Master Wheel Lug Nut Torque Specifications

Every automotive technician job entails something slightly different, but there are some things all mechanics must know how to do. One of these services is installing lug nuts by using the right amount of torque (measured in foot-pounds). To do this, you’ll need a torque stick, impact wrench and torque wrench, and an understanding of what this important process involves.

The importance of using just the right amount of torque

Lug nuts hold the wheels of a vehicle to its axle and are thus extremely important for keeping a driver safe. Amateur mechanics sometimes make the mistake of thinking it’s best to apply as much torque as possible when installing them. The reasoning is that making lug nuts this tight should also guarantee the wheel stays in place. In reality, applying too much torque to a bolt will actually physically stretch it. By doing so, the bolt is now prone to crack, shear, loosen or even completely break off, so it’s the furthest thing from being safe. On the other end of the spectrum, a lug nut that isn’t given enough torque will not be able to stay in place once the vehicle begins moving as the force involved will quickly push it off the bolt.

Torque specifications are different for each vehicle

Every vehicle needs a different amount of torque during the installation of its wheels. The specifications should be listed in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Industry reference guides have them too or you can simply look them up by going through ProDemand.

Installing lug nuts

Once you understand how much torque to use, you can install a lug nut. To do this, you’ll need the following tools:

  • Torque stick
  • Impact wrench
  • Torque wrench

First, you’ll need the lug nut that the user manual requires for this specific vehicle.

Then, you’ll need a torque stick that fits it. Put the lug nut into place around the bolt and position the torque stick over its head.

Next, on the other end of the torque stick, use the impact wrench to turn the lug nut into position.

Finally, set your torque wrench to the amount specified in the manual and check your work to make sure the installation was successful.

Installing lug nuts in the right sequence

It’s essential that you know how to follow the correct sequence during installation. Installing in a clockwise manner is another mistake amateurs often make. It’s not the way any auto mechanic schools would teach.

Instead, you’ll actually follow a crisscross sequence. If you have a wheel with five bolts, imagine each has a number starting with one at the top and ending with five directly to its left. In that case, you would tighten in this sequence:

  • One
  • Four
  • Two
  • Five
  • Three

If you have six bolts with “one” positioned at the top right and “six” positioned at the top left, the sequence would look like this:

  • One
  • Four
  • Six
  • Three
  • Five
  • Two

Installing lug nuts this way is the only safe method. Taking a clockwise approach will make the wheel sit unevenly on the axle which is dangerous and could result in a serious accident.

As you can see, installing lug nuts isn’t an overly technical procedure. All it takes is the right tools and following one of the above sequences, but it must be done correctly or your customers’ lives will be in danger.

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Richard

21 years of experience
461 reviews
Richard
21 years of experience
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.
Lexus ES300 - 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.

Joe

15 years of experience
439 reviews
Joe
15 years of experience
Honda Accord - Car is not starting - Nashville, Tennessee
He is great
Ford Windstar - Car is not starting - Antioch, Tennessee
Excellent & Efficient Mechanic! Joe was quick to figure that there was a problem with the fuel pressure. The fuel pump was replaced two weeks ago, so that was ruled out. He discovered a probable short in the wiring to the pump. The van will need to be on a lift to find it. Joe also suggested first having the fuel line pressurized and cleared and that strange non factory wiring that might be the cause of the short to be checked. That was very thorough work. He did a great job of getting the van ready for a garage with a lift to diagnose. I am confident that his expertise will save me more headache and unnecessary spending of money. I now know what to ask for and expect from a garage, Thanks Joe!

Keith

18 years of experience
335 reviews
Keith
18 years of experience
Honda Odyssey - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - Orlando, Florida
Far and beyond.

Cesar

9 years of experience
292 reviews
Cesar
9 years of experience
Kia Sedona - Tighten Wheel Lug Nuts - Edmonds, Washington
Is there a rating higher than five stars? I figured out what the other auto place they went to couldn’t and save me some money on a wheel repair as well as time to fix it. He also identified a broken tie rod that they haven’t. Could’ve been very dangerous.

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