Q: I had a flat tire fixed, and my neighbor said I should have the wheel nuts "torqued" by someone, as the young man at the gas station...
Q: I had a flat tire fixed, and my neighbor said I should have the wheel nuts “torqued” by someone, as the young man at the gas station didn’t do this. I didn’t want to sound ignorant by asking what he meant by this.
A: Your neighbor is correct about the importance of tightening wheel lug nuts. Excessively tightened lug nuts can strip the threads, distort brake rotors, damage the wheel, and possibly shear off the lug stud.
Insufficiently tightened lug nuts can come loose, with catastrophic consequences.
It sounds like the fellow at the service station used either a lug wrench or impact gun, rather than a torque wrench. A simple lug wrench comes in either an L or cross shape and with the right amount of grunt tightens lug nuts pretty well.
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An impact gun uses compressed air and a hammering effect to quickly and noisily zip the lug nuts tight. The problem with impact guns is they’re so powerful, one can easily over-tighten the nuts.
A torque wrench measures the tightening force applied, allowing the user to accurately follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
If your lug nuts were tightened by hand I wouldn’t be too concerned. If an impact gun was used without a torque stick (a clever long-shaft socket designed to limit torque) it’s probably worth the trouble to have the lug nuts re-checked.
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