When & How to Replace Wheel Studs on Disc and Drum Brakes?

​The wheel studs on a car or truck are vital components that attach the wheels to the vehicle. When any of these studs fails, there’s a high chance of something dangerous happening, or at least your car won’t keep moving the same way.

And of course, this is something you don’t want to happen to your vehicle.

While wheel studs don’t get damaged too quickly, it is possible to experience issues with them. Or at least, it is probable that with time and several miles in the road, these components on the wheel start to wear out or just break. And this will cause the car to either vibrate or roll in a strange way.

Whatever the reason for one of these components to get damaged or need replacement, here we will tell you how you can replace them.

If you want to know more about these components, then reading this article will be utterly helpful. Come and learn!

What Are Wheel Studs?

These studs are nut-like screws that hold or attach the wheels to the hub. They are the objects that support all the pressure when the car moves, also the ones that receive all the stress when the vehicle turns or does a hard stop.

This stress eventually damages the wheels studs. Even though they are made with sturdy metal, there’s no doubt they can finally start to wear out or just break when least expected due to this stress. So it is always important to have new and reliable studs installed.

When to Replace Wheel Studs?

Several things can happen to wheel studs. As the only thing holding the wheels from flying away when you drive, they are under so much stress that they can break, strip, rust, cross-thread, or get damaged in the slightest of ways and put the driver in danger.

When a wheel stud starts to function incorrectly, it is common to experience vibration from the wheels, or sometimes it just breaks once and for all. They can be the perfect recipe for disaster, but most of the time they only come to simple issues like a wheel falling out of place or merely making weird noises when driving.

Another common issue with wheel studs is when people install them without using a torque wrench. This tends to happen very commonly, making the stud to get damaged easily, wearing out or ultimately breaking.

If you experience any of the above signs or eventually feel like the wheel stud is just too old and needs replacement, you’ll be doing well by not wasting any more of your time. Replacing wheel studs can sometimes even be life-saving, so repair them as soon as you can at the first sign of a broken, damaged, or rusted wheel stud.

Replacing Wheel Studs on Disc Brakes

When it comes to wheel studs, you’ll find that the process of replacement changes a little depending on the type of brake.

Here, we will explain you how to do it if the car uses disc brakes:

Things You’ll Need

  • A lug or torque wrench
  • An open wrench
  • A crescent wrench
  • A stud remove tool
  • A jack and a stand
  • A hammer and mechanic tool set (optional)

1. Prepare the Car

You’ll have to first prepare the car by jacking it up and supporting it in a stand. Make sure to have the parking brake on and putting the vehicle either in PARK as an automatic or in 1st gear in a manual. This will help you work safely and without any restriction when removing and replacing the studs.

Then you can remove the wheel and the tire so you can finally encounter the brake, which you will learn to remove in the next step.

2. Removing the Brake Caliper

Removing the Brake Caliper

This is all about taking out the caliper and the rotor so you can access the wheel hub. Here’s what you should do:

Whether it is in the rear or in the front, you’ll have to remove part of the brake system accordingly. In the front, you’ll encounter the caliper and the rotor. In the rear, you’ll have to take off the cable and adjustment system for emergencies. You may need special grip pliers or vise-grips for this.

Now you’ll have to remove the mounting bolts on the caliper with care. Then remove the caliper. Finally, take the rotor out.

3. Remove the Wheel Studs

After removing the brake system on the wheel, you’ll face the wheel hub. It is time to remove the old studs.

Removing the wheel studs can be done with a hammer. Doing it this way can be easy and straightforward, but it could eventually damage the other studs or the wheel hub and its bearings.

We recommend doing it with a stud-remover tool to prevent any issue.

To do it with a hammer you’ll just have to whack the stud out. Using the remover tool you just need to attach the tool to the stud and make it budge. It can be hard this way and a little time-consuming, but this way you prevent any further issue.

Once the stud moves, you can take it off by pulling hard. While pulling you’ll have to use a torque wrench to turn the stud, so it gets out more easily. Once they come out, you can jump to the next step.

Sometimes, the old wheel studs are not that old or not even broken. You can keep using them if the new one(s) are of the same length and thickness.

Otherwise, we recommend taking them off too and saving them for later if needed.

4. Placing the Wheel Stud Replacement

Getting the new wheel stud into the hub is not easy either, just like removing one this could take a little more time and effort than expected.

You’ll see a space where the old stud was, here’s where the new one goes. You can place it inside with strength using a hammer. But you could also do it by turning the hub over and inserting the new stud in the hole the old one left.

This could take time and effort, so we recommend doing it with patience. It is essential to tighten up the new stud using a torque wrench with the bolts later.

This way you prevent doing it with a hammer or by hand which could end up in a broken or loosens stud. Finish up by tightening the bolts until each one is fully seated.

Tightening the bolts can be a little hard. We recommend doing it with a lug or torque wrench that fits. It is key to have a long handle in the wrench so you can work safely and more comfortably while also being able to add enough strength to every turn.

5. Reassemble Everything

By now you are done with the placement of the new wheel stud, and you’re ready to put the wheel back in place. Remember to adjust the brake and the rotor correctly doing this:

Start by placing the hub back into the suspension or CV axle. Most will have nuts to tighten up hard, so you need to use the torque wrench.

Then you can reinstall the brake rotor and the caliper. But first, install any cable or any adjustment system for emergencies the car has. Then keep going by mounting the rotor, then putting the caliper on and finish tightening all the bolts of the rotor. Use a torque wrench again.

Finish up by installing the wheel back again. Remember to tighten up the lug nuts with the lug wrench and making sure the wheel fits tightly and safely onto the hub.

Finish up by doing a test drive if needed. Try to do hard turns and hard stops to see whether the studs are doing their job. If you don’t experience anything weird, the brakes work well enough, and there’s a difference from where the stud was damaged or old – you can now use your car as usual.

You have replaced the wheel stud successfully on a car with disk brakes. 

Replacing Wheels Studs on Drum Brakes

Here’s how you want to replace the wheel studs on drum brakes efficiently without making unwanted errors to redo the process again and again.

Things You’ll Need

  • A respirator
  • A stud remover tool
  • A slug or torque wrench
  • A hammer (optional)
  • A jack and a stand
  • Penetrating oil
  • Brake cleaner

1. Preparing the Car and Yourself

When it comes to replacing the wheels stubs on drum brakes, you’ll have to be ready to encounter a lot of dirt, rust, and dust. That’s why it is always recommended to prepare yourself entirely to a slightly more dirty experience when compared to a disk brake stud replacement, for example.

Here, it is critical for you to use a respirator that prevents asbestos and dust from entering your body when breathing. These contaminants can be dangerous to your health so wearing a respirator will be a great choice.

While a respirator can make breathing a little harder and eventually give you a little hot when working under the car, it will be far better than breathing dangerous contaminants.

Also, make sure there are no kids or pets around. This way you prevent them from breathing these same impurities that could endanger their livelihood.

For the car, just jack it up and put it in parking brake. Get a stand and let the car rest over it. Remember to also bring supports for the wheels to prevent any unwanted movement.

Finally, just remove the tire and the wheel. Then you’ll be ready to get underneath and work the wheel studs out and replace them.

2. Remove the Brake Drum

After removing the wheels, you’ll find the drum brake there. Before removing it, we recommend using penetrating oil such as PB Blaster. You could also use WD-40, but the effect will be far longer so you’ll have to wait until it does its job.

  • Spray the penetrating oil exactly where the hub of the wheel is. This will help you loosen up the hubs and the drum brake.
  • Then you can try removing the drum by pulling it out. You can do twisting and turning with slight strength to take it out faster. Don’t exaggerate with the pulling strength or move the brake weirdly. Drum brakes tend to be a little fragile and can get damaged if you don’t treat them with enough care.
  • The brake adjuster sometimes needs to be backed off to remove the drum. Be sure to take off all the bolts or screws around the brake then you can get off the adjuster off the backing plate. This way you have the drum ready for removal.

This part of removing the drum is a little confusing. All the areas from the brake adjuster to the wheel hub and the drum itself have different colors, but with dirt, dust and little light you have trouble finding each one or knowing.

Note: We recommend taking a photo with your cellphone about how everything was before taking anything out.

3. Spray Brake Cleaner in the Dirty Areas (Or Skip if Clean)

Here you’ll only have to remove the dust, dirt or any asbestos and similar impurities from the brake and wheel hub. You can spray the brake cleaner and remove after a few minutes with a cloth.

We recommend using the respirator here without fault. You can also put the break inside a container so you can keep the dust inside and not let it get out around the garage.

Also Check: Get A Roof Cleaner From Our List

4. Take the Wheel Stud Out

Now you are directly on the wheel hub after removing the drum and cleaning it, you have to take the stud out.

Now you can remove the stud with the remover tool. Attach the remover to the stud and using a torque or slug wrench (whatever fits), slowly take the stud out. Try to turn the stud until it loosens up.

This could take a while. Otherwise, you can take the stud out with a hammer, hitting it until it falls or loosens up. This could damage the hub and the bearings though.

Here, you can spray a little more penetrating oil into the wheel hub to clean the excess of dirt and dust if needed.

This will also help to release the stud. You can let the penetrating oil act for a few minutes or hours depending on how tighten up the stud is. After taking the stud out, remember to clean the wheel hub and get it ready to install the new stud.

5. Installing the New Wheel Stud

After cleaning everything, you can add some grease to the new stud to fix it more easily. Here’s how:

  • First, you’ll have to take the wheel hub out. Remember to loosen up the bolts and the nuts on it. Remember to treat this part carefully not to damage anything, especially the CV axle or the shaft.
  • Put some grease on the stud. You can do it on each end, but we recommend only doing it depending on which part you are going to connect first. If you decide to attach the stud from behind the wheel hub, you’ll need to put it in the front of the stud. Otherwise, set the grease in the rear.
  • Then, push the stud inside the right hole with your fingers. This could take a while as it is not as easy as expected. You can eventually use a hammer with soft but firm strokes to get it inside the hole faster. But this could also be damaging so try with your hands first.
  • Now use the torque or slug wrench to tighten up the stub. Screw or turn it until the stud seats very tightly on the joint and doesn’t go in anymore. You are ready to install everything back.

6. Reassemble the Brake and Wheel

You have successfully installed the wheel stud by now, but it is time to get the drum brake back into its place. But first, start with the wheel hub:

  • Grab the wheel hub and put it in its place. Then remember to use the same bolts or nuts and tighten it up as much as you can.
  • Now grab the drum of the brake and put it back in place. Remember to watch the photo you took before to remember where each object was. Watch where the adjuster and the drum are located and how they are fit in. Then you can place them in and tighten them up accordingly.
  • Everything should be snug and fitting correctly. Remember to finally place the wheel with the tire back and use the torque wrench or an impact wrench if needed to tighten up the nuts. Do it, so they are snug enough.

Now you are ready to drive the car and test the new wheel stud. There shouldn’t be any problem with it anymore. Any vibration or sound should have gone away. And your drum brake should be working even better than before.

Test the car by doing hard turns and hard stops. If you don’t sense anything weird and everything works as it should, you have successfully replaced the wheel stud of a drum brake wheel.

Don’t Let a Wheel Stud Damage your Car

When you have a problem with a wheel stud, you may eventually lose control while driving when it breaks or end up damaging the whole wheel or tire of your car.

But you can prevent this by changing them in the first sign that there’s something wrong about it. Whether it is a vibration, a sound, or just a loosen wheel – you can repair the wheel stud without issues.

You’ll just have to follow our advice and instructions in this article to get rid of any problem with a wheel stud that needs replacement. This process doesn’t take more than a day and can be done by anyone with a little mechanic experience. No matter what type of brake the wheel has, with this guide there’s nothing to forget. Do it now and prevent any possible accident!

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