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When putting wheels back on a car, you place them on and torque them to spec. Now, most if not all manufacturers say to re-torque them after 50 miles. What is the procedure for this?

  1. Do you just make sure they are all torqued?
  2. Loosen one bolt at a time and re-torque it?
  3. Loosen and re-torque more than one?
  4. Or what?

I've been doing number one for a while, but I don't recall ever seeing an "official" way to do this in service manuals. I would assume this just means check them. But then the word re-torque implies some kind of loosening and re-tightening, no? Or am I thinking about it too much?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

In an ideal world where time plays no issue you would torque all the lug nuts to 1/3 of the reccomended torque in a crisscross pattern. Reset the torque wrench to 2/3 of the torque spec and tighten again in a crisscross pattern. Finally set the wrench to 100% of the torque spec and do the final tightening. After 50 miles recheck the lugs with the wrench set at full reccomended torque. This is to insure that nothing came loose. From that point you should be fine until the next time a wheel is removed. Now if you you are on the side of the road fixing a flat, use the same technique. Tighten each nut with a lug wrench getting progressively tighter each time. At the first available chance check them with a torque wrench.

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3  
I've found that's fine for steel wheels, but alloy wheels not so much. I check torque on my alloys once a week (after the first 50 mile re-torque) until they hold torque for 2 weeks in a row. Some wheels can take a month of doing that before they decide to stay put. Others just need an extra week. – Brian Knoblauch Aug 3 '12 at 19:16
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I see, so the answer is: Just make sure they are still torqued--don't loosen and re-tighten. Thanks. I feel better knowing that I am doing it the correct way. – Nick Aug 5 '12 at 15:19
    
@Nick: I'm thinking if you loosen them, you'll be resetting the counter, and will need to retorque them again after however many miles. – Mathieu K. Jul 7 at 5:08
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The point of retorquing (tightening to spec again, after having done it once) is to give the wheels a chance to settle onto the hubs, and the nuts onto the wheels. Bits of grit or rust between these surfaces (disturbed in the removal and replacement of the wheels) can work themselves loose, making it so the nuts aren't as tight as you originally made them. There may be other explanations; that's the one I remember. – Mathieu K. Jul 7 at 5:12

When getting new oil/tires rotated at your dealer make sure you check the lugs on all tires. Mechanics like to use a torque stick to secure lugs. This device fits on the end of an air driver—the loud whoosh noise heard in repair shops—most shops have a stick set that goes from 40lb-100lb and are color coded for different torque strengths. Sometimes a tech will use the wrong torque stick they use a 90LB (yellow stick) on a lug nut that's only supposed to be torqued to 80LB(orange stick)Trying to get more paying customers out the door, they get careless. Sometimes a over torqued lugs (especially drive wheels) will fail. Tires come off. My daughter was lucky. Buy a torque wrench and learn how to use it. Regards, BB

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You should register for Stack Exchange and join the crowd! Welcome to the site! – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 6 at 22:18

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