What is a Lug Wrench?

What is a Lug Wrench?
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The lug wrench is another socket wrench of some sort.  In this article, we would answer the question, “What is a Lug Wrench?”

The function of the lug wrench is to tighten and unfasten the lug nuts which are on the wheels of vehicles. In Australia and the UK, the wrench is usually referred to as the wheel brace.

If you prefer learning by video, watch here:

The wrench is usually shaped like an L. There are some others that are shaped like an X.

The ones which are usually seen in the trunk of cars are shaped like an L. The wrench has a metal rod that is shaped like an L. There is the socket wrench which is attached at the part that is bent. A tip for prying is located at wrench’s other end.

The tip for prying is originally made to get rid of wheel covers or hub caps. The wheel covers or hub caps sometimes cover the lug nuts in the wheel.

There is another type of lug wrench which is sometimes referred to as the spider wrench.

This variant of the tool is shaped like a cross. The different ends of the cross have sized sockets of varying sizes. They fit on to the head of fasteners and bolts they are meant for.

What is a lug wrench

How to Use a Lug Wrench

Under normal circumstances, the fasteners such as the bolts and fasteners should be handled and tightened using the torque wrench.

However, lug wrenches are used more because they are less expensive than the torque wrench. Lug wrenches actually do not have the capacities that the torque wrench has.

One of those capabilities is being able to quantify the amount of force that is applied to any nut or bolt.

Also, they cannot limit the amount of force that is applied to the bolt or nut.

What does this entail?

It means that when one is using the tool, they have to estimate the proper force that is needed. They also have to guess the right tightness which is required for the fastener.

The knowledge and technical know-how of the tool (torque wrench) have educated us on the importance of using the right amount of force. Too much force has the capacity to strip the threads on the fasteners. It would also make the fastener (nuts) very hard to remove.

Again, unequal force in between the many lug nuts or excess torque could make your brake rotor to warp. This is worse if the car has disc brakes.

Due to this, it is important that the tool should only be used to remove lug nuts. It, however, should not be used to tighten them.

This is the right advice to adhere to, but it is not so in real life. In practice, this advice is flouted a lot due to convenience, not just by normal car users but by professional automobile mechanics.

When you are trying to fit a wheel back, the fasteners (bolts or nuts) have to be fastened in a particular way – the crisscross pattern.

It is done that way so that the force would be even across the lug nuts. When fastening the lug nut or any other bolt, it is necessary that the fasteners are finger tight first.

You have to use your finger to tighten the bolts and nut. The tool has to be used after the bolts and nuts can no longer be moved by the finger. That is when you can use a screwdriver or any other appropriate tool to further tighten the fastener.

This process has to be done two times to make sure that the wheel is adequately centred. It is also done to make sure the wheel is properly held by the fastener.

The first nut that is tightened may often loosen when you are done tightening all the other fasteners.

The wheel then has to be let to come down the ground. Another crisscrossing pattern has to take place with modest force. You can use few fingers to hold the lug wrench Afterwards, you can employ the full force of your hand.

Sometimes, and more commonly with huge lorries and trucks, inadequate torque can lead to serious issues. Issues like the fasteners coming off easy and free while being in motion.

Due to this, it is always advised to use the torque wrench or some tool that is similar. It is better you use them to do the final tightening of the lug nuts of the wheels . They are better tools when it comes to tightening nut to a specified torque. This, however, should be done after the lug wrench has been used to fix wheel.

Furthermore, to be assured of the safety of the tire and the vehicle in general (driver inclusive) the lug nuts should be checked at intervals. For every fifty to hundred miles, there should be a check for tightness. By this time, heat cycling and vibration have occurred to a large extent.

Photocredits: Caronna, commons.wikimedia.org

How Do You Get the Right Lug Wrench for You?

The tool is one important thing that you should have in your car or your shop as a professional mechanic. To stop you from going up and down and not getting any result, we have written some tips you can keep in mind when getting your tools.

What Tips to Have in Mind

Lug wrenches are tools used to tighten little fasteners in place. They can also be used to loosen them. They help you quickly remove or attach the wheels of your vehicle. There are many kinds of lugs available for purchase today.

How do you know which to find when you are searching? Here’s what you should to know:

Shape of a Lug Wrench

There are basically two kinds of lug wrenches. First, the one that has an X shape; it accommodates lugs of diverse sizes that you can find on any type of vehicle. This means that they are somehow more useful than the wrenches shaped like an L.

On the other hand, the lug wrench that is shaped like an L is the basic form. There is the socket wrench on a particular end of the lug wrench.

It functions to hold the lug, the other one is used to take off the covers on the lug. This kind of lug wrench is very popular. This is due to the fact that they are compatible with the standard lugs which are found on most types of vehicle.

The Design and Material Used in Making the Lug Wrench

Most of the wrenches available are made of chrome plating and steel. This type is the most preferred because they are highly resistant to rust. They are also very catchy to the eye because of their appearance which is attractive.

Some of the wrenches come with handles that have anti-slips. This helps to make sure that you have a firm hold on the tool. Even when your hand is full of sweat, the anti-slip would help you hold firm to the wrench.

If you are looking to find tools which come with unusual use, the lug wrench has got you.

There are types that have components that are heat treated. These types of lug wrenches can help you get off hot lugs. They can withstand hot temperatures and cannot crack due to heat.

The Length of the Wrench

The advantage of using the long lug wrench is leverage. That is one issue you will have when using a short lug wrench. They do not give that needed leverage when you are removing lug nuts. The lack of leverage is due to the fact that torque is minimal.

On the other hand, if lug wrench is long, the more it is possible to twist the wrench. The length of the lug wrench is good leverage.

Due to this, it will be easy and quick for one to get the fasteners off. A process that would be a hard nut to crack for those who are using short lengths as well as those using standard lengths.

It is also worthy of note that some lug wrenches are extendable. Most things are not as they seem at first. For example, there are lug wrenches that are thirteen inches in length but could be stretched to reach twenty-one inches.

This, of course, is also dependent on how much or how long the tool can be stretched.

The Size of the Sockets of a Lug Wrench

It is very vital that you get a lug wrench with socket sizes that fit the head of your fasteners. If you find one that does not match, it would be a futile activity.

Virtually all lug wrenches have four types of socket sizes. The sizes are 23 millimetres, 21 millimetres, 19 millimetres, and 17 millimetres. If these sizes are not what you want to get, you can find them in heavy-duty car section.

So far what you are looking for is a wrench that can handle the basic socket sizes and the basic wrench can serve.

The Price of the Wrench

The price of lug wrenches is dependent on the length. Due to the fact that wrenches which are longer can provide more force, it is instrumental in getting the lug nut off. They make the price more costly than normal wrenches. This is the leverage a long wrench has.

There is a disadvantage to having long tools. They are huge in structure and you may not get it to fit into the trunk of your car. This means you have to leave them in the garage. Again, what use would the wrench be if it cannot be in the car especially when you need it?

The short wrenches, on the other hand, are very portable. The price of the short one is cheap. The price is not overboard. You will get total value for the money you spent. It is easy for you to manage the tools. They can rest easy in the trunk of the car.

Buy a Lug Wrench on Amazon

Using the Lug Wrench

Out of many tools, lug wrench is the popular when it comes to changing a tire. They are quite easy to use.

Video: How to remove lug nuts with a lug wrench

Introduction: This video shows how to remove nuts with a lug wrench.

How is this done?

First off, when you have the need to change your tire, do not park your car at the roadside. Many people make this mistake of changing their tire along the road. Some are so free that they change the tire along highways.

This is lethal because cars travel at neck-breaking speed on highways. Changing a tire along the highway has contributed to many accidents, fatal accidents. You have to park well in an area that has space.

Make use of emergency lights, then the warning devices in your car. As soon as your car is safe and free from danger on the highway, put on the emergency lights. Their function is to tell on-coming people that you are there.

When people see that sign, they can know to slow down.

Though you have applied brakes, also place some kind of rock behind a tire directly opposite the tire that is flat. Your car won’t roll off when you do this.

Take out lug wrench and spare tire.

Spare tires are essentials that should be in the trunk, together with the lug wrenches. Place the spare near flat for easy swap.

Using the wrench, slowly get the caps of wheel of the tire that is flat.

You can as well jack the car up with your scissor jack.

Lose the lug nut.

This is to be done carefully with the wrench. If you are finding it difficult to twist the wrench, you can leverage on your knee or foot for support. Remember, the lengthier the tool, the easier it is to control.

You can jack the side of the vehicle. You can keep rotating the handle of the jack in the clockwise direction till you are okay with the height.

If you do not have the length of the wrench as leverage, then you have to use force. Get a mallet made of rubber or a hammer. You can hit the handle of your wrench with the mallet or hammer. This is a vital thing to do especially if you are in a hurry.

Be careful when using the hammer or mallet. This is to be sure you do not hit any other part of the tire or wheel. If the lug nuts are hard and can not loosen, you can apply some amount of oil. The oil is called penetrating oil.

Liquid wrench and PB Blaster are some types of penetrating oil that we have. When you apply the penetrating oil onto the threads, they will disappear into the nut. Use a thin straw or tube, which came together with penetrating oil to send the oil to every part of the nut.

Do not overspray the penetrating oil so that they do not reach the rotor or brake drum. Allow the oil to seep into every part of the thread for at least ten minutes. This would free some things up.

So, after doing this and the nut is still strong and unyielding, you can apply the spray exactly at that point where threads go into the lugs. Allow it to sit for about ten minutes and then try loosening it again.

The strong impact of the hammer on the wrench will now be enough to move the fasteners.

Be sure that the drums and brake discs are not touched by the oil. If the oil touched them, let it dry off before you drive your vehicle again.

There is a reason why this is advised. Oil on those surfaces in the vehicle is a dire condition and a threat to safety. It may cause brake to fail; it may also cause the vehicle to increase distances when you apply the brake.

The brake would no longer be very responsive. This is a serious issue that can lead to accidents.

It is important that you clean the oil off the metal surfaces of the brakes and rotor. Wipe off the one on the drum too. Do this with a clean rag. Spray acetone on the rag and use it to wipe off the oil.

So, what if your brake pads are saturated with the penetrating oil? It would be a safer option if you call a professional mechanic to handle changing the pads.

After you must have wiped off the oil on brake surface, you can test run the car by driving at very minimal speed. If the brake functions fine, change speed.

Keep going higher to check if the oil has no effect at all on the brake.

While you are doing the test run, alert other road users that there is a tendency your brake may not be fully responsive. You can also do the test in a field where there is no one.

When the fasteners have been removed, you can align the fresh tire on the exact opening where you got the flat one off from. Then you can reattach the lug nuts and begin to tighten.

First, turn with your fingers to tighten the nuts. When the finger can no longer move the lug nut, it is time to use the lug wrench to tighten it further. Place the head on the fastener and turn in the anti-clockwise direction.

Keep doing this until the nut is very firm. Remember to tighten the nut in a crisscross pattern to balance out torque. When you are done affixing the nuts, you can use the jack to bring down the vehicle to its normal height.

Pack up your tire and place it inside the trunk of your vehicle for repair. Remember, it is necessary to quickly repair the flat tire. This is because you never know when and where the new tire can go flat.

It would be the tire in your trunk that determines whether you’d reach your destination that day or not.

Finally, pack up your tools and place them in your trunk. The tools should not be absent whenever you are going out to avoid being stranded.

Click here to also see what you can do with a strap wrench.

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