Sweat is beading up on your forehead, the mid-day sun blistering the skin on the back of your neck and a blast of 80-mile an hour wind about knocks you over from the semi-truck screaming down the highway. You had a blowout, and now you are stuck on the shoulder of a busy highway swapping tires. Each lug nut comes off, the new tire goes on and then you start cranking down on the lugs, making sure that they are on tight. After all, the only thing worse than a blowout is losing the entire wheel. Just as the lug was snugging down to the rim, you hear a pop and you just about faceplant into the 1.5-million degree asphalt. Yeah, you really did it this time, you busted a wheel stud and now have to deal with the job of wheel stud replacement.
Don’t stress it too much, it can happen to the best of us. Maybe you are not even the one who busted it. The results are the same- a busted wheel stud and you have to drive around with one less lug nut on your car. As long as the others are tight, you should be OK to get home, but that stud needs to be replaced. Fortunately, there is an easy way to fix a broken wheel stud without taking half of your vehicle’s suspension apart.
Tools & Supplies
Here is what you need to perform this task:
Big hammer (preferably a 3-pound sledgehammer)
New lug nut (new is better for this task)
Stack of thick washers
Socket for the lug nut
If you do not have an impact wrench, you can use a socket wrench, but you will need a way to lock the axle hub from spinning.
Wheel Stud Replacement
We have a 2004 Mustang in the shop with a broken wheel stud on the front driver-side rotor. The Mustang had been missing this stud since it was purchased a year ago. The following process works on front and rear axle hubs. The entire wheel stud replacement process typically takes about 20 minutes to complete.
As always, when lifting a vehicle and support it with a jack stand. Do not attempt this with the vehicle sitting on a jack alone. Remove the wheel. Remove the brake caliper and disc brake rotor. For rear axles with drum brakes the brake drum must be removed, but the brake shoes and backing plate with mechanisms can stay.
Locate the broken stud and use the punch and hammer to drive the remaining stud out of the axle hub. If it is old and rusted, this could take some effort. Try to not hit the sides of the stud hole.
Once the stud is out, take the new stud and slide it into the hole from the backside.
Stack a series of washers over the stud. The number will depend on the length of the stud. If you have an open-style lug nut, then you don’t have to worry about bottoming out the stud in the lug nut. If you have closed-end lug nuts, then you need to make sure that the threads won’t bottom out by using more washers. DO NOT USE any lubricant or anti-seize on the threads!
Tighten the nut onto the lug slowly. When you hit the washers, remove the lug nut and stack more washers on and repeat until the stud head is seated on the backside of the axle hub. Do not torque beyond 75 foot-pounds. A backup wrench placed across two other studs will help keep the rotor from spinning while the new lug is installed.
Remove the lug nut and washers. Check the fitment of the stud. The head of the stud should be flush with the backside of the axle hub.
At this point, the brakes can be reinstalled and the wheel mounted back to the car. Installed the lug nuts in a star pattern, tightening each one hand tight to secure the wheel. Set the vehicle back on the ground and torque the lug nuts to spec (most cars are 85-100 ft lbs, but a few are need only 65, so check your owner’s manual) in the same star pattern. The replaced wheel stud may loosen up after the initial torque application, so check it after 50 miles to ensure that it is torqued to spec.
Now you have all of your wheel studs in place like you are supposed. While this is not a difficult task you need to be careful working around cars that are supported off the ground. If you have any concerns about doing wheel stud replacement yourself, seek professional help from your local NAPA AutoCare provider. As a side note – Make sure that your lug nuts are torqued properly by hand with a lug wrench and not an impact gun. It will save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Check out all the steering and suspension parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about wheel stud replacement, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.