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When putting the lug nuts back on after replacing a spare tire you're supposed to tighten them in a criss-cross pattern. So what do you do if you're replacing just a single lug nut? Do you go through the motions of tightening the others?

If you had a torque wrench I guess maybe you'd just see if the lug nut was installed with the appropriate torque I guess but I don't have a torque wrench..

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I'd recommend that you back them all off and re-tighten with a correctly set torque wrench.

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A full loosen and tighten sequence sounds like a good way to go. Without a torque wrench you can use a cross shaped lug wrench. With the car at ground level do the final tighten with your hands at 3 and 9 o'clock positions. Without hurting yourself pull up firmly with your left hand while pushing down firmly with your right hand. If the car is raised, use the 6 and 12 o'clock positions. Keep your arms straight and move with your shoulders.
The strict criss-cross pattern was only needed in the old days when wheels had flex and the bolt circle diameter was larger. On modern wheels a random criss-cross is fine. Just be sure to tighten the locking nut last.

  • An uneven tightness can cause wheel wobble or vibration when braking and, most people "guessing by hand" will be way out in terms of the torque value specified - sufficient for a "get you home" after a puncture... – Solar Mike Nov 15 '18 at 8:12

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