How To Remove A Stripped Lug Nut – A Step By Step Guide

How To Remove A Stripped Lug Nut…

It can be fun to do some work on your car. However, if you have started a car repair and discovered a lug nut that is stripped, an easy fix has just turned into a nightmare. While stripped lug nuts do not occur often, when they do come up it can be unpleasant.

When it comes to how to remove a stripped lug nut, there are several different methods that can be used. If you have come across a stripped lug nut during your work on your vehicle, read on to learn the best way to remove it so that you can get on with your repair work.

How To Remove A Stripped Lug Nut

Step One: Park Your Car Safely

The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that your car is parked in an area that is safe and where the ground is level.  Attempting this on a hill is a no-no!

You’ll need to make sure that you have plenty of room to move around the side of your car safely, and without restriction.

If you are on the side of the road and find a lug nut that is stripped or seized, move the car to an empty parking lot or the nearest safest place without traffic so that you can work on it safely.

Make sure that the car is in park and put on the parking brake. To remove a stripped lug nut takes a bit of effort, so it’s vital that the the car is securely fixed in position.

Step 2: Spray With Penetrating Fluid

One of the main reasons that a lug nut becomes stripped is because of rust.

Some experts recommend smashing away the top layer of rust from lug nuts with a hammer or a mallet, however we do not recommend this in case of damage to the connecting parts.

Instead, spraying the lug nut with large amounts of penetrating oil is what we recommend.

Penetrating fluids are low viscosity oils that work to free rusted mechanical parts by penetrating into the narrow space between the threads of two rusted parts.


A penetrating oil like WD-40 is perfect for the job.  Chances are you’ll have some lying around in your garage, or maybe even your car.

We recommend several rounds of spraying for maximum effect.  Try completely saturating the lug nut with WD-40, leaving it for five minutes, and then repeating that process a further two or three times before proceeding further.

Step 3: Attach A Socket

Grab a  twelve point socket head and place it over the lug nut that has been stripped.

You are going to want to choose a socket that is just a little bigger than the nut you are trying to remove.

Once you have the socket in place, use a hammer or a mallet to knock it firmly into place around the nut. We’d suggest placing a rag between the socket and the hammer to avoid damage and for a better grip and less slip on contact.

You may have to hit it a few times in order to get it nice and tight around the lug nut.

If there is any movement in the socket around the lug nut then stop.  You need a tighter grip so choose a smaller head and start again.

Step 4: Add A Breaker Bar To The Socket

Once you’ve gotten the socket nice and tight around the lug nut, you need to attach the breaker bar to the end of the socket in order to maximise your leverage for loosening the nut.

If you have a selection to choose from then a longer breaker bar is generally better as it will require less effort to turn due to the wider arc.

Step 5: Flex Those Muscles!

The final step is to simply apply some force to the breaker bar to loosen up the nut.

Make sure that you take your time with this.  Don’t rush it.

If you go too fast you run the risk of grinding the socket into the nut fixing them together like a screw.

Instead, go slow.  Turn the bar slowly with a firm grip and steady amount of pressure until the nut begins to loosen.

It should soon turn smootly and come free relatively easily.  If it doesn’t then repeat steps 2 through 5 until it does.

Once you’ve removed the nut you need to assess the condition of the stud that it was attached to.

If the stud has been damaged you should get it replaced at your local auto shop straight away.

If there’s no damage to the stud then simply fix a new lug nut in place and you’re good to go.

How To Remove A Stripped Lug Nut – Conclusion

The steps above amount to what is the most tried and true method for removing a stripped lug nut.

That said, if you need to get a firmer grip on the nut some experts recommend tacking on a weld of a similar lug nut over the top of it before attaching the socket.  This is a risky method that could damage your wheels and should only be carried out by those confident in their ability to do it.

If you’ve never done anything like it before don’t try.  Take your car to a mehanic instead.

If you come across a stripped lug nut, use the step by step method above first. If it doesn’t work for you take your car to a professional, who’ll have it back on the road for you in no time.

We hope you found this guide helpful.  Let us know below…

Do you need to remove lug nuts, often tight ones on a regular basis?  Lug nut removal doesn’t have to be a struggle.  Why not grab yourself an air compressor and an air impact wrench for the job?

To learn how you can thread your own screws and bolts, check out our handy guide on tap and die sets.


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