A neighbor friend of mine offered to change my brakes on my Pontiac Torrent, well my husband had the proper tool to remove the lug nuts off my car in his truck, and the neighbor along with some other helpful bystanders took it upon themselves to crank, strip, smash, hammer, melt tweak and literally beat the absolute hell out of one of my lug nuts. My husband came home and popped off all the other lug nuts with ease because he had the proper tool. But the final one that had been damaged beyond recognition is still on.

My vehicle is completely undriveable as well as one side has brakes and the side that the lug nut is stuck on doesn’t. So I can’t even drive it to a mechanic!

My lug nut has been chiseled, hammered, torched, and drilled and it’s still not going anywhere. What else can I do? It’s been a week since this fiasco started.

lug nut

  • I feel your pain @VictoriaDixon, in order to help we need more details. Is the nut recessed in an alloy wheel, or does it stick out?
    – GdD
    Jul 30, 2018 at 12:56
  • 1
    @GdD I get the feeling it is recessed - otherwise with what they tried it would have died by now...
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 30, 2018 at 12:59
  • 2
    That is one mangled nut.. From what I can see either drilling or calling a mechanic/tow truck seems viable..
    – Martin
    Jul 30, 2018 at 14:28
  • 30
    Do not ever let those neighbors" help" you again. Jul 30, 2018 at 14:29
  • 12
    Did the Neighbour do all that damage to the wheel? if so he really ought to be getting you a replacement wheel, in which case it might be easier to cut the wheel.
    – Dave Smith
    Jul 30, 2018 at 14:33

10 Answers 10


The first thing I'd establish is to work out if the hub can be removed from the car with the wheel still attached. I encountered a similar scenario some years ago working on a car with locking wheel lugs and no key. I was able to remove the hub cap, dust cover and large castle bolt which allowed me to put the wheel and hub assembly on the bench. Doing this may also mean you can drill the wheels stud out from the back which may be easier.

Failing that, I'd order a "locking wheel nut removal kit" which is essentially a selection of sockets with a reverse thread in them so as you turn it in the direction required to unscrew the lug nut, it tightens itself onto the nut until it binds at which point the nut begins to unscrew.

Another option to try is finding a sacrificial deep or semi-deep socket that is an interference fit for the nut then welding through the centre of the socket onto the lug nut. You can then turn it off normally.

It may be worth calling your local auto shop. Yes, you can't drive it to them but some may be happy to come to you with a selection of tools or recover it to their shop on a tow truck or trailer.

Good luck, it's an awful pickle to be in.

  • 24
    Just driving a sacrificial deep well socket onto the offending lug nut will often work. You don't need to weld it onto the lug nut ... it does, however, require it to be very snug. Just hammer it into place with no hope of ever recovering the socket. +1 for a pretty good list of things to try here. Jul 30, 2018 at 13:16
  • 3
    The sacrificial socket is exactly what I was going to suggest. You're going to ruin it, so don't expect to ever be able to use the socket again.
    – delliottg
    Jul 30, 2018 at 17:47
  • 1
    Sometimes - when the bolt head has a sufficient height - i use a bolt cutter to unscrew. In this case, the head is so damaged that the "locking bolt removal kit" seems the only solution before more brutal and definitive tries.
    – Benj
    Aug 1, 2018 at 14:16
  • Is the "locking wheel nut removal kit" the same as a "sunken stud extractor", which you'd use for any stud/bolt/screw with a sheared-off head? It's just a taper (like a drift) with a left-hand thread to bite the stud. If so, sounds like the right approach - drill a big enough pilot hole (but not so big that you hit the threads), insert the tool, and turn anticlockwise until it bites. Then keep turning until the stud is out. Aug 1, 2018 at 14:45
  • @TobySpeight Not quite the same but the same theory. Remember that a lug but is literally a nut. The stud it’s attached to protrudes from the hub. With a “wheel bolt” a stud extractor could in theory be used. Think of a locking wheel bolt remover as a socket which attaches to any but that’s roughly the same size, irrespective of condition and without any flanks. Aug 1, 2018 at 14:52

For stubborn nuts , heat the nut with a torch, then move the flame away and immediately apply WD-40 or any other penetrating oil against the heated bolt threads. The quick change from high heat to to the cool oil will cause the nut to retract and expand, allowing the penetrating oil deeper into the threads to create a slippery surface. You can do this multiple times. Just make sure there is nothing flammable around when torching. After doing this a couple times, use a breaker bar to pull it free.

If that fails, I would then use an angle grinder to cut a groove in the nut, and use a flathead bit on an impact to get it out.

Good luck!

  • 5
    Just make sure there is nothing flammable around when torching. Like the previous round of WD-40?
    – AaronD
    Jul 31, 2018 at 5:15
  • The previous round of wd-40 won't explode, but a can of wd-40 sitting nearby may explode.
    – harvey
    Jul 31, 2018 at 5:18
  • 2
    Don't pour WD-40 or any other lubricant if it's too hot : it will disintegrate before penetration. The good temperature for maximum penetration before disintegration is just around 100°C - you can test it on the bolt with a wet sponge.
    – Benj
    Aug 1, 2018 at 14:18
  • Re the angle-grinder technique: I had to do this once (locking wheel nuts - the lugs in the key sheared off, and no spare key). I cut the best square-edged slot in just one side of the head, then applied a cold chisel to impact-torque it anticlockwise until it started to move, after which it was easily removed with grip pliers. Aug 1, 2018 at 14:55

Getting a nut off in this case can be done, how you would attack it depends on access to it. If the nut sticks out you could use a nut breaker to crack it off, or get a big pair of locking pliers, tightening the damn thing down as much as you can.

If you can't get a pliers or nut breaker on then I'd try to use a rotary tool and a metal cutting disk to cut a deep groove on the top of the nut, then use a big, fat flathead screwdriver on it. Be careful not to cut into your alloy doing it though, and protect the alloy from the sparks with some tape.

Last you can also buy special socket tools which wind on.

Before you do anything though spray the nut and the area around it liberally with penetrating fluid like WD40. Do that several times and give it an hour to soak in. Works wonders.


Well, the only thing I can suggest is to drill it out with a sharp drill, but for that to work there will need to be a drill-guide so that the wheel does not get damaged (anymore...)

  • 2
    If drilling, use some lubricant too. Trying to drill it dry will blunt the drill bit long before the nut releases it's grip. Jul 30, 2018 at 13:09
  • 3
    From the look of the picture, this is the ONLY answer that makes sense. There's nothing left to grab, with whatever magic socket arrangement you could come up with. Center punch by eye, start with 1/8" or so, just drill about 1/2" deep, and then gradually increase drill size until pieces of the nut start breaking loose. There will be minimal [additional] damage to the rim if you don't go too deep. Use plenty of lubricant and work slowly. If you overheat the bits they will loose temper and no longer cut. Find somebody other than your neighbor(s)...
    – SteveRacer
    Jul 31, 2018 at 1:04
  • 1
    it would probably be easier to drill the center stud out of the socket. The broken nut would be your guide and the remainder stud is easily replaceable when the wheel comes off.
    – John Lord
    Aug 1, 2018 at 16:43

Get a socket you don't mind ruining and weld it to the nut. Then use a pipe on the end of the socket wrench for some leverage. As messed up as that lug already is, use a decent quality socket wrench or that thing could break under the force (I've done that a couple of times). If you don't have access to a welder you can try some JB Weld (lots of places sell it). Use the JB Weld as a "last resort" though, because if it doesn't hold the socket there may be residue on the nut itself making things even tougher.

Just know that you are probably going to lose the bolt (wheel stud) as a result of this. It isn't a huge deal: assuming nothing else is damaged, it can be replaced without too much difficulty.

The safe way to do this is put all tires on as well as you can, as many lugs as you can, and get a tow to a shop. Let them do the socket welding trick. Also, please egg your neighbors' house.

  • Instead of risking destruction of a socket wrench, just weld the prying pipe or bar to the socket.
    – WGroleau
    Jul 30, 2018 at 22:01
  • You would only destroy the wrench if it is cheap and can't handle the torque. I bend the handle of a cheap wrench once because I had to use a pipe to get extra leverage. On another (very cheap ratchet) I once broke then drive square right off. As long as it isn't a cheap wrench they should be fine.
    – nurdyguy
    Jul 30, 2018 at 22:13
  • 4
    That's what a breaker bar is for, any place where you would use a ratchet but are not sure it can handle the torque. Jul 31, 2018 at 0:40
  • 3
    Why weld a socket on there when you could just weld on an old nut. then use the socket as normal to remove it. Jul 31, 2018 at 14:27
  • 1
    I used short bolts when I used the welding trick to remove some Locking nuts I didn't have keys for. you can use a thicker bolt with a bigger hex on it.
    – Dave Smith
    Aug 1, 2018 at 8:14

I bought a car that had wheel locks. Basically weird shaped lugs with special sockets to remove them. Of course the previous owner lost the unlock sockets.

On 1 wheel I put a socket over it and hit it with a sledgehammer. The socket split. I tried again with thicker sockets. It worked...eventually.

The other 3 I took a grinder and cut a flat edge on 2 sides of the lug nut until I could slip a good size (I want to say 11/16) wrench on it. That seemed easiest, the other 3 locks were off in about 20 mins.

  • 3
    they sell replacement socket kits that fit every single wheel lock available. My local mechanic has one.
    – John Lord
    Aug 1, 2018 at 16:44

Get the kind of cutting wheel that fits on a drill motor so you can cut almost flush with the wheel. Cut off both the nut and the lug. Then you can drive with the other four lugs/nuts to a place that can replace the cut-off lug.

  • I think you missed the part of the question that states that the vehicle can't be driven until after the wheel is removed (to access the brakes). Aug 1, 2018 at 14:48
  • When the lug is removed, the wheel can be removed, the brakes can be fixed, and the car can be driven.
    – WGroleau
    Aug 1, 2018 at 15:46
  • 1
    Ah, I think I understand this answer now. There's a missing "complete the brake work" between the last two sentences! Aug 1, 2018 at 16:03

The hard part is that if it's stuck hard enough that it didn't come off before, the various normal methods for removing a stuck bolt may not get enough grip. Also it looks like things are bent enough that maybe it's touching the hub rim...

But, if the other methods fail, short of buzzing the whole thing off with a grinder and then drilling out what few threads remain and replacing the stud, you might be able to split the nut. Take a dremel-type rotary tool and carefully slice down either side of the nut but not so deeply that you damage the threads, then stick a large cold-chisel (metal-cutting chisel) in the notch and give it a couple good whacks with a large hammer. With luck you can break the nut in half without too much damage to the stud.

Otherwise, buzz it off, drill it out, replace the stud. Should take less than three hours if you have the tools and are good with your hands. Put some PTFE tape on the threads when you put the nuts back on to keep them from rusting in place next time since your lug nuts don't have caps.


Im going to try a hole saw cutting enough of the outer portion of the nut to break it out (hopefully) using a hole saw small enough to pass threw the hole in the rim. Basically cutting the threads off. If that doesn't work I'll hole saw right through the rim big enough so the nut will fit through. 4 out of 5 still there is good enough for me. ;)


Torch it. Melt the lug to slag and remove the wheel. Replace the stud yourself or drive to a mechanic with 4/5 lugs on and have them do it.

  • 6
    I'm not sure how you'd accomplish this without damaging the rim? The rim itself will act as a heat sink. In order to get the lug/lug nut to a temperature which would melt it off, you'd end up destroying the rim and hub in the process. I doubt this is something the OP is looking to have happen. Jul 30, 2018 at 16:53
  • except the rim acts as a heat sink? mechanics have to cut off bolts this way all the time.
    – John Lord
    Aug 1, 2018 at 16:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .