Easy Steps to Drill Out a Stubborn Lug Nut

When it comes to changing a tire, one of the most frustrating obstacles you can encounter is a stubborn lug nut. These small, seemingly simple nuts can become incredibly difficult to remove, especially if they have been overtightened or rusted in place. While it can be tempting to call for professional help, drilling out the lug nut is a relatively easy and cost-effective solution you can try yourself.

Before you begin, it’s important to gather the necessary tools and materials. You will need a power drill, a drill bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the lug nut, a socket wrench, and a hammer. It’s also a good idea to have some penetrating oil and safety goggles on hand. Once you have these items ready, follow the step-by-step guide below.

Step 1: Apply Penetrating Oil

Before you start drilling, it’s important to loosen up the rust and corrosion around the lug nut. Apply a generous amount of penetrating oil to the lug nut and let it sit for a few minutes. The oil will help to break down any rust and make the drilling process much easier.

Gather the necessary tools

  • Lug nut wrench or socket set
  • Breaker bar
  • Socket extension
  • Power drill
  • Drill bit set
  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Penetrating lubricant
  • Hammer

Lug nut wrench or socket set

The lug nut wrench or socket set is necessary to remove the lug nuts from the wheel. Make sure you have the correct size wrench or socket that fits the lug nuts on your vehicle.

Breaker bar

Breaker bar

A breaker bar is a long-handled wrench that provides extra leverage. It is useful for loosening stubborn lug nuts.

Socket extension

A socket extension is a tool that attaches to the end of a socket wrench to extend its reach. It can be helpful when dealing with lug nuts that are recessed or difficult to reach.

Power drill

A power drill can be used in combination with a drill bit to drill out a stubborn lug nut. It provides a rotational force to help loosen the nut.

Drill bit set

A drill bit set includes a variety of drill bits in different sizes. It is important to have the appropriate size drill bit for the lug nut you are trying to remove.

Safety goggles

Safety goggles protect your eyes from debris and flying particles while drilling or hammering.

Work gloves

Work gloves

Work gloves provide protection for your hands and improve grip while handling tools.

Penetrating lubricant

Penetrating lubricant

A penetrating lubricant can be applied to the lug nut to help loosen it. It helps to break down rust or corrosion that may be causing the nut to stick.


A hammer can be used to tap the lug nut wrench or breaker bar to provide additional force and help loosen the nut.

Loosen the lug nuts with a breaker bar

Loosen the lug nuts with a breaker bar

When trying to remove a stubborn lug nut, it can be helpful to use a breaker bar. A breaker bar is a long tool with a swiveling head that provides extra leverage. Here’s how to use a breaker bar to loosen lug nuts:

  1. Securely place a jack under your vehicle and lift it until the wheel is off the ground.
  2. Locate the lug nuts on the wheel that needs to be removed and position the breaker bar onto one of them.
  3. Apply force to the breaker bar by pushing or pulling it in the appropriate direction, depending on whether you need to loosen or tighten the lug nut.
  4. Use short, controlled strokes to turn the breaker bar, gradually applying more force as needed.
  5. If the lug nut is particularly stubborn, try using a cheater pipe for additional leverage. A cheater pipe is a long metal pipe that can be slid over the breaker bar to provide even more torque.
  6. Continue loosening the lug nuts until they are all loose enough to be removed by hand.
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Remember to always exercise caution when using tools like breaker bars and cheater pipes, as excessive force can cause injury or damage to your vehicle. If you are unsure about using a breaker bar, it is best to seek assistance from a professional mechanic.

Apply penetrating oil

Before you begin drilling out a stubborn lug nut, it’s a good idea to apply some penetrating oil to help loosen it. Penetrating oil is designed to seep into tight spaces and break up rust and corrosion, making it easier to remove stuck nuts or bolts.

To apply penetrating oil, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the hubcap or wheel cover if necessary.
  2. Spray the penetrating oil generously on the lug nuts. Make sure to cover the entire nut and give it some time to work.
  3. If the nuts are heavily rusted or corroded, you may need to repeat the process and let the penetrating oil sit for a longer period of time.

Keep in mind that not all penetrating oils are created equal. It’s best to use a high-quality penetrating oil specifically designed for loosening rusty or stuck nuts. You can find these oils at most automotive supply stores or online.

After applying the penetrating oil, give it some time to work its magic. The oil will help dissolve rust and corrosion, making it easier to remove the stubborn lug nut with your drill.

Use a lug wrench

  • Start by locating the lug wrench in your car’s toolkit. It usually has a cross shape and is specifically designed for loosening and tightening lug nuts.
  • Position the lug wrench on the lug nut you want to remove. Place it securely on the nut so that it doesn’t slip or strip.
  • Hold the lug wrench firmly and apply force in the counter-clockwise direction. This will loosen the lug nut.
  • Continue turning the lug wrench until the lug nut is completely loosened. If it is too tight, you may need to use additional tools or methods as described in the other steps.
  • Once the lug nut is loose, use your hands to unscrew it the rest of the way and remove it from the wheel.
  • Repeat these steps for any other stubborn lug nuts that need to be removed.

Try a lug nut remover tool

If you’ve tried all the above methods and the lug nut still won’t budge, it’s time to bring out the big guns – a lug nut remover tool. These specialized tools are designed to provide maximum torque and grip, making it easier to remove even the most stubborn lug nuts.

There are several types of lug nut remover tools available:

  1. Socket-style lug nut remover: This tool resembles a socket wrench but with a spiral design inside. It grips the lug nut tightly and allows you to apply force in a controlled manner to remove it.
  2. Lug nut extractor: This tool features a reverse-threaded design that allows it to bite into the lug nut as you turn it counterclockwise. This biting action helps to loosen the nut while you apply torque.
  3. Impact wrench: An impact wrench is a powerful tool that uses air pressure or electricity to generate high torque. It can quickly and effortlessly remove even the toughest lug nuts.
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When using a lug nut remover tool, it’s essential to follow these steps:

  1. Choose the appropriate size lug nut remover tool that matches the size of your lug nut.
  2. Place the tool securely onto the lug nut, ensuring a tight fit.
  3. Use a breaker bar or a ratchet handle to apply force and turn the tool counterclockwise.
  4. If using an impact wrench, hold the tool steady and let the tool do the work. Avoid excessive force, as it may damage the lug nut or stud.

If the lug nut still won’t come off, you may need to continue applying penetrating oil and repeating the process until the nut loosens. In some cases, heat may also be applied to expand the metal and break the bond between the lug nut and the stud.

Remember to always exercise caution when using lug nut remover tools, as excessive force or improper technique can result in personal injury or damage to your vehicle.

Heat the lug nut

Applying heat to a stubborn lug nut can help loosen it and make it easier to remove. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Prepare the lug nut: Make sure the lug nut is clean and free from any debris or dirt.
  2. Select the heating method: There are several ways to heat a lug nut. One common method is to use a propane torch. Alternatively, you can use a heat gun or even a blowtorch.
  3. Apply heat: Carefully aim the flame at the lug nut, heating it evenly. Be careful not to overheat the lug nut or the surrounding area, as this can damage the wheel or surrounding components.
  4. Heat the lug nut for a few minutes: Keep the flame on the lug nut for a few minutes to allow the heat to penetrate and expand the metal.
  5. Turn off the heat source: Once you have heated the lug nut sufficiently, turn off the heat source and allow the lug nut to cool down before attempting to remove.

Heating the lug nut can help break the rust and corrosion that may be causing it to stick. It is important to exercise caution when applying heat, as excessive heat can cause damage. Always follow safety guidelines and use protective gear when working with heat sources.

Use a hammer and chisel

Use a hammer and chisel

One effective method to remove a stubborn lug nut is to use a hammer and chisel. This technique involves creating a small notch or groove in the lug nut, which allows for better grip and leverage when removing it.


  1. Start by positioning the chisel against the edge of the lug nut, making sure it is securely in place.
  2. With the chisel properly positioned, take the hammer and strike it firmly on the end of the chisel to create a notch or groove in the lug nut. It is important to strike the chisel at a perpendicular angle to ensure a proper groove is formed.
  3. Continue striking the chisel until a deep enough groove is created. The groove should be wide enough to accommodate the teeth of a lug nut wrench or socket.
  4. Once the groove is deep enough, insert a lug nut wrench or socket into the groove and attempt to loosen the lug nut by turning it counterclockwise. Apply steady and firm pressure until the lug nut begins to loosen.
  5. Continue turning the lug nut wrench or socket until the lug nut is completely removed from the wheel.
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Note: It is important to exercise caution when using a hammer and chisel to remove a stubborn lug nut. Make sure to wear protective eyewear and gloves to prevent any injuries. Additionally, be mindful of the surrounding area to avoid accidentally damaging the wheel or other components.

If the lug nut remains stubborn and does not loosen, consider seeking professional assistance or using alternative methods like penetrating oil or a lug nut remover tool.

Seek professional help if needed

If you have tried all the steps mentioned above and still cannot remove the stubborn lug nut, it may be time to seek professional help. A professional mechanic will have the necessary tools and expertise to safely remove the lug nut without causing any damage to your vehicle.

Attempting to remove a stubborn lug nut without the proper tools or experience can result in stripped threads, damaged lug nut keys, or even injury. It is always better to err on the side of caution and let a professional handle the task.

When you take your vehicle to a professional mechanic, they will be able to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. They may use specialized tools such as impact wrenches or pneumatic hammers to remove the lug nut without damaging the wheel or other components.

Additionally, a professional mechanic can inspect the lug nut and the wheel for any signs of damage. They can also check if there are any underlying issues causing the lug nut to become stubborn, such as rust or corrosion. Addressing these issues promptly can help prevent future problems and ensure the safety of your vehicle.

Remember, it is important to consult a professional if you are unable to remove a stubborn lug nut. They have the knowledge and experience to handle the situation safely and efficiently, saving you time, money, and potential headaches.


What tools do I need to drill out a stubborn lug nut?

To drill out a stubborn lug nut, you will need a power drill, a drill bit that is specifically designed for metal drilling, safety goggles, and a wrench to remove the lug nut once it has been drilled.

Is it difficult to drill out a stubborn lug nut?

Drilling out a stubborn lug nut can be a challenging task, especially if the nut is rusted or overtightened. However, with the right tools and techniques, it is definitely achievable.

What are the steps to drill out a stubborn lug nut?

The first step is to spray the lug nut with a penetrating oil and let it soak for a few minutes. Then, use a power drill with a metal drill bit to slowly drill a hole in the center of the lug nut. Once the hole is drilled, use a wrench to remove the lug nut by turning it counterclockwise.

Are there any safety precautions I should take when drilling out a stubborn lug nut?

Yes, it is important to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from any flying debris. Additionally, make sure to keep your hands steady and maintain a firm grip on the drill to prevent any accidents.

What can I do if the lug nut is still not coming off after drilling?

If the lug nut is still not coming off after drilling, you can try using a lug nut extractor tool. This tool is specifically designed to grip onto the lug nut and provide extra leverage for removal. Alternatively, you can seek the help of a professional mechanic.


Harrison Clayton

Harrison Clayton

Meet Harrison Clayton, a distinguished author and home remodeling enthusiast whose expertise in the realm of renovation is second to none. With a passion for transforming houses into inviting homes, Harrison's writing at https://thehuts-eastbourne.co.uk/ brings a breath of fresh inspiration to the world of home improvement. Whether you're looking to revamp a small corner of your abode or embark on a complete home transformation, Harrison's articles provide the essential expertise and creative flair to turn your visions into reality. So, dive into the captivating world of home remodeling with Harrison Clayton and unlock the full potential of your living space with every word he writes.

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