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Old 10-16-2012, 07:00 PM   #1
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Stuck Lug Nuts

Bear with me... this might end up being a long story.

I recently bought a 2000 Wrangler Sport. My first Jeep.

At highway speeds, it started to vibrate a bit. Ok, time to get the tires balanced. So I take it to the local tire rip off artists to get a balance job done. They say they can't get a single lug nut off the front right tire, so they quit and gave me my money back without doing a thing. I drive home, and manage to get all the lugs off the front two tires. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't terribly difficult either.

But I couldn't get a single lug off the back tires. Broke several tools in the process. Tried everything, breaker bars, cheater bars, heating them with a torch, impact wrench (albiet a crappy one). Nada. Took them to a shop to have them taken off. It took a while, but they finally got them off by hammering on progressively smaller sockets with a dead blow hammer, then using a breaker bar and cheat pipe.

This was 10 days ago. We replaced all of the studs and the lugs, thinking one of the two was the reason they got stuck. They also put Lithium grease on all the studs before putting the tires/lugs back on. I checked each lug before leaving to make sure I could get them off.. and could. Tightened them back up with a socket wrench. No idea how tight (didn't use a torque wrench) but I didn't crank them down at all.

Fast forward a couple of days. I still needed to get the tires balanced, so I went out to check and make sure the lugs would come off. Guess what? All of them were tough to get off, but one just wouldn't budge. I ended up stripping it so badly (and breaking more tools in the process), I gave up and took it to a local shop. They're in the process of drilling out the (new) stud because they couldn't get it off either using any of the tricks they know either. And the rest of the lugs were on so tight, they had to use the heavy duty impact wrench to get them off, even though I barely tightened them the day before. Seriously... I was worried they were too lose, but just driving it down the street tightened them up so much they had to be impacted off?

I've heard anectodally that stuck lug nuts are common with Jeeps... but I find it hard to believe they'd get this stuck after only 10 days... and somehow tighten up just by driving.

Anyone have any ideas as to what's going on? And how to prevent it from happening again?

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Old 10-16-2012, 08:08 PM   #2
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What kind of wheels are you using? My wheels have hardened steel inserts where the lugs are to help with seating. I'm wondering if yours are soft and causing the issue. Do the lugs spin freely until they make contact with the wheel? Can you spin them by hand?

Also, I recently learned that torque specs are different if you apply anti-seize. Torque should be about 30% less than without.

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Old 10-16-2012, 08:27 PM   #3
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Lug nuts must be torqued in my opinion. No exceptions.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:38 PM   #4
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Anti seize is your friend... use it!
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:01 PM   #5
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I had an F-150 like that.

When I would rotate the tires on it, I always had a hell of a time with the left front wheel. The first time I tried to break them loose, I thought Ford did something stupid like put left-hand threads on the driver's side, but sadly, no.

I wound up putting the handle of my floor jack on the end of the 4-way and had my wife stand on the end just to break the lugs loose. She's pretty light, but a 4-foot lever lends a lot of mechanical advantage. Downside is that the 4-way is now bent.

Once the lugs broke loose, though, they spun just fine by hand. The first time, I thought that someone just was a bit over-zealous with the impact wrench when they last inspected it.

But even though I torqued them to what was specified (150 ft-lbs) when I put the wheels back on, every time I went back to that wheel to rotate the tires, it always took an incredible amount of force to break them loose -- but only on the left front. And it wasn't even the same actual wheel because of the rotation that was done. It wasn't like I left them on there for that long -- I'd rotate the tires on that at least twice a year because it saw the miles.

It got to be so much of a PITA, I would just take it to the Express Lane at the Ford dealer a few miles down the road and have them do the tire-rotation special for 14.95 -- which was the best 14.95 I ever spent each time I did it. I would watch the techs there struggle to break them loose with their impact wrenches, too.

I never did figure out what it was, and I even mentioned it to the Ford dealer a few times, but they had no idea either (aside from trying to sell me a lot of work that I was pretty sure it didn't need, like new rotors and wheel studs, etc.) FWIW, it had aluminum wheels, so I'm not sure how they play into it. I always wondered if it was some sort of molecular bonding (or whatever it's called between dissimilar metals) between the lug nut (steel part) and the aluminum wheel?

My ultimate solution was to sell the damned thing, but that's probably not the answer you're looking for. I wish I could be more help.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gort View Post
My ultimate solution was to sell the damned thing, but that's probably not the answer you're looking for. I wish I could be more help.
No, but that thought has crossed my mind. And I've wondered the same about the dissimilar metal thing, but I've always thought that was corrosion related... and can't see how corrosion would appear that quickly. I also wonder if they sort of welded together somehow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BLK00TJ View Post
What kind of wheels are you using? My wheels have hardened steel inserts where the lugs are to help with seating. I'm wondering if yours are soft and causing the issue. Do the lugs spin freely until they make contact with the wheel? Can you spin them by hand?
Just the stock (aluminum?) Jeep wheels that came with it. Yes, the lugs spin freely before making contact with the wheel, and after breaking free. I'm assuming it's the beveled edge in contact with the wheel that's stuck, not the lug on the threads, but can't figure out why/how it'd get stuck so quickly, and without being overtorqued.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atthehop View Post
Lug nuts must be torqued in my opinion. No exceptions.
Do you happen to know the exact spec? I've read 100 ftlbs, 85, and also heard the 30% rule if antiseize is used, but don't know the exact numbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tdog02 View Post
Anti seize is your friend... use it!
Is that any better than the Lithium grease we used on the studs? We didn't put any on the tire or the end of the lug (that makes contact with the tire) so maybe that's what we need to do?
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:44 PM   #7
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Try putting anti-seize on the part of the wheel that makes contact with the lugs. That should rule out the part of it getting seize up there. See how that works and if it doesn't, try cleaning all the lithium grease out with brake cleaner and try anti-seize.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:49 PM   #8
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In a pinch, I've used Milk of Magnesia as anti seize.
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Old 10-17-2012, 12:22 PM   #9
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I went the floor jack-handel-breaker bar route and cranked on it! When it came loose it sounded like a shot gun! My pneumatic gun couldn't even get it off!

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