Best Lug Nuts: Keep Your Car’s Wheels Secure
If your car’s lug nuts are looking worse for wear, it’s time to replace them
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BY Alice Musyoka / LAST UPDATED ON October 21, 2019
It's easy to lose track of the small bits and pieces in your vehicle, including the lug nuts. These tiny wheel parts can be overlooked by those who choose to focus on a vehicle's more vital components, but they shouldn’t be. They have the important role of keeping your tires connected to the hub. We’ve created this guide to help you choose the best lug nuts for your wheels.
20 high-quality lug nuts with tapered acorn seat that have been precision engineered out of chrome vanadium steel and finished in matte black. Each are 1.36 inches high and 0.8 inches wide. They have a thread size of 12mm x 1.25mm or 12mm x 1.5mm.
- Scratch- and corrosion-resistant finish
- Relevant socket tool is included with the set for convenient and easy installation
- Shipped loose in a plastic bag with no protection for a painted finish
- Only available in sets of 20, so you might end up with some left over
Acorn-style lug nuts with closed ends and 60-degree tapered seat. Nuts are 1.4 inches (35.56mm) long and 0.87 inches (22.1mm) wide with 12mm x 1.5mm size thread. Suitable for use with a 19mm hex wrench.
- Features triple chrome plating for corrosion-resistant strength and classic style
- Conveniently available in a wide range of pack sizes, including single lug nuts
- Installation instructions are not included
- Will not fit factory OEM aluminum wheels for Honda, Toyota, or Lexus
Pack of 20 lug nuts with extended 48mm length and knurled, open-ended design compatible with a 17mm lug wrench (included). Crafted from chrome vanadium for guaranteed durability and available in two thread sizes (12mm x 1.25mm and 12mm x 1.5mm).
- Individual nuts weigh less than 2 ounces
- Available in a range of different colors, including black, purple, and neon chrome
- Paint finish is easily damaged during the fitting and general use and does not last very long
- Lug nuts may experience rusting relatively fast
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Benefits of Lug Nuts
- Function. Lug nuts, or wheel locks, might be tiny and easy to ignore, but they play a massive role in the most basic operation of your car. In short, they hold the wheels on.
- Safety. Properly fitting lug nuts constructed from strong, robust materials will keep you rolling, no matter how bumpy the road gets.
- Performance. If you’re looking to improve your vehicle’s performance by reducing weight, it’s possible to replace the original lug nuts with ones made out of much more lightweight material, such as titanium.
- Cost-effective. On a similar note, if you live in a particularly humid (or just outright wet) climate, you might find that your wheel locks rust and become corroded much quicker than you’d like. Swapping the manufacturer’s lug nuts out for a chrome-plated set will reduce the speed of corrosion and may save you money in the long run.
- Style. They might be one of the smallest and most basic elements of your car, but that doesn’t mean you can’t invest in new lug nuts for entirely aesthetic purposes.
- Security. If you’ve also invested in a set of after-market alloys or fancy rims, you’ll likely need to upgrade your lug nuts to match the new mounting holes. Investing in a set that can’t be removed with a standard socket tool will help deter potential thieves.
Types of Lug Nuts
There are various types of lug nuts available on the market, and the type you need will depend on your specific vehicle and, more importantly, your wheels. The only real difference between one type of lug nut and another is the shape of the seat. The seat is the part of the lug nut that comes into contact with the wheel itself.
Also known as acorn lug nuts, these are the most common type and are described as “conical” because the base tapers in at an angle of approximately 60 degrees. They’re designed to fit conical holes, are straightforward to fit, and easy to center.
As the name suggests, the seat on these lug nuts is spherical or rounded. They are difficult to differentiate from conical seat lug nuts when attached to the wheel because their heads are almost identical.
This type of lug nut is one of the most difficult to fit and center successfully. The seat is flat and resembles a washer.
So-called because they were originally constructed from magnesium, the mag seat lug nut has an extended thread and a washer. They’re generally used when a longer thread is simply required.
McGard was born in 1964 after a precision engineering company, L.D. Macauley, Inc., switched up its business plan and started manufacturing and distributing wheel locks full-time. It’s a certified, globally-recognized brand with offices across the world, but its headquarters can be found in Orchard Park, New York. Its extensive product range includes these cone-seat wheel locks.
Specializing in aftermarket wheel accessories since its inception in 1990, White Knight is based in Norwalk, Calif. The company offers a wide range of ISO-certified lug nuts that, according to its website, are individually hand-polished before plating, for an even better finish. Check out this set of 20 lug nuts in black chrome.
The president of Gorilla Automotive Products, Inc., Peter J. Schermer, is quoted on its website as saying, “We’re so proud of our product, we put our name on it.” The company has been making wheel accessories for 40 years and is based in Los Angeles. These Chrome Acorn Wheel Locks are part of its line in lug nuts and are available in a range of sizes.
Lug Nuts Pricing
- Basic (under $50): You should be able to pick up a set of budget-friendly lug nuts for less than $50. These will likely be chrome-plated and incompatible with anything but the included key. Fortunately, the key is still expected to be fairly user-friendly—just don’t lose it.
- Premium ($100-$200): On the other side of the price scale is where the lug nuts constructed out of cold-forged steel and other high-end alternatives live. You’ll find that they are light, relatively thin-walled and (usually) designed to fit smaller wheels.
Thread Size and Pitch
Lug nuts are screwed onto the threaded bolts—also known as studs—that poke out through the holes in your vehicle’s wheels. For your lug nuts to fit onto these studs, you need to buy ones with compatible thread size and thread pitch. The thread size is the outside diameter of the bolt which then corresponds with the width of the hole in the lug nut. In non-metric studs, the pitch is the number of threads per inch. In metric studs, it’s the distance between the threads in millimeters. The relevant measurements should be in your vehicle manual (unless it’s been modified, in which case you need to check them yourself), or you can measure them with a pitch thread gauge.
This is the part of the lug nut that will ultimately sit against the wheel surface, and there are different shapes to choose from. The most common are acorn (or tapered) seats, ball seats, and flat seats or mag seats, which are also flat but include a separate washer.
Poorly fitting lug nuts can negatively affect both safety and appearance, so it’s important that you measure all the relevant dimensions before buying new ones. This includes the overall length and outside diameter. If you’re after lug nuts with a mag-style seat, you’ll also need to confirm the correct shank length and diameter.
You might be upgrading your lug nuts out of necessity rather than any style decision, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick a set that looks cool. You can get lug nuts in all kinds of finishes and colors, including black, silver, chrome, and even red and blue. Go wild and choose your favorite!
- The Right Lug Nuts. There are three things that you need to know if you want to buy lug nuts and actually be able to use them: the bolt pattern, the seat type, and the stud size.
- How Many Do You Need? This will depend on how many bolts (or studs) you have on each wheel. Four or five is a pretty good guess, but some vans and SUVs might need as many as eight lug nuts per wheel.
- Style. Upgrading your wheel lug nuts is a simple and subtle way of adding extra style to your vehicle. Consider which color and type will look best on your vehicle.
- Security. Choosing a set of lug nuts that require a non-standard socket tool to remove them will certainly help if you’re worried about theft, but remember that most lug nuts are not really a suitable swap for specially designed wheel locks.
Best Lug Nuts Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Know the size of your wheel bolts. The diameter and thread pitch of the lug nuts are big factors in how they fit. Most lug nuts have a 1.5 thread pitch and a diameter of about 12mm.
- Check if the lug nuts are compatible with OEM wheels. Some car manufacturers make vehicle-specific lug nuts. The last thing you want is to buy lug nuts and later find out they aren’t compatible with your car's wheels.
- Do not use machines to install the lug nuts. Install each one by hand. However, you can use a machine after you are sure the lug nut is securely in place to fasten it.
Q: Are lug nuts covered by a warranty?
Reputable companies give a warranty for their products. If you receive defective lug nuts, you can return them. However, it is advisable to seek clarification with the company on its warranty policy.
Q: Can I replace OEM lug nuts with aftermarket lug nuts?
In the past, it was a cardinal rule to stick to OEM lug nuts if the original ones got damaged. But these days, most lug nut manufacturers make precision machined aftermarket lug nuts that fit the wheels of most vehicles.
Q: What type of lug nuts fit my truck?
Trucks typically require longer lug nuts. You have to confirm the length of your wheel studs before purchasing any lug nuts for your truck. However, some lug nuts fit small vehicles as well as trucks.
Our overall top pick is the super-stylish, Gorilla Automotive Narrow Acorn Black Lug Kit, which is durable and resistant to scratches and corrosion.
The ever-popular DPAccessories D3116 Acorn Lug Nuts, with triple chrome plating, are our best value option.