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How do I remove impossibly stuck lug nut?


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14 replies to this topic

#1 VillageIdiot

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Posted February 3, 2011 at 09:00 pm

The last time I drove my 93 Spirit (over a month ago) was in a snowstorm and I was going through some fairly deep snow. The next morning when I go out to move the car, the left rear wheel is jammed up solid. I'm pretty sure it isn't the parking brake (I never use it anyway). I need to get the wheel off to check for the problem but there's one lug nut that just will not come off for the life of me! I've already tried hammering a slightly smaller socket onto the nut and using a heavy torque bar for extra leverage, but the socket just slips right off the nut the second I put any twist into it. How do I get it off now? I was thinking I could either heat it with some MAPP gas until it gets red hot, then tossing some cold water on it to shock it loose, or maybe chiseling it off with my brother's air chisel.

#2 dana44

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Posted February 3, 2011 at 10:34 pm

A six point socket of the proper size for starters. If the nut is rounded off, it is going to take something a little more specail to get it off. Heating and shocking isn't the answer, it could damage the stud, but heating and then turning the nut off would be better, after she is heated, use a candle to get some good lubrication into the threads, use a pipe wrench to take it off if the head is stripped and a socket won't stay on. If you don't like this idea, weld a larger nut on the outside, not inside, of the nut and use a bigger socket, or third, chisel it off and plan on replacing the stud and the lug nut at the same time (plan ahead, the threads will most likely get damaged).

#3 Bob Lincoln

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Posted February 4, 2011 at 08:46 am

Or use a Dremel tool with heavy-duty cutoff disk and carefully slice the nut off without damaging the lug, and get a new nut.

#4 ImperialCrown

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Posted February 4, 2011 at 01:51 pm

There are special sockets that tighten their grip as you turn them counter-clockwise. Craftsman might sell them.

#5 valiant67

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Posted February 4, 2011 at 02:05 pm

Last time I had a problem, I had to drill the lug nut off due to the style of wheel it was on (an aluminum wheel with a deep recess for the lug). I started with a small bit and worked up to one about the same diameter as the lug stud. Of course, this mean replacing the lug stud but that often is pretty easy. I considered drilling opposing spots on the nut only but I was more worried about harming the cosmetics of the wheel that way.

#6 billccm

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Posted February 4, 2011 at 02:23 pm

I've had to bite the bullet in the past and use a cold chisel to crack the nut off, and usually damage the stud to boot. My buddy who works at a Firestone Tire shop beats a smaller socket onto the lug with a sleg hammer and brute forces the lug off, or breaks the stud. I have heard some good about the 'grabber' sockets thay have out now.

Perhaps this is just a coincedence, but my LeBaron is in the shop right now for one rear wheel grabbing/squeeling/locking up on occasion. The shop called and said thay had never seen this, but the drum has a 'radial crack' in it's braking surface, and has worn a 'weird groove' into the brake shoes, causing all kinds of damage/wear/noise/etc.

We don't have snow here, but this symptom seemed to happen the day it turned 18 degrees.

They at first wanted to blame 'who ever turned the drums last time did the damage', but those are ORIGNAL Mother Mopar drums and shoes. They were off 4 years ago for wheel cyclinder and bearing service, but otherwise are 21 year old factory untouched.

Sad story is they can only find Duralast replacement drums in the entire town today; I bet these are China sourced cheapos that will not last 21 years like the MOPAR OEMs.

Have a nice day, Bill

#7 SGspirit

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Posted February 4, 2011 at 02:44 pm

What about getting someone to use an impact wrench on it?

#8 VillageIdiot

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Posted February 13, 2011 at 01:03 pm

The lug nut has been removed. It took about 2 hours of drilling, hand chiseling and hammering to get it off. The stud of course is ruined and unfortunately I think my alloy rim is ruined too. Once the wheel was off, we saw what caused the wheel to jam up, the brake shoe friction material had separated from the metal backing! How does that happen? Anyway, 62 bucks for new brake shoes and the hardware kit and 8 bucks for a cheap pair of needlenose pliers and it was all reassembled.

#9 dana44

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Posted February 13, 2011 at 03:58 pm

Heat, moisture, condensation, rust. It doesn't happen very often, but it can and evidently did.

#10 Doug D

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Posted February 13, 2011 at 04:36 pm

The lug nut has been removed. It took about 2 hours of drilling, hand chiseling and hammering to get it off. The stud of course is ruined and unfortunately I think my alloy rim is ruined too. Once the wheel was off, we saw what caused the wheel to jam up, the brake shoe friction material had separated from the metal backing! How does that happen? Anyway, 62 bucks for new brake shoes and the hardware kit and 8 bucks for a cheap pair of needlenose pliers and it was all reassembled.


Short answer - poor quality brake parts. Had it happen with NAPA parts (rear brake pads) installed on our old '93 Aerostar. Had a weird noise coming from the rear brakes. Took it back to the shop that did the work. When he pulled off the left rear drum, he found the pad material completely gone from the shoe bracket (had only been in there 10K miles). The right rear had the pad material seperate from the shoe bracket - it fell to the floor when he pulled the drum off. He had installed NAPA brake parts in the initial service. He installed new parts (not NAPA) at no charge - warranty coverage.

#11 SGspirit

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Posted February 13, 2011 at 07:42 pm

Given that the difference in cost between quality and cheapo brake parts (for a car like the Spirit) is not that big a proportion of the cost of a brake job, then it may make sense not to use the cheap stuff. I'm certainly glad I got premium pads and discs for our Spirit.

#12 Bob Lincoln

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Posted February 13, 2011 at 08:32 pm

The lug nut has been removed. It took about 2 hours of drilling, hand chiseling and hammering to get it off. The stud of course is ruined and unfortunately I think my alloy rim is ruined too. Once the wheel was off, we saw what caused the wheel to jam up, the brake shoe friction material had separated from the metal backing! How does that happen? Anyway, 62 bucks for new brake shoes and the hardware kit and 8 bucks for a cheap pair of needlenose pliers and it was all reassembled.

It's unfortunate that you did not take my advice on the Dremel tool with cutoff disc. By slowly cutting on both sides of the nut 180 degrees apart, almost to the depth of the lug, then chiseling it carefully, you could have split the nut off the lug with no damage to the lug. I did this with a seized rear wheel bearing, with no damage to the spindle.

#13 VillageIdiot

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Posted February 13, 2011 at 09:59 pm

It's unfortunate that you did not take my advice on the Dremel tool with cutoff disc. By slowly cutting on both sides of the nut 180 degrees apart, almost to the depth of the lug, then chiseling it carefully, you could have split the nut off the lug with no damage to the lug. I did this with a seized rear wheel bearing, with no damage to the spindle.


But I did! Those little flimsy dremel cutting discs lasted about 2 minutes on average before they broke and flew apart. I think I used 6 of them and still didn't get the nut cut off completely. Even my dad said it was one of the most difficult nuts to cut off he's probably ever seen.

#14 Bob ONeill

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Posted February 13, 2011 at 10:44 pm

But I did! Those little flimsy dremel cutting discs lasted about 2 minutes on average before they broke and flew apart. I think I used 6 of them and still didn't get the nut cut off completely. Even my dad said it was one of the most difficult nuts to cut off he's probably ever seen.


No you didn't. You needed to use the heavy duty cut off disks. They are twice as thick or more and are reinforced.

#15 Bob Lincoln

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Posted February 14, 2011 at 08:57 am

But I did! Those little flimsy dremel cutting discs lasted about 2 minutes on average before they broke and flew apart. I think I used 6 of them and still didn't get the nut cut off completely. Even my dad said it was one of the most difficult nuts to cut off he's probably ever seen.

What Bob said. There are the thin discs (#409, .025" thick), and there are the heavy-duty cutoff discs (#420, .040" thick, and the #540, .063" thick). Either of the first two will break if you *flex* the disc sideways. You must put pressure only in the plane of the disc, not at any other angle.


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