Stop Overtightening!

Waaaay back in the day when my brother and I were getting greasy under the hoods of VW Rabbits and Jettas, we coined a term: "rednecked." It's a verb, and while it can be used to describe many a not-so-thought-out scenario, our definition referred to the overtightening of bolts. I'll admit, there is something satisfying about pulling a wrench as hard as you can until it won't move another millimeter.

But you aren't doing your car any favors. In fact, most of the torque (bolt tightness) specifications would really surprise you. Sure, they're tight, but almost none of the bolts in your car are required to be rednecked.

Besides the obvious problem of the bolt being impossible to remove by the next guy, there are some more serious issues that arise when a bolt is overtightened. A rednecked bolt is undergoing more stress than it was designed to handle. This extra stress can cause the bolt or the nut to fatigue, weakening them and compromising the safety of your car. The most common victim of redneck tightening are your lug bolts. We sure do like to put a little extra grunt into tightening our wheel lugs. But if you don't properly tighten your lugs you are risking damage to both the bolts that hold your wheels on and your wheels themselves! This is especially true if your car has alloy wheels, as most do these days.

Overtightening the lugs on an alloy wheel can cause the metal to distress and weaken the area around the bolt holes. It would take an extreme situation, but you could seriously lose it if your wheel self-destructed at highway speed.

Treat your car's bolts with tough love. If you need to redneck something, grab the lawnmower and redneck the back yard.

Your significant other will no doubt thank you for it.

Update!
I've received a number of emails taking exception to my use of the word "redneck" to describe an offender of overtightening. Being from Georgia, I feel it's my right, and sometimes my duty, to be a redneck myself! That being said, I can also poke some fun from time to time. I never thought I'd see the day that self-proclaimed rednecks would be getting politically correct on us. However, I'm a man of change, so in honor of Jack, from here forward we will refer to "rednecking" as "hateful mechanicing."