You might have noticed that larger vehicles have more lug nuts than smaller ones. Take a look at a large 18-wheeler truck and compare its wheels to those of a normal sedan. Where the latter has about five small lug nuts, the former has six or more. Lug nuts are used to hold your wheel on your vehicle securely and safely. However, does the number of lug nuts you have on each wheel truly matter? Can you drive your car with only four of the five nuts if one breaks off? The answers to these and more are below.
Understand Why Lug Nuts Exist
Lug nuts aren’t just there for fun. These little parts of your car are among the most important. Without lug nuts to hold them in place, your wheels would just slide off the moment you started moving. These nuts come under extreme amounts of stress because of their position and purpose. Because heavier vehicles place heavy loads on their lug nuts and studs, they need more of them on their wheels.
A Missing Lug Nut Causes Wear
Car manufacturers design lug nuts to handle a very specific load. This load is designed to be distributed evenly across each lug nut in the wheels, without any changes. If you drive without one or some of the nuts in your wheels, you’re forcing that load to be distributed across the remaining nuts. This forces them to work much harder than they were ever meant to. Over time, the remaining nuts and studs start to show signs of wear and tear. You can drive for a few days without one lug nut, but you should inspect your axles and studs when you replace the missing lug nuts.
Your Wheel Hubs Need All the Lug Nuts
When lug nuts are missing on one of your wheels, the wheel hub starts to feel the imbalance in pressure. The instability of the wheel hub results in more pressure being applied to the bearings of the wheel with the missing lug nut. This causes the bearings to wear down faster over time. If you haven’t done so already, know that the repair of your wheel bearings can be a pretty expensive task. Driving with less than the adequate number of lug nuts for your car can be very costly indeed.
Vehicles Need Lug Nuts for Stability
Among the many dangers of driving without all your lug nuts is the tendency of your car to start wobbling like a roller coaster ride. The pressure on your wheels is meant to be evenly distributed across all four wheels and their lug nuts. With one missing, your pressure doesn’t get distributed evenly, especially when you’re turning, braking, and acceleration. In time, the added pressure and vibrations can cause your other nuts to shake themselves loose. In some instances, your lug studs could snap off due to the pressure. The bolt holes on your wheels could elongate too. When any of this happens, your wheel could fall off, resulting in a crash.
Are you currently missing one of your lug nuts? There is no excuse for driving without one. You need to replace any missing lug nuts as soon as you can. While you’re waiting for one, drive extremely cautiously. Keep your speed low, accelerate and brake slowly, and take corners less aggressively. Any missing lug nuts can result in instability, broken studs, worn bearings, and worn lug nuts. If you don’t know how many lug nuts you have, check on them now and remember to check regularly for missing nuts if you don’t have an indicator.