Co-owner of Dan R’s Automotive Sales & Service, Cathy is an ASE Certified Auto Parts Specialist and a member of the Car Care Council Women’s Board. In addition, she’s an editorial contributor to the Car Care Council, whose purpose is to educate motorists about vehicle maintenance, repair and enhancements.

QI had a tire changed a few weeks back and just yesterday my car started to vibrate severely at highway speeds. I stopped and had my tires checked and the wheel that had been changed was loose. This was a very frightening experience. What can I do to prevent this from happening again?

If your vehicle is equipped with aluminum wheels, the lug nuts have a tendency to work loose over a period of time.

This occurs because aluminum is a softer metal than the traditional steel wheels. Lug nuts installed on any wheel should be retightened after the first 50 miles of driving.

This is necessary because the wheel settles in conjunction with normal road vibrations. This should be done any time that your wheels are removed (tire repairs, brake inspections etc.) and then periodically after that.

Wheels that are old and worn should be cleaned to remove oxidation, allowing for a good mounting surface. At that time it may be necessary to replace the lug nuts with new nuts and inspect the threads on the wheel studs.

Lug nuts should be tightened in three stages. First tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern to the specified torque. After the first tightening sequence, a second should be made to ensure the torque is equal and all the nuts are tight.

The final pass should be made to verify that all the lug nuts are tightened to the specified torque recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

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