How to Get a Stripped Lug Nut Off a Tire

How to Get a Stripped Lug Nut Off a Tire

If you’ve recently gone to change your tires, you may have found that one or more of the lug nuts has become stripped, and you can no longer grasp it enough to remove the tire. 

Luckily, you can still remove the lug nut, meaning you don’t have to take your car to a mechanic. So how do you get a stripped lug nut off a tire? What tools do you need? We address all these issues in this guide on how to get a stripped lug nut off a tire.

The Short Answer

You can use a socket, impact wrench, or drill to create grip and separate the fasteners from the tire.

What Strips Lug Nuts?

For mechanics to remove your tire, they need to remove the fasteners. When using a wrench, the wrong size socket or tightening a fastener too far can round off the edges, leading to a stripped lug nut.

Types of Tools to Separate a Rounded Lug Nut

There are still various tools that you can use to get a rounded fastener removed from a tire. Make sure to remove any rust beforehand to help the process go faster. Here are three ways on how to get a stripped lug nut off a tire:

1. Breaker Bar, Socket, Hammer, and Pipe

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Because the stripped lug nut has become rounded, it is smaller than its original size. If you use a smaller socket, it can give the proper grip you need. You may need to grab a hammer to tap on the fastener until it fits. 

With everything lined up, you can connect a breaker bar to remove the fastener. You can attach a pipe at the end to provide extra leverage. 

Which way do you turn a lug nut off a tire? Turn the breaker bar counter-clockwise. Remember righty tighty, lefty loosey. If the fastener is not budging, stop this technique to prevent any further damage.

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2. Powerful Impact Wrench

A powerful impact wrench tightens and loosens various nuts and bolts. It uses linear force, or torque, with short jolting blows to bust out any rusty lug nut. 

You have the option of using an air or electric impact wrench. If its force is still not strong enough, you may need a drill.

3. Drill

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As you work out how to get a stripped lug nut off a tire, you may have to experiment with different tools. A drill is a last-resort solution.

Start with small drill bits and slowly work your way up. Aim to drill for the center of the lug nut. Drilling can take a while to complete. As a safety tip, it is best to keep a cup of oil nearby to cool down the drill and prevent it from overheating.

As you continue drilling, keep checking that you are in the center of the nut. You can keep a parts cleaner nearby to remove any chips that may be breaking into the hole. 

After some time drilling, the wheel should slip right out. If the fastener remains jammed to the tire, you can use channel lock pliers to remove it.

How to Prevent a Stripped Lug Nut

Rather than worry about how to get a stripped lug nut off a tire, you can prevent this scenario with some simple proactive measures:

Talk with Your Mechanic

Technicians at a dealership or mechanic often use powerful impact wrenches to remove tires. Unfortunately, these tools also can accidentally over-tighten the fasteners and create stripped lug nuts. Talk with the mechanic beforehand, so they know the right kind of pressure to apply.

Keep Fasteners Clean

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Dirt, water, and rust make it harder for a lug nut to detach from a tire. If the lug nuts are too out of shape to reuse, it may be time to buy new ones.

Don’t Cheap Out

Poorly made lug nuts are also more susceptible to becoming stripped. When buying fasteners for your tires, make sure to buy ones of high quality.

Conduct Routine Maintenance

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Tire maintenance is an integral part of upholding the longevity of your car. Having your tires checked for correct air pressure, alignment, tire rotation, or getting brand-new tires are beneficial. All these routine maintenance checks can help you keep on top of the condition of your tires so that you can catch things like stripped nuts before they become a serious headache. Our guides How To Tell If Your Tires Need Replacing and How Often Do You Need To Change Tires might help you avoid this headache.

Bottom Line

When it comes to how to get a stripped lug nut off a tire, it is possible. However, it will take more work and various tools other than a standard wrench to pry them off. 

It could be dangerous to drive with damaged lug nuts. For your safety, it is vital to fix stripped lug nuts so that your tires are safe to use on the road. Talk with your mechanic, clean the nuts, buy high-quality lug nuts, and keep up with routine maintenance to help prevent this problem in the future.

Here is our guide about getting a stripped lug nut off a tire but if you still feel unsure, don’t hesitate to check out How Much Does It Cost To Change Tires.

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