Is It Safe To Drive With A Missing Lug Nut? [Here’s What You Need To Know!]

We all know the importance of lug nuts in our vehicle's wheel system. But have you ever wondered if it is possible to drive on the road with a missing lug nut? Well, we were also curious about this, which is why we also looked it up, and this is what our research found.

Although you can still drive with a missing lug nut, it is highly recommended that you immediately go to a mechanic or an auto repair shop to have the missing lug nut replaced. Avoid driving for long miles with a missing lug nut, as this could be potentially dangerous.

Lug nuts are one of the primary mechanisms that help keep your wheels in place, and if one is missing, there is a possibility that your wheel could detach or cause damage to your wheel system.

Now that we know driving with a missing lug nut is dangerous, continue reading as we discuss other additional questions regarding this topic. We will be discussing interesting points such as lug nut replacement and many more. Also, you will find other informative and helpful topics at the end of this post. So what are you waiting for? Let's get right to it.

How Long Can You Drive Missing A Lug Nut?

If you are thinking of continuing to go about with your business and keep driving with a missing lug nut, we highly suggest that you do not do this. But if you just want to know how long you can drive safely while missing a lug nut to know if you can reach your nearest auto repair shop, then this post is for you.

Close photo of lug nuts

Generally, you can still drive your vehicle for a couple of miles with a missing lug nut as long as you take it carefully. Avoid speeding up, as this may cause extra force on the wheels that would be too much for the remaining lug nuts to handle. Ideally, the shortest route would be the best to take.

You also can get an on-call mechanic or a delivery service that would transport the missing pieces you need to patch what is missing.

But these options could be a bit more expensive than driving yourself to the nearest auto shop and fixing the missing lug nut yourself. The latter would also be less time consuming, especially if you are running late for work or an errand when this happens.

Weighing the vehicle's situation to determine if a missing lug nut could still make your car driveable should also be considered.

If you have a lot of cargo and passengers, it would not be wise to attempt to drive the car. We suggest that you remove all the cargo and go first to have the fallen lug nut replaced alone to avoid any accidents.

The Dangers Of A Missing Lug Nut

The Dangers Of A Missing Lug Nut

As we all know, lug nuts are the locking systems that keep our wheels attached to the hubs of our vehicles. It is then attached to the axles, which then connect to the transmission.

This determines how fast or how slow you are going. And because all of these are connected, the other parts could also be damaged if one is damaged.

Below are the dangers you might encounter if you ever try to continue driving with a missing lug nut.

Your Wheels Might Fall Off While Driving

That's right, since a part of the locking system that is the main responsible for keeping your wheels in place is missing, the chances of your wheels falling off while driving is increased.

It's simple logic; one of the nuts that keep your wheel in place is lost, and there would be an uneven distribution of force throughout the wheels which could cause other nug nuts to loosen, particularly if they are also not tightly fastened. This unequal distribution can also wear out the other lug nuts if left like this.

You Might Experience Wobble While Driving

In some cases, you will also experience wobbling. When you start feeling this, immediately pull over and check to see if the other lug nuts are also loose. Wobbling could be an indicator that your wheel is about to fall off. Secure the remaining lug nuts and make sure they are tightly turned before proceeding.

You may also feel uneven steering and difficulty controlling the steering wheel, particularly while driving through corners or doing tight turns.

Uneven Pressure On Your Vehicle's Wheel Hub

Mechanic is putting lubricating grease into bearings

This will be more detrimental to your wheel bearings. These are the ones responsible for allowing your wheels to turn with minimal friction. They are also designed to support the car's entire weight as it rests on the wheels. A damaged wheel bearing is a major fix and very costly to repair.

How Much Is A Lug Nut Replacement?

Man repairing action lock bolt of car wheel

Your typical lug nut replacement could be anywhere between $60-80, give or take, while the labor could cost around the north of $50-70. You would have to consider your location, taxes, and other fees that the mechanic might ask for.

We also suggest not to cheap out when it comes to things like this. Yes, they can be a bit expensive, especially if they check up on your vehicle and find out that there are other potential problems that could lead to bigger repairs if left unfixed.

Quality can come at a price, but in the long run, it is best to trust a mechanic or a repair shop with experience who knows what they are doing and have the credentials to back them up. That way, you are assured of the service, and the problem will be properly diagnosed and fixed.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Broken Lug Nut Stud?

Considering all the things that we discussed prior, if your lug nuts need repairing, you can expect to pay, on average, $4-12 depending on the parts to be repaired.

Why Did My Lug Nuts Fall Off?

Surprisingly, not tightening them enough isn't the only reason why your lug nuts fell. Other factors such as rusting, debris being caught in the lug nuts, paint, and the gradual wear and tear of the threads of the nuts could all be culprits as to why your lug nuts fell off in the first place.

But in a study of accidents caused by wheels falling off while driving during 2000-2003, 65% of these were all caused by an insufficient tightening of the lug nut.

Another reason for such a disaster is improper maintenance done to the bearing, axle, and entire wheel system. Improper changing of brake pads and rotor maintenance could also be a reason.

This is why we cannot stress enough the importance of a properly trained mechanic to do the necessary maintenance on your vehicle. It is more true if we are talking about commercial vehicles that carry trailers and heavy cargo for long miles.

No, lug nuts are not universal. Lug nuts designed to be on the wheel of a sedan will not fit on the lug nut of a dump truck. Lug nuts come in all shapes and sizes depending on the type of wheel and vehicle they are to be installed in.

For larger vehicles carrying heavier loads, such as semis and trailer trucks, their lug nuts will be bigger and more heavy duty than that of a four-door Toyota. Customized wheels will also only accept those that came along with them.

Here is a bonus video about how to remove your lug nuts in case of a flat tire.

Replacing lug nuts by hand while changing tires on a vehicle.

Although you can still drive for a few miles with a missing lug nut, you must immediately have them replaced.

Do not drive your car around with incomplete sets of lug nuts, as this is very detrimental to your safety and the well-being of your condition. A missing lug nut could lead to a series of problems that might cause you major repairs or accidents on the road.

That is why it is important to be observant of your vehicle. Regular checkups and walking around for inspections before driving off will help you be aware of problems with your vehicle, such as missing a lug nut. This is also responsible ownership, which every car owner should practice.

We hope that we have satisfied your query. Do you have any more questions about lug nuts? Check out some of our previously written articles about them below:

How Many Lugs On A Chevy Silverado? [Bolt Patterns Explained]

How To Paint Aluminum Wheels [Step By Step Guide With Supply List]

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