Introduction: Lug Nut Wrench Extension
During the months of July and August I have needed or used a Lug Nut Wrench Extension 4 times. More times than I have needed one over the last 10 years. A Lug Nut Wrench Extension is a pipe or another wrench that fits over the lug nut wrench to extend the handle so that you will need less force to turn the lug nut wrench to loosen and remove the lug nuts.
This works because:
Force = Torque / Distance or Length or
Torque = Distance or Length x Force
Torque is a rotational force applied around a point (the lug nut). Put a 1-foot-long wrench on a nut and apply 10 pounds of force to the end. You have applied 10 ft-lb (distance times force, or 1 foot times 10 pounds) to the nut.
Use a 2-foot-long wrench and apply 50 pounds of force, and you'll have 100 ft-lb.
In July my car's tire went flat (only on the bottom), it was sidewall puncture. While I was preparing to change it an old, 77 yrs old, friend came over to help. He asked if it would help if he removed the lug nuts while I removed the spare tire. I gave him the lug nut wrench. He tried by could not budge the nuts. I told him to wait a minute and I went and pickup my handy dandy extension, which was an old metal vacuum cleaner pipe. I keep in the shed. I slipped the pipe over the wrench and he was able to remove the lug nuts. He was simply amazed. He said he would have to pick something up like this before he went on vacation. I couple of weeks later he was out on his driveway removing and replacing the wheel on his Prius (to see if he could) with a Lug Nut Wrench Extension.
In August my kids and I were returning from vacation when my truck’s tire went flat (only on the bottom), another side wall puncture. My oldest daughter offered to help. I gave her the lug nut wrench while I unloaded the truck. She tried but couldn’t budge the wrench and lug nuts. I did not have an extension in that vehicle, either. So I loosened them and let her remove the lug nuts. After replacing the tire, she tightened the lug nuts. Then I torqued them the rest of the way. If I had put a Lug Nut Wrench Extension in before vacation, like my friend did, she could have succeeded in loosening and tightening the lug nuts by herself.
Real World Application: Garages generally do not tighten to recommended torque, unless you ask, they may hit anywhere between 80 - 150 ft-lbs depending on the vehicle, the mechanic and the impact wrench. The other factor in removing the lug nuts is to overcome friction. The amount of friction required to loosen a lug nut can change over time and with temperature. Having said all that lets look at a couple of "perfect world" examples.
Volkswagen - All model years: 1999-08 recommend 90 ft-lbs. The standard VW lug nut wrench is 11 inches long. You would need to apply more than 90 lbs of force to move the lug nut. Something my 77 yr old friend couldn't apply. By adding a Lug Nut Wrench Extension to increase the overall length of the wrench to 2 ft then he only needed 45 lbs, something more manageable.
Dodge - Durango model years: 2004-08 recommend 135 ft-lbs. The standard Durango lug nut wrench is 14 inches long. You would need to apply 112.5 lbs of force to move the lug nut. Something my daughter couldn't apply. By adding a Lug Nut Wrench Extension to increase the overall length of the wrench to 2 ft then she would have only needed 67.5 lbs, something more manageable.
Now both vehicles have a Lug Nut Wrench Extension. Do not wait until you are stuck along the side of the road saying, “I should have picked up a Lug Nut Wrench Extension”. Go Get One Today!
Step 1: Material
Metal pipe, 12+ inches long with a diameter wider than the lug nut wrench.
Step 2: Find an Extension
1) Find the lug nut wrench that came with the vehicle.
2) Measure or bring the wrench to find a pipe that will slide over the handle. You can look in a hardware store, home improvement store, friend's garage, scrape metal heap, etc.
3) Put the lug nut wrench and the Lug Nut Wrench Extension in the vehicle.
My pipe came from my scrap metal pile which was from a recently dismantled swing set.
Step 3: Use the Lug Nut Wrench Extension
1) Put the lug nut wrench on the lug nut,
2) Slide the Lug Nut Wrench Extension over the lug nut wrench,
3) Apply 1/2* of the needed force to loosen the lug nuts.
* In my example VW requires 90 ft-lbs of Torque. Torque / Distance or Length = Force
90 ft-lbs / 2 ft long = 45 lbs of force
Step 4: Observations & Summary
The benefits of this are:
2) Easy to make,
3) Easy to use,
4) Effective means to loosen and tighten lug nuts. If you tighten the lug nuts with the extension then first tighten with the Lug Nut Wrench then only turn the nut a 1/4 turn with the extension. Otherwise you can snap the lug nut off, because you are doubling the force being applied.
I am satisfied with the results.
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