When I started my 2018 fifty-state tour, I did not understand much about tires and tire safety, much less lug nuts.
After all, I was a mother of 5 children and was busy with their many activities. While I drove around the lower 48 and talked with expert tire technicians and amazing friends, I heard stories that clued me into an important component of tire safety that I had not recognized before. I want to share this important information with you so that you can be safe.
One of my friends told me about an experience that they had while trying to find a used car for their growing family. They had taken the car to a garage to have it looked over by the technicians. Was this a good car to buy? As they left the garage and drove away down a hill, one of the tires flew off the car in front of them. They called the garage to tell them what had just happened. The garage was horrified and first wanted to know if everyone was alright and then came to rescue them and put the tire back on.
Another friend was on a business trip with some of her colleagues. They had to do off-road and highway driving in the course of their work. As they were driving, they heard a sound that was not normal for the truck. They pulled over to the side of the road to inspect the truck. Sure enough, they looked at the tires, and one of the wheels only had one lug nut, and that was ready to come off. The owner of the truck had just had the tires rotated, but some mud had gotten in between the parts of the wheel. While they were driving on the highway, that mud had loosened, which in turn caused the lug nuts to loosen, and they almost lost the tire.
I remember my own experience of driving on the freeway in one of the states. I had been in the fast lane and decided to get into the middle lane. The pick-up truck in the fast lane started to slow down suddenly. As I was passing it on the right because it was slowing up, I saw the front left tire shoot out in front of the truck. Sparks started flying as the front end hit the pavement. In my side mirror, I saw that the driver was trying to pull over to the side of the road out of the fast lane of traffic.
I have many other stories, but I think you get the point. Lug nuts are the only thing holding your wheels to the car. Every time your wheels are remounted (whether for new tires, a seasonal wheel swap or regular tire rotation), the tire technician will torque the lug nuts to the specifications required by the manufacturer of your car. You then have to return to have the lug nuts retorqued once you have driven 25-100 miles because the very stress of driving causes them to settle, and that means that they will either loosen or tighten, neither of which is good for optimal performance. Most tire technicians offer lug nut retorquing for free. They will often come out of the garage bay and just do it very quickly; it does not take much time at all. So, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of that service.
This could save your life or the lives of those that you love!
Diana Hubner-The Tire Mom