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Stuck Wheel Lugs and Other Stuff


I worked my way thru college pumping fuel and changing/fixing tires at a truck stop. Thought I'd pass on a few things I've learned. Many will be aware of these things but some folks may not.

1. Stuck lug nuts:
Tire shops tend to torque lug nuts tight. When it comes time to change a tire on the road there are two compounding factors which are (a) poorly designed factory lug wrenches and (b) alloy wheels.
The solution to (a) is carry a "4-way" lug wrench for the additional leverage. Item (b) is problematic because a steel lug nut torqued into an alloy wheel tends to gall the lug nut seat which makes the torque required to break it loose even higher. There may be some dissimilar metals galvanic corrosion as well.
The primary fix for both (a) and (b) is after a visit to the tire shop break all the lug nuts loose at home and tighten them to your standard with your lug wrench. Better to find out at home the nuts have become a permanent part of the wheel than when you are 50 miles from nowhere.
As to alloy wheels and galling, apply a thin coating of anti-sieze compound to the lug nut seats on the wheel to reduce galling.
Somewhat controversial is whether or not to lubricate wheel studs. SAE bolt torque specs are for clean and dry threads. Oiling threads then torquing to spec can result in the bolt or wheel stud taking too much torque and breaking. Just bear this in mind if you oil wheel studs.

2. Valve cores and slow leaks:
Most of us install new valve stems when we replace tires which is good. One major source of leaks is the valve core with the root cause being running without a valve cap installed. Reason being without a cap, dirt enters the end of the stem. Put an air chuck on it and this pushes the dirt down into the valve itself. If particles lodge in the valve stem seat, it will leak. I use aftermarket metal caps which have a gasket. These act as a fail safe if the valve is leaking.