How Do You Get Stripped Lug Nuts Off a Wheel Binding

Lug nuts are an important part of every car. They firmly hold the wheel and prevent it from spinning out while the car is moving, especially at high speeds. If one of five (four on some vehicles) lug nuts is broken, you may soon face difficulty removing the wheel from the car.

Causes of A Stuck Lug Nut

Stripped or Rounded Off

If the either impact wrench or wrong socket size was used while installing lug nuts, there is a high possibility of damaging the hexagon lug nut head. Or lug nut or bolt jammed and when you were trying to unscrew it with the help of a lug wrench it rounded it off.


If you couldn’t easily remove lug nuts from your vehicle, there is a high possibility that it is jammed either by you or the car mechanic you have visited recently.

Covered in Rust

Rust on lug nuts and bolts usually appears on vehicles which are stored uncovered outside for several months so the weather affects their condition. As a result, the lug nut is jammed and it is impossible to turn.

How to Remove a Stripped Lug Nut That Won’t Come Off

Stuck lug nut removal alongside tools needs effort to do that. If you are not sure that you can do it on your own, ask a seasoned car mechanic for assistance.

Your vehicle should be placed on a flat surface. Do not use any floor jacks while you are loosening the lug nuts. If you have an automatic transmission, set the lever to Park, if manual – set your shift to any gear and set on the hand brake. These actions prevent wheels from rotating while you will be removing the fasteners.

Before operation prepare some necessary tools:

  • Breaker bar, socket, and iron pipe
  • Powerful impact wrench
  • Penetrating oil (WD-40)
  • Floor jack

Step 1

Apply some amount of penetrating oil on the lug nut. Leave it for a while to penetrate inside.

Usually the lug nut which is stuck has smaller corners, which makes it difficult to remove with its size socket. You may need to switch to a smaller size of a socket to fit the lug nut.

If you have any issues with placing the socket, use a rubber hammer to tap on it until it fits.

Then, connect the breaker bar and try to take off the nut. Connect an iron pipe to a breaker bar for extra power. Initiate an action in a direction like you are screwing the lug nut with effort and then immediately like you are unscrewing it. If still the nut is not coming off, move on to the next step.

How long is too long for a breaker bar?:)

Step 2

If you tried to remove a stuck lug nut with a breaker bar and socket, but it didn’t help, use a powerful impact wrench. This tool is created to tighten and loosen any bolts and its torque should be enough to take off even the most stuck lug nut.

Preliminary check the impact wrench socket for absence of any round offs. The head has to fit tightly as an impact wrench, so the wheel lug nut. If, unfortunately, application of the impact wrench didn`t help you, check out step 3.

Step 3

Drilling is one of the safest ways to remove the stripped lug nut. First, use a punch to mark the center of the lug nut before operation. This mark will prevent the drill bit from displacement. Start the process with the smaller bit directed at the center of the nut you need to remove.

Hold the drill still to prevent it from accidental movement. Keep in mind that this process may be quite long and tiresome. To prevent your drill from overheating, prepare a cup of oil next to you, so you could dip the drill bit any time to cool it down before resuming the drilling.

After you replace a smaller drill bit with a bigger one, do not hesitate to check every time that you are drilling the center of a stuck lug nut. If needed, apply penetrating oil or parts cleaner to remove any specks that might be inside of the hole.

When the job is done place the floor jack under your vehicle and unlock your wheels, then try to rotate the wheel with your hands – it should be spinning easily. Sometimes the lug nut remains stuck on the wheel. To take it off use an air hammer or pair of channel lock pliers.

Important to know

After dismantling, carry out troubleshooting of all threaded connections of lug nuts and replace them with new ones. If even one lug nut is stripped on one of the wheels, it is advisable to replace all the wheel nuts, since they may also be unsuitable for further usage.

Please note that the size for the head of your lug nuts corresponded to the size of the lug nuts on the other wheels. In a critical situation, a different size of the lug nut head can play a trick on you without being at hand at the right time. Wheel fasteners are made from a specific steel grade.

The manufacturer conducts research and gives recommendations on the tightening torque of the wheels when installing them. Therefore, experienced mechanics tighten the wheels using a torque wrench. If more force is applied when tightening the lug nuts on the wheel, it can cause a violation of the thread structure, the nut “pulls”, which further complicates its dismantling.

Also, excessive application of force when tightening the wheel causes a defect in the seat for the nut on the disk.

To sum up

Stripped or stuck lug nuts is an unpleasant problem. Before tightening your lug nut either yourself, do not hesitate to look for recommended torque applied for your vehicles lug nuts. Check the information about it in your vehicle owners manual for more detail. Additionally, keep your lug nuts from any dirt, water and rust, so they always remain clean, and easy to remove.
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