photo: Haykirdi/iStock

Lug Nuts: Why it’s Important to Get Them Checked

By Craig Moy

Of all the mechanical fixes that can be performed on an automobile, changing a tire (or tires) is among the most straightforward. It’s more or less a matter of unscrewing the lug nuts, replacing the wheel, and then securing it by tightening the nuts again.

But there’s a final step to that job that can be easy to neglect: Getting your lug nuts checked—and, if necessary, re-torqued—after a few days of driving. Brandon Klassen, a supervisor with AMA automotive services, explains why it’s important.

Why should I get my lug nuts checked?
If you’ve had a tire change, you should get the lug nuts checked within about 100 kilometres of driving, to ensure they’re not too tight or too loose.

How to steer out of a skid

Specifically, you should visit an AARS service centre—or your preferred mechanic—any time you’ve had a tire change, whether it was done at a repair facility or at the roadside. This also applies after you’ve had your full set of tires changed for winter or in spring.

Why so soon after the installation?
If there was a problem, 50 to 100 kilometres is about when it would become evident.

And what could that problem be?
If the lug nuts are a bit loose, then they could loosen further as you drive. Eventually your wheel could fall off, which is obviously a bad thing. If your lug nuts are too tight, they can strip the threads of the lug stud—what the lug nut is fastened to—and damage the wheel. In extreme cases, the stud could shear right off, which puts you in danger of losing a wheel.

Steering clear of potholes

Why was I not aware of this?
Whenever AMA roadside assistance operators change a tire, they give you a tag reminding you to get a re-torque. At a service centre, if they haven’t told you directly, take a look at your invoice. There’s probably a note about returning for a follow-up appointment.

At the end of the day, it’s a safety thing. More than 99 percent of the time, your lug nuts will be fine. But re-torqueing is a service mechanic usually provide for free, so why not take advantage of it?

Whenever your vehicle needs work, take it to an Approved Auto Repair Services facility in Alberta for top-notch service. AMA members get a one-year, 20,000-km, Canada-wide warranty on most parts and services.