of auto repair shops throughout my life, but I always figured it was the sound of the drill hitting its past-my-current-torque-setting level of tightness.

So why and how do the lug nuts make that noise?

(OK, technically, they are lug bolts on my car, but I’ve never actually heard anyone call them anything but "lug nuts.")

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies


01. May 9, 2006 at 01:36pm by Kev:

I don’t know why that sound happens, but I guess that it’s just a metal on metal screech.

Your story reminds me of my flat tire about a month ago. My lug nuts (or more accurately, as you’ve said, lug bolts) were not the problem. They came off easily with my short handled (read: crappy) lug wrench. My problem was that the wheel itself was literally stuck on my axle. I tried kicking it, pulling it, prying it and hitting it with the lug wrench, to no avail. Since we were home, my wife offered to go to the nearby gas station with her car and buy some WD-40 to try to loosen the wheel. While she was gone, I tried using some scrap wood to use as leverage for prying again, but that didn’t work. Already-too-long story a bit shorter, a minute before she got back with the WD-40, I used the lug wrench to get between the wheel and the rest of the truck to pry it off. It slid right off, even though I tried it previously. I had the tire changed and the spare all packed up, just in time for my wife to return.

Here’s to annoying flats...

02. May 10, 2006 at 05:02am by andy:

know how you said there was rust on the outside of the nut?  i’m relatively sure what that noise is is rust IN the threads.  it’s happened to me plenty of times as well... i figure, a close metal on metal contact with any kind of rust (dust once it comes loose) in between?  probably.

on another note, i’m on 24 season 5 episode 12.  i am going to find whatever writer that made edgar die and give HIM some freggin nerve gas.  this is CRAP.  sdhfjklashdfjklavunaerlgvbnadfkljvbajldrnvlajkdgvjlabdfgjhabsdlvjanerlvjknagjklsadfg

03. May 10, 2006 at 09:07am by Anthony:

I guess it could be from rust on the threads, but then why would it only happen on the very last 1/8 of a turn?  It seems like once the rust is loose it would probably make that noise during other parts of the removal or replacement of the bolt.

Taking out Edgar was a low blow.  He was great and his interaction with Chloe was awesome.

04. May 14, 2006 at 11:18pm by Rolly:

The noise you heard was def. due to the metal to metal contact, and it was only a tight enough fit to make the noise during the last 1/8 turn.  If you sprayed some wd-40 or other lube, you probably would not get the noise.  However, lube would also create the potential for the lugs to loosen later, which you don’t want.

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