Do Lug Nuts Swell? (Common Causes)

A lot of people are confused about lug nuts and what they do. Do lug nuts swell? Is one of the common questions. They do, but not in the way you’re thinking. This article’s intention is to provide you with some insight into lug nuts and why they swell.

Do Lug Nuts Swell?

In short, Yes. Swelling occurs due to corrosion and moisture getting trapped between the cover and the metal lug. The condition makes it challenging for the standard impact socket to fit when removing the wheel.

A swollen lug nut is a common issue in the automotive industry. The severity of the problem depends on the design and make of the lug nuts. Some lug nuts have metal beauty covers that make the issue more prevalent.

Keep reading to know the causes of lug nuts swelling and learn how to remove swollen lug nuts from a car. You’ll also know what happens when a lug nut swells and the cost of replacement from a mechanic repair shop.

What Does Swollen Lug Nuts Mean?

Most car manufacturers have started using shiny lug nuts. The purpose is to make modern cars look more stylish. The shiny lug nuts look is due to the metal beauty cover on top of the metal lug nut itself.

So, what does swollen lug nut mean? It is a problem that occurs when lug nuts are taken on and off with impact guns more often. Besides that, the swelling is more common in rust belt states without any abuse at all.

Lug nuts swelling occur when rusting begins between the two layers. The condition makes the two layers expand and start moving away from each other.

The abuse with cheap impact sockets also scuffles the edges of the lug nuts. The issue makes it challenging to change your spare tire. You’ll end up requiring assistance from a professional mechanic. The stripped lug nuts will no longer fit in the normal impact gun due to the swellings.

What Causes Lug Nuts to Swell?

Lug nuts are chrome-plated. The design is the reason behind the shiny-looking lug nuts on many modern and luxury vehicles. The two-piece is a combination of metal lug nut and metal beauty cover.

These lug nuts make the car wheels look clean and attractive. So, what causes lug nuts to swell? Corrosion and moisture trapped between the two layers of dissimilar metals. The expansion makes it challenging for the correct sockets to fit in your lug nuts.

Changing the spare tire on the roadside ends up being catastrophic. Swollen lug nuts issue is prevalent on many models of Jeeps, Toyota, Ford, Chryslers, and Dodges. You’ll need to find the best fitting larger socket to remove the swollen lug nuts and consider replacing them.

If your ride has shiny lug nuts, consider replacing them with higher-quality counterparts. It will help to prevent the issues related to lug nuts swelling in the future. Remember to call your dealership concerning the warranty before removing it.

How to Remove Swollen Lug Nuts

Swollen lug nuts are common among manufacturers producing chrome-plated nuts or two-piece nuts. The only remedy is to consider replacing the swollen lug nuts.

But the entire process can be nerve-wracking and expensive. The severity of the lug nuts swelling will determine the techniques of removing them.

Use the best fitting larger socket to remove very swollen lug nuts. You can also hammer the correct socket size to the lug nuts and remove them using an impact wrench or breaker bar.

The latter method will damage both the lug nuts and the socket in the long run. Be sure to use the correct socket size and replace the lug nuts immediately after removing them. Below are steps on how to remove swollen lug nuts:

  • Wash the lug nuts thoroughly
  • Clean the recesses with a detailed brush
  • Wrap each lug nut with a heavy-duty freezer bag
  • Fit the lug wrench over the wrapped lug nut

Are Swollen Lug Nuts Dangerous?

When the lug nuts swell, the wrench will no longer fit. The issue happens when the lug nuts have been tightened too tight. Consider using a torque wrench to avoid the condition. Are swollen lug nuts dangerous? Not really. But it is a real problem when the tire when flat on the side of the road.

Getting the wheel off can be a challenging task. Drilling or extraction is the best option. However, the method ends up damaging the lug nuts in the long run. Replace the damaged lug nuts immediately after extraction with high-quality ones.

Conclusion on Swollen Lug Nuts

If your lug wrench won’t fit the lug nuts, it is due to the swelling problem. The lug nut issue occurs due to rust and corrosion between the two dissimilar metal layers.

Do not try to remove the swollen lug nuts with a tire wrench if it is not fitting in the trunk. You may end up damaging the nuts and lug wrench in the long run. The best option is to consider seeking assistance from a professional mechanic.

Keep in mind that the cost of repair and replacement is super high. High-quality lug nuts without chrome-plate are the best option. These lug nuts are not more vulnerable to swelling at all. Be sure to use a torque wrench when tightening these lug nuts.