Types of Wheel Nuts

Written by john walker
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Types of Wheel Nuts
Your basic lug nut is an open-ended tapered variation. (nut image by Jesse-lee Lang from Fotolia.com)

Wheel nuts, or lug nuts, come in a variety of sizes and styles. The wheel nuts hold the tire in place, so the differences are mainly aesthetic. Lug nuts are not all the same size or style. Foreign vehicles tend to use ball-seat lug nuts, while domestic models use tapered-seat nuts. Some vehicles use a mag lug nut to properly centre a rim.


The most common lug nut is the tapered lug nut, also known as the acorn or bulge lug nut due to the appearance of a bulge near the rim. The tapered nut is available in multiple thread patterns and diameters to fit almost any vehicle. The majority of trucks and domestic-made cars use tapered lug nuts. Hub-centric rims, or rims that are centred on the axle through the centre hole on the rim, will use this style for a more secure fit. Factory-installed tapered lug nuts are commonly capped with chrome overlays that require care when removing or installing. Replacements that are chromed without capping are available at any auto parts retailer.

Ball Seat

Most imports use a ball-seat lug nut. The operation of the lug nut is the same as the tapered variety. The unit is characterised by a rounded connection to the rim. These are available in open-ended or closed-ended variations for use on rims with or without hubcaps. After-market auto parts offer the ball-seat lug nuts in a variety of colours and finishes to complement the vehicle and rims. The ball-seat is a contemporary style but not as common as the tapered lug nut.

Mag and Screw-in Varieties

Mag nuts resemble the screw-in variety of lug nuts found on some German-made cars, such as the Volkswagen and Mercedes. The screw-in variety uses a bolt that goes through the rim to fit into female connections on the rotor or hub. The bolt is capped with a conical or tapered head similar to the other variations. The mag lug nut penetrates the rim rather than pressing against the rim. The nut is characterised by a long-sleeve that fits into the holes on the rim. The mag nut is used on lugs that are too small for the standard rim.

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