Two Letters Re: Basic Mechanics Skill and Knowing Vehicular Limitations

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Jim,
The king of the hill when it comes to breaking loose lug nuts is the four-way lug wrench.

It is also called a “cross wrench” by some folks. I have used them since I was a child learning everyday fixes from my father in the 1960s. But beware of cheaply-made imports.

I have bent and actually broken a few of the cheap ones while helping friends break lugs loose on their vehicles using their cheap four way lug wrenches that I had told them not to buy, but they ignored my advise and went cheap. Sitting on a desolate dirt road, in the dark while in pouring rain 20+ miles from nowhere with a flat or blowout and a broken lug wrench is not my idea of fun.

While I cannot remember the manufacturer of the lug wrenches that I have (they are in my vehicles) but here is a link to a USA manufacturer of four way lug wrenches. I suggest anyone that is shopping for one (or more) to look at the web page and decide which one fits their needs (they make both standard and metric) and look for that exact model. As the saying goes; “Buy once, Cry once.”

The Professional model wrenches have a drop forged center for extra strength, and can be found on Amazon with free shipping.

(I have no affiliation with either Ken Tool or Amazon.com) – Tim P.

 

James:
I have a comment on the prevention side of things concerning lug nuts.
 
A friend of mine who lives in southern Arizona had his tires rotated. This was performed by a major tire chain and the incident occurred a few years ago. The rotation occurred in his home town and he traveled north in cold weather.
 
On his return he encountered rather cold weather, below freezing actually. He had a tire failure of the sort not expected. As he was driving his right front tire was observed ahead of his vehicle which caused him to decide to stop…once the realization that it was his tire sunk in. Upon investigation he observed that all of the studs had sheared from the hub. He spent quite awhile on the side of the road pulling each of the other tires, removing a stud from each of the remaining hubs, then installing them into the failed hub just to get home.
 
Root cause was determined to be over torqued nuts on the failed hub. Turns out the major tire chain did not actually torque lug nuts to the recommended value at that time. Add an air rachet into the equation and and this was the result. Seems that as he was traveling in near arctic temperatures the hub cooled to the point where the studs shrunk to the point where the torque applied exceeded the shear value of the studs. Needless to say I observe my tire installations closely…and that same company now torques everything. – Kevin D.

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