How to Remove Stubborn Lug Nuts

Written by marshall moore
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How to Remove Stubborn Lug Nuts
(Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)

No motorist wants to be stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, much less stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire that won't come off. The lug nuts that hold tires in place are designed to be fastened tightly, ensuring they don't loosen during operation. Occasionally, they work too well and can be difficult to loosen when changing a tire. Loosening stubborn lug nuts can be a difficult and tedious task, but knowing how to do so can prove invaluable in the midst of a stressful moment.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Lug nut wrench
  • Spray lubricant

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  1. 1

    Fit the lug nut wrench securely around the lug nut. Most cars come with wrenches specifically fitted to the lug nuts that come attached to the car. If using a different wrench or dealing with different lug nuts, ensure the wrench fits snuggly around the flat edges of the nut and does not slip when turned. If this is the case, find a more appropriate wrench.

    How to Remove Stubborn Lug Nuts
    (Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)
  2. 2

    Turn the wrench counterclockwise to loosen the lug nuts. Turning the wrench clockwise will tighten the nut instead of loosening it. Remember the ubiquitous and useful saying: "Righty tighty, lefty loosey."

  3. 3

    Lower the car to the ground if it has already been raised with a jack. If the car is in the air while trying to loosen the lug nuts, the wheel can shift and turn as the wrench is used -- even if the emergency brake is applied. The ground will hold the wheel steady and in place, making it much easier to loosen the nuts.

  4. 4

    Apply a liberal amount of spray lubricant to the stubborn lug nut, and allow it to soak for five to ten minutes. As a general rule, keep a can of spray lubricant in the boot for emergencies. It has plenty of uses in a variety of situations.

  5. 5

    Situate the lug nut wrench so that one of its arms nearly perpendicular to the tire and to the left. Stand on the arm of the wrench as steadily as possible, applying your full body weight and forcing the wrench to turn the lug nut to the left. If needed, bounce slightly to provide more force.

  6. 6

    Call for help -- if a phone is available -- if the lug nut does not break and become easier to turn. Forcing the issue may strip the nut and make things much more difficult, if not impossible.

Tips and warnings

  • In extreme cases, a stubborn lug nut may need to be removed by a professional. In this case, you should have a cell phone as being stranded on the side of the road with no means of contact is hardly an ideal situation.
  • Be extremely careful if attempting to put your weight on the arm of the wrench. When the nut breaks loose, the arm of the wrench will dump you onto the ground. Always brace against the car and use caution not to fall once the stubborn lug nut begins to turn.
  • Do not completely remove any lug nut while the tire is on the ground. Instead, loosen them so they can be easily turned using the fingers after jacking the car back up. Leaving the lug nuts in place ensures the wheel will not fall off while the car is being jacked up.

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