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Old November 21st, 2008, 10:05 PM   #1
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Default How to fix a spinning wheel stud or damaged lug nut.

I've watched people post this question up before and most of the people involved are told to pull an axle shaft or to pull the hub and get at it from the backside. That's great, but a waste of good gear oil. I've come up with a quick and easy way of dealing with the problem on any jeep.

Tools I used:
Drill, 3/8" opening.
I used a Black and Decker from this family.
Drill 1/2", 3/8 reduced shank.
Craftsman drill bit P/N 00966079000
Hammer, 2lb sledge
Screwdriver or pry bar.
Torque wrench
Flat washers 1/2" and 5/8" diameter
3/4" socket
One 1/2-20 grade 8 nut NOT lug nut

I posted the two links up there to prove that this is so simple you can do it with a drill you have around the house and a single drill bit from Sears (or Dewalt, Black and Decker, or any other drill set). I know people like quality tools and that "crapsman is crap" but this was done with tools a handy man is likely to have.

So here is what I started with a 15X8 Canyon rim from a TJ.

I got these last December when a local was trying to get some quick cash for X-mas last year. Fast forward to this year October I had a tire that kept going flat so I took it to a local tire shop and they removed two nails... and ran the lug nuts back down with an impact hard enough two of the lug nuts were damaged.

As you can see the lug nuts themselves sit in a deep pocket in the wheel making it hard for a person to use a grinder to remove the lug nut like you would on a steel wheel. If you had a steel wheel set, a grinder and a little bit of time and you can remove a lug nut fairly quickly. But what do guys like me do when we have this problem on an aluminum rim?

Solution: We drill the stud out and leave the lug nut intact.

Here is a lug nut that I've already removed using this method. Notice the top of the nut is opened up. I removed this without touching the wheel and harming the nut seat or the soft Aluminum.

Here's how:

1) Dimple the top of the nut so you can start the drill in it. These nuts have a natural concave dome to them dimpling them slightly causes the dome to go inward causing your drill to self center in the aluminum cover thus making starting easier.

2) Using your 1/2 drill bit and household drill start drilling into the end of the lug nut. The soft aluminum cover will go quickly and what remains along with the top of the lug nut will act as a drill guide and center your bit as shown. Depending on the drill you may need to drill a pilot hole with a smaller drill bit first. Using a good split point bit I've found you don't need to.

3) After you have been drilling a while check your progress with another lug nut. This will give you an indicator when you are getting close. Tape around the flutes of the drill bit is also a good visual indicator that you are almost to the rim.

4) When you reach the last few threads, stop drilling. You don't want to get so close that you harm the wheel if your drill is not centered. using a pry bar stick it in the hole and see if you can get the last few threads to shear off and break it free. I used a big flat-bladed screwdriver both times with minimal effort.

5) Raise the jeep, remove the tire, and give yourself a pat on the back you're halfway there.

6) At this point your wheel stud should look like this. Remove your brake drum or disk.

If anyone noticed I used a drill to make a pilot hole in this stud before I drilled it out noticed the deeper center.

7) Your axle should now look like the one above minus the gear oil. That's a different story and not one I will elaborate on here. Take your hammer and hitting the end of the stud drive it towards the jeep and out the back side of the axle flange. Its best if the wheel stud that is being removed is at the bottom of the bolt circle there is some room for the stud to travel into without contacting any brake parts.

8) From the backside place a new wheel stud in the axle flange. On the front side place the following in this order 2 5/8" diameter washers and one 1/2 diameter washer and one 1/2-20 grade 8 nut. your new lug nuts will have a tapered seat and will cause damage to the washers. If you have to do this more than once then you'll have to replace the washers each and every time. This is a simple cost effective way to pull the new stud in.

Why washers?

If you notice half way up this drilled out stud there is a shoulder. A 1/2" washer has to small of an inner diameter to go over this, which caused me to drill out a brand new stud. A 5/8" washer does and will allow for the wheel stud to fully seat. On a 99XJ like mine the shoulder is tall enough to be flush with the brake drum/wheel mounting surface and keep the threads away from the edge of the holes in the drum.

9) using a ratchet and a big piece of pipe as a cheater bar tighten down the nut till the stud is fully seated. Even with a cheater pipe or an impact you'll notice when the Grade 8 nut stops moving. Don't over tighten it and cause the stud to shear off or the nut to strip.

10) Remove nut and washers, put on brake drum and wheel; torque down new lug nuts to 100ft-lbs in a star pattern. take it for a quick run around the block and repeat the torque sequence.

You have now replaced a wheel stud and saved yourself some money if you have the proper tools.
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Old November 21st, 2008, 10:18 PM   #2
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Cool write up thanks for it. I love the DIY we come up with!
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 12:20 AM   #3
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Sometimes the easiest options are the ones you forget first, and go for the torch instead. Great write up! Something I need to remember.
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