How to Replace Wheel Studs

Wheel studs are used to secure the wheels on the wheels hubs while you drive around. As they age, studs will tend to rust and become a little more fragile. If you hit a big bump on the road, one of your wheel studs may crack and break. Inexperienced mechanics tightening the wheels without a torque wrench or an Accu-torq tool might also strip the nuts’ threads, preventing the nuts to screw back on. If something like that happens, the stripped lug nut will need to be removed and the defective stud will need to be replaced right away. Here’s everything you need to know to replace wheel studs in no time, with only basic tools every weekend mechanics have in their tool chest.

Tools needed

  • Ratchet and socket set
  • Wrench set
  • Impact gun
  • Torque wrench or Accu-torq
  • Brass punch
  • P-320 sandpaper
  • Wheel bearing grease
  • Hammer
  • Jack or a hoist
  • Large flat head screwdriver or a prybar
  • Shop rags
  • Oil pan
  • Metal scrapper
  • Big metal washer

First steps

  1. If you are lucky enough to have a car hoist, raise it high enough so the wheels are at chest height. If not, you’ll have to use a car jack. Park the vehicle on a level surface and put it in Park or 1st gear. Make sure to pull the handbrake.
  2. Install some wheel stoppers behind the wheels staying on the ground.
  3. Raise the car on the jack and install jack stands under the car for maximum security.
  4. Remove all the nuts on the wheel with the faulty stud and remove the wheel from the car. *Make sure to wear safety goggles. Removing studs often sends small metal flakes everywhere so make sure you stay safe.
  5. To access the studs and have enough room to remove them, you’ll first need to disassemble the braking components. Start by removing the caliper and hook it up to the coil spring using an elastic cord or a ratchet tie-down. Remove the brake pads and the brakes pads holder.
  6. To make things easier for you, the rotor should be removed too. Unfortunately, rotors often seize and stick to the wheel hub. Carefully hit the center of the rotor using a hammer and see if it’s coming off. If not, try spraying the hub with rust loosener. If you absolutely can’t get it to come off, you may have enough room to remove the stud anyway. If not, you may have to replace the rotor altogether.

Removing the wheel stud

On cars equipped with conical bearings

  1. Remove the bearing cover using a flat head screwdriver.
  2. Take off the center nut. The nut could be locked in place using different devices. In all cases, you’ll new to use the screwdriver and pry the locking pin open. Remove the brake drum and watch out not to drop the bearing. Once the drum is removed, remove the other half of the bearing and put them on a clean shop rag.
  3. Clean both sides of the bearing using brake cleaner and inspect them thoroughly. If one of them appears to be faulty or rusted, the whole bearing should be replaced.
  4. Take out your brass punch and hit straight on the defective stud to push it out of the drum.
  5. Clean the inside of the hole using brake cleaner and a shop rag.

On vehicle equipped with bolt-on wheel hubs

Most of the times, with vehicles equipped with bolt-on wheel hubs, you’ll have more than enough room behind the hub to remove the stud without removing any other component. Simply hit the stud using a hammer and pull it through the hub from behind. If for some reason the stud doesn’t have enough room to come out completely, follow this procedure to remove the wheel hub. It’s important to mention that removing the wheel hub often damages the wheel bearing if it’s not in perfect condition and it will need to be replaced.

  1. Unplug the ABS connector behind the knuckle if the vehicle is equipped with an ABS system.
  2. Remove the wheel hub’s bolts. A pry bar may be necessary to pry the hub out of the knuckle.
  3. Install the hub in a bench vise with the studs pointing to the top.
  4. Hit the stud using a hammer and a brass punch until it comes out of the wheel hub and clean the hole using brake cleaner and a clean shop rag.

Rear wheels of FWD vehicles

  1. The first thing you’ll need to do is to remove the brakes. If the vehicle is equipped with rear disc brakes, remove the caliper bolts and take off the brakes pads and the pad holder. Remove the rotor and keep it aside. *If, on the other hand, the vehicle is equipped with drum brakes, you’ll only need to remove the drum. Hit on the drum’s face with a hammer once or twice and pull it out. If you haven’t maintained your rear brakes in a while, you may need to unscrew the brake adjustment screw a bit to allow the drum to slip over the brake shoes.
  2. Depending on the car model, you may not need to remove the brakes shoes and springs completely. On some vehicles like the Hyundai Accent, the wheel hub is bolted so it can be easily removed and worked on a workbench. Others may have specially designed holes in the backplate to remove the studs. Simply turn the hub and align the defective stud with the hole. If you are down on your luck, your car’s manufacturer may have skipped the easy stud removal idea and you’ll need to at least remove one of the brake shoes to make space for the stud to come out.

Installing the new stud

On cars equipped with conical bearings

  1. Slide in the new stud through the hole. Turn the drum over and hit the back of the stud with a hammer until it’s flat with the drum.
  2. Grease the bearing carefully with high-temperature wheel bearing grease and slide back the inner bearing in its place.
  3. Reinstall the outer bearing back in the drum. If the oil seal has been damaged in the process, replace it with a new one and install it using a dedicated oil seal punch or a big socket.
  4. Put the drum back on the knuckle and reinstall everything like in reverse order. Make sure to use a torque wrench to tighten the center nut according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Don’t forget to correctly lock the center nut.
  5. Reinstall the bearing cover and turn the wheel by hand to make sure the grease is evenly spread inside the cover.
  6. Put back the wheel on the car and torque it to 90lb-ft either using a torque wrench or an Accu-torque.

On vehicle equipped with bolt-on wheel hubs

  1. Reinstall the new stud inside the hub and push it in hard with your finger to make it ‘stick’ in the splines. Reinstall the wheel hub if you had to take it off in the first place.
  2. Slide a large and thick washer over the wheel stud and screw one of the lug nuts by hand. Take out your impact gun and slowly screw the nut while watching the back of the stud. It should start to come forward until the seat touches the hub.
  3. Plug the wheel speed sensor connector.
  4. Reinstall the wheel on the hub and tighten the nuts at 90lb-ft using a torque wrench or an Accu-torque.

On rear wheels of FWD vehicles

  1. Put the new stud back in its place and insert it using a hammer and a brass punch.
  2. Re-assemble all the brake components and the wheel hub if you removed it.
  3. Reinstall the drum on the wheel hub and readjust the brake shoes correctly.
  4. Position the wheel on the hub and tighten the lug nuts according to specifications.

Confirm the repair

  1. Turn the wheel by hand and watch out for scraping noises. An incorrectly positioned wheel stud will often grind against other parts while moving and produce a scratching metal noise.
  2. Raise the vehicle and remove the stands from under the car.
  3. Carefully drop the vehicle to the floor and check the tightness of the lug nuts a second time. Better safe than sorry.
  4. Perform a road test and pay attention to irregular vibration in the steering wheel and body of the vehicle. Make sure no unusual noises are coming from the wheels.

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