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So I got 4 new tires put on my car a few months back and just took my car in for an oil change at a different garage. The guy there mentioned that I was missing a lug nut, and that they could put one on for me. He said that the lug nut itself was $2, but that it would cost $50 labor to put it on. He said that they would have to take the brake pad off or the caliper or some nonsense like that. I said no.

Anyway, I called up the garage that put the tires on and they said they would throw the lug nut for me at no cost.

I just want to make sure, this is just a simple matter of putting a lug nut on right? The stud is a bit rusty since its an old car, but seems to be completely fine otherwise. Was the guy at the other place just trying to make a quick buck off of me, or is there more to putting on a lug nut than I am aware of?

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    There is a lug nut, then there is a lug stud, $50 sounds like a lug stud replacement to me. – Moab Feb 20 at 17:02
  • I agree with @Moab, they were probably actually offering to replace the stud, not just put on a lug nut. Replacing a stud would require disassembly down to the hub including removal of the caliper and disc. 50$ would be a fair price for the work. – Rob K Feb 21 at 15:08
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If there's nothing crazy going on with your studs or wheels, then no, it should be no trouble at all to put on a lug nut. To do it properly requires nothing more than a decent torque wrench that you trust, and the correct fitting socket. It sounds kind of ridiculous that the guy would try to make $50 off of installing a lug nut, but there's nothing else that can explain that kind of demand.

EDIT: As others have pointed out, it's possible that your mechanic was referring to replacement of the wheel stud. In that case, $50 makes a lot more sense, but without knowing the condition of the stud and the actual conversation that went down, it would be very difficult for us to say for sure if that was what he meant.

  • That's what I figured. I was about to just buy the lug nut for 2 bucks and put it on myself, but I didn't want to give them any more business. Plus I figured the other place should take care of it since it was them that touched it last. – greglorious_85 Feb 20 at 14:51
  • Hmm, a "good inexpensive torque wrench"... not found one of those in a long time... I have always found good or accurate means expensive: Facom, Snap On etc... – Solar Mike Feb 20 at 16:38
  • @SolarMike About clickers, I agree. Do you know how clicker-wrenches are calibrated? They are calibrated by a beam-type torque standard. By purchasing a beam-type wrench, you can actually get an INEXPENSIVE and a GOOD wrench at the same time. Such a wrench never requires any calibration except perhaps resetting the zero point. Oh, it isn't as convenient, but if you can sacrifice a bit of convenience, you can get a good and an inexpensive wrench. – juhist Feb 20 at 18:49
  • @juhist I would offer that most torque wrenches are NOT calibrated, in any fashion. Perhaps the expensive ones are calibrated once (Snap-On). It's up to the user to calibrate regularly, regardless of the type or cost. Snap-On will do this in their truck, usually free if you have a working relationship with your dealer. I'm as guilty as anyone - and I own thousands of dollars with of torque equipment. The least you can do is reset the click tension to 0 before wiping it down and putting it back in the tool box. [Apologies for the leftover rant, it's OT in this thread] – SteveRacer Feb 22 at 3:28
  • Oh, I've gotten myself started. You move it smoothly until it clicks, and then a few more times to make sure, right??? [sigh] – SteveRacer Feb 22 at 3:30
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Most people know little about cars and some garages exploit this to make money off peoples ignorance.

That garage tried that with you, quite egregiously imo.

Don't take your car back there!

  • Hey, I was first! :P – Kitsunemimi Feb 20 at 14:50
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    StackExchange isn't for naming and shaming, and it does seem unlikely that a repair shop would try to get away with charging 50 dollars to carry out a one minute operation that is well within the capability of even an inexperienced car owner. It sounds like there was possibly more to the story than you've described or understood - 50 dollars would be a reasonable amount to charge for replacing the bolt that the lug nut screws onto. – Caius Jard Feb 21 at 3:01

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