Wheel Nuts Overly Tight or Seized?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by uart, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    I just went to rotate the tires on my 2005 Prius for the first time (since I’ve owned it – approx 16 months). I was surprised just how tight the wheel nuts were on!

    I used a large “X” wheel brace and I still needed about 2’ of water pipe as an extender to get most of the nuts off. Some of them made this really horrid groaning and squealing before they'd budge too, which made me think that there was perhaps some seizing going on.

    Even with the tire brace and extender there were 2 or 3 that were so tight I was certain I was going to shear off the studs if I applied any more torque so I had to go get an impact driver to finish the job safely.

    Has anyone else had this problem. I don’t know when the wheels were last removed because I’ve only owned the car for about 16 months. I was wondering if they were just put on way too tight or if there is an issue with seizing with these studs?

    When I replaced the wheel nuts I used some anti-seize compound on the studs and used the correct torque, so I don’t think it’ll happen again. :)
     
  2. satwood

    satwood Member

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    I have noticed this issue on my Prius after the first year and on many other cars with the same type of studs/nuts. I think they get put on real tight from the factory and then a small amount of salt or other material helps them corrode a bit, especially if they have been driven in New England. I now take all my lug nuts off on every vehicle each year and re-coat with anti-seize, and re-torque. Sounds a bit anal, I know, but when you are on the side of the highway with a flat and can't get the wheel off the roadsie service is much more expensive.

    The good news is you can do this one nut at a time without jacking up the car and it takes about 1 beer per wheel.
     
  3. davidj08

    davidj08 Junior Member

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    I was surprised just how tight the wheel nuts were on!
    Has anyone else had this problem?


    Uart, I've personally done 7 tire rotations on our Prius and never encountered anything like what you went thru. Whoever last tightened those nuts severely overdid it. BTW, We're seeing a lot of news reports concerning the Queensland flooding. Are you anywhere near? David J
     
  4. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    Yeah these aren't the original tires so it was probably whoever last changed the tires that over did it. No salt on the roads here but I'm near the ocean so it might be corrosion related.

    Years ago I had a similar problem with and old S/H Audi, the first time I tried to get the wheels off it was a total nightmare. When I did finally get them all off I did the same thing as I've just done with the Prius. Moly-grease on all the studs re-tensioned to the correct torque and I never had the problem again.

    I never really needed to re-do it every year, but any time I'd have any work done that required wheel removal (new tires or brakes etc) then as soon as I got the car back home I'd back-off all the nuts an eight of a turn and re-tension them correctly. Any time that I needed to take off a wheel myself then I'd use the opportunity to re-apply some moly-grease, but that was the only time.
     
  5. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    That's good to know David, that it's not a universal problem. I'm pretty sure that now I'm taking care of the wheel nut torsion myself that it wont be a problem anymore. :)

    Yeah they've really had a lot of rain up north in Queensland. I'm in NSW and a fair way south of the effected region, so no problems here. My Brother lives in Queensland but I haven't been able to get any first hand reports from him because he's currently doing the whole tourist bit over in "your" Grand-Canyon and national parks of the SW.
     
  6. 2009Prius

    2009Prius A Wimpy DIYer

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    I bought my 2009 Prius new and have been rotating tires every 5000 miles (~ 6 months). The nuts are easily taken off every time with this 1/2" Drive 25" Breaker Bar from Harbor Freight. I torque the nuts per Toyota's specification and make sure the nuts and studs are clean before installation. I don't use anti-seize - there were some debate whether anti-seize would cause over-torquing. 16 months may be too long a time period during which corrosion could set in thus causing OP's issue. Just my 2 cents. :)
     
  7. cairo94507

    cairo94507 Active Member

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    I rotate my tires every 5K and use a good torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts to 76 lbs. I have noticed that when ever it goes in to Big O Tire for work, tires, rebalancing, etc., that though they use torque wrenches on the car, I have watched the mechanics tighten the lug nuts well beyond the "click" of the torque wrench. They apparently use them like big breaker bars. I have brought this to management's attention but the problem persists. Now, I just drive home and jack the car up loosen the wheels and re-torque them properly. I also use anti-seize on the threads.
     
  8. jdcollins5

    jdcollins5 Senior Member

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    I usually buy my tires at Sam's Club due to being open on Saturdays and for the road hazard warranty and free tire rotations. On one car, when they rotated the tires they overtightened the lug nuts due to using air wreches instead of torque wrenches and warped the brake rotors.

    I would have to remind the Service Manager on each visit that I wanted the lugs tightened with torque wrenches and not air wrenches. Now when I mention it I am told that they use only torque wrenches now and do not need to be reminded any more !!
     
  9. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Lots of road salt here, so every fall when I put the steel wheels and studded winter tires on, I apply anti seize and use a torque wrench set to the correct torque

    In Spring, when I put the regular tires back on, ditto

    Around here, if you leave your wheels on a few years and never check the lugnuts, they are almost impossible to remove
     
  10. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 'Orrible Oracle

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    Just to open a can of worms: if you lubricate the lug nut threads you are changing how tight the nut goes on, with any given torque value.

    I've done it myself, but am thinking from here on, I'll: ensure threads are clean, nothing more. Also ensure the faying surfaces (points of contact between wheel and hub) are clean, and maybe give them a light wipe of anti-sieze. But nothing on the threads.

    To avoid seized lug nuts, just periodically loosen and retorque. If you have snows on separate rims, and are doing your own swaps, you have a twice yearly opportunity.
     
  11. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    I agree with this, and do not apply any lube to the studs or the nuts. However I don't live in an area where excessive chassis corrosion is an issue.
     
  12. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Yes Patrick but I think the metal they use on the studs & bolts is getting so cheap and so impure that if you don't lube it a little it will just end up siezing. There's definately some galvanization (like that?) going on with the wheel to hub too.

    I say that because when I tried to remove the nuts first time after 5,000 miles from the factory I had to extend a 1/2 inch breaker bar with a 3 foot pipe and stand on it to get the nuts off. It was nutty. Like the op I thought for sure I would bust the nuts off.
    It stalled my air wrench too.

    Lubed the threads with syn bearing grease and put them on about 80 lbs and they came right off the next time at 15K miles.

    And like I said the wheels were a bitch to get off the hubs the first time from the factory. I lubed the contact surface's there too and they came right off at 15K also.

    I know lubrication changes the torque values a little but it doesn't really matter if the nut gets siezed to the bolt. Cheap dry metal with hot to cold over and over again ain't good.

    Just sayin'.
     
  13. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    Just to point out how much these wheel nuts were seized on, when I was smearing the moly-grease onto the studs I got a big shard of metal stuck in my finger - Ouch! As far as I can tell it was a bit of disintegrated thread that must have became separated under all that squealing and groaning while I was brutalizing it with the wheel brace.

    Maybe lubing the studs will interfere a little bit with the torque settings but I think it's still a lot better than the way it was before. :)
     
  14. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    It's a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. If you don't protect the threads in a corrosive environment, then they get rusty and next time you torque them you get less clamping force for the same amount of torque. Wire brushing the threads helps but doesn't get you back to proper tension because the metal surface is still rough so clamping force will be less than with like new fasteners. You could end up with not much more than 1/2 the design clamping force with rusted but wire brushed fasteners. The studs are also weakened.

    If you lube the threads or use anti-seize, and use the standard torque, then you will over tension the bolts and get excess clamping force. But, the good news is that it you take care of the threads like that you will still get the same clamping force each time you re-use them for dozens of times. You can stay closer to the design clamping force by only using 90% or so of factory torque and you will still be over tensioning but not by as much.

    Dry and lubed both have their problems but the big advantage lubed has is constancy and longer life of the fasteners.

    If you used anti-seize (or grease) you will also be able to change you tire alongside the road with the tools in the car instead of needing a big breaker bar or impact wrench.

    Do get a small container of anti-seize if you are going to assemble threaded fasteners wet. It lasts longer, protects better and was intended for that purpose. You don't want to use some super slippery synthetic or moly grease when what you need is protection and constancy.

    Also, after you drive about 100 miles, reapply lug nut torque and see if the nuts move. If they move, you just did a good thing. If they don't move you have a good solid joint and don't need to recheck them next time.
     
  15. greasy

    greasy Junior Member

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    Came across this thread while rotating my tires, and thought I'd add another two cents. One of the tire chains proudly state in their literature that they don't lubricate lug nuts, because they don't want them to come loose. Which is true: they will, given time. But… only on one side of the car! Due to laws of physics that I can't explain, lug nuts on one side of the car tend to loosen, while on the other side of the car they tend to tighten. Back in the 1960s, Dodge actually put left-hand threads on one side of the car so that the lug nuts wouldn't work loose. No, I can't remember which side it was – maybe someone can chime in. But lubing the lug nuts would certainly facilitate the process – nuts on one side of the car slowly loosening, those on the other actually getting tighter.

    So as xs650 says, it's kind of a damned if you do or don't situation. For people in this forum who of course cherish their cars and rotate the tires every 5K, it's probably not a problem to lube (anti-seize) the nuts, since they won't have time to work seriously lose. For someone who buys a set of tires and never rotates them, the tire chain’s policy is probably prudent.

    And the left-hand thread idea? A bad one: people were constantly breaking the lug nuts off trying to loosen them, because they were actually tightening them… :oops:
     
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  16. 05PreeUs

    05PreeUs Senior Member

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    Normally that is because the threads (stud and/or nut) are damaged (galled, rolled etc) from some undereducated grease gorilla who used an impact on something that one should not.

    A lug nut that cannot be hand threaded onto the stud has a serious problem and will not safely secure the wheel to the hub; further investigation is needed, but most likely all the affected studs and nuts will need to be replaced.
     
  17. uart

    uart Senior Member

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    Probably the latter, as there have been no problems at all with these studs or lug nuts since I applied the antiseize compound over six years ago (and they all thread on easily just "finger tight"). I do rotate my own tyres and use a torque wrench to get the right torque (76 ft-lbs). I know that it probably sounds a bit "anal", but I also back off the lug nuts and then re-tension them with a torque wrench first thing when I get home after buying new tyres.

    I guess a lot of people must over-tighten stuff. You know I don't think I've ever bought a secondhand car that didn't cause me major dramas the first time that I've had to remove the wheels, and often ditto for the sump plug. After they have been removed and re-installed by me however, never a problem. :)

    BTW. This thread was nearly 7 years old, but hey, it never hurts to give an update on an old issue. :)
     
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  18. 05PreeUs

    05PreeUs Senior Member

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    Anti-size should NEVER EVER be used on wheel nuts/studs! I have never read where an OEM has ever suggested or authorized it, mostly because most of these compounds contain metallic particles (typically copper) that can ball up and damage the thread surfaces and CAUSE the joint to loosen.

    The correct procedure is to place ONE DROP of "lubricating oil" (typically engine oil, but there are many good options) on the end 1-2 threads of the stud. Oil MUST NOT get onto the face of the lug-nut or rim chamfer, to avoid the danger of clamping loss.
     
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  19. 2009Prius

    2009Prius A Wimpy DIYer

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    I have gotten lazy and rotate tires only once a year in the last few years. I still don't put any lubrication on the studs/nuts, and the threads look nice and clean every time I take the wheels off. We get our fair share of New England winter salt but it's never an issue to loosen the nuts or to take the wheels off. I did smear a tiny bit of grease on the mounting surfaces of the wheels in the past - this year I skipped that too and I don't expect any problems either.
     
  20. 05PreeUs

    05PreeUs Senior Member

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    That's not being lazy, it is the right way, unless you *really* want to ensure no galled threads, then a drop of oil is fine, but not necessarily recommended.
     
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