How to Install Lug Bolts
Sure, lug bolts are relatively small parts. But there’s quite a bit of knowledge and technique that goes into fitment and installation. Lug bolts are critical components responsible for holding the wheels on your vehicle. These small parts experience extremely large forces and it’s essential that fitment and installation is handled properly.
We hope that you find this handy installation guide helpful for your next installation project.
Before You Start
Installation by a professional technician is highly recommended. Please read this entire guide before installation and make sure the fitment is correct for your application.
- Always use new lug bolts when installing new wheels.
- Never use lubricants on lug bolts or lug holes. This may result in loss of torque or failure of lug bolts.
- Do not use air impact wrenches to tighten your lugs. This may result in weakening of your lugs causing them to fail while driving.
Step 1 - Lug Bolt Fitment Checklist
The first and most important step to lug bolt installation is making sure you have the right fitment for your vehicle and wheel application. Failure to use the correct lug bolts will cause unsafe driving conditions that can result in wheel loss while driving. Only use lug bolts designed to fit your vehicle and wheel application.
Use the checklist below to verify your lug bolt fitment prior to installation or contact a Driven Products Fitment Specialist for help.
- Thread Size and Thread Pitch - Each lug bolt has a specific thread size and thread pitch determined by your vehicle specifications. For example, the lug holes on a 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 300 will require lug bolts with a M14x1.5B thread size. The thread size of the lug bolt must match your vehicle’s bolt holes.
- Seating Style - There are three common types of lug bolt seating styles determined by your type of wheels: (1) cone or tapered seat, (2) mag or shank seat, and (3) radius or ball seat. The seating style of the lug bolt must match the wheel lug seat. Using the wrong seating style will cause vibration, loosening of lug bolts, or damage to your vehicle.
- Lug Bolt Style - Different types of wheels require different styles of lug bolts. For example, most aftermarket wheels will require a small diameter lug bolt while most factory style wheels will require a larger diameter lug bolt. Most small diameter lug bolts will be unsafe to install on factory wheels.
- Shank Length - The lug holes on your vehicle will require specific lug bolt shank length. The shank length will be the length of the bolt bolt starting at the base of the seat to the bottom of the bolt.
- Minimum Thread Engagement - The thickness of a wheel can differ from factory wheels to aftermarket wheels. For that reason, it’s essential to verify that the lug bolts will properly engage the threads inside your vehicle’s lug holes. Refer to our minimum thread engagement chart to determine the number of turns, or depth of engagement, typical for your application.
Step 2 - Prepare For Installation
Now that you’ve verified lug bolt fitment, it’s time to prepare your vehicle for installation and remove your current lugs.
- Park on a hard, level surface and apply parking brake.
- Loosen the lug bolts one quarter turn but do not remove them from the wheel.
- Raise up your vehicle following the process outlined in your vehicle owner’s manual.
- Secure the wheel and remove the lug bolts, then the wheel.
Step 3 - Install Your Lug Bolts
We recommend using the RIST method of lug bolt installation which the Tire Industry Association refers to in its Automotive Tire Service training program. The RIST method involves: (R) Removing debris from mounting surfaces, (I) Inspecting components for damage or excessive wear, (S) Snugging the lugs in a star pattern, and (T) Torquing to manufacturer specifications. Follow all instructions in the order presented.
- Clean and inspect all bolt hole threads and mounting surfaces before installation. Threads must not be lubricated and must be free of corrosion, rust, burrs, fractures, and damage.
- Hold the wheel up against the rotor plate and match the bolt circle of the wheel to that of your vehicle. The wheel must make full contact with the mating surface of the plate. You may require the help of an extra hand to hold the wheel for the following step.
- Install your lug bolts and tighten with your hand in a star, or criss cross, pattern until you cannot hand tighten anymore. Refer to our wheel torque sequence chart to determine proper pattern and sequence for your installation. Do not force your lugs on with a wrench. If they cannot be turned by hand, stop installation and contact a Driven Products Fitment Specialist.
- Once all lug bolts have been tightened to meet minimum thread engagement and your wheel is sitting flush against the mating surface, lower the vehicle to ground and tighten all lug bolts to the proper torque specifications shown in your vehicle owner’s manual. We recommend using a calibrated torque wrench for this step. Apply torque evenly by repeating the star, or criss cross, pattern until the desired torque is reached.
- Always re-torque your lug bolts after the first 25 miles of use each time the lug bolts are removed and installed. Failure to re-torque could result in unsafe driving conditions.
Step 4 - Post Installation Checklist
You’re almost there! We recommend that the following safety checklist be completed after installation. This checklist is not intended to replace the installation guide above. Instead, we’ve included this checklist to help ensure major safety points were checked before, during, and after the installation process. If any item was not performed on the checklist, please consult your installer or contact a Driven Products Fitment Specialist.
- Lug bolts are verified to be the correct fitment for your vehicle and wheel application, including thread size, seating style, lug bolt style, shank length, and minimum thread engagement.
- All threads and studs are free from rust, corrosion, fractures, lubricant, etc.
- Air impact wrenches were not used to install the lug bolts.
- All lug bolts are tightened to the proper torque specification with a calibrated torque wrench.
- All lug bolts have been re-torqued after the first 25 miles or driving.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you drive a car with a missing lug bolt?
If you’re missing a lug bolt, you should have it replaced as soon as possible. A missing lug bolt could lead to dangerous driving conditions because of the extra force exerted on the wheel. This pressure can damage the wheel bearings and cause other lug bolts to fail leading to failure of the wheel while driving.
Can loose lug bolts cause damage?
When a lug bolt is loose, the clamping forces are redistributed among the remaining lugs. The loosening process will accelerate with each lug that loosens, causing the total clamping force to drop and the force on the remaining lugs to increase. The lugs can then fracture which will accelerate the process if not detected and corrected quickly.
How tight should you tighten your lug bolts?
Lug bolts should always be installed using a calibrated torque wrench to the torque specifications shown in your vehicle owner’s manual. Both undertorquing and overtorquing are common when air impact wrenches are used.
Why do wheels come loose?
Loose wheels are typically the result of an improper or careless installation. Threads must not be lubricated and must be free of corrosion, rust, burrs, fractures, and damage. Failure to follow the torque specifications in your vehicle owner’s manual, correct wheel torque sequence, or routine torque checks have all been cited as causes for loss of clamping force on lug bolts.