You probably experienced it once or twice, where a wheel bolt gets broken or missing and you may not have the time or chance to fix it, and you could wonder and ask, can you drive a car with one wheel bolt missing?
The answer to this question is yes. You can drive a car with one wheel bolt missing. However, it is pretty dangerous to do so because it would add pressure to the other wheel bolts/nuts, and if you leave it unattended, the other wheel bolts will break.
I know you’re curious to know how only one absent wheel nut can have such a level of impact on a car. I know you would like to learn more, won’t you? If you want to do so, read on and understand how this happens. More how a car operates makes the wheel bolt such a vital component. Let’s discuss.
A car with a missing wheel bolt is not safe to drive. Driving with a damaged or missing wheel bolt is dangerous since it puts additional strain on the remaining studs, forcing them to break. Driving at a time your tire is missing a wheel nut is risky since the wheel will wobble and fall off, causing an accident.
When one or more wheel bolts are missing, it subjects the remaining wheel nuts and wheel bearing to increased stress and load. They engineered each wheel nut to withstand a specific level of strain and load before it snaps.
Corrosion, incorrect torque, over-torquing, and strip studs are the most common causes of stud failure. You or your mechanic should torque the wheel bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications at all times. If a wheel stud fails, the wheel will twist and wobble while the vehicle is in motion.
The rest of the wheel bolts and the wheel bearing will give way. You will probably hear a harsh growling sound when a wheel bearing fails. If we do not address promptly enough the missing wheel bolt problem, the wheel will fall off, perhaps causing an accident. As a precaution, drive the vehicle to the closest car maintenance shop or tire shop at a slow speed.
Wheel bolts, which have a threaded stem coupled to a head that is tapered that fits the wheel insert, are typical on many German-built cars. The bolt goes from the wheel to the hub, passing through the braking rotor hat and locking it.
The problem with bolts is that the brake rotors can revolve without a stud to hold them in place while the wheel is off. When putting everything back together, you’ll need to adjust the rotor with the hub components alongside the wheel.
There are two types of wheel studs/bolts, and they are;
1. Screw-In Bolts:
You will insert the screw-in studs into the hub’s threaded bolt hole. When we remove the wheel bolt, we should thread the side that screws into the hub with a lower tolerance (tighter fit) or equipped with a chemical fluid used for thread-locking in order to prevent it from backing out.
2. Press-In Bolts:
The installer inserts the press-in bolts from behind the disk or drum hub, and installation or removal may cause removing the wheel hub away from the vehicle. They comprise a threaded segment and a bigger diameter knurl that is splined to avoid rotation. The knurl’s diameter is greater than the hole in the hub, causing a press fit to install the stud. A larger diameter stopper at the tip of the stud prevents it from being dragged through the hub.
If you will ensure correct seating and avoid damage, most press-in bolts are made by the manufacturer to be installed using a mechanical or hydraulic press. Installing a press-in using a washer and nut to “pull” it into the hub is conceivable but not recommended. The installer must make sure the stud is properly placed and that it does not damage the threaded part of the bolt while that is done. While many garage mechanics use this procedure, it puts excessive force on the stud, causing stretch and wear, leading to premature failure.
A car can have between four and six wheel bolts depending on its size. Larger cars have more wheel nuts because they have more weight, and they require more nuts to help withstand the pressure they exert.
The accepted number of wheel nuts for a typical vehicle is 5. A car’s optimum lug nut arrangement is shaped like a star, which secures a wheel to its hub. However, certain compact automobiles have only four wheel nuts per wheel, while Mercedes Smart cars have three lug nuts per wheel.
You may also ask if you can drive a car that has only three wheel bolts and whether it is not dangerous to do so. You should be fine as long as the wheel bolts are well seated and torqued. However, it would be best to address it, given your time and budget constraints. You should also soak the other three lugs in WD40 or something similar to make it less difficult to remove them afterward.
A socket wrench is used to determine the diameter of a wheel nut. They indicate the size of the wheel nut cover that would fit on the wrench.
Nut coverings are available in regular and metric sizes, so keep that in mind. Nut covers for Unimount wheels are 33 mm, whereas nut covers for Stud-Pilot wheels are 1 1/2″.
A missing wheel nut will cost you about $80 to $100. The parts are under $20, and the labor is free.
A wheel stud is easy to replace. If you’re convinced of your automotive skills, replace your wheel stud. Take the car to a repair shop if you are not a skilled mechanic.
Conclusively, it is important for you to take note and check regularly if your wheel bolts are well secured. You do not want to have wobbly tires and struggle while you’re driving. This is asides from the fact that it is potentially dangerous for you to have wheel bolts missing from your tires.
Furthermore, you can learn more about wheel bolts to ensure that whenever issues may arise, you’ll be able to fix it. I hope you’ve had a great time learning about wheel bolts and how to manage when a wheel bolt is missing.
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