8 Simple Steps to Replacing a Stripped Wheel Stud

01
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Preparation and Tools

wheel studs
These five studs are the only thing holding your wheel on. Craig Howell/Flickr

Level of Difficulty:

Novice

Tools You'll Need:

  • A Replacement Wheel Stud!
  • Lug wrench
  • Open end wrench
  • Crescent wrench
  • Dead blow hammer
  • Impact wrench (if available)

A wheel stud that is damaged or stripped can be dangerous and should be replaced as soon as possible. As long as you have a reasonable level of auto repair ability it should be no problem. This tutorial covers vehicles with disc brakes. If your car has drum brakes in the rear you can't use this method.

Your wheel studs are what attach the wheel to the hub. Basically, they are the only thing keeping your wheels from flying off. When they get stripped, cross-threaded, damaged or just plain break off, your wheel is at risk of passing you on the highway. I've seen this happen and to describe it as scary is an understatement. Don't wait on this repair. Even in a best case scenario, nobody will behest but you'll be facing a much larger repair bill. 

Before you begin, be sure to have the proper replacement wheel stud on hand if possible. If you can't be sure, be sure you have a ride to the auto parts store so that you can take your old stud in for comparison.

02
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Remove the Brake Caliper and Rotor

Remove the brake rotor and caliper.
Brake caliper and e-brake adjustment removed. photo Roy Bertalotto

With your wheel off and your car supported safely on jack stands, it's time to remove the brake caliper and rotor to access the hub. We have to work our way inside in order to remove the old wheel stud and have enough room to move around in there.

If your wheel stud is in the rear, you'll also have to remove the assembly that holds the emergency brake cable and adjustment. If it's just a cable, grasp the end with adjustable pliers or Vise-Grips and pull it out of its carrier. You might have to remove the adjustment wheel if you have that type of emergency brake.

03
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Re-Using the Old Studs

Wheel stud protection plan.
Protect the stud if you plan to re-use it later. photo Roy Bertalotto

If you're replacing a wheel stud for a reason other than damage and you want the possibility of re-using them at a later date, you need to protect the threads. You can do this by screwing a couple of wheel bolts (or similarly fitting bolt) onto the stud before you pound on it.

04
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Remove the Old Wheel Stud

Hammer time for wheel studs.
A couple of blows and the wheel stud is free. photo Roy Bertalotto

This is one auto repair that is less about technique and more about brute force. Take your dead blow hammer (or another heavy hammer if you don't have a dead blow) and give the front of the old wheel stud a few good whacks until it comes out the back of the hub.

05
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Putting the New Wheel Stud In Place

Find a space to slide the wheel stud in.
Slide the wheel stud into position. photo Roy Bertalotto

It can be tricky, but there is usually space to slide the old stud out and the new wheel stud in. If you don't have easy access, rotate the hub to see if there is an area or position that provides enough clearance to get the new stud in there.

Insert the new wheel stud into the hole from the back.

06
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Seating the New Wheel Stud

Stack the nuts to seal the deal.
Use nuts to pull the wheel stud into place. photo Roy Bertalotto

With the new wheel stud in position through the hole, screw a couple of wheel bolts onto the stud. You'll use these to pull the new stud into place with a wrench or impact wrench.

07
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Tightening the New Wheel Stud

Tighten the new wheel stud.
An impact wrench tightens the new wheel stud. photo Roy Bertalotto

If you have an impact wrench, now's the time to grab it, strap on the correct size socket and let it do the hard work. If not, you can use a lug wrench or a 1/2-inch drive socket wrench with a long handle.

Simply tighten the bolts you put in place until the new wheel stud is fully seated. You can look on the back side of the hub to see when it is fully seated.

08
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Finishing Up and Re-Assembling the Brakes

New wheel stud installed.
Your new wheel stud installed. photo Roy Bertalotto

You're almost finished. Now just reinstall your brake rotor and caliper, put your wheel back on and you're ready to roll again. Don't forget to double check your lug nut tightness!