Lug nuts are the unsung heroes of the wheel world. They hold your tire in place firmly. They keep any extra hardware, like wheel spacers, in place and working well. Lug nut failure is a serious business. While, obviously, the biggest sign of picking the wrong lug nuts is having a wheel come off, there are other signs you should be on the lookout for as well. If your lug nuts are too short or wear out quickly, you’ve picked the wrong lug nuts. On a lighter note, not all lug nuts look good with all wheels. That can be a problem too.
They’re too short
Lug nuts that are too short, don’t have the grip needed to hold your wheel in place. Lug nuts come in different sizes. These sizes correspond to the depth of the parts that they want to hold together. When a lug nut is too short, it can’t “grip” the second piece well enough. You could have only one or two threads (the raised edges that spiral around a lug nut and interlock with other parts to hold them in place) gripping the tire or your wheel. This poses a safety hazard. Once you’re on the road, these two threads have to bear the full torque of your tire. Eventually, they could snap.
You can also get the wrong lug nuts by purchasing lug nuts that are too long. However, this problem is usually caught immediately during installation, as your lug nuts literally don’t fit the wheel. When you tighten them all the way in, they still protrude from the wheel instead of lying flush. This is a dead giveaway that you’ve picked the wrong lug nuts, and people rarely make it to the road with these errors.
They get worn out quickly
Your lug nuts take a beating. They’re exposed to the elements, and they hold your tires together. The right lug nuts can last for years, despite this constant punishment. The only time you should replace them is in the event of damage during a tire replacement or rotation. A cross-thread is the most common cause of lug nut death.
If you’re taking your tires in to be rotated (at a trustworthy shop) or you’re rotating them at home and each time you’re having to replace worn lug nuts, something is wrong. You’re choosing the wrong lug nuts somewhere down the line. If you’ve modified your vehicle, you could be putting extra torque that weaker lug nuts can’t stand. You may have to upgrade to titanium lug nuts to get the strength you need.
They don’t match the look you want
If your lug nuts stand out from your rims as an eyesore, you’ve picked the wrong lug nuts. While some people value different things in their rides, most people want it to look good. Getting lug nuts with a color treatment or of a different metal can make your ride look awesome--every time.
Picking the wrong lug nuts could be dangerous--or just unsightly. Make sure that your lug nuts are the right length for your tire and your after-market modifications. Your lug nuts should be able to take a beating and keep going. Lastly, if you want something flashy you might as well go all the way. Get the look you want.