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2016 Forester XT Touring Lineartronic CVT
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all!
I have been having an annoying problem the past few months. After getting new tires from Tire Rack and having them installed by my local Mr. Tire, I have been dealing with cross-threaded lug nuts. Mr. Tire replaced a lug nut and stud from when they cross-threaded one.

Then I found that there were 5 more of them cross-threaded! I replaced the lug nuts and studs with OEM parts.

When colder weather came around, I went to change the wheels and tires to my winter set up and then found 3 more! What is going on??? Are the OEM parts weak or soft?

I start all lugs by hand first, only use hand tools (no air or power tools), and finish it by using a torque wrench to 89 ft/lbs per the manual.

But I never had this problem until now and had the car for 2 years and 8 months with numerous wheel swaps and tire rotations!

I'm thinking about replacing all of them with beefier parts like ARP studs.

Or should I keep them OEM or use Dorman studs which seem to be pretty much direct OE replacement?

Any advice is appreciated!
 

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Sahuarita, Arizona USA 2018 Forester Limited
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2,464 Posts
I've had the same problem with the wheel studs on my 2010 Forester. In my case Discount Tire was damaging/breaking them. At least Discount Tire owned up to it and made arrangements at their cost for another shop to replace numerous damaged/broken wheel studs, but it was still a hassle on my end. Afterwards I told them if they want my business they will remove/reinstall the wheel nuts by hand and not with the power wrench.
 

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For my MY'03 the specs are 90 N·m (9.1 kgf-m, 65.7 ft-lb); I've never had a stud problem and I always advise anyone who is working with my wheels of the recommended torque - then I check when I get home as well. I use a cordless rattle gun along with the appropriate torque-limiting extension bar.
 

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2017 Forester XT
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185 Posts
It’s not uncommon. I’ve seen a few SJ forester owners posted in a local Facebook forum that their wheel studs broke off while changing wheels, most likely due to overtightening.
 

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2019 Touring
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225 Posts
Not with my Subaru, but with the previous SUV, after getting home from a local tire store, I had a lug nut fall off in my garage and several were not tightened up to spec! I now watch at every change.

After reading this, with my new Subaru, I will ask that all nuts be started by hand.

By the way, how often do you remove your spare from the trunk and check the tire pressure? The valve is upside down, I guess to protect it !
 

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2017 Touring CVT
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129 Posts
I've dealt with this issue on multiple cars, both Subs and others. IMO, it's just gross carelessness/inexperience on the part of tire shop workers. I made a habit of "gently" asking service mgrs to please not kill me with overenthusiastic torquing of lug nuts, which did seem to cut down on these incidents. War stories: my son bought a used '95 Impreza coupe (nice car in retrospect for a college kid) and while I was pulling the rear wheel to check pads/rotor, one of the nuts absolutely would not budge. Breaker bar and pipe much later, I finally got it off, although the stud was by then too hot to touch. Went with 4/5 on that wheel thereafter. Another time I had a flat on the I-95 double-deck bridge 60' over the Philly Navy Yard on a cold Dec. night. Found out that a cretin in the tire shop had replaced one of the lug nuts with a different size, so my factory wrench was useless, with semi's blasting by a few feet from my butt. Hello road service!
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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2,015 Posts
Any car can have a cross threaded bolt, and any fastener can be cross threaded. It's not a Subaru thing.
A nut is supposed to be started by hand, and the proper way to do it is to start out by turning the bolt opposite to the direction it is installed, typically starting out by turning counterclockwise... When this is done, the nut will click into the thread, and can then be installed without the risk of cross threading.
It's then easy to confirm by spinning the nut - A cross threaded nut cannot be spun.
If you see someone who knows what they are doing, that's the way they do it.

If the lug nut isn't confirmed to be set when started, it's a toss up as to whether or not it will cross thread, and since there is no feel with an impact gun, it's easy to do.

When I get tires installed or rotated, I watch what they are doing, and at the Discount Tire I go to, they do it right.
If you see someone put the nut in the socket - Stop them and tell NOT to risk ruining your lug bolts. You will be doing them a favor.
If they have a problem with that, take your business somewhere else.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i CVT
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857 Posts
Yep, I'm with DragonSubie7 on this. Too many tire shop morons with impact guns is the problem, if they are used properly with hand starting and torque stick it's fine.
 

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yep, shop tends to break it. Driving around, 1 week after tire replacements. 1 lug was gone. broken at the base of the wheel hole. Went to replace, and removed the reemaining 4. 2 which were stripped.

Huge hazard if only 2 bolts were holding me wheel in place.
didnt go back to let them know tho, was working at a job that was ~35 miles away from home through down town LA.


though, my dad, a mechanic of over 40 years+ working on GM vehicles, said hes never experienced threading problems in the gm cars he serviced. using impact and all.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i CVT
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It's all up to the care and knowledge of the mechanic tightening the lugnuts, I've never had a problem using impact or hand ratchet on many vehicles over the years. Just gotta do it right, besides cross threading the worse thing to do is over tighten them and crack or break the stud clean off.
 

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2016 Forester XT Touring Lineartronic CVT
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25 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
That's the thing, to my knowledge, I know for a fact that the tire shop cross-threaded at least 1 lug which they replaced. But then having to deal with 5 on two wheels then later with 3 on two other wheels. This is with me hand starting the lug nuts and only using hand tools. Makes me wonder if Subaru studs are too weak(?) or that maybe the 89 ft/lbs of torque is too much, or that maybe my torque wrench is out of spec, over-tightening the lugs, and needs to be calibrated.

Is it pretty frustrating. But is it even worth considering aftermarket lug studs? They seem sturdier than OEM and both companies are reputable as well... At this point, I'd rather spend a day replacing all 20 lug nuts and studs, whether they are aftermarket or OEM.
 

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2012 XT Touring 4EAT
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3,752 Posts
It's all up to the care and knowledge of the mechanic tightening the lugnuts, I've never had a problem using impact or hand ratchet on many vehicles over the years. Just gotta do it right, besides cross threading the worse thing to do is over tighten them and crack or break the stud clean off.
+1. There's nothing 'bad' about an impact wrench or hand ratchet. It's the person using the tool. With a little care and thought, impact wrenches are great time savers. With no care in how the wrench is used, it becomes a compact wrecking ball.
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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2,015 Posts
@frijoles - "my dad, a mechanic of over 40 years+ working on GM vehicles, said he's never experienced threading problems in the gm cars he serviced. using impact and all."
Cross threading is not caused by the impact gun.
It's the operator of the gun who doesn't know how to start a bolt.
I'm sure your dad knew what he was doing.
Many minimum wage new hires don't.

There is a good reason to get work done at a tire shop where they treat their employees well.
One of these is Discount Tire, which is the only place I will ever get tires. If you talk to their employees, most have years with the company and don't leave because they have a future there. That translates into them actually caring what how they do their work.
I've never had a problem with tire installs, balance or rotations over many decades.

As far as Subaru bolts - I doubt they make their own - Fasteners are one of the most typically outsourced parts on a vehicle, so the primary difference between an OEM and aftermarket fastener is in the name on the package. They could both easily come from the same supplier.

Regardless of make, any bolt that is forced into a cross thread or severely over torqued can and will fail.
It's not the bolt's fault when it is being mauled by a moron.
I don't think blaming Subaru for this kind of problem is appropriate.
 

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2012 XT Touring 4EAT
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t's not the bolt's fault when it is being mauled by a moron. I don't think blaming Subaru for this kind of problem is appropriate.
Look at the intelligence of the 'bolt.' Then, compare the intelligence of the wrench operator. The bolt wins this contest far too often.
 

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2019 Forester, Sport
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2 Posts
galled lug threads

I hope that Subaru has upgraded the quality of the metal of lugs and nuts in their latest vehicles. My past experience of lugs and nuts on Chrysler minivans, over many years of production and 4 vehicles was terrible. They would degrade to to the point of welding themselves together, and needing to be cut off with a cutting torch. The threads would start galling from brand new, and quickly degrade over time and with each removal. My happier experience has been with my Honda Odyssey 08's lugs and nuts. They have been of the best quality metals. Over 10 years and over 275K miles, they are as smooth threading and functional as they were when new; and all thru years of driving over, heavily salted, Winter roads. May I be so fortunate with my Subaru. I do use a thin application of NAPA anti seize on the lug bolts, then torque to specs. Here is a 101 primer of the importance of using such a lubricant on these fasteners. : albanycountyfasteners.com/Thread-Galling-and-Fastener-Seizing. An informative, short read. Sorry I wasn't allowed to post it as a hyperlink. I just joined this forum and linking isn't allowed for me yet. Try a Google search for the link. -I Hope this info helps.
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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@ForesterSport2019 -Many people have the same opinion as you, and if you choose to use anti-seize on wheel lug nuts, be sure it does not get between the lug nut and the wheel, because that appears to be what causes problems, as it changes adhesion proprieties and increases axial load, which is the primary cause of lug nuts getting loose.
Anti-seize compounds are generally indicated where dissimilar metals are in contact, which is not the case on a cars lugs.

On salty roads rust happens and ideally what you want is to prevent corrosion.
Yes, anti-seize compounds also prevent corrosion, but an application of a water repellent lubricant like WD-40 or a drop of ATF does an as good or better job at this with a significantly lower cost.
When any lubricants are used, the friction coefficient is changed, so the torque setting should be reduced.
 

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2016 Forester XT Touring Lineartronic CVT
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Discussion Starter #17
@frijoles - "my dad, a mechanic of over 40 years+ working on GM vehicles, said he's never experienced threading problems in the gm cars he serviced. using impact and all."
Cross threading is not caused by the impact gun.
It's the operator of the gun who doesn't know how to start a bolt.
I'm sure your dad knew what he was doing.
Many minimum wage new hires don't.

There is a good reason to get work done at a tire shop where they treat their employees well.
One of these is Discount Tire, which is the only place I will ever get tires. If you talk to their employees, most have years with the company and don't leave because they have a future there. That translates into them actually caring what how they do their work.
I've never had a problem with tire installs, balance or rotations over many decades.

As far as Subaru bolts - I doubt they make their own - Fasteners are one of the most typically outsourced parts on a vehicle, so the primary difference between an OEM and aftermarket fastener is in the name on the package. They could both easily come from the same supplier.

Regardless of make, any bolt that is forced into a cross thread or severely over torqued can and will fail.
It's not the bolt's fault when it is being mauled by a moron.
I don't think blaming Subaru for this kind of problem is appropriate.
I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is just frustrating that I was following all the requirements to not cross-thread lug nuts but when it still happens, it is time to look at other reasons of why it is happening. Like I said, I hand start all the nuts, use hand tools to tighten them, and then torque them to specs using a torque wrench.

Next step would be to get ARP bolts. I know they make their own and not a supplier of OEM parts. Get a new torque wrench. Get new lug nuts. looking into McGards. Might as well not go through the hassle of doing it again by using OEM again. Using process of elimination lol

I hope that Subaru has upgraded the quality of the metal of lugs and nuts in their latest vehicles. My past experience of lugs and nuts on Chrysler minivans, over many years of production and 4 vehicles was terrible. They would degrade to to the point of welding themselves together, and needing to be cut off with a cutting torch. The threads would start galling from brand new, and quickly degrade over time and with each removal. My happier experience has been with my Honda Odyssey 08's lugs and nuts. They have been of the best quality metals. Over 10 years and over 275K miles, they are as smooth threading and functional as they were when new; and all thru years of driving over, heavily salted, Winter roads. May I be so fortunate with my Subaru. I do use a thin application of NAPA anti seize on the lug bolts, then torque to specs. Here is a 101 primer of the importance of using such a lubricant on these fasteners. : albanycountyfasteners.com/Thread-Galling-and-Fastener-Seizing. An informative, short read. Sorry I wasn't allowed to post it as a hyperlink. I just joined this forum and linking isn't allowed for me yet. Try a Google search for the link. -I Hope this info helps.
I had a 2011 Subaru WRX before and I had a set of winter wheels and tires that I swapped each winter and did my own rotations. I never had a problem with cross-threading lug nuts with that car. Maybe quality did go down with whoever supplier they have been using. :huh:
 

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Any car can have a cross threaded bolt, and any fastener can be cross threaded. It's not a Subaru thing.
A nut is supposed to be started by hand, and the proper way to do it is to start out by turning the bolt opposite to the direction it is installed, typically starting out by turning counterclockwise... When this is done, the nut will click into the thread, and can then be installed without the risk of cross threading.
It's then easy to confirm by spinning the nut - A cross threaded nut cannot be spun.
If you see someone who knows what they are doing, that's the way they do it.

If the lug nut isn't confirmed to be set when started, it's a toss up as to whether or not it will cross thread, and since there is no feel with an impact gun, it's easy to do.

When I get tires installed or rotated, I watch what they are doing, and at the Discount Tire I go to, they do it right.
If you see someone put the nut in the socket - Stop them and tell NOT to risk ruining your lug bolts. You will be doing them a favor.
If they have a problem with that, take your business somewhere else.
It's careless techs period. All the funny methods you all come up with to make sure it's done right- yea never spent a day in a shop.

I always loaded the nut into the socket, it's real easy to give the socket a hand turn before hitting the trigger. 12 years working in a shop and never crosstreaded a lug nut and never started one by turning the nut counter clockwise. That is really only needed on really fine threads- something like you find on a bike bottom bracket.
 

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2015 Forester Ltd cvt
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349 Posts
I have never had a stud broken or cross threaded nut in over 50 years of cars. That being said, observing the workers at many tire shops I have to think it's a transient job, not a skilled career position. It's a hard job for low pay, and what would it matter to them if they caused damage? The shop we always go to is a small, local business with the owner always on sight and directing work and watching like a hawk; the buck stops here kind of guy. And his prices beat the on-line guys by a bunch. Never a problem at a place like that.
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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It's careless techs period. All the funny methods you all come up with to make sure it's done right- yea never spent a day in a shop.
I always loaded the nut into the socket, it's real easy to give the socket a hand turn before hitting the trigger. 12 years working in a shop and never crosstreaded a lug nut and never started one by turning the nut counter clockwise. That is really only needed on really fine threads- something like you find on a bike bottom bracket.
I agree with you about careless techs, but verifying something before you screw it up (or in) isn't a "funny method". it's a good way to prevent a problem.
In your example, you give the socket a turn before hitting the trigger - Great. What if it isn't threaded right?
Here's a hint, you reverse the nut so it's aligned.
If you are changing tires 50 times a day, you might have a better feel than most.
Lug nuts do have rather large threads, so it is a bit easier to get them to engage, but the reverse method works with any threaded item.

BTW - not everyone in all shops are allowed to do it your way.
All the techs at the 4 different Discount Tire shops I've visit start their lugs by hand and management doesn't let them grab an impact gun until the nuts are on. I know because I watch.
They then have a different guy check torque - twice. That probably wasn't something done in your shop either.
That also doesn't mean it isn't a good idea or a "funny method".
It is a process intended to reduce error. I've never had a problem with any of the many sets of tires installed on a lot cars.

I've been doing my own vehicle maintenance for 50 years and I've never cross threaded a nut on anything.
Can you say the same?
I doubt it.
 
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