I am trying to drill out a lug on my old Dakota pickup truck. The cap came off the lug nut. I tried a nut extractor which basically carved the bolt into a nice circle. My next option was to drill out the lug. I was using black oxide bits. The pilot hole went great. I moved up to the next size bit and about 30 seconds in “pow”. It snapped off in the hole. Absolutely no way to get hold of it. Is there a harder drill bit I can use with a hand drill? I can’t even drive the truck somewhere to get it fixed because the tire has separated. The reason this nightmare began. Will a cobalt drill bit cut through the black oxide?

  • Remove the hub and wheel assembly and take that to a garage... – Solar Mike Jul 11 '19 at 14:28
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    Can you add a photo? It may prompt other ideas. – HandyHowie Jul 11 '19 at 14:31
  • By "nut extractor" are you referring to a locking lug nut removal tool? – mikes Jul 11 '19 at 19:05
  • No. An 18 mm socket bolt extractor. The kind that cuts into and grabs the bolt or nut head if it is rounded off. These lug nuts have the pretty little chrome caps on them. Once that breaks off the actual nut underneath is very soft metal. Dodge and Jeep are notorious for these crappy things. – Randall Tipton Jul 11 '19 at 20:15
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    Any type of bit will "wander" off the hard broken bit into the relatively soft steel hub/wheel. – blacksmith37 Jul 13 '19 at 20:35

Thanks to everyone for your input! Well I finally got the wheel off. After MULTIPLE cobolt bits I managed to drill down on three sides (triangle) around the broken bit and was finally able to break out the center part with the broken bit. Man I do not ever want to have to do that again. These lug nuts must have been hammered on by a 1000 pound gorilla using a 200 pound wrench...plus they have not been taken off in the last 17 years.

  • I'm trying to wrap my head around the marvel of manufacturing that led to brakes and tires that lasted 17 years. – 3Dave Dec 28 '19 at 2:43
  • Not that remarkable considering that for the last 12 or so years I have only averaged a couple hundred miles a year. I only use it to go to the garbage dump or to haul a load or two of mulch in the spring. – Randall Tipton Dec 29 '19 at 14:01
  • That makes sense, though I question the wisdom of driving on 17 year old tires of value your life. :) – 3Dave Dec 29 '19 at 21:04

In theory you could try a solid carbide, perhaps even an diamond-tipped, drill bit. Attention: Those tips are probably more expensive than a tow truck to the garage, success is not sure, and need careful handling.

In practice it would be more viable, as Solar Mike commented, to remove the hub and replace it / send it to a garage.


For under $100 US Harbor Freight sells a locking lug nut removal tool set. It is a set of sockets that cut into the damaged nut and allow it to be removed. The advantage of the set over individual sockets is you can use progressively smaller sockets if the lug nut continues to round off.

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