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I recently had a flat tire & the car had to be towed because the lugs (as usual) were too tight for the AAA mechanic to remove the tire himself. As a result, I not only had to get a new tire, but 3 of the 4 lugs and one of the studs had to be replaced. How do I get shop mechanics to stop over tightening lugs and how tight should they be?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Amy Mattinat, Owner and Author at Auto Craftsmen Ltd Excessively tightened lug nuts can strip the threads and possibly shear off the lug stud. On the other hand insufficiently tightened lug nuts can come loose, with the catastrophic consequences of the wheel coming off while your driving. The best way to tighten the lug nuts is to use a torque wrench. This tool measures the tightening force applied, allowing the user to accurately tighten the lug nuts to the manufacturer's recommendations. But at a busy shop this adds a lot of time to the job, so there is a torque stick (a clever long-shaft socket designed to limit torque)that attaches to the technicians impact gun that helps them not to over tighten the lug nuts. To make sure the shop technician won't be over tightening the lug nuts on the wheels of your car, ask the manager if they could had torque the lug nuts. If they say no, you could call another shop until you find someone that will.

Judy Curry, Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing at Currys Auto Service Richardson, So sorry about your mishap. Using the air guns without proper experience can lead to over tightening. Unfortunately this is common. A meticulous mechanic will forgo the gun and use a wrench. All cars have their own torque rating I would mention at the counter what yours should be to alert them you will be checking and then double check when done . Remember that is will always take more torque to remove a lug nut than to install one. I.e. If installed at 80lbs it may take as much as 100lbs to remove it. Judy and the Curry's Team

Kerri Papajohn, Marketing Director at USA Sealants, Inc. Some people argue that the rule of the thumb when shopping prices is cheap labor is associated with inexperience. (I don't know the price point associated with your repair. But typically associated is this rule of thumb.) So the service center may have little or no experience in working on motor vehicles, which is why they advertise cheap prices for tire installation, rotation, and other services that require removal of the tire Unfortunately, the technician tightens the lug bolts or lug nuts on your vehicle until the impact gun he’s using will tighten it no further, and you wind up being victimized by his inexperience. An experienced technician (who has been trained in the importance of proper wheel lug torque) will use a device called a “torque stick” when tightening the lugs in order to safely limit the torque to the proper amount. But you won’t find these tech working for minimum wage at a discount store, so the answer to your question you could find out the proper torque specs for your vehicle and use a real torque wrench to make sure the torque is correct or research other shops' credentials & review this issue over the phone prior to your visit with the mechanic performing the task. Sometimes "you get what you pay for", so the price may be slightly higher. And as a footnote, the overtorquing of the front wheels "may" have probably warped the brake rotors, which will soon manifest itself as a vibrating brake pedal when the brakes get hot after repeated applications of when braking going downhill.

Lori Johnson, Owner and Instructor at Ladies Start Your Engines Dear Richardson, This is something I address when I teach my classes. Lug nuts in most cases do not need to be tightened more than 80 ftlbs (foot pounds). When you have your vehicle worked on ask if they torque the lug nuts when they put them on. I've found that simply asking that question makes them aware that you know about it and will hold them to it. At this torque you should be able to remove them with only a little effort. Lori Johnson

Pat Fleischmann, Director of First Impressions at Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair Every vehicle has a proper torque. This means they should be tightened with a torque wrench NOT an impact gun. Each vehicle has a specific torque, and in fact, should be retorqued after the first 100 miles of purchase of tires. If you are using a certified dealer/mechanic, you are using a Quality Dealer! A quality dealer will show the specfic torques specs on the invoice. These are tight to obviously not loose tires while traveling at 75 miles/hr with a loaded car with your family, avoid a multiple of issues with rotors, brakes, etc. It's easier to replace lug nuts than a life!

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