Lug Nuts

Okay, that’s a weird title for a post, I realize, but that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Tonight, I went to 3 different part stores in search of a particular style of lug nut, a quantity of which I purchased, not too very long ago, from one of the stores in question. I need to replace them — yes, lug nuts do wear out when you’re taking them on and off as frequently as I do on the Cobra, changing from street tires to race tires to rain tires or just rotating the race tires from position to position to even up the wear. The threads “stretch” and distort with the number of torque cycles they’re subjected to.

The NASCAR boys, who are somewhat unique in the world of big-time motorsports in that they use “regular” 5-lug wheels instead of “center-lock” single-nut wheels like Indy Cars, Champ Cars, Formula 1, and most sports cars, use big honkin’ 5/8″ wheel studs and matching big honkin’ nuts. The nuts only get used once. The wheel studs are replaced after every race.

I don’t have that kind of budget. I’m also not running the nuts on with a hot-rodded air impact gun that’s fed 180 psi nitrogen, either. So mine last a bit longer. I’ve been using these for 8 years.

I really like the style of lug nut I have. They have a large “acorn” flare which puts even pressure on the seat in the wheel, and a large (13/16″) hex head. They are a 1/2″-20 threads per inch size. The Cobra, incidentally, came with M12x1.5 wheel studs and lug nuts, but I’ve replaced the original wheel studs with racing-spec 1/2″-20 wheel studs. This becomes important later, trust me.

So, off to the first store. They have, on the racks, packages of lug nuts that are just right except they have only a small acorn flare, and the contact with the wheel seat isn’t continuous around the diameter. I distrust these for racing applications even though I have a few of them that I’ve used as spares here and there. Okay, twice.

Thwarted at the blister-pack racks, to the parts counter I go. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: “I need a bunch of 1/2-20 open lug nuts with a large acorn seat.”
Counter Person: “What kind of car is this for?”
Me: “It’s a ’99 Mustang Cobra, but that isn’t important.”
Counter Person (putting “1999 Mustang Cobra” into computer): “That car doesn’t use a 1/2-20, it uses an M12.”
Me: “Yes, I know. Mine did when it was new. But I fixed it. It now needs 1/2-20 lug nuts. Open. With a large acorn seat.”
Counter Person (yelling across the store): “Hey, Mitch, you know how to look up lug nuts by part number instead of by vehicle?” (to me) “Why’d you do that?”
Me: “I autocross the car, and needed longer wheel studs to mount my race wheels. Longer wheel studs are not available in M12, only 1/2-20.”
Counter Person (by now confused beyond all hope of salvage): “That’s weird.”
Me: “No, not really. Can’t you find anything by part category? Or, even better, just check the bins where you keep the lug nuts?”
Counter Person: “It only lets us look things up by car model, and I don’t know where the lug nuts are.” (My BS-O-Meter is now twitching heavily)
Me: “Does someone else know where the lug nuts are?”
Counter Person: “Mitch is the manager, he should know”.

Then I have to repeat the whole damn conversation with Mitch, who is completely confused by the concept of a customer ACTUALLY KNOWING EXACTLY WHAT HE/SHE WANTS! And even more perplexed, if that’s possible, that the small part in question isn’t even what the customer’s vehicle is supposed to use according to his computer…

Things went steadily downhill from there. Bottom line: all they had was the same small-seat nuts as seen in the blister packs.

Off to the next store, which was essentially a repeat of the first minus the presence of blister packs.

Off to the THIRD store, which was an almost-identical repeat of the first with the addition of the counter person bringing out closed lug nuts (that I can’t use because they’ll bottom out on the wheel studs long before they’re tight) except for my frustration level going off the charts.

At this point, I went home, sans new lug nuts.

I think my mistake was going to big chain parts stores instead of a good neighborhood independent store. Except that by the time I had a chance to actually do this today, all the indie stores were closed.




  1. Used to be they hired people who knew something about the stuff they were hired to sell or trained them to be knowledgeable. But they they discovered that that cost money and that most people didn’t really care whether the person selling really knows what they are talking about. So they stopped training. People kept on buying. But its now really frustrating for those of us who’d like a knowledgeable sales staff.


    1. The thing of it is, one of these store chains requires their counter folks to be ASE Certified, and the other I’ve always had good luck with before. Oh, well. The hunt will continue next week. At other stores.


  2. Almost sounds like what happened when I tried to replace the radio/CD player in the Grand Prix. Why the salesman at the store where I had bought the unit I was replacing thought my car still had the original factory radio, I do not know. What part of “You guys installed the unit that’s in currently in my car five years ago,” did he not understand?


    1. Well, car audio people are a breed apart… and recreational pharmaceuticals are a major part of their life, IMO…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s