Hooniverse Asks: Studs or Bolts, How Do You Prefer To Keep your Car's Wheels On?

Broken Bolt
All of my cars have wheel studs with one exception, that being the German, our Audi A6 Avant. That one comes instead with wheel bolts that thread into the wheel hub. Guess which car also comes with a proprietary tool in the kit to hang a wheel during a change?
It seems that the automotive world is weighted toward studs, with the notable exception of Germany which prefers the bolt to the stud and nut method of keeping your wheels from rolling away. A quick perusal of many German marque forums invariably uncovers a number of threads asking WTF Audi/BMW/VW/ETC… wondering just exactly what benefit the wheel bolt holds over its seemingly more convenient stud sibling.
No one seems to know. And so today we’re querying the Hooniverse commentariat to find out if you have a preference for studs over bolts. Heck, we’d like to know if you’ve ever even encountered a car with wheel bolts and how that worked out for you.  So what do you say, are you a Stud Muffin, or are you a Bolt Believer?
Image: BimmerForums


    1. That brings a whole new set of problems, I was talking to someone recently who had to step in to stop a tyre shop tech from attacking his knock-offs with a steel hammer when he was in for a new set of tyres. Attacking is probably a little harsh word here, and the guy just didn’t know any better but he also didn’t ask how to deal with an unfamiliar situation.

      1. I have a couple of cars that, if the tire shop guys do what they do for 99% of the other cars that roll into the service bays, the tire balancing won’t be done properly. I always explain that to the guy writing up the order, and tell them if they need to do it my way or it will be wrong and then they’ll have to spend more time fixing it. The counter guys are always really good about it, though the shop guys sometimes cop an attitude.
        I can’t imagine I would ever turn over the keys to a knock off equipped car over to a tire monkey without being right there to supervise and explain step-by-step what needs to be done.

        1. That’s very true, virtually none of them will have dealt with a knock off equipped car.
          If you want obscure though I know a guy who does the tyres on a Bugatti Type 35, which doesn’t use modern type weights. I can’t remember the details because he told me about it years ago, but I think it involved wrapping wire around the wheel spokes.

  1. I HATE BOLTS! Why do those ‘Yurpeans’ continue to employ such an idiotic way of securing wheels? Is it snobbery, or simply out of spite? Maybe I’m just uncoordinated and unskilled, but it takes at least twice as long to change winter/summer tires on our Saab because of those damn bolts. Stupid bolts, screw you! (literally)

    1. Does your car have the locating pin to hang the wheel on the rotor before you get the first bolt in? My volvo does and it’s no less convenient to change wheels then on any of my other cars.

      1. No – no bolt, no lip, no nothing. It’s a fine art of balancing the wheel on my knee/thigh while I try to get everything aligned, then try to start a bolt in by hand. It sucks!

        1. You need to make an installation stud. The Mercedes we had when I was a kid had a piece of threaded rod with a small wrench head on it in the tool kit that you screwed into a wheel bolt hole to guide the wheel on and hold it in place while you put some of the wheel bolts in, then you removed the stud and replaced it with a wheel bolt. I think MG Mitten (remember them) used to sell a permanent stud kit that replace one bolt per wheel.

  2. The only car on which I’ve been cursed to endure bolts was on my ’78 Audi Fox, and I don’t miss them. After having replaced a couple of cross threaded studs in the last few years (thanks to tire stores), I’m glad I don’t have to think about replacing a snapped bolt.

  3. All the French, Italian, Swedish cars have bolts too. My Alfa has bolts (same as BMW actually, M14x1.5) so it’s not only ze Germans. I never had any problems with bolts as wheel usually rests/centers on the hub’s center ring.
    Another headache is that these bolts can be different type even if thread (12 or 14) is same, so my MB needs different bolts.

        1. Oh no! The “I-want-to-be-a-German-premium-lookalike”-itis has a more thorough grip on the brand than I had envisioned.

    1. It’s the “newer” Alfas that succumbed to the bolt disease. My old 115 Alfas have studs, but when I bought a 164 it was bolts, WTF.

    1. It’s one of the greatest marketing tricks ever played!
      /looks out the window to watch Volkswagen Routan wheeze by

      1. IIRC, my 1980 German Rabbit and my 1984 Audi 5000 both had bolts. They were definitely a bit more difficult to deal with than studs.

    1. I saw your other post. What, exactly, cost $150 in parts, and has Discount refused to pay? When they installed a hubcap that came off on the freeway after my tire purchase, they had no problem ordering a new one for me.

      1. Didn’t have time to be gentle with the crusty hub and rotor. A few days of soaking with penetrating oil might have allowed them to come off intact.

      2. I’ve had great experience with Discount Tire too. Had the Road Hazard warranty and ripped the side walls on my right side tires in a (not) surprising incident at our local stadium parking lot. Anyhow DT said my tires weren’t safe to drive on, and they didn’t have any Pilots in stock, and couldn’t get them for 10 days….
        So they loaned me a pair of Conti’s to use until the Pilots came in – installed them on the rear…. No charge for any of this. Made me a fan.
        Alfa… You should contact corporate….

        1. I will take this up with them as time permits. If you choose, interpret my original post as a diatribe against the seemingly common industry practice of cranking the living daylights out of lugnuts. Unfortunately, the consequences of this are likely to be felt at the least convenient time. At least I was in my driveway, with an open auto parts store a few miles away and another car to drive.

          1. Ahh, of course! T’was the curse of the torque wrench! Now I understand. Yeah, no matter how reliable the company, there’s always a 17 year-old who just leaves the adjustment on the wrench set to “Sherman Tank”… And you never find out about it until a year later you’ve had a flat and bent the lug wrench (or broken the stud) trying to get those b*st*rds off….

  4. My wife’s MINI has gratefully only 4 bolts to fuss with, and I can kind of see the point – it keeps you from grinding away all the stud threads when you take the wheel on and off.
    BUT – there’s only the faintest lip of a hub to hang the wheel on while you use your free hand to twist them in, so the wheel will often fall off and knock your beer over.
    As with everything else in life, look to truckers for the answer: Professional drivers are getting by fine with studs, all ten of them per wheel.

    1. I’ve had to re-grind the stud thread once, on a 40 year old Volvo. Abrasion and bad threads can’t be that much of an issue? Particularly when I see how sone mechanics go all Rambo on their kompressor tools…

  5. 1950’s and early 1960’s Chrysler products had left hand thread on one side and right hand on the other,tough lesson to learn when you are sixteen.

    1. Alfa held on to the R/L threads through 1971… And no, I didn’t know that the first time I tried to remove a wheel…

    2. One of the reasons I avoid bringing my car to tire shops. I f I can, I’ll just take the offending tire off the car and go get it changed, then mount it myself. Saves having to explain the reverse threads and ensures that it won’t be over torqued if I have a flat and have to change it on the side of the road.

    3. My first car was a 1967 Dodge A-108 window van. I used to have a small stash of lugs for this very reason, as sometimes, no matter how many times I stressed the driver’s side lugs were reverse thread, some idiot would hammer on them with an air gun cranked up to 11, usually breaking one.
      Eventually, I ran out of them, which sucked because even back in the mid-80s, they were hard to find.

  6. Not just the Germans – my first generation Rx-7s had a bolts too.
    The most odd was my 1973 Mazda 808 (think Rx-3 but with a piston motor). Studs on the front, bolts on the rear. To be fair I have no idea if it came equipped like that from the factory or some monkey did half a conversion at some point.

  7. Studs.
    What do wheel lugs do? Primarily they support a shear force, and secondarily an axial load. You can engineer a stud with more cross sectional area in the wheel hub and less along the threads, optimizing both.
    How do wheel lugs fail? They snap or strip out. A snapped stud gets pressed out and another pressed in, usually with nothing more complex than a hammer and drift. A snapped bolt needs to be removed with an extractor of some kind, with all the drilling and cursing those entail.
    Threaded wheel hubs versus splined? Splined. When was the last time you saw a splined stud strip out the hub? (My pal’s IH Traveller is the only example I’ve seen.) If made correctly, they’ll snap first. Even if you do strip one out, you can press in an oversized stud with the same size thread, without needing to cut new splines (and probably available as a standard part from another vehicle.) Strip the threads on a hub and you need some bizarre crapola like this thing.

    1. My sister’s Diamondstar had a stripped spline. All 4 wheels got stolen when the car was about 6 months old. Replaced by insurance. Not sure whether the crook stripped it stealing the rim and the tire guy didn’t notice, or if the tire guy stripped it, but at the next tire rotation, the lugnut wouldn’t come off because the stud kept twisting in the hub. They had to cut it off.

  8. So since the majority here agreed on that studs and nuts are fine, what would be the reason for using bolts? Car manufacturers being who they are: price or ease of assembly?

  9. I prefer studs, but I can deal with bolts. I had several VWs which used lug bolts, but had a substantial pilot on the hub that held the wheel in place while you got the first bolt installed. I could see bolts being a massive pain if there is no other means of locating the wheel.
    Studs make better engineering sense more frequent remove/replace cycles and more consistent clamping force. There is a reason why they make aftermarket cylinder head stud kits for cars originally made with cylinder head bolts.

  10. Studs.
    The only car I’ve ever dealt with that had bolts was an ’89 Ford Festiva. Largely due to this, I have always equated their employment as tantamount to shittiness. This makes it all the more amusing that so many marques with luxury pretense use them.

  11. Both work fine. I only had experience with bolts until I took the wheels off my banger rally Mitsubishi. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a stud for wheels before.
    I primarily ‘do’ French cars, but I believe the Germans, Swedes and Italians use bolts too. As such they’re the most common (here). In my experience only the Japanese use studs, but from what I read here the Americans do too. Nobody buys American here, so I wouldn’t know.

  12. stripped or broken studs cost what? $4-5 US??? and a wheel hub costs what?? how long to change a stud? A hub?
    what was it that caused the failure? improper tools and technique perhaps? i love watching hoop techs run nuts and wheel bolts down with impact drivers until the metal smokes and THEN lay a torque wrench into them….yeah, that’s tight enough….
    bad enough to be out in the boonies with a damaged wheel or flat tire, but to also have to wrestle the bastard off and on whilst attempting to align a bolt hole just angers me. so, yeah! studs. bigger and longer is better and torque values applied on a nut is more consistent than with bolts.
    and then there is the issue of concentricity of the wheel and hub. why not use a shoulder on the hub and the center bore of the wheel to center it all up instead of loading the bolts or studs with the shear load?? i have seen a lot of “custom” rims with improperly sized center bores for the hub they are bolted on to. not that the tire is unbalanced-the rim isn’t centered. when i see a stud failed at a thread, this is the second failure mode that comes to my mind, the first being over torqued fasteners.

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