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ChrisTropea
ChrisTropea Associate Editor
2/24/23 4:33 p.m.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/UFYnIREmcwM

Lots of German cars left the factory with wheel bolts, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with them every time you need to remove the wheels.

Instead, why not swap to lug studs? Here’s how we converted our 2017 Volkswagen GTI project car from wheel bolts to lug studs using a kit from 034 Motorsport.

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Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/24/23 6:03 p.m.

 why not swap to lug studs?

Reasons.  laugh

 

If one is careful with the lug nuts, not overtorquing and not using lug nuts that are threaded all the way to the base, they are perfectly fine, but bolts are a lot more hamfist-tolerant.

 

Shanked lug nuts eliminate the thread damage issues but they introduce their own problems.

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
2/25/23 3:18 p.m.

Installing wheels onto my E30 sucked so much less when I changed to studs.

AAZCD-Jon (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD-Jon (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
2/26/23 5:28 p.m.

Nice video. I'm putting some spacers on and really prefer studs over bolts. No worry for having the right length bolts and easy to swap different wheel configurations.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/27/23 9:08 a.m.

I converted the M3 to studs. So much easier. 

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/1/23 2:28 p.m.

So last August at the Glen a number of cars broke studs that needed to be extracted and replaced. This was a BMW CCA event so lots of wheel bolts in the pits. I asked our group who had ever broke a wheel bolt and nobody had but breaking studs seemed almost commonplace. I'm sure part of that is more cars on the racier end of things are running studs and being pushed harder but there were still lots of heavy M3/4's rolling around on stock hardware with sticky tires not having any problems.

So other than it is slightly easier to mount a tire (which matters for a race car where super quick tires changes are important) why would I actually want to spend the money to convert to studs for my track/autocross only car? Seems like an expensive way to make an important system less reliable

MrJoshua
MrJoshua UltimaDork
5/1/23 5:15 p.m.

In reply to adam525i :

I'm curious how many of them went to studs because they were using spacers? That could be a contributing factor for breakage.

I plan to change my son's audi tt to studs. It has different width spacers front and rear with the appropriate length bolts. Some day either he, or someone else besides me is going to change the wheels and put the bolts in the wrong place.  Then, the wheels are going to fall off one end, and the bolts are going to go right into the abs ring on the other

repoman
repoman New Reader
5/1/23 5:21 p.m.

https://www.core4motorsports.com/gallery-of-broken-bmw-wheel-studs
 

My E46 is getting switched back to bolts this season. 

LanEvo
LanEvo GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/1/23 6:18 p.m.

I've converted all my BMWs and Benzes to lug studs. The only thing I would add is I run an ARP thread cleaning chaser bit through each hole before installing the new studs. With 30+ year-old cars, there's always some corrosion/dirt/junk in there. I feel better starting with clean threads.

LanEvo
LanEvo GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/1/23 6:48 p.m.

As for broken lug studs...here are some thoughts.

  • There's a huge quality differential. MSI studs have proven to be bulletproof. Good enough for NASCAR, IMSA, Pirelli World Challenge, etc. etc. anyway.
  • People tend to over-torque them when installing, which stretches them out and weakens them. You need to torque them to something like 18-20 lbs/ft. Barely more than hand-tight. The fact that broken studs always break right in the hub suggests this is the primary issue.
  • People tend to do stupid E36 M3 like slathering wheel/hub mating surfaces in anti-seize, which makes it harder to keep the wheel clamped in place.

 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/1/23 8:40 p.m.
adam525i said:

So other than it is slightly easier to mount a tire (which matters for a race car where super quick tires changes are important) why would I actually want to spend the money to convert to studs for my track/autocross only car? Seems like an expensive way to make an important system less reliable

It's a lot more than "slightly easier", IME.

200 track hours on my E46 M3 race car with studs and so far so good.  They do get replaced on the same interval as the wheel bearings, though.  Buy the good ones, install them properly, and then don't drive around with either overtorqued or (even worse) loose lug nuts.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/1/23 8:52 p.m.

I suspect that they break at the hub because that is where the stress is.

I am not pointing fingers, but I also do wonder about wheel torquing habits.  Any wheel that has tapered or ball seat lug nuts is lugcentric, to some small degree.  If you zip the first lug nut down tight, the wheel is clamped THERE, even though the other four lugs are off center relative to the wheel.  Tightening the other lug nuts isn't going to center the wheel, there is now too much friction because of that first one.

Then you drive it, and braking and cornering forces are enough to shift the wheel.  Now you have four loose lugs and one tight one.  The wheel will continue to shift around, and will eventually break the tight lug's stud from bending it back and forth.

It has been a hot minute since I paid attention to BMW lug bolts, but teh Volvo has two piece bolts, probably for this exact reason.

 

I started retorquing lug nuts after a short drive, on anything I have had the wheels off of.  What I find is that if one lug nut has loosened up, all but one will have loosened up...

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/1/23 10:18 p.m.

It's good to hear some different experiences with them and opinions. I'm betting user/installation error is a factor in the things breaking, just because someone has a cool track toy it doesn't mean they're fully qualified to work on it.

My car runs 16 x 8 wheels and they pretty much hang off the hub centres so they are pretty easy to swap around, if I'm in a tight space I grab the tool out of the trunklid toolkit that lines everything up. I am running spacers on the front with longer bolts, I've picked up a new set and retired the old set to backup duty, maybe next time I'll buy studs so I can fit in with the cool kids :) 

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/1/23 10:27 p.m.
repoman said:

https://www.core4motorsports.com/gallery-of-broken-bmw-wheel-studs
 

My E46 is getting switched back to bolts this season. 

Yeah, I'll stick with bolts lol.

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/2/23 8:26 a.m.

I converted to studs by selling the last of my German cars. smiley

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 HalfDork
5/2/23 9:22 a.m.

BMW's studs are 16mm which make them even more prone to failure versus an 18mm stud (eg Porsche). There is likely to never be a failure if you run lug bolts, and likely never to be a failure if you swap studs every 2 years. Your call if the convenience is worth the $$$.

mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/2/23 5:56 p.m.

Honestly, I prefer bolts. I never had much of a problem with wheel changes either, especially with most new cars being hubcentric.

Noddaz
Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/4/23 8:08 a.m.

Do screw in studs have two stress riser points instead of one?  One where the stud screws into the hub and one where the wheel stud threads end?

And i have to admit that wheel bolts on my Jetta are not an endearing feature.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/4/23 9:13 a.m.

The terms lug stud and lug bolt has been bugging me in this thread.. Is the term lug stud or lug bolt proper?  A lug is defined as  a nut that secures a tire. So saying lug nut is really saying nut nut. No where is a wheel stud or wheel bolt referred to as a lug. So as I see it you have lugs ( wheel nuts) lug nuts, that is an improper slang, and you are really saying nut nut.  We have wheel studs and wheel bolts.  
 

The term lug stud and lug bolt are incorrect they translate to nut stud and nut bolt.  The term lug refers to a nut used to secure a wheel.  The term lug does not mean wheel.  
 

Source for all this rambling of mine is the Miriam Webster Dictionary. 
 

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lug

 

 

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/7/23 9:57 a.m.

We converted the M3 to studs, so a little more on the subject: Wheel studs: Expert advice on making the switch.

bbsmith24
bbsmith24 New Reader
11/6/23 1:27 p.m.

The other option is a wheel hanger - 1st bolt out, wheel hanger in, all remaining bolts out, hang new wheel on the hanger, bolts in

Winfield Schmitt
Winfield Schmitt New Reader
11/6/23 2:20 p.m.

If you have wheel bolts, you need these. Makes installing the SO much easier...

Search "Wheel Installation Studs" on Harbor Freight. The link won't paste here. 

bludroptop
bludroptop UltraDork
11/6/23 3:12 p.m.

Hacksaw the head off of an appropriately sized hardware store bolt - custom wheel hanger for a buck or two.  Make a few of them for redundancy if you misplace things.

I've installed studs on competition vehicles but I typically stick with bolts for the street cars.

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
11/6/23 5:47 p.m.
Winfield Schmitt said:

If you have wheel bolts, you need these. Makes installing the SO much easier...

Search "Wheel Installation Studs" on Harbor Freight. The link won't paste here. 

Ohhhhhhh, that is what those are for!   Thanks, I had no idea!   I am not sure I really need them myself, old VW rims are pretty easy to mount with the wide pattern, and the offset allows you to kind of rest the rim on the drum anyway.

There name (on site) is: Wheel Hanger Stud Pilot Pins

flatlander937
flatlander937 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/6/23 6:14 p.m.

I had the wheels on and off my GTI at minimum 30 times in the past year. 

Converting to studs was done because I'd rather wear the threads of a ~$100 stud set than $400 worth of wheel hubs. 

Installed per the mfr instructions (red loctite on the hub threads, torqued as directed, plus hub threads chased prior to install) never had an issue, and they've been on for nearly 2 years now. 

The Apex studs IMO aren't near as nice as the MSI ones I had on my Mazda2, but they work. And are about $200 less.

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