how to remove rounded lug nuts

How to Remove Rounded Lug Nuts: 4 Removal Methods That Really Work

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Welcome to our new post where we’ll provide you with nothing but practical information on how to remove rounded lug nuts. We bet you know the pain of getting that stripped lug nut off…many of readers have experienced a scenario similar to this:

You go to replace a tire and find that one of the lug nuts has seized. You slightly apply more force as you turn the lug wrench to coax the stubborn lug nut out but it refuses to relent. So you become a bit more aggressive with it only to end up rounding it off.

The same thing can happen if anyone tightens the lug nuts of the wheels with a fervid force beyond the spec’s limits or if the tool that was used to tighten the nut was not the best fit for the job.

It can be an extremely frustrating situation especially if you have a tire blowout and have to perform the roadside repair.

Thankfully, there are several ways on to remove stripped lug nut, all of which we here, at the Garage Chief will be sharing below.

rounded lug nuts car wheel

How To Remove Rounded Lug Nuts – What You’ll Need

We will provide a few rounded lug nut removal methods so you can probably go for one or the other depending on which tools or materials you already have available or lying around.

Also, a level head and steady hands would be needed for the most part of this work. A mindset that the lug nut could continue to be defiant would also help.

Socket and Hammer Method

  • Penetrating oil such as WD-40
  • Nut/bolt extractor socket set
  • 3 lb. hammer
  • ½ inch drive breaker bar
  • 1-inch diameter iron pipe

Chisel, Screwdriver, and Hammer Method

Grinder and Wrench Method

  • Penetrating oil
  • Hand-held grinder
  • Wrench

Blowtorch Method

This is not a standalone method. It is often done in conjunction with the one or a combination of the other methods.

  • Blowtorch
  • Tools/materials required by your initial method of choice.

Stripped Lug Nut Removal – Step By Step

Method 1 – Socket and Hammer

  1. Oil it up.

    rounded lug nuts removalWe need to loosen up the rust from the offending lug nut by applying liberal amounts of penetrating oil to its base.

    If there is a heavy accumulation of rust, smack the nut with a hammer to shake the rust off. It is best to give the penetrating oil time to work through the rust so leave it for a day if you can.

  2. Pick the socket that best fits the rounded lug nut.

    The nut extractor socket has to have a tight fit onto the nut. And by tight we mean that it has to be hammered down to get it to fit the lug nut. We especially prefer twist sockets for this job as they offer additional grip.

    A standard socket could work too but you would probably need to pick a socket that is one size smaller than the original one for the lug nut that you are working on. Typically, a lug nut that has been denuded of its corners would be smaller compared to its original size making the original socket too large to make a tight fit.

  3. Anchor the socket into the lug nut.

    how to get a rounded lug nut offPut the mouth of the socket over the lug nut and drive it in with a hammer.

    Remember not to strike the socket with the force of a blacksmith forging a sword. You could end up with not only a stuck lug nut but a stuck socket as well. Lightly pounding the socket should secure it in place.

  4. Grab the breaker bar…

    …and attach it to the socket. If you deem it necessary, you can also slide an iron pipe over the breaker bar handle to get an extra advantage.

    Hit the breaker bar handle with a hammer in a counter-clockwise fashion. If the socket has a very firm grip on the lug nut, this should free the lug nut.

  5. And needless to say, replace the bad lug nut with a new one.

Method 2 – Chisel, Screwdriver, and Hammer

  1. Lubricate the lug nut and get rid of the gunk.

    As with Method 1, lubricating the lug nut with penetrating oil not only helps to loosen it up but it will also help you get rid of rust which can make turning the nut impossible.

  2. Make a notch into the nut.

    Get a chisel and create a notch deep enough for a screwdriver to be securely wedged into.

  3. Try to loosen up the nut.

    Wedge the screwdriver into the notch. Take the hammer and then tap the screwdriver with it in a counter-clockwise manner. Keep tapping until the lug nut is loose enough to be removed by hand.

Method 3 – Grinder and Wrench

  1. Again, as with the aforementioned methods, give the lug nut a generous dose of penetrating oil to limber it up.

  2. Create edges on the lug nut that the wrench can hold onto.

    best way to remove stripped lug nut hand grinderUsing a hand-held grinder, make flat edges on the top and bottom part (or right and left, depending on how you prefer to position the wrench later) of the lug nut.

  3. Loosen the nut with a wrench.

    Have the wrench grab onto the sides that you made and turn left to loosen the lug nut.

Method 4 – Blowtorch

If all other methods have failed, you can supplement them with the blowtorch method.

  1. Heat up the lug nut.

    As we have mentioned earlier, a lug nut that has been stripped off of its edges is smaller than its original form so it may be harder to grip it. Heating the lug nut will allow it to expand.

  2. Try performing any of the other methods again.

    Once it has expanded, it should be easier to have a tighter grip on the lug nut and you can employ any of the other methods.

Lug Nut Removal Tools That You Can Check Out

You may find these tools helpful in extracting a stubborn lug nut. Since the other tools required by Methods 2-4 are your standard home hardware and ones that you can easily find in your garage or shed, we will focus on your options for Method 1.

PRO Tip: For more information, check our Best Screw Extractor Guide

Irwin Hanson Lug Nut Extractor Set

This extractor set is designed with reverse spiral flutes to give you that extra gripping power compared to the standard sockets.

It is made of durable high carbon steel so that they can last for longer. It also boasts of universal lobular design to that it can fit all types of fasteners.

The set includes extractors for the lug nut sizes: 3/4″, 13/16″, 7/8″, 15/16″, and 1″ in drive size 1/2″.

ROCKETSOCKET Damaged Lug Nut & Wheel Bolt Removal Socket

It is made from 100% American Steel and designed and manufactured solely in the USA. And to ensure that you get the best experience, they also offer a limited lifetime warranty on all sockets and socket sets that they sell.

The 2-sided flip lug nut socket will fit ¾ inches and 13/16 inches to remove bad lug nuts.

Topec Twist Socket Set Lug Nut Remover Extractor Tool

This extractor tool features a plum-shaped internal thread design that allows great torque. It also has a rough concave wall inside to that it can easily grip hard-to-remove nuts.

It is made of chromium-molybdenum steel and coated with black oxide to discourage corrosion.

This set comes in four different sizes of nut extractors: 17mm, 19mm, 21mm, and 22MM.

How to Avoid Having a Rounded Lug Nut

Appropriate wheel installation needs proper tools and hardware, as well as compliance with your vehicle’s torque specification for its make, model, and year. You can find your vehicle’s torque specification in your owner’s manual.

The improper use of tools and procedures could lead to the overtightening of the lug nuts and cause rounded nuts. Cars would usually need 60 to 100 ft./lbs. of torque while larger vehicles could call for up to 300 ft./lbs. of torque.

It is also recommended for new wheels to be re-torqued after the first 50 to 100 driving miles.

This is because the clamping loads may have changed after the original installation due to compression or elongation of the metal or there could be thermal stresses that may have affected the wheels as they are breaking in.

Another reason is there is a need to ensure the accuracy of initial installation

How To Remove Rounded Lug Nuts – Conclusion

So you have managed to knock that rounded lug nut off! Congratulations! Hopefully, it did not put up too much of a fight and knock your patience off.

Knowing how to remove rounded lug nuts and having the tools to do so will come in handy at some point but it is a trouble that we should not have to go through. Prevention will always be better than cure. Clichés become clichés because they are virtually true the entire time.

Proper care for your wheel nuts includes getting to know its torque specifications and not using tools that are not meant for it. Caring for something requires understanding it so never put your vehicle owner’s manual where it can sink into oblivion.

When in doubt, consult your trusted mechanic for advice. You may want to present your car’s torque specifications too. Just as anybody, they can get overzealous too in securing that wheel nut in place.


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