photo: Haykirdi/iStock

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

By AMA Staff

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 with a torque wrench.

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?
Any time you’ve had a tire change—whether it was done at a repair facility or at the roadside—you should get the lug nuts checked within about 100 kilometres of driving, to ensure they’re not too tight or too loose. This also applies after you’ve had your full set of tires changed for winter or in spring.

How to steer out of a skid

Specifically, if you’ve used AMA’s by-appointment mobile tire swap service (available to members in Calgary, Edmonton, Sherwood Park or St. Albert), the technician who changes your tires will leave you with instructions reminding you to get your lug nuts re-torqued when you’re nearing 100-kilometre mark.

Once businesses in Alberta are allowed to reopen, you could also visit an AARS service centre—or your preferred mechanic—to have your lug nuts tightened.

Why so soon after the installation?
If a lug nut were to become loose, it’d be evident to an automotive technician after about 50 to 100 kilometres. But if you were to wait longer than that, a loose lug nut could become looser.

And what are the potential hazards of not having my lug nuts checked?
If the lug nuts were too loosen further, eventually your wheel could fall off, which would obviously be very dangerous while driving. 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

What’s the best way to remind myself to get a re-torque?
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 mechanics usually provide for free, so why not take advantage of it?

Convenient switch: AMA’s new mobile tire swap service is a hassle-free (and currently contactless) way to have your tires changed. Simply make an appointment online and a technician will change your tires at a location of your choosing.

Good garages: 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.