Is it Safe to Drive With a Missing Lug Nut?

A lug nut is also called a wheel nut, and is used to hold the wheel securely onto the vehicle. Depending on the type of vehicle you have, you may have four, five, or six lug nuts. Some vehicles are equipped with loose wheel nut indicators, so you can catch the lug nut before it falls off. Other vehicles do not have this sensor so it is a good idea to inspect lug nuts on a regular basis to check for loose ones. If you notice a loose lug nut, you should make sure to have the lug nut tightened as soon as possible.

If it is too late, and a lug nut is already missing, here are some things to know about the dangers of driving with a missing lug nut:

  • Lug nuts are designed to hold a certain amount of pressure, which is why larger vehicles have more lug nuts. After you lose one lug nut, that pressure has to be distributed to the other lug nuts. Over time, this can wear down the other lug nuts on the wheel.

  • If you are missing a lug nut on just one wheel, there will be uneven pressure on the wheel hub. This can have an effect on the wheel bearings. The wheel bearings will have to hold more pressure than the others sides, which can cause them to wear prematurely. Repairing wheel bearings is more extensive than replacing a lug nut, so if you notice one missing, replace the missing lug nut as soon as possible.

  • One of the dangers of a missing lug nut is that it can cause the vehicle to wobble. Since the pressure of the vehicle is unevenly distributed, the vehicle will shake. Pressure will also be placed on the vehicle as it turns corners, brakes, or accelerates to high speeds. All of these combined can cause other lug nuts to come off, or the studs to snap. The studs are what the lug nuts attach too, and hold the wheel on. So if the stud snaps, the wheel could fall off. Normally the studs have fractures before they snap, but once the fractures get too large they will snap. This can be dangerous to you and the vehicles around you.

If you are missing a lug nut, it is important to have it replaced as soon as possible. It is potentially dangerous to drive around with a missing lug nut because of the extra pressure exerted on the wheel. This pressure can damage the wheel bearings, studs, and cause other lug nuts to fall off. These problems can lead to a wheel falling off.


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Richard

21 years of experience
461 reviews
Richard
21 years of experience
Lexus ES300 V6-3.0L - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - Marietta, Georgia
According to Richard, the problem has been rectified, however, the replacement lug nut is the incorrect style. He will return to replace it with the correct one when it has been ordered and scheduled.
Dodge Neon - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - Marietta, Georgia
Richard is very kool. On time cordial. Does a great Job. great advice too, for all your repairs I truthfully recommend his services. Great Mechanic.

Scott

36 years of experience
898 reviews
Scott
36 years of experience
BMW 328d L4-2.0L Turbo Diesel - Battery - Paradise Valley, Arizona
Great customer experience!
Ford Expedition - Fuel Filter - Phoenix, Arizona
Scott was perfectly on time, and very friendly and knowledgeable. He answered some questions and gave me sound advice. He finished with the work in a timely manner and I am very happy with the results. Thank you Scott!

David

10 years of experience
193 reviews
David
10 years of experience
Acura RDX L4-2.3L Turbo - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - Clementon, New Jersey
Very patient and knowledgeable. Thank you .

Daniel

21 years of experience
346 reviews
Daniel
21 years of experience
Hyundai Sonata L4-2.4L - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - La Porte, Texas
Very Friendly, Did A Great Job And Was Quick To Finish The Brake Job On Time I Will Use Daniel For Future Auto Repairs

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