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Summary
  • A wheel stud is a large bolt protruding from the wheel hub that fastens the wheel to your vehicle.
  • The symptoms of a broken wheel stud include rust, damaged threads, and missing or incorrect lug nuts.
  • One of the most common causes of broken wheel studs is installing the lug nut incorrectly.
  • Avoid driving with a broken wheel stud to protect other studs from getting broken. 
  • A single wheel stud can range from $10 to $180.

Wheel studs, together with lug nuts, are key parts of your vehicle’s suspension system that keep the wheels secured to your vehicle. Because of this, it’s important to look for any signs of a broken wheel stud and address them right away.

What Is a Wheel Stud?

A wheel stud, also called wheel lug stud, is a large bolt protruding from the wheel hub, where it sticks out beyond the brake rotor hat. It usually has a ribbed neck, a threaded shaft, and a smooth body. Pressed into the wheel’s hole, it gives the lug nuts something to hold onto to keep the wheels secure.

Unlike wheel bolts, wheel studs stay in place when you remove your car’s tire. This makes it convenient as you don’t have to worry about realigning everything after a tire change.

Symptoms of a Broken Wheel Stud

Because wheel studs keep your wheels in place, it’s important to know the signs of a bad or broken wheel stud. Here are some symptoms to look out for:

Rusty Wheel Studs

Most studs are made from stainless steel, but constant exposure to salt and water can still cause oxidation to occur.  Rusty studs can make it hard to install lug nuts, and forcibly removing them can damage both the studs and nuts. Because of this, it’s best to replace your rusty wheel studs as soon as possible.

Damaged Threads

A broken wheel stud can be caused by a damaged thread pattern. As a pair, wheel studs and lug nuts have similar thread patterns that allow them to lock in place together.

stud with damaged threads wont match with its paired lug nut
A stud with damaged threads won’t match with its paired lug nut, and forcibly locking them together can cause further damage such as you see in the photo. This stud spun in the wheel hub and removing it was very difficult. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Missing  or Incorrect Lug Nuts

If you notice a lug nut missing from your wheel, then a broken lug nut stud is likely to blame.

But using the wrong lug nut for the wheel can be a factor as well. Tapered lug nuts don’t all have the same angle, and using lug nuts with the wrong angle will just about always cause the wheel to come off.

Tapered lug nuts don’t all have the same angle, and using lug nuts with the wrong angle will just about always cause the wheel to come off.

– Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Whether it’s because of too much torque or stripped threads, a broken stud won’t be able to hold on to the lug nut, causing it to loosen up and slip off.

Broken Wheel Stud FAQ

What Causes Wheel Studs To Snap?

One of the most common reasons why wheel studs break is improper installation of the lug nut.

Overtightening the lug nuts with an impact wrench will begin to distort the threads on some lug nuts to the point that when you try to remove the lug nut, the stud either breaks off or begins to spin in the wheel hub, wiping out its splines. This doesn’t happen every time but it happens more often than you might think. The lug nut torque can be found online, and it’s best to follow the torque specs for the vehicle.

For example, a passenger car will usually require just under 100 lbs ft of torque, but a full size Ford or GM pickup will usually require 140 to 150 lbs ft. Over-tightening or under-tightening can both cause issues.

, Broken Wheel Stud Symptoms and FAQ

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: It’s best to start tightening the lug nuts by hand first.

When fastening the lug nut onto the stud, it’s important to tighten the nut gradually and it’s wise to use a torque wrench if you have one. 

Another common mistake people make is cleaning their studs with oil, grease, or lubricant. While this might seem like a good idea to prevent rust, it reduces friction and increases the chances of the nuts slipping off. Instead of using oil, simply clean and dry the studs and nuts with a wire brush.

Can You Drive With a Broken Wheel Stud?

Driving with a broken wheel stud is possible, but it’s definitely not a good idea. Most vehicles have four to five lug nut studs per wheel, so some people believe one broken wheel stud won’t be a serious problem. However, a single broken stud can be a sign of improper installation, which means it might not be long before the others start breaking too. It’s best to be cautious and avoid driving until you get a replacement.

What To Do If You Break a Wheel Stud?

Get a replacement. While you can buy studs on your own, consider having a professional replace them for you. A specific tool called a torque wrench is necessary when replacing wheel studs, and using any other tool can lead to cross threading and other issues in the future.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Broken Wheel Stud?

A single wheel stud can range from $10 to $180 depending on its brand and your vehicle’s make and model. Some wheel studs are very easy to replace, others are very difficult, so labor prices vary as well.

Replacing Your Vehicle’s Broken Wheel Studs

It’s important to replace damaged wheel studs to keep your vehicle’s suspension in tip-top shape. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to find a replacement that’s compatible with your vehicle thanks to CarParts.com.

You can get your hands on new wheel studs without ever leaving your room. Simply use your mobile phone or computer to visit CarParts.com. Use our vehicle selector and input your vehicle’s details. Make sure to input the exact year, make, model, and engine.

We make sure to source our wheel studs from some of the most trusted manufacturers in the industry. On top of that, our warehouses are strategically located all over the US, meaning you can receive your order within days.

Browse our collection of high-quality auto parts at CarParts.com.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Suspension , DIY Tagged With :
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