Too tight lug nuts might actually be a good thing

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

Whenever a mechanic or service station attendant replaces a wheel on a car, they use a powerful air gun to fasten the lug nuts. These nuts are then physically impossible to loosen with the type of lug wrench supplied with the car. What can be done?

RAY: Well, Jerry, the problem isn't that the lug nuts are too tight. They SHOULD be tight. If someone left you're lug nuts too loose, you might not be writing to us now.

TOM: But you have correctly identified the problem. The problem is that the wrenches supplied with new cars are inadequate. In fact, they stink. If you're determined to change your own tires, go out and buy yourself a real lug wrench (one that's shaped like a plus sign). If you can't get the lug nuts off with that kind of wrench, you have two options.

RAY: One is to sign up for an exercise class and work on those biceps. But the better option is to get yourself an automobile club membership. Most flat tires occur on the road. It's not safe to be playing around with lug nuts as semis go whizzing by you at 65 mph. The best thing to do when you get a flat is to make sure you pull safely off the road, and then call for help. If there's no safe place to pull over, then put your flashers on and keep driving. You may ruin 150 dollars worth of tire and wheel, but you may also save your life.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter