What is a wheel stud replacement?
For this service, a mechanic will first assess whether there are any defective or loose wheel studs in your tire assembly and then replace or tighten them as needed.
A wheel stud is a threaded steel fastener, much like a blunt-ended screw, that uses a lug nut to fix it in place. Each wheel on your vehicle uses four to six studs, threaded through the wheel mounting holes in the tire assembly, to secure the wheel to the axle hub.
If the wheel studs are defective or loose, the tire could come loose, which could lead to a nonfunctional car or even a crash.
How to replace wheel studs
When completing this service, the mechanic will usually do the following:
- Raise the car so it is supported on steel jack stands.
- Remove the wheel and tire assembly, brake rotor, and caliper.
- If there is enough room behind the wheel hub, press a defective stud out of the hub using a compact tool.
- In cases where there isn’t enough room behind the wheel hub, press the hub out of the steering knuckle. Additionally, the entire hub, bearings, and studs may be replaced at this point.
- Insert the new stud(s) from behind the hub, replace the brake caliper and rotor, and then place the tire onto the studs.
- Tighten the wheel lug nuts according to factory specifications.
How do I know if I need a wheel stud replacement?
A few signs can indicate that your vehicle needs its wheel studs replaced:
- A loose wheel: Functional wheel studs hold the tire assembly tightly and securely to the axle hub with the help of the lug nuts. If something is wrong with either the studs or the lug nuts, you may feel the affected tire begin to wobble, vibrate, or loosen while driving. See a mechanic right away; besides damaging the tire assembly, the wheel could break away from the vehicle while driving.
- Missing studs, broken studs, or damaged threads: If a lug nut loosens and falls off, the stud will soon follow—you’ll be able to see the empty hole in the tire assembly when the vehicle is stopped. If in the course of changing a tire or performing other maintenance, you notice that the threads on a wheel stud are rusted, worn, or somehow damaged, you should consider it compromised.
- A stud spinning in place while the lug nut is being fastened: Again, you might notice this in the course of normal maintenance like replacing or rotating tires. If the wheel stud does not stay in place while the lug nut is being fastened, mention it to your mechanic so they can replace it and inspect the mounting hole in the wheel hub for damage.
How important is a wheel stud replacement?
If your car needs a wheel stud replacement, it’s best to get this done as soon as possible.
As long as there is no more than one wheel stud missing, you should be able to drive the car a short distance at low speeds, preferably towards a mechanic. If more than two studs are broken or missing, you run the risk of damaging the brake rotor, wheel, and remaining studs by continuing to drive.
The vibrations caused by missing wheel studs can loosen other studs or lug nuts in the assembly; in the worst-case scenario, this could cause the wheel to separate from the car entirely.
Tips for wheel stud replacement
- Make sure to tighten wheel studs with a torque wrench that is dry, clean, and absent any lubricants like oil, grease, or anti-seize compounds.
- Usually, the only thing that can damage the high-strength steel material of a wheel stud is over tightening. Use a calibrated torque wrench or torque limiting device to spare the wheel studs from excessive force.
- To ensure an even and secure grip on the tire assembly—and to avoid damage to the brake rotor, drum, or wheel—tighten the wheel studs using a star or crisscross pattern. Check the original equipment manufacturer’s instructions for which pattern to use.
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