Tim Henn has a problem with his car — actually, his car’s lug nuts.
His 2012 Ford Fusion recently had a flat tire. But Henn soon found he couldn’t get the wheel off with the tire wrench Ford provided.
“You start to turn it, and it strips out the little piece of tin on there and they just spin on the lug nut,” he said. “It doesn’t have enough bite to catch the lug nut at all.”
It turns out the steel lug nuts have a hollow aluminum (or in some cases chrome) cap that owners claims can corrode and swell.
Ultimately, Henn says, he had to drive home on the flat tire, ruining it.
“It was very frustrating because I drove three miles on a flat tire off a major highway to get home to get the tire off.”
Lawsuit claims defective lug nuts
Every car, even if it doesn’t come with a spare tire, is still supposed to come with a jack and lug wrench so you can remove the wheel in the event of a flat.
But some Ford owners claim their lug wrench won’t go on, at all.
A lawsuit filed last year in Michigan and seeking class-action status claims Ford installed faulty lug nuts on thousands of cars from model year 2000 on. Cars named in the suit include the Fusion, Escape, Flex, Focus, and F-150 pickup.
Not all cars, however, have these lug nuts: some have the standard one-piece hardened steel nuts.
The bolts named in the suit have a chrome or aluminum cap, that the suit claims expand from heat.
“The tin on the nut swells up,” Henn explained, “and causes the lug nut wrench to no longer fit properly.”
Henn says a bigger wrench just spins on the caps. He says a shop finally had to hammer on a socket to remove the nuts, which destroyed them.
We emailed Ford for comment, but the company will not comment on the lug nut case, due to pending litigation.
Tim Henn feels the lug nuts should be recalled, however, before someone gets hit trying to get a tire changed.
“I think its a safety issue, because you have people on the side of the road trying to get these lug nuts off and they can’t get off.”
If you have this problem with your car, Ford dealers sell a set of replacement nuts for $260 for all four tires.
However, auto parts stores sell generic “acorn” lug nuts that will fit the wheel for just a few bucks a set, and that way you don’t waste your money.
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