Can You Drive a Car With Missing Lug Nuts?

Car with missing lug nuts

You can drive a car with missing lug nuts for a short period of time. However, it’s not safe to drive if only the first 3 lug nuts out of the 5 are intact.

A lug nut or a wheel nut is a tool that is responsible for holding the wheel in the right place of a vehicle. The number of lug nuts can be four to six, based on the type of vehicle you have. There are several types of vehicles that have loose wheel nut indicators. It means that it is possible to grab the lug nut, in case it is about to fall off.

While some vehicles come with a proper sensor, the others are not so advanced. In such a scenario, it is important to keep a regular check on the lug nuts, especially to see if there is a loose one. If there is a loose lug nut, it is mandatory to get it fixed immediately.

It is not possible to drive a car safely without lug nuts because the wheel receives an extra pressure exertion. As a result of this pressure, there can be major damage to the wheel bearings and studs. It also means that the remaining lug nuts can also fall off at any time. The maximum danger of a missing lug nut is that a wheel can simply fall off, leading to an accident.


How long can you drive with a missing lug nut?

You should not drive your car with 3 missing lug nuts. You need to take the car straight to the you mechanic and have the issue fixed as soon as possible.

Though it is potentially dangerous to drive a car with a missing lug nut, you can drive as the wheel bearings aren’t damaged. You should find a mechanic as soon as possible and get it fixed. It is also difficult to drive with a missing lug nut for a long time because the vehicle will start wobbling soon.

If only one out of all the lug nuts is missing, it is still possible to drive a vehicle safely. The only condition, in this case, is that the vehicle should not cross a certain speed limit. This is because the pressure created from the driving is distributed among the remaining lug nuts. It is still necessary to get the fixing done immediately because there is no guaranty on how long the remaining lug nuts will be able to bear the driving pressure.

Not paying attention to the remaining lug nuts will exert pressure and damage the wheel bearings causing more stress on them. It means that the bearings will start wearing out prematurely.


Can you drive a car with 3 out of 5 lug nuts?

Yes, you can drive a car with just 3 out of 5 lug nuts present in it.

There won’t be a problem initially if the person is driving within the minimum speed limit. It is still subjective to how tight the remaining three lug nuts are to bear the increasing exertion of pressure on them. Another factor to consider in this case is whether the wheel is still on the drivetrain axle.

There is a sequence of lug nuts in the wheel which means that the situation depends on which ones are missing. So, if numbers 1, 3, and 5 are intact, the wheel will remain intact.

However, if it is only numbers 1, 2, and 3 that are present, then there is a massive chance of losing control of the car. While it is alright to drive a car with 3 out of 5 lug nuts, it should only be driven to reach the nearest tire shop where the problem must be fixed immediately.


Can you drive a car with 4 out of 5 lug nuts?

You can drive a car with 4 out of 5 lug nuts intact.

Though it is safe to drive a car with 4 out of 5 lug nuts, it is not the ideal situation at all. It means that there is a requirement of checking the 4 lug nuts every now and then and tightening them in case of the slightest loosening too.

The car must also run only on a limited speed limit to avoid any kind of snapping or causing extreme pressure on the remaining lug nuts.

So, the best idea is always to get it repaired and fix the fifth lug nut which will cost very little money. Driving with a lug nut missing for a long time will damage the remaining lug nuts, the wheel bearing, and all the other parts.


How often do lug nuts need to be replaced?

The ideal time to replace lug nuts is after the car has run for a minimum of 10,000 miles.

The time before the next nut lug replacement majorly depends on what vehicle you are using. Most of the time, nut lugs are available at very reasonable costs. The fact that the nut lugs are what bears the extreme pressure of the car all the time, causes them to loosen at times.

The car owner must check such details at regular intervals. It is important to know that a loose lug nut can fall off at any time leaving the remaining ones in a vulnerable condition.

While a lot of people believe that these steel parts do not require regular fixing and replacement, the truth is just the opposite. Every part of a vehicle, including the lug nuts, need servicing and replacement for the vehicle to run safely.


How often should lug nuts be retorqued?

Manufacturers recommend that lug nuts should be retorqued after driving the first 50 to 100 miles. Any longer and there is likely to be dirt accumulated between the hub and the rim.

In addition to this, the constant vibration can possibly loosen lug nuts leaving the wheel studs and bearings vulnerable to premature damaging. Since professional retorquing requires only 25-30 minutes, it is best to get it done whenever necessary.


How much does it cost to replace a lug nut?

The average cost to replace a lug nut is anything between 102USD and 129USD. There are labor costs that can be anything from 90USD to 115USD and the nuts cost around 13USD.

This estimated cost of replacing lug nuts does not include any additional fees or taxes. So, the approximate cost of the complete replacement will be anything around 270USD. It is necessary to replace lug nuts after a maximum of 100 miles of driving after a new tire service.


How long does it take to replace a lug nut?

It can take anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours to a lug nut on a car.

There is also a difference in replacement time considering whether the lug nuts need general servicing or they are broken. In the case of the latter, replacing broken lug nuts may take a lot more time because it is complex. If it is a general replacement, then professionals will take around 30 minutes to finish the whole process. They are well-equipped with proper lug wrenches, and more. In case you do not have the proper equipment and still want to fix the problem, it may take you extra time.


How to replace a missing lug nut?

Here are the steps to be followed for lug nut replacement:

  • The lug nuts need to be loosened with the use of a wrench while the vehicle is steady on the ground. Then take jack stands and lift the vehicle to remove the lug nuts and the tire.
  • Pull off the brake caliper using a socket wrench. The caliper pins will be different depending on the vehicle. Some require star-drive bits, some need hex bits, etc. While the caliper is removed, hang it using a wire to keep the brake line weight free. Then pull off the mounting bracket of the caliper.
  • Pull off the rotor and keep it aside so that it does not come in contact with oil or dirt. Pull out the broken lugs (if any) using a good metal hammer. The fingers are enough to remove the defective nut from the hub flange’s rear.
  • Turn the wheel and align it with the nut hole with the fixing slot in front of the hub flange. Jack up the adjacent wheel ensuring that the axle is able to spin smoothly and match up with the nut hole.
  • It is important to use a metal-bristle brush to mop off any rust on the wheel. Lubricating the nut hole and the nut is essential too. Spin-in the bolt directly into the slot till it is not tight enough.
  • Fix a large nut over this bolt to function like a spacer. Finally, fix the new lug nuts over the edge of the new bolts. It should be done in a way that the large nut is sandwiched between the new bolt and the lug nut.



Lug nuts are small metal pieces that are quite essential for the safe running of a vehicle. While a missing lug nut will not be much of a trouble, it is always ideal to replace it within a short time to avoid any major problems.

Leave a Comment