Lug nuts coming loose

On Monday (yesterday) I had all of my lug nuts and bolts replaced on my front passenger tire because on Sunday they all (except for 1) came out while I was driving on the highway. I don't know why, the mechanic cant figure out why, he says everything else on my car looks great. And no one had recently removed my wheel for any reason. So, the mechanic replaced them all for me yesterday, and when I got to work today I checked them because I'm now paranoid, and one of the lug caps has fallen off. The nut is still tight on the bolt, just the cap is off. Should I be concerned?

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Experienced mechanics share their insights in answering this question :
I would certainly be concerned about the lug nuts falling off originally. However, I would not worry about the cap that had fallen off recently if the nut is still tight. Many times manufacturers will apply these chrome caps to the lug nuts to make them shiny. These are purely cosmetic and have no effect on the vehicle’s performance whatsoever.

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Loose wheel nuts / bolts can occur for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to) under-torqueing, over-torqueing, differential thermal contraction, and improper mating surfaces. Many people use air impact wrenches to fit the wheels to trailers, cars and trucks.
Not if the lug nuts are installed correctly. A bad wheel bearing will start out making noise and generating a little heat. Eventually it will start roaring and making a vibration you can feel.
After you lose one lug nut, that pressure has to be distributed to the other lug nuts. Over time, this can wear down the other lug nuts on the wheel. If you are missing a lug nut on just one wheel, there will be uneven pressure on the wheel hub. This can have an effect on the wheel bearings.
Swollen lug nuts has been a common problem since the invention of the two-piece capped lug nut. The problem occurs when moisture infiltrates the space between the chrome decorative cap and the actual steel lug nut securing the wheel to the vehicle.
Try not to. If you have to use a lug wrench, do this as a temporary measure (i.e.: changing a flat on the side of the road). As soon as possible, you need to have those lug nuts correctly tightened!
Attach each lug nut by hand, and then use a manual torque wrench to tighten until you hear the `click` sound that indicates you`ve reached the right amount of torque. The number—usually in the 75-100 lb-ft range—should be easy to locate in your vehicle`s owner`s manual.
Loose lug nut

Does the rattling sound stop as you drive faster? It could be a loose lug nut inside a hub cap – meaning your wheel wasn`t tightened properly the last time it was removed and replaced. Take your car to a mechanic ASAP, or tighten it yourself if you know how.

You can drive, but I wouldn`t drive too far. You might find that having just 4 lug nuts generates lateral stress on the wheel which might cause the other nuts to come loose, so I`d check the nuts regularly on your journey until you can get a replacement lug nut.
Depending on the type of vehicle it is and the age, the lug nuts may need to be replaced anywhere between five and 15 years. The cost of lug nuts or lug bolts can range from $2 to $7 or $8 a piece on most vehicles.
Swollen lug nuts tend to look rusty, warped, or scuffed from being taken on and off.
Someone forgot to tighten your lug nuts or didn`t tighten them enough. And that`s exactly what will happen. Over time, they`ll slowly work their way loose. Every time you hit a pothole or a bump, they`ll get a little looser.
Tom: And it CAN take two months for loose lug nuts to come off. We`ve seen it happen before. At some point, one nut gets loose enough and comes off, and then things go downhill rapidly. And in many cases, a wheel bolt or two will break, just like yours did.
A sure sign that your bearing has failed is vibration. If the raceway surface of the bearing becomes damaged by abrasion, the rolling elements (the balls or rollers) will bounce around on the raceway surface during operation, causing high levels of vibration.
If the screws are not tight enough, they can come loose whilst driving. If the wheel bolts are too tight, the threads might get stripped or damaged. And this is where the torque wrench comes in. Using a torque wrench enables you to tighten up the wheel bolts to a specified torque.
Loose lug nuts, or possibly broken bolts, can cause shaking which will be constant from slow to fast speeds. The frequency will vary with your speed, of course.
To safely install your wheels, it`s important that the lug nut size matches your vehicle`s requirements. If your lug nuts or lug bolts don`t match your vehicle`s thread pitch, they won`t work on your ride. Lug nut sizes are given in two numbers. The first number is the diameter of the stud.
Wheels will be tightened in the air and torqued once the vehicle is on the ground. Proper storage of a torque wrench is key to ensuring it works properly. A star pattern is used when torquing your lug nuts in the correct order to ensure equal amounts of force on each side of the wheel.
Lug nuts must be torqued to the manufacturer`s recommended values, and they must be re-torqued to those values after driving approximately 50 to 100 miles on your new tires after the tire service. Both under and over tightening can be dangerous.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Can I drive with just one lug nut loose on one tire? The nut is stripped so I cannot take it off. But 3 out of 4 nuts are on tight
ANSWER : Hi there. I’ve seen many vehicles on the road with a lug nut missing and it does seem to work. However, what these people are unaware of is that improper/uneven wheel nut torque is a major cause of brake vibrations. The uneven/improper torque can cause the brake rotor/drum to warp. If the lug nut is loose, only drive it if you need and get the stripped nut replaced as soon as possible. I suggest having a qualified technician perform an inspection to determine if more than the lug nut needs to be replaced and avoid replacing unnecessary parts. Your Mechanic has several technicians available that can assist you with a check wheel nuts inspection.

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Driving while missing a lug nut and stud
ANSWER : Hello there, driving your 2014 Ford F-150 with a missing lug nut and wheel stud is not safe. Without all the lug nuts attaching the wheel it cannot be properly torqued in a safe manor. Your vehicle should not be driven until the wheel stud is replaced and the lug nut reattached. A qualified Technician such as one from YourMechanic will be able to inspect your wheel stud and make any repairs required to make your truck safe again.

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Lug nuts coming loose
ANSWER : I would certainly be concerned about the lug nuts falling off originally. However, I would not worry about the cap that had fallen off recently if the nut is still tight. Many times manufacturers will apply these chrome caps to the lug nuts to make them shiny. These are purely cosmetic and have no effect on the vehicle’s performance whatsoever.

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Loose axle nuts wheels
ANSWER : Hello there, thanks for writing in about your 2014 Nissan Versa Note. Loose axle nuts can become a serious problem. When the axle nut is loose it allows the wheel bearing to shift back and forth which can cause damage and cause the wheel bearing to fail. When the axle nut is installed properly it is staked so it cannot come back off, though it could still become loose. The vehicle should not be driven until the axle nut is secured and torqued to factory specifications. A qualified technician, such as one from YourMechanic, will be able to diagnose this issue and can replace the wheel bearing, or make any other adjustments, as necessary.

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Dodge Ram pinion nut recall
ANSWER : Hi there. A loose pinion nut could definitely cause premature wear on the pinion bearing as there would not be sufficient preload on the bearing to maintain proper contact with the race. As for whether or not this would be a covered item due to the recall, I do not have an answer for that. The only people that could answer that would be the dealership. An inspection for the noise could provide a definitive answer as to whether or not the pinion nut is loose and was the cause of the bearing failure. YourMechanic has several available technicians that can assist you with a car has a noise inspection and provide an estimate and direction of repair.

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How do I tell what size lug nuts I need for my rims?
ANSWER : The lug nut bolt pattern on your vehicle is 4 x 114.3. In practical terms, that means that an imaginary circle drawn through the four "bolt holes" will have a diameter of 114.3 millimeters. Of course, a bolt pattern designated "4 x 100" (100 millimeter diameter) will not work on your car because none of the bolt holes will line up.

Please note that certain wheels, even with the "same" bolt hole pattern as your original wheels, will not work properly or safely on your car due to differences in another critical wheel dimension, which is offset. Your OEM factory wheels have high positive offset and ideally any substitute wheel you are thinking of should have the identical amount of offset.

There are quite a few (dimensional) variables to consider when replacing wheels. Consequently, it is optimal to replace the wheels on your car with exact factory duplicates to avoid problems with handling and steering, interference (and consequent damage to the wheel wells) and premature wear-out of your car’s suspension. YourMechanic can help you with wise wheel and tire wheel selection, installation, and regular maintenance such as a tire rotation which is really critical because regular rotation, every 6,000 miles, will greatly extend the service life of your tires.

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Why does my ABS lights in dash come on after driving for a while on my 2011 Hyundai Sonata
ANSWER : Hello. If this issue has occurred ever since the work was done then I would suspect that there is something that was not installed correctly. If you are getting noise also then the ABS wheel speed sensor may be contacting the tone ring which will cause all of these issues. It may also be a bearing that is bad which will cause this. Prior to changing anything the computer needs to be scanned for codes to see what comes up. I would also make sure that all of the tires are the same size as one different tire will cause the readings to be off. If you are going to have this looked at, consider YourMechanic, as a certified mechanic can come to you to [diagnose why the ABS light is coming on]

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Stripped lug nut/unable to change tire
ANSWER : Hello, thank you for writing in. Locking lug nuts would cause every wheel to require a special socket in order to remove the tire. These are often aftermarket, but if you have a set on the car, this may have been the cause of that particular lug nut becoming damaged. With that being said, if you simply have a damaged lug nut, there are a few tricks you can do in order to remove the wheel. One would include welding on a socket in order to be able to grip the lug nut. Not many technicians are equipped or willing to do this however, particularly when insurance is involved. A second includes tapping a socket onto the lug nut with a hammer in order to jam it onto the nut. This WILL damage the wheel, the nut, and your socket. It can also break the socket, and under pressure that metal shrapnel will fly into the air which is incredibly hazardous. Again, this is why most technicians are not willing to do it. Double check that you are not dealing with a locking lug nut (possibly by making sure you can remove another one of the tires with a normal socket), and then proceed to find a technician who is confident they can remove it. To have one of our technicians assess the issue, contact our service department.

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