EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 25, 2014

Mystery of failed lug nuts

Three weeks ago, I brought my 2001 Camry to a shop to get the brakes checked because the squeaking was annoying. The front brakes had been done about a year earlier with Toyota OEM pads used, and the rotors were resurfaced and within spec. The rear brakes were fine.

The brake check showed plenty of pad still left (6mm), and the rotors were smooth as glass. I asked to look at them when they were removed. The tech told me that the metal Toyota uses in the pads sometimes will make them squeak, although prior to the brake job last year they never squeaked. The pads showed no signs of abnormal wear, no scoring, ridges or pitting. They looked fine. The rear brakes and drums were still fine too. Although the shop wanted to sell me a front brake job with new rotors and new aftermarket pads to see if that will fix the squeak. I passed on the new brake job.

So now my brakes have been checked, and all is well until three weeks later when my wife gets a flat tire. She pulls over and a good Samaritan helps her replace the tire in order to get to our tire store. During the flat removal one of the lug nut studs breaks off. Two miles away at the tire store after they removed the spare, another stud breaks off on the same wheel.

Needless to say I was not happy. My thought was that the shop that did the brake check over-torqued the lug nuts and fatigued the studs to failure. I’m just grateful that my family was not driving at freeway speeds when the lug nut studs sheared off. So what are the causes of lug nuts shearing off wheels and what could make two on the same wheel at the same time shear off when changing a tire? I want to keep my family (and other drivers on the road) safe. Can lug nuts studs shear off when driving?

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