How tight should wheel nuts be?

A mechanic repairs a car. 

What you need to know:

  • The number of wheel nuts varies from car to car. However, on a standard car, the number ranges from three to five.

I recently bought my first car and I am trying to learn as much as possible because jokes that portray women as clueless when it comes to how cars operate irritate me. How tight should wheel nuts be? Abigail

The “right torque” principle also applies to wheel nuts, and many garages are prone to chronic over-tightening. The end of that story can be stripped threads, or sheered wheel studs, and eventually a wheel coming off when driving.

Ordinary mortals can easily achieve adequate tightness with a standard wheelbrace. Spin it with a finger until it stops. Then press lightly with the heel of your hand until it does not turn any further without extra force.

From that point, another hard-press quarter turn using a gripped hand (only) should be plenty. And no more force than that will be required to undo it. If it squeaks in the final tightening, that is too much. It is not a good sign, as many mechanics seem to think. That noise is a signal that damage is being done to the threads.

Punctured wheel
PS: When changing a punctured wheel on safari, make sure the wheel hub and the inside of the spare wheel are not clogged with dust or mud.

They do not have to be clean enough for the dinner table, but nothing of any thickness should be left sticking to their surfaces. Spare wheels, especially those mounted under the floorpan or on the tailgate can have months of accumulated dust or dirt-cake when time comes to use them. If substantive dirt is left, it will be squashed between the two metal surfaces when the nuts are tightened. Over consequent miles, that dirt can shake loose and fall away, leaving a space, so nuts that were tight enough to start with may now be too loose.

Even if you have ensured both the hub and wheel rim are clean, it is a good idea some miles after a wheel change to double-check the nuts’ tightness. Again, do so with moderation.

How many?
The number of wheel nuts varies from car to car. However, on a standard car, the number ranges from three to five.

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