Deciding if you can reuse an old axle nut or not can either yield a bright result or a burdensome outcome. Whether being financially aware or efficient, safety should still be your number one priority. Here, we have done our research and spoken to multiple professional mechanics and car owners alike to give you the best possible answer depending on your situation.
You can indeed reuse axle nuts. That being said, it will depend on the wear and tear of the nut. It means so long as the threads have not been stretched or distorted, the sides have not worn down, there is no rust, and there is no cracking (or other damage) present anywhere, there shouldn't be any problem reusing one at all.
Keep in mind that axle nuts lose tension over time. So make sure you stake it and torque it to factory specifications, and don't forget to reapply Loctite, grease, or other lubricator. If you're not 100% confident about installing it yourself, have a professional mechanic do so. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Now that you've figured out if you can or cannot reuse an axle nut, keep on reading to know how an axle nut works and details on removal and installation. We'll dive a little deeper into axle nuts to give you a better picture and understanding from a different viewpoint.
What Exactly Are Axle Nuts?
Axle nuts, also known as spindle nuts, are types of hardware used to assist in securing a wheel on a vehicle by holding the axle in place, which is used to preload the wheel bearing to have it seated properly on its housing. Axle nuts play a major role in the wheel's safe and smooth motion.
A different type of axle nut was also manufactured to sit in the center of the axle to help components on either end of the shaft lock in place. This type of axle nut is usually much larger than the lug nuts themselves.
The materials used to construct an axle nut may vary, but the most frequently used material is steel because it has some give to it, meaning, it will bend slightly when it is impacted or torqued, which then prevents the axle nut or any other steel components from fracturing or otherwise failing.
On a separate note, earlier axle nuts produced had the traditional three or four-piece nut system. Now companies produce one-piece axle nuts, which make them easily adjustable to save installation time and result in longer bearing, wheel, and tire life.
What Happens If Your Axle Nut Is Loose?
If an axle nut is loose, it can cause damage to the wheel bearings and lead them to fail. Wheel bearings help reduce friction when the wheel spins while also supporting the entire weight of the vehicle while driving.
You already know that your car cannot function safely and properly without sturdy and secured wheels.
If your wheel bearing fails, it can cause the wheel to suspend or possibly even break free while you're driving. Wheel bearings are crucial for your wheels to work together; most specifically, for the hub, tire, and assemblies to work harmoniously.
So if you have a loose axle nut, don't take any chances; have it fixed right away before any severe or perhaps even irreversible damage is done.
Can You Take Off An Axle Nut Without Impact?
Yes, you certainly can. In fact, all you need is a single breaker bar, axle nut sockets, a long-nose plier to unravel and remove the cotter pin, and a piece of metal pipe to connect to the end of the breaker bar in case you need a bit of leverage.
Below are the steps you can follow to remove an axle nut after taking the wheels off.
- Unravel the cotter pin on the axle using a long-nose plier.
- Spray the axle with penetrating fluid or any other lubricator.
- Grab your wheel and remove the center cap.
- Put the wheel back on and lower the car back down on the ground.
- Put the emergency brake on.
- Grab your breaker bar and axle nut socket to loosen the nut.
How Much Torque Does An Axle Nut Need?
Axle nuts generally have torque specifications around 80-foot pounds and 420-foot pounds. There is really no definite torque specification you can go for as different vehicles have different specifications. The only true way you can find out how much torque your axle nut needs is to refer to your vehicle manufacturer’s service manual provided to you.
Can You Over-tighten A CV Axle Nut?
Yes, you can over-tighten a CV axle nut, which is a horrible move.
Improper torque can warp the rotor and severely affect the surrounding components, including the wheel hub. Potential loss of the wheel or broken wheel studs can occur if the torque specification is not correct.
Overtightening an axle nut can create lots of problems. There's a high chance it can cause premature wheel hub bearing assembly failure. An overtightened axle nut will put too much preload on the hub bearing, which can then cause too much friction.
This causes the bearing to run too hot and compromises lubrication. Due to the heat, the grease will break down and not lubricate as well as it should. The bearing will then fail as a result.
An axle nut is a vital component of a vehicle involved in the wheel's smooth movement, which is definitely reusable as long as it's still in perfect condition.
You don't necessarily need too many heavy-duty tools to remove an axle nut as there are alternative tools you can use to get the same result with just a bit of extra effort. But you'll have to be careful when installing one as over-tightening and going beyond your vehicle's factory torque specifications will have a negative impact on the wheel bearings.
Again, if you aren't 100% confident in installing an axle nut by yourself, have a professional mechanic do the work. Nothing beats prioritizing safety.
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