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Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:39 pm
by Hal
I'd like to warn you of a problem that cost me 4 hours sitting on the side of the interstate. I'm driving down to Florida to visit family. I'm on I-10 in the middle of nowhere, and start over a bridge when the low tire pressure light comes on. I pull over and find I have a flat. First flat I've had in years. No big deal right? I open the trunk and retrieve the spare, the jack and the lug wrench. I go to put the lug wrench on a lug nut to loosen it before jacking it up, and it won't fit. I never used it before. I just assumed Ford had put the wrong lug wrench in my car when they built it. I call Florida's "Road Ranger" roadside assistance people and in the meantime, I google whether anyone else had ever gotten the wrong lug wrench in a 2014 Focus. What I got was a world of information about two piece lug nuts swelling up to where the wrench won't fit. The speculative reasons cited ranged from swelling due to heat, to corrosion between the steel lug nut underneath and the thin stainless steel appearance nut thingy on the outside, to use of an impact, to over-tightening. I get back out the car and try beating the lug wrench on with my jack, as I had no other tools with me. No avail. The Road Ranger shows up a few minutes later and tries his impact but has no socket to fit. The only hammer he had was a rubber mallet. No avail. He tried the next size up, but made the problem even worse, spinning the thin stainless steel cover on the nut. To make a long story short, I had to be towed.....for a flat tire. I kid you not. It took the tow truck nearly three hours to get there. Couple that with the time I had already spent trying to fix it myself and wait on the Road Ranger, I was there for 4 hours!

The next day, I go to Harbor Freight and buy a 4 way lug wrench and a 3 lb hammer (My relatives not having any tools to speak of at their house). Then I go to NAPA and buy new ONE PIECE lug nuts. When I got back to the house, I drove the lug wrench onto the nuts and loosened them and changed the tire in the normal fashion but using new lug nuts when installing the spare. Didn't take 15 minutes.

So.....word to the wise...... If you have those two piece lug nuts, it would behoove you to check if your lug wrench still fits them, as it's much better to find out in your own driveway than on the side of the highway in a different state.

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:52 pm
by Ruxstel24
Chrysler uses that garbage too. :roll:

Also the stainless cap will fall off, then you have an 18mm and not a lot of meat inside the hex. They round off real easy.
I had to use "Turbo sockets" (basically a external ez-out) on about 6 and replaced all in a 99 300M. Cost over $80 for real lug nuts !! :o

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:51 pm
by Dallas Landers
Hal, that sounds like the fun I had getting the spare tire from under my 05 chevy HD! It lives in the bed now.

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:10 pm
by fschrope
What is the purpose of the two piece over the single/normal ones?

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:33 am
by Hal
Fred,

This pure speculation, but I suspect it is a cost savings measure. Instead of having to machine or forge a lug nut out of steel with a surface quality suitable for plating and then have to chrome plate it, they machine/forge a steel lug nut and then slip a thin stainless cover over it and crimp it in place solely for appearance. Looks like an expensive chrome plated nut, but is really just a regular old nut with a "veneer" or "facade".

This practice is not new. Ford was using this method back in the 80's I know, as I was a Ford mechanic at the time. Funny story, I knew of this practice and was used to seeing these two piece lug nuts. A customer came in with a car with hub caps. At the time, it wasn't uncommon to have the lug nuts protrude through the hubcap and in a lot of instances, you could remove the wheel from the car without removing the hubcap. You just put your socket on the lug nut and removed it through the holes in the hubcap. Well, Ford threw me a curve. They put those same pretty covers over a hexagonal protrusion molded into the plastic hubcap. That plastic hubcap was no match for my impact wrench. Oops. :lol:

What's strange is that this "swelling" issue is new to me, even though I've been familiar with these type lug nuts for decades. Ford and Chrysler were at the top of the list for this problem, but there are many automakers that use these things, and Lord only knows where they come from. May all be from the same factory overseas made by slave labor for all I know. Wouldn't be surprised.

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:26 am
by fschrope
Thanks Hal
Cheap doesn't surprise me.
Recently, I had the front end aligned on my '79 Chevy pickup and was talking to the guy doing the work. He said that every automotive engineer should have to drive and work on the cars they design. I agree.

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:55 pm
by Ruxstel24
I think you're exactly right Hal.
Also chrome doesn't hold up well on lug nuts.
Probably only a problem in the salt belt and seaside areas.
I have had to drill through the stud on a few Jeeps with the deep lug hole in aluminum wheels. Only way to not destroy the wheel. :evil:

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 3:57 pm
by kevinf
Hal,
I know the problem has been around for some time. GM used stainless capped lugnuts on the early "Rally" wheels, I believe sometime '68 Camaro, and Corvette, so yes they have been a pain for a long time.
Interesting I see this post as I took my wife's 2014 Ford Escape in for a tire rotation just last week, they got one wheel off and then asked me to bring it back on another day when they could have their mechanic look at it. Seems his fix is an oversize socket for his impact wrench, he purchased it from one of the big tool manufacturers specifically to remove these lugnuts! I was surprised you can now buy a tool that won't fit until the lugnut fails, who knew!!!!
Best,
Kevin

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:07 pm
by Mopar_man
So this is what I think is happening. You go have an oil change and tire rotation. Or have other work that requires the removal of tires. The guy working on the car uses a 22MM socket on a 21MM lug nut. He has a 500 ft pound airgun and takes the lugs off and puts them on. The chrome shell starts to shift on the steel nut and soon you are using a chisel and needle nose pliers to get them off.

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:33 am
by Hal
Robert,

I think you are probably right. A lot of the reasons cited on the various sites I read were "Out there" in my opinion. Swelling due to heat? No way! Not that much swelling. Corrosion between the real nut and the cover, due to salt or dissimilar metals? Possible, but like the heat thing, I seriously doubt it would result in THAT much "swelling". Mine are supposed to be 19mm. 3/4" is a hair bigger, but just a hair. But using an oversize socket could certainly damage the covers, and it the probable cause in my opinion as well.

I saw a reversible lug nut socket on the net that was 18.5mm and 19.5mm made especially for this. During my 4 hour ordeal, I had plenty of time to surf the net and make phone calls. I called my tire store that does my tire rotations and asked if they were familiar with this and how they handled it. He told me they drove the socket on with a hammer. When I went to a tire store in FL to have my tire fixed (actually replaced, but that is another story), they said they just drive the socket on with a hammer. And if I had been at my house, that is what I would have done as well.

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:41 am
by Burger in Spokane
Any post-1970 vehicle will exhibit a number of these cost-saving "good ideas"
that put the owner in a maintenance jamb when something goes sideways. The
overly reliant buying public eats up the sales BS about "better" and "safer", and
"more convenient" cars and trucks, but gets saddled with ownership and designed
anti-support that makes the vehicles a PITA or impossible to maintain by anyone
without 17 degrees in everything from computer technology to electrical engineering
to metallurgy and casting science.

Personally, I don't give two rips about back up cameras, airbags, navigation systems,
cup holders, or in-car entertainment systems, and frankly don't them or the prospect
of potential maintenance. If manfacturers can design lug nuts to deliver a 4 hour road-
-side clusterschtuppe, they can botch the WHOLE car. New vehicles are plastic, cheap,
and expensive. What you get for your money is nothing I want, and I will exercise my
well proven skill for creating my own headaches without going into debt to a car manu-
-facturer to do it !

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:45 am
by Burger in Spokane
So, Hal ....

Once the socket is driven on and the lug nut removed, How do they propose
one should get the rest off ? Have a whole box of sockets at the ready and throw
them all in the trash once the wheel is free because they now have a nut driven
into them so hard they are now one-piece assemblies ? :roll:

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:33 pm
by Tim Moore
Just went through this doing brakes on my son's jeep 2 weekends ago. Spun the metal caps, chiseled them off, rounded lug nuts. Got off 9 of 10 then was stuck. Torch in the center of the last one and burned the stud and nut out. Luckily didn't burn the wheel with the sunken lug nut. Threw all that junk in the trash and put on real one piece lug nuts along with new stud. The parts store guy's said the engineer who designed the lug nuts with the shell should be beaten with a bag of them. 1 full day job that should have been an hour for rotors, pads and calipers.

Re: Two Piece Lug Nuts on Modern Vehicles

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:36 am
by Hal
Burger,

Just don't screw the nut all the way off. Leave it on 3-4 threads and pull the socket off, or at least loosen the socket's grip in the nut by wiggling it around, then take it the rest of the way off by hand. If you accidentally screw it all the way off, just start it back on and then pull the socket off.