Car owners are mainly concerned with their car’s central parts, such as the engine or transmission. They forget that the smaller components also matter.
A good example is the lug nuts. The purpose of a lug nut is to fasten the wheel to the axle. Though small, lug nuts ensure the vehicle’s safety by securing the wheel in place.
Lug nuts are available in different types. Today we will be focusing on aluminum lug nuts and whether they are safe to use on a car.
Table of Contents
- Are Aluminum Lug Nuts Dangerous?
- Should You Use Aluminum Lug Nuts?
- What are Aluminum Lug Nuts?
- Will Aluminum Lug Nuts Hold Your Wheel to the Axle?
- Do Aluminum Wheels Gall to the Studs?
- Do the Weight Savings Make Aluminum Lug Nuts Worth It?
- Will Aluminum Lug Nuts Corrode?
- What’s the Best Alternative for Aluminum Lug Nuts?
- Does Quality Matter with Aluminum Lug Nuts?
- Do Cars Come from the Factory with Aluminum Lug Nuts?
- Does the Lug Nut Material Matter?
- What to Do If You Have Aluminum Lug Nuts?
Are Aluminum Lug Nuts Dangerous?
If you ask wheel experts and colleagues who have had some experience with these types of lug nuts, they will tell you that aluminum lug nuts are not safe. Most people will touch on how these lug nuts wear out faster; some even come off the wheels.
Hearing such claims can be scary, especially if you are using aluminum lug nuts on your car. And that can leave you wondering, are aluminum lug nuts dangerous?
Aluminum lug nuts should be safe if you don’t put your car on the track or your vehicle doesn’t have much power.
You should also know that aluminum lug nuts are weaker than steel ones. Therefore, they also don’t last very long. If you go with this option, they will frequently break or get damaged, which comes with some risks.
The bottom line is that aluminum lug nuts are safe only if they are not exposed to a lot of stress from the car or the track. If safety is your number one priority, you should consider other alternatives.
Should You Use Aluminum Lug Nuts?
When choosing the lug nut material, you have to evaluate your car and the conditions it’s exposed to. The fact that aluminum lug nuts are weak disqualifies them as a viable option for many motorists.
As an average driver, every component you get for your car should be durable. In such a scenario, aluminum lug nuts may not serve you for very long.
On the other hand, if you are a racer, using such lug nuts to secure your car poses some safety issues because there is no guarantee that the wheels won’t fly off when you put too much pressure on them.
Among racers and average car owners, aluminum lug nuts shouldn’t be your top choice. Yes, they are light. But you can get very minimal weight gain from using aluminum lug nuts.
Unless you are interested in aluminum lug nuts, you shouldn’t use them to fasten the wheels on your car.
What are Aluminum Lug Nuts?
Most of us are accustomed to steel lug nuts. A while ago, aluminum lug nuts were invented. They were made specifically for race cars because of their lightweight design.
Besides being lighter than steel lug nuts, the ones made of aluminum are anodized with different colors, which can boost aesthetics.
As beneficial as aluminum lug nuts are, car owners, have realized some drawbacks. First, these lug nuts are pretty soft, posing a safety risk.
These nuts also have a lower torque specification. Most people have never understood that aluminum lug nuts are designed for one-time use in race cars.
That is, they had to be replaced after every race. When aluminum lug nuts are used for an everyday street car, they are bound to snap every once in a while.
Another drawback of aluminum lug nuts is that you can’t use an impact gun on them. You may not be using an impact gun at home to change wheels, but all the mechanic shops do.
Some of the technicians in these shops can’t differentiate between an aluminum and a steel lug nut. When they use the impact gun, they can twist it in the process.
Will Aluminum Lug Nuts Hold Your Wheel to the Axle?
Yes, they will. Any lug nut will hold the wheel to the axle as long as it is firmly fastened. However, the issue with aluminum lug nuts is how long they will hold your wheels.
When these lug nuts get damaged, they become ineffective. That’s where the safety risk comes in. As much as aluminum lug nut wheels can hold wheels, they are short-lived.
Do Aluminum Wheels Gall to the Studs?
Despite the safety concerns, there is another issue you have to know about using aluminum lug nuts. These nuts tend to gall to the wheel studs.
The studs are what you fasten the lug nuts on. Unlike steel which retains its shape, aluminum lug nuts fuse to the studs. This can be pretty problematic.
And even though you can prevent this from happening by using anti-seize, this isn’t a problem you would have to worry about when you use steel wheels.
When you look at all the problems that come with aluminum lug nuts, there is absolutely no reason why you should consider these over their steel counterparts.
Do the Weight Savings Make Aluminum Lug Nuts Worth It?
The only benefit of aluminum lug nuts is that they are lightweight. We all know that the weight of a car determines its performance. It’s why most car owners try to minimize weight as much as possible.
However, the weight difference between aluminum and steel lug nuts is pretty minimal. It wouldn’t make sense to risk your safety for negligible weight savings.
Will Aluminum Lug Nuts Corrode?
When you weigh the cons of aluminum lug nuts against the pros, you will realize that there are very few benefits of using such lug nuts.
The other problem with using these lug nuts is that they will corrode the studs and be challenging to remove. If this happens, you will have no option but to use an impact gun which will damage the nuts.
What’s the Best Alternative for Aluminum Lug Nuts?
If you were gravitating towards aluminum lug nuts and learned of their drawbacks, you are definitely looking for an alternative. Fortunately, there is a much better alternative that doesn’t have the drawbacks aluminum lug nuts have.
Instead of aluminum, you should switch to standard steel lug nuts. These nuts are pretty durable. Not unless they get lost, you will never replace steel lug nuts because they won’t break easily.
They may be heavier than aluminum lug nuts but require zero maintenance. You don’t have to use anti-seize or perform any sort of maintenance on them.
If you opt for the chrome-coated options, you can prevent rust development. Also, steel lug nuts aren’t vulnerable to impact guns. They are more convenient to have on your wheels than any other type of nuts.
Does Quality Matter with Aluminum Lug Nuts?
Aluminum lug nuts do have some fans. Such people may argue that the quality of aluminum lug nuts matters and dictates your experience with them.
Though true, the truth of the matter is that aluminum lug nuts are far from being considered durable. Even if you get the best quality aluminum lug nuts, they will still have the drawbacks we have discussed above.
It’s safe to conclude that quality doesn’t make much of a difference with aluminum lug nuts.
Do Cars Come from the Factory with Aluminum Lug Nuts?
Most auto manufacturers will use steel lug nuts on new cars. Therefore, if you have bought a car straight from the manufacturer, the lug nuts should be made of steel.
However, there’s no telling what manufacturers can or can’t use these days. Therefore, inspecting what has been used on the wheels is always a good idea. If they are aluminum, you can switch to steel and avoid any complications in the future.
Does the Lug Nut Material Matter?
Yes, it does, and the above is an excellent example. Lug nuts are made from different types of materials, such as aluminum and steel. You can even find titanium lug nuts.
Even though most car owners don’t consider any factors when shopping for lug nuts, the material plays a crucial role. If you go with a lug nut material such as aluminum, it will be lighter, but won’t last for long.
Steel lug nuts, on the other hand, are heavier but more durable. Next time you are shopping for lug nuts, remember that different materials have varying features. Make sure that you go through the specs before making a decision.
What to Do If You Have Aluminum Lug Nuts?
If you already have aluminum lug nuts for your reasons. Below are some measures you can take. First, you should always remove them using a wrench, not an impact gun.
We have explained in detail the risks of using an impact gun on an aluminum lug nut. Secondly, it’s advisable to use anti-seize on aluminum lug nuts. Not everyone supports this, but anti-seize prevents the galling of aluminum lugs.
Finally, always inspect the condition of your aluminum lugs. This will let you know in advance if they are damaged, and you can make arrangements for how to replace them.