Anti-seize on lug nuts?

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  • #546620
    Gumpy GussGumpy Guss

      Long ago my little sister called me up– she had gotten a flat tire on the freeway and could not get the lug nuts off. I had to traipse out on a -5 degree snowy day to help her out, and she was right, the lug nuts were on tight and the awful Minnesota salt and consequent rust had not helped either. I actually split a good Craftsman 17mm socket in two in trying to get one of the nuts off.

      Ever since then I’ve been putting on a smudge of the silvery (or now coppery) anti-seize compound on the threads before tightening down the lug nut.

      But of course this gets you wondering— does this make it easier for the lug nut to loosen itself under normal driving? My somewhat tenuous grasp of friction does not give me any intuitive answer.

      To compound this puzzle, I think long ago I read somewhere that if you are torquing down a bolt with a torque wrench, you should lubricate the threads and also under the bolt head, so that you’re not measuring the bolt-head friction, apparently the torque spec wants to assume all the torque is as a result of the threads pulling things tight. So should we put anti-seize on the lug nut to wheel mating surface too? So many puzzles!

      Many thanks in advance.

    Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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    • #546632
      college mancollege man

        antiseize on lug studs.Did it come from the factory with it?
        You don’t want the wheel lugs to loosen.I vote no.

        Gumpy GussGumpy Guss

          The factory and I have very different goals:

          * The factory doesn’t want the wheels to come off.

          * I want me and my sister to be able to get the lugs off.

          BTW just one data point: I’ve been putting on anti-seize for 29 yrs now and never found a loose lug nut.

          Shaun FlichelShaun Flichel

            how about just torquing them to spec? I find the one that are hard to come off were most likely put on with the impact and never actually torqued. all I do is make sure the studs are clean and tighten the wheel properly. but I suppose that alot of these factory supplied tire removal tools were not made with leverage in mind. you don’t see tire irons much anymore. now you get this little baby handle, that’s used to remove a hub cap, turn the nut on the little baby scissor jack, and then have no hope of loosening anything. fun times


              No, you are not supposed to put anything on the stud that could impede accurate torque readings.

              In reality, yes you can use a little bit of anti seize by putting some on the stud and running the nut down and then back off so it spreads even. Clean off any globs and then torque to spec, not with an impact, unless you have a torq-stick.

              Rust sucks.


                IMHO torque values are notoriously imprecise when set by engineer, and when torqued by mechanics.

                And lugs and their nuts take all kinds of real world over- and under-torquing without too much complaint, as long as they’re not stripped, broken, or stupidly loose.

                That said, I’ve used a small dollop of copper anti-seize on these fasteners for 40 years and a dozen cars, and they hold fast and don’t seize.

                On a finer point, I limit the anti-seize to the threads, and keep it off the part of the nut that seats on the wheel so that’s still a source of considerable friction.


                  I wouldn’t glob it on, but a little bit shouldn’t hurt. “open” lug nuts tend to rust and stick bad, way worse than ones covered with a hub cab, or an “acorn” style nut where the ends of the threads are covered.
                  I had lug nuts stick so bad once that before the stud broke, or the nut came loose, the stud stripped in the hub, which left me with 3 un-removable nuts that had to be drilled out… and that was only after just one winter of driving… there’s nothing worse than salt…

                  Dave OlsonDave

                    Tire industry regulations are for nothing more than 30w motor oil on the threads. It is very easy to strip the threads or snap the stud if lubricants are used on the studs (ask me how I know). Most of the alloy wheels today if dragged across the threads will let the nut tighten up until the stud breaks without ever reaching the torque specifications. So I never use any lubricants unless I have to, just make sure they are torqued correctly and leave it be.


                      I have always heard that same precaution, that using any kind of lubricant on the threads will allow the nuts to tighten up way too much before you reach the correct torque reading.

                      However, it does make me wonder, if those torque values were calculated based on nice new studs and nuts, clean and rust free, in the real world there is dirt and grime, and the occasional nick in the threads, not to mention rust and corrosion that theoretically would mean the nuts are actually looser when we torque them to spec than the should be, so perhaps just a touch of never seize isn’t such a bad idea.


                        Interesting. Can you link us to the industry specification?

                        To some extent oil is oil, but SAE 30 engine oil might be more slippery than an oil laden with metallic particles such as a copper anti-seize.

                        Dave OlsonDave

                          Here is what I came up with on a quick google search from the Tire Industry Association



                          It seems that the guy that quit took this book of information with him so I will have to get another one.

                          EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

                            Conventional wisdom says, ‘don’t do it’. Experience with certain brands of vehicles has led me to do just what you describe however. The truth is it’s cheap lugs and cheap studs that are the problem. It’s not you. If it were me in that situation, I’d probably put the anti-seize on the threads just to avoid future headaches. Keep in mind that I also install lug nuts with an impact. This goes a long way to help keep things snug. It’s probably not a bad idea to check them every oil change just to be on the safe side though.


                              [quote=”EricTheCarGuy” post=74431] Keep in mind that I also install lug nuts with an impact. This goes a long way to help keep things snug. It’s probably not a bad idea to check them every oil change just to be on the safe side though.[/quote]

                              How do you prevent damaging the brake rotor and stripping the stud in the process? I always heard it was really bad to impact lugnuts on.

                              Sorry to zombie an old thread.
                              I had put general perpous greese on the lug nuts when I put them on. Then torque with a torque wrench that I purchased at Sears and treat gently, but never got it calibrated. Cobalt gets 100′ lbs while the Jeep gets 95′ lbs (Seems low, but thats what the manual says)

                              Drove the Jeep 20 miles, then retorqued them as the manual says. All 5 of them rotated at the 20 mile retorque. Drove it 7 more miles, torque checked them again, all 5 good. I’ll check them again in another 14 miles or so. Maybe I shouldn’t have put greese on it?
                              Ive put greese on the Cobalt lugs and at the 20 mile retorque never had the lugs turn for that.

                              Lorrin BarthLorrin Barth

                                I vote no, I always put mine on dry. That is the maker’s recommendation for my car. However, other owners of the same vehicle use anitseize all the time and they don’t report any problems. Maybe the occasional broken stud is due to antiseize.

                                I had my wife in the garage the other day to refresh her tire changing abilities. She put her 120 pounds on the little wrench that Subaru provides, jumped up and down and nothing. I got her a piece of pipe for the wrench handle and she was then able to complete the job. The pipe is now in the trunk.

                                BTW, I also install lug nuts with an impact – always have and never had a problem. However, that may be why my wife had a problem.

                                There’s impacts and then there’s impacts that will do real damage in the wrong hands. If you know your tools it is not a problem.

                                [Edit] I bought snow tires this winter mounted on aluminum rims. They came with lug nuts that took a special tool to tighten. Well, they felt funny snugged up with my impact. So, I used a torque wrench on them. So, when in doubt, use a torque wrench.


                                  I have an old automotive engineer’s book with a chapter on fasteners and torque, etc. and it says you can put anti-sieze and other lubricants on bolt threads but this allows the bolt to turn and therefore stretch more when tightened to a given torque.

                                  It even has a table at the back which lists how much to reduce torque by if you use lube so that the bolt is not stretched past its elastic limit.

                                  That said, I always put copper grease on lug nuts (torqued to normal spec.) and almost everyone I know does too. My wife and I both do 20,000 plus miles a year in our respective cars and neither has had a problem. I hate it when someone presents me a car with rusty lug nuts which squeak and round off as I try to remove them. Even my uncle who has a real sledgehammer approach to cars puts a little oil from the dipstick or the waste oil can on his lug nuts.

                                  EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

                                    Forgive me for not reading through all the responses on this. So if I repeat something, sorry.

                                    On paper, you shouldn’t do it. Many studies about putting lubricants on a high stress areas like wheel studs and nuts have been done and they all say don’t do it. The manufacturer didn’t do it, so you shouldn’t either. That said, I know some materials don’t do well under the harsh conditions you describe. You want to actually be able to service the vehicle and I understand that. So I say, as long as your wheel isn’t falling off, do it. BUT I would check the torque periodically, perhaps during oil changes, to make sure everything is OK to avoid issues.

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