Top 8 Best Lug Nuts
By | Last updated: October 9, 2020
Image: Smile Fight/Shutterstock.com

Your car’s lug nuts are a lot like your car’s insurance policy – doing its job in silence, not thought of until needed, and cursed upon failure. They are also, like your author, routinely ignored. There is a buying demographic for aftermarket lug nuts, however, a group that mostly includes people trying to spruce up a used car or hapless DIYers who stepped on the hubcap during a tire change and sent the OEM lugs flying into oblivion.

The latter rarely happens anymore, of course, thanks to the democratization of cheap alloy wheels. Still, it’s worth taking a look at these things and noting their existence. For simplicity, we selected a cadre of lug nuts that fit a particular type of car, namely a ten-year-old Honda Civic we feel is representative of a beater that might need a bit of TLC.

1. Editor's Choice: Wheel Accessories Dual Coating Chrome Closed-End Lug Nuts

Also, by selecting a single make and model, we can present an apples-to-apples comparison on pricing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, costs ebb and flow with threading patterns and overall size. These lugs are all of the M12x1.50 variety though their length varies a bit.

If all you’re looking for is a set of bog-standard lug nuts with a quartet left over for spares, this is a good option. Costing well under 20 bucks, these closed-end acorn-style fasteners is said to be double nickel-plated to outlast 48 hours of salt spray (so, two days in your author’s hometown). Pushing aside the snark, nearly 500 customers have given these things an average 4.6 of 5 stars.

Pros/Great feedback from customers, affordable
Cons/Some reports of the acorn cap coming off
Bottom Line/Don't overtighten them

2. SIZZER Black Finish Wheel Lug Nuts

It’s also worth noting that some lug nuts, like these, have a seat while others sit flush. In other words, check your application before hitting the ‘buy now’ button especially if you’ve treated your car to a set of aftermarket wheels. The latter sometimes require special nuts.

This option is black in color for those of us who like a car that’s been dipped in a pot of inky black paint. The seller says this product’s heat-treated steel is subsequently triple chrome coated for exceptional appearance and corrosion resistance. The promise that these lugs are shipped in a foam tray, meaning they don’t knock together during transport, is appealing.

 

Pros/Looks great, attractive and useful packaging
Cons/Hand tool installation only
Bottom Line/Top-notch 5-star rating but only a small sample size

3. McGard Cone-Seat Wheel Installation Kit

A ‘wheel installation kit’ – how fancy. Beyond the marketing chaff, we find a package that includes 16 standard lug nuts to fit our fictional beater car, 4 wheel locks, a key for said wheel locks, and a storage pouch for that key. The ‘installation kit’ wording might be a bit over the top but there’s no denying this box contains all the hardware that you need to install 4 wheels and tires.

Well, except for the tire iron, of course. McGard is probably one of the most recognized brand names on this list, thanks to a network of car dealers who grotesquely overcharge for a set of these things in the business office. If your vehicle came with wheel locks right off the showroom floor, chances are there’s a McGard package floating somewhere around its interior.

Pros/Excellent brand, includes all the gear
Cons/Visions of a claustrophobic business office beckon
Bottom Line/Very high ratings from real-world customers on Amazon

4. Gorilla Automotive Open End Wheel Locks

Okay; now we’ve broached the subject of wheel locks, it is prudent to mention that if an underworld criminal really wants the wheels on your car, they’re likely to take them no matter how many locks are on each wheel. These things are an excellent deterrent, however.

This package only includes a quartet of locks and not a full set of lugs, it must be noted. They are also of the open end design, which can ruin an aesthetic of you care about that type of stuff. If you have these things and are parked next to a car that doesn’t, thieves will likely choose the path of least resistance

Pros/Tough to argue against extra security for your car
Cons/Not totally foolproof
Bottom Line/Cheap insurance for just fifteen bucks

5. White Knight Black Chrome Acorn Lug Nut

In a fit of up-is-down and left-is-right, these lug nuts are black chrome but sold by a company with ‘white’ in its name. Plain silver variants are also available, of course. Even though these are said to fit our fictional Honda, it comes in a pack of 20.

Like others on this list, these are bulge acorn style with a conical seat, all of which sounds like instructions to a squirrel storing away food for the winter but actually refers to the product’s shape and size. It does specify these are for ‘aftermarket wheels only’.

Pros/Decently priced
Cons/Complaints on incorrect sizing
Bottom Line/Check fitment before buying

6. MOSTPLUS Spiked Lug Nuts

Did I just link to what is possibly the most annoying set of lug nuts on the planet? As Sarah Palin used to say – yewbetcha. Available in a variety of colors, these Mad Max fasteners will surely offend those wheel-ogling Methodists that live down your street.

Reviews are middling, as a lot of people seem to think the lug nuts themselves are of high quality but the paint is not. Since color and maximum annoyance are the whole point of buying these things, that’s kinda disappointing.

 

Pros/Guaranteed to annoy the neighbors
Cons/Don't install with an air gun
Bottom Line/Cast metal coloring would be great

7. Gorilla Automotive Acorn Black Lug Kit

Yes, nitpickers, we’ve already covered a kit from Gorilla and a couple of dark chrome options on this list. However, this option is worth a mention for its apparent robustness; customers report that the color remains on these things even when hit with an impact wrench.

Contrast that with several other lug nut options that will twist off or get damaged if anything other than hand tools are used. A key is included here thanks to the lug’s unique exterior design, which kinda sorta makes all 20 of these things wheel locks (we, know – not really).

Pros/Robust construction, retains original color
Cons/Not the cheapest thing here
Bottom Line/Get what one pays for (again)

8. UPGR8 Steel Closed Ended Wheel Lug Nuts

Up Great? You Pee Great? Whatever the actual brand name, these lug nuts have a distinctive finish that will be recognized by anyone who’s played around with the paint tool in Forza Horizon. This is a pack of 20, with a key.

Ratings are favorable – 4.4 out of 5 stars – and the seller lists a remarkably long return window. These style lugs from this manufacturer are also available in black chrome and silver chrome finishes should you be of a boring disposition with absolutely no imagination at all.

Pros/Unique finish, good reviews
Cons/Requires a special key (included)
Bottom Line/Go for the cool color

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: Smile Fight/Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

19 Comments on “Deez Nuts – Best Lug Nuts...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    It’s McGard. Period. Maybe Gorilla, but I’m not as familiar with them.

    Toyota sells a lot of rebranded McGard products, like wheel locks, spare tire locks, etc.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “hapless DIYers who stepped on the hubcap during a tire change and sent the OEM lugs flying into oblivion”

    Old, old joke – stop me if you’ve heard this one:

    Guy is out for a drive, has a flat, stops to change it, looks up and notices that he is stopped outside the fenceline of the local psychiatric hospital. Continues working, grabs the spare tire, and bam! steps on the hubcap. All five lug nuts go rolling into the sewer grate. Argh! – what to do, what to do…

    “Excuse me sir,” comes a voice from the other side of the fence. “What you want to do is, take one lug nut off of each of the other four wheels, put those on the one wheel, you’ll have four lug nuts on each wheel to get you home [no hard stops, he might have added], then order some new lug nuts.”

    “Wow, thank you!” the guy replies. “That is a genius idea!”

    The patient answers: “Hey, I may be crazy (motioning to the building behind him), but I ain’t stupid.”

    • 0 avatar

      ““Hey, I may be crazy but I ain’t stupid.”

      Why this phrase sounds so familiar to me?

      In real life that fella will not be able to unscrew nuts in the first place. It happened to me. After that I had to replace all nuts with new non OEM (because OEM are made in China and suck). Not me of course but mechanic in the dealership because he had tools and experience. it is a common failure with modern cars with alloy wheels.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    If anyone wants to know how to remove locking lugs nuts from your car when you’ve lost the key, or when your wife accidentally threw them away, I have some experience in that area…

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      How did you do it? (This is a recurring nightmare for me.)

      [My current “plan” involves fluorescent orange paint on the ‘key’ in the plastic bag in the glove compartment with the registration and insurance info, and a second ‘key’ in a tool drawer in the garage, but we know about “plans” and first contact with the enemy/entropy.]

      • 0 avatar
        Imagefont

        After much trial and error, take a 12-point deep socket just slightly smaller than the diameter of the locking lug – and pound it on to the locking lug with a hammer. You will distort and ruin the socket of course, but it will grip the locking lug and you’ll be able to unscrew it. I needed two sockets to get all four off my car. It wasn’t pretty but it effective. You ruin the sockets and the locking lugs of course, but it worked.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Step 1 – don’t put locking nuts on your car
      Step 2 – see step 1

      I’d love to know the actual stats on wheels stolen vs lost keys… I bet its 10 to 1 in favor of the keys being missing instead of the wheels.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “For simplicity, we selected a cadre of lug nuts that fit a particular type of car, namely a ten-year-old Honda Civic we feel is representative of a beater that might need a bit of TLC.”

    Not picking a Panther or H-body costs you like half your TTAC gold.

  • avatar
    RHD

    This should be called “The Top Eight Lug Nuts Sold On Amazon, According to the Ratings*”

    *We get a spiff if you click on “Shop Here” to buy them, which is the only reason why this article was written in the first place.

    This “journalism” is the easiest, laziest kind to write, and the author didn’t even have to touch any of the items “reviewed”. One star.

  • avatar
    relton

    2 critical things to know about lug nuts.

    1. Tapered seat vs ball seat. The nuts shown here have a tapered seat. That is, the part of the nut that contacts the wheel is conical. Some cars have a ball seat. That is the part of the nut that contacts the wheel is part of a hemisphere. Audis and Bentleys use a ball seat, and maybe some others. Use the wrong one and the wheels may be damaged, and possibly have a catastrophic failure.

    2. Solid vs 2 piece nuts. Some nuts are solid steel, perhaps plated or painted. Some nuts have a steel nut, clad with a thing stainless steel cover for styling. 2 piece nuts fail when they are being removed because the thin and soft cover deforms, and the socket won’t turn the nut. Lots of Fords have recently used 2 piece nuts, and have had lots of recalls. GM used this design in the 70s and 80s, and finally gave up. This defect is usually discovered when trying to change a tire on a wet, dark night.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The vast majority of vehicles sold in the US for the last umpteen years have used the tapered “acorn” nuts. There are exceptions, like the occasional European fetish for ball seats, or Toyota holding on to “mag” style shank nuts for a surprisingly long time.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      The Toyota shank style with the separate (captive) washer are good, because the friction when tightening happens between the nut and the washer, resulting in less galling of the aluminum surface of the wheel. Also there’s more accurate torquing.

  • avatar
    lostboy

    So… was hoping to find a review of another type of lug nut, the one i care about is the aluminum ones that are approx .7 times the weight of the steel ones – i know this sounds crazy but when i put on my summer rims on my UNDERPOWERED subaru, i go with the lightest wheels that are OEM for my model that shipped for my model’s span in years of my car and EXPENSIVE japanese Al lugs that save me weight on my wheels

    to whit – changing from my OEM steelies to OEM alloys saved my like 7 lbs per wheel and changing from the OEM lugs to the japanese ones saved my an additional 1/4 lb per wheel – it’s nitpicking i know but i swear every lb saved on the wheels translates to better handling

    and yes i’m aware that AL rusts and is softer but i use them on my 3/4 year tires and not the winters (which are also on lighter OEM alloys but with OEM lugs) – and i’m also aware that colour is an important factor but weight is always something i consider when i’m purchasing something for MY car – and that’s where this article missed the boat for me :(

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Aluminum doesn’t rust, this is one of its advantages, along with weight savings. The problem is the softness.

      What to save weight and have strength? Then get some Titanium lugs, they are expensive however.

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