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Swollen Lug Nuts is a thing?!?!

Chef455

Now with chrome-free nuts!
Contributor
At 51 years of age I have been behind the wheel for over 35 years. Needless to say I've had a few flat tires in that time. It has never been a big deal, certainly a nuisance. I can change a tire. No one is going to put me on a pit crew, but I manage. Until the other day...

Out to lunch with my lovely bride and after we came out lo and behold right rear is flat. No problem, dear. Stand back, let me roll up my sleeves and I'll have us back on the road in no time. Ha! I have a 4 way wrench in the car. My Ford takes a 19 mm, or at least it did last time I had to change a tire. But no. Wrench won't fit over lug nut. Odd.

Long story short, I tried and failed. I was bewildered and beside myself. A simple task suddenly not simple. Took an Uber home, grabbed the sockets and wrench. Returned to no avail. Tail between my legs I called roadside assistance. Really nice guy. Had to hammer 🔨 sockets on but got me switched up. Drove to the tire store.

Turns out that Ford in their infinite wisdom have a chrome or cover on the steel of many of the nuts which can swell. My vehicle is only a few years old. Needless to say there are now new nuts all the way around that are single piece solid steel.

So if you have a few minutes you might want to do a quick look up to see if your vehicle could be subject to swollen nuts. It is not an issue limited to Ford.
 

shavefan

I’m not a fan
Yep, it's pretty common on those two piece lug nuts. There are oversized lug sockets made for just this scenario, 19.5mm for example. You did the right thing getting solid lug nuts.

Oversize Lug Socket
 
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Those things are a pain. Those chrome covers can get rusty and crumble off too. Then your included lug wrench will just round off the lug nuts making everything worse.
 
Very common on Ford trucks. Not only can they swell, but they easily get deformed or rounded from an impact wrench. I have a fairly new Ford truck with them. I rotate my own tires and only use hand tools. New solid lug nuts are on my things to list, though. They are expensive for a Super Duty.

I have a camper that came from the factory with those two piece lug nuts. Over time they swelled or ended up otherwise damaged. It took me a couple of hours to get all 24 off. Fortunately, a full set of 24 one piece chrome lug nuts was only about 15 bucks.
 

Chef455

Now with chrome-free nuts!
Contributor
Yep, it's pretty common on those two piece lug nuts. There are oversized lug sockets made for just this scenario, 19.5mm for example. You did the right thing getting solid lug nuts.

Oversize Lug Socket
I did go to the auto parts store and buy a 19.5 flip socket. Couldn't swing it with that either. That's when I surrendered.
 

shavefan

I’m not a fan
I did go to the auto parts store and buy a 19.5 flip socket. Couldn't swing it with that either. That's when I surrendered.
Yeah, in use they work maybe 50% of the time. In a tire shop that sees lots and lots of wheels they have more utility than for a home gamer. You definitely did the right thing replacing the lugs.
 
I did not know about this, my older vehicle does not use those sort of lug nuts.

What was the motivation for this? Was it simply for looks?
 
After those lug nuts have swollen and it is getting real hard to pound a socket on them, I loosened them on the vehicle and then opened the chrome cover up with a cold chisel and pealed the chrome off the nut. Then I remove the nuts and spay them with silver rust resistant paint of your choice. Then go through the rest of the vehicles life using a 1mm smaller socket (21 = 20, 19 = 18) to remove and install the nuts. Sounds tedious but you get pretty good at it and it does not take long.
 
Those nut covers were all the rage here in UK a few years back but ain't seen them on a new vehicle in ages. All wheel nuts seem to be chrome coloured these days. Certainly my Kia and the wife's Hyundai plus both our previous cars over the years, that's Mazda, keep, Skoda, dodge, Citroen. That is apart from a few Vauxhall's we had, mind they were GM owned back them.
 
I replaced them so many times on Fords over the years that it was just a habit. Now I have a Toyota and I keep gettin' nervous because I've been driving it 10 years and still have the original lug nuts.

O.H.
 
Very common on Ford trucks. Not only can they swell, but they easily get deformed or rounded from an impact wrench. I have a fairly new Ford truck with them. I rotate my own tires and only use hand tools. New solid lug nuts are on my things to list, though. They are expensive for a Super Duty.

I have a camper that came from the factory with those two piece lug nuts. Over time they swelled or ended up otherwise damaged. It took me a couple of hours to get all 24 off. Fortunately, a full set of 24 one piece chrome lug nuts was only about 15 bucks.
They don't really swell, it's due to someone using an improper socket to remove lugnuts. I have a set of lugnut sockets to deal with the capped lugnuts. Usually the problem starts when someone puts a standard socket on a metric lugnut. The Ford lugnuts are metric.

Clayton

Sent from my SM-A705U using Tapatalk
 

shavefan

I’m not a fan
They don't really swell, it's due to someone using an improper socket to remove lugnuts. I have a set of lugnut sockets to deal with the capped lugnuts. Usually the problem starts when someone puts a standard socket on a metric lugnut. The Ford lugnuts are metric.

Clayton
There was a class action lawsuit that claimed the Ford nuts delaminated and/or rusted under the cap causing swelling to the point that the factory lug wrench would not fit when needed leaving people stranded.
Water can get between the decorative cap and its nut leading to rust and/or freeze swelling. Happens often. It's a PIA, more-so when on a shoulder in traffic.
 
Water can get between the decorative cap and its nut leading to rust and/or freeze swelling. Happens often. It's a PIA, more-so when on a shoulder in traffic.
That's good to know. I usually saw lugnut damage from sockets and air impact Wrenches. The chrome caps would get beat up and slide off. Saw it on F-150's and Explorers alot.

Clayton

Sent from my SM-A705U using Tapatalk
 
There was a class action lawsuit that claimed the Ford nuts delaminated and/or rusted under the cap causing swelling to the point that the factory lug wrench would not fit when needed leaving people stranded.
I went on a few of those road service calls back in the nineties, and early 2000's.

Clayton

Sent from my SM-A705U using Tapatalk
 
That's good to know. I usually saw lugnut damage from sockets and air impact Wrenches. The chrome caps would get beat up and slide off. Saw it on F-150's and Explorers alot.

Clayton

Sent from my SM-A705U using Tapatalk
I don’t know what standard procedure is in the average tyre shop in the US but the trick is to use the correct size socket and then, rather than air gun them to death do them to a point and hand tighten with a torque wrench to the correct number.

For the life of me I can’t understand why people feel the need to almost friction weld the lugs to the wheel!
 
One of my trucks calls for 165 ft lbs. I do them by hand using the proper socket and a torque wrench. I have only rotated the tires 3 times. Even with care, I can see the wear on the edges of the two piece lug nuts.
 
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