Why Are My Lug Nuts Swelling and How Do I Fix Them?

September 15, 2022

Swollen lug nuts has been a common problem since the invention of the two-piece capped lug nut. The problem occurs when moisture infiltrates the space between the chrome decorative cap and the actual steel lug nut securing the wheel to the vehicle. With road salt and other chemical ice melting agents, this situation worsens. Rust and corrosion develop and build up between the two separate pieces. While aesthetically it looks great, it isn't always functional.

Another issue? Impact sockets can damage the lug nuts during tire rotations and other types of vehicle service requiring wheel removal. To make matters worse, sometimes a technician may use a standard size hex socket on a metric hex nut or vice versa. Since the socket may be a slightly bigger hex, damage can occur to the corners of the thin chrome metal cap, sometimes loosening the crimp where the decorative cap fastens to the steel nut. It doesn’t take long for the cap to come off completely, requiring lug nut replacement.

What’s the fix? Fortunately, you can purchase replacement lug nuts from the vehicle manufacturer. Unfortunately, you will have the same issues over time and they will not be cheap. You can also buy replacement lug nuts from other sources at a considerable savings over the dealer cost and yes, you can still face the same issues. To really fix the problem, you can purchase a solid chrome replacement lug nut. Although they are different in appearance, they will resolve the issue of the separating lug nuts. 

When purchasing replacement solid lug nuts, know the hex size of your lug wrench. There are many different replacements available and sometimes you may have to go with a standard size hex like 13/16” rather than the factory 19mm metric hex size. In this instance, if you have a get a flat and have to use the manufacturers supplied lug wrench, you may be in big trouble.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Try and keep your wheels and lug nuts dry and clean (especially if you live in an area where there can be a lot of road salt in the winter months).
  2. If you need to replace lug nuts and want the original look, check aftermarket sources for a better price, but pay attention to OE quality and specifications. 
  3. If you go with the solid lug nut replacement, make sure they are long enough and have the correct size hex for your lug wrench. It will save you tons of aggravation in case of a flat on the road.

Want more information on Dynamic's full line of lug nuts? Click here.

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