In Brief: How To Remove A Stripped Lug Nut
The three ways to remove a stripped lug nut are using a specialized extractor, using a smaller socket, and using a hammer and chisel. Extractors are preferred as they will not be damaged, unlike a socket. A hammer and chisel should only be used if all else fails. You can apply heat with a blowtorch to help the process.
Thankfully, there are several methods for removing a stripped lug nut that you can do yourself.
This guide will take you through the various methods of removing a stripped lug nut so that you can get your tires back into top condition.
How To Remove A Stripped Lug Nut
We will start with the best method before moving on to alternatives.
The fourth method we discuss will be used alongside one of the other methods to help if you are still having trouble.
Method 1: Using An Extractor
The first and best method for removing a stripped lug nut is to use a purpose-built extractor.
You will see these socket-like tools sold as lug nut extractors or bolt and nut removal tools.
They resemble a socket in shape and have the same wrench attachment, but they are generally built sturdier and have special threading that allows them to grip the stripped lug nut.
Before using the extractor, apply a liberal amount of WD40 to the lug nut and allow it to do its work. If you can, leave it for up to a day, though you do not have to if that is infeasible.
Take the extractor socket and place it over the stripped lug nut. Use a hammer to get the extractor socket onto the lug nut.
Once it is securely in place, simply use a socket wrench to turn it. The lug nut should come off and all you need to do is remove it from the extractor.
To remove the lug nut from the extractor, clamp it using a vice and push it through using a screwdriver or a chisel. You may need a hammer to get it out quickly.
Method 2: Using A Smaller Socket
If you are under time pressure and cannot get hold of a specialized extractor socket in time, then you can use a standard socket.
The lug nut will be smaller than it used to be because some material has been stripped away, so you need a socket one size smaller than usual. The smaller socket necessitates a bit of force, so you may need to be more forceful with the hammer.
Use the same method as for the extractor. Be aware that you may damage the socket, especially if it is a cheap one or made from a softer material like cast aluminum.
Method 3: Using A Chisel
If the extractor and socket methods have not worked, you can try a riskier solution involving a hammer and chisel.
Before starting, apply a liberal amount of WD40 and, if possible, leave it for up to a day to do its work.
Do not worry if you cannot wait that long, but the longer you let it work the easier it will be to remove the lug nut.
Take a cold chisel (or similar) and a hammer. Use the chisel to make an indented groove on the lug nut that is deep enough to hold it in one spot.
Then use the hammer to gently tap the chisel so it pushes in a counterclockwise direction. If the lug nut does not turn, use more force. However, be careful as if you slip you could damage the rest of the wheel.
Once the lug nut has loosened, you can simply remove it by hand.
Method 4: Using A Blowtorch
As previously mentioned, the fourth method should be used in conjunction with one of the above methods if the lug nut proves itself too stubborn.
Applying heat to the lug nut and screw will cause them to expand at different rates. The differential expansion and contraction loosen the lug nut slightly, making other methods easier to perform.
Try heating several times, allowing everything to cool between. Then return to whichever of the previous methods you had already tried to see if it helped.
For safety reasons, you must ensure that you have removed any WD40 or other lubricant you had applied for the other methods before applying a naked flame.
We hope this guide has helped you to remove the stripped lug nut from your vehicle’s tire.
Throw away the old lug nut and fit a new one.
We advise that you purchase an extractor set to help quickly deal with this issue in the future, as well as taking preventative measures where possible.
If you have any questions or comments about this guide or lug nut removal in general, please feel free to leave them in the section below.