Going Nuts!

Many years ago, automotive engineers discovered it was very desirable to have all the wheels securely attached to the vehicle. The clever use of threaded fasteners for this task is effective, but does demand careful attention to detail.

To start with, all threads should be clean, whether internal or external. Brake dust, road grime and moisture  team up to make a nasty environment for these critical fasteners. Use a wire brush or wheel on studs and bolts. Use degreaser or brake cleaner and a pipe brush for nuts or female threads.

Next, inspect all the threads using a flashlight. Look for crossed threads and missing or stripped threads. Lightly damaged threads can sometimes be saved by chasing them.  Good practice is to replace any parts that are questionable.

Make sure that all threaded connections are a good fit, not loose or sloppy. Each nut or bolt should run all the way down smoothly and easily by hand or speeder bar. If it takes more than very light pressure, then something is wrong. Clean it again and recheck it.

Finally, use a speeder bar to snug all wheel fasteners, then torque to specification in the proper order with a calibrated torque wrench. Torque specs are for clean and dry fasteners only, not gummed up and damaged ones. Avoid air impact tools wherever possible. It's quite easy to damage 50+ year old parts using excessive torque.

It does take longer to do a thorough job, but taking the time to do everything properly will ensure that the vehicle is safe to drive and you go to sleep with the peaceful feeling of not having to worry about it.

The left lug bolt is clean and good to go, the one on the right is junk, and you don't want to know what car it was in...