Improperly installed tire safety

Tiny
THOMAS LEWIS
  • MEMBER
  • 2007 KIA SPECTRA
  • 2.0L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 98,000 MILES
Walmart installed tires on my car and one of the hubcaps was installed wrong. No valve stem in the valve stem hole. Also they cross threaded one of my lugs the valve stem is pushing the hubcap out about an inch and they are telling me it is safe to drive an hour and a half one way to work at 70 mph. Is that safe?
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Sunday, October 14th, 2018 AT 10:23 PM

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Tiny
THOMAS LEWIS
  • MEMBER
This is a picture of the tire.
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Sunday, October 14th, 2018 AT 10:32 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
My first question is how you know the lug nut is cross-threaded. Did you try to remove it? Cross-threading a lug nut is easy to do when you are in a hurry with air tools, but it is almost impossible to run it down tight that way. The nut will become too tight to turn, or it is going to peel the threads.

Also, for future reference, if a mechanic informs you a lug nut and stud were damaged when he removed the nut, that damage was caused by the previous person who ran it down too tight, possibly months or years earlier, so be sure to place the blame where it belongs, not on the current mechanic. This is why we are supposed to always use click-type torque wrenches when tightening lug nuts.

There is no excuse for missing the hole with a valve stem, but be aware that many wheel cover designs require the use of longer valve stems or plastic valve stem extenders. When new cars are delivered to the dealerships, they always come with the shorter valve stems, then if optional wheel covers are included that require those extenders, those are included separately, and the person doing the new-vehicle prep has to screw them on. He also has to check the lug nuts, and pop on those wheel covers. Your wheel covers might require those extenders too. We always had old ones laying around from when we replaced valve stems with new tires, so we could give them away when necessary. This might be a case where they did not actually miss with the hole in the wheel cover. You might just need the extender. If the mechanic does not have a used one to give you, there are plenty of them in the salvage yards.

To have a valve stem holding the wheel cover out suggests too much haste on the part of the mechanic. When I worked for a mass merchandiser many years ago, more people got visibly angry if their car was not done the minute it was promised, than did over the cost of new tires. Rather than get screamed at yet again, we worked faster than we should have, and mistakes like this were common. There is two things that can happen here. The biggest concern is the wheel cover is not fully seated and can pop off when you go around a corner or hit a bump. The second thing is some valve extender designs can be pressed in by a wheel cover pushing on it. If the tire has not gone flat by now, it is not going to any time soon, so safety is not an issue. Rather than getting excited over something so trivial, I would just pop the wheel cover off, then put it back on properly. I know that is not a practical option for some people. In that case, just visit that shop again and ask to have the problem corrected. I would not make a special trip for that. Anyone there should be happy to run out and fix that on the spot unless they are busy with another customer.
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Sunday, October 14th, 2018 AT 10:57 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Sorry, I did not see the photo sooner. I cannot see a valve stem behind the wheel cover. This looks like a plastic cover with one of the fingers that did not go in the right direction. That is actually real common, but it definitely should not have been left like that. Sometimes a long flat-blade screwdriver is needed to nudge the finger in the right direction, then the cover can be pounded on.

Some of these have a thick wire ring around all of the fingers. If yours is of that style, first try to push that finger in. If the wheel cover pops into place, you are done. If it will not seat properly, try to pull it off, then have the mechanic put it on properly. That is better than losing it alongside the road. Some of these are held on by two special lug nuts that have an extra lip for that purpose. You cannot lose that type of cover, so just ignore it until you get back to the shop.

As a word of warning too, plastic wheel covers become brittle with age, and those fingers will break off very easily. I do not have any words of encouragement for that. That is why we see so many of these laying on the side of the road. I even have one minivan at home with a wheel cover that fell off when the van was just sitting for a few years. Good time to buy some better aftermarket metal replacements.
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Sunday, October 14th, 2018 AT 11:08 PM
Tiny
THOMAS LEWIS
  • MEMBER
The valve stem is behind the plastic finger.
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Sunday, October 14th, 2018 AT 11:50 PM
Tiny
THOMAS LEWIS
  • MEMBER
Here is where it should be yet it is not and what about the lug that is cross threaded? I will ask again is it safe to drive on the interstate?
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Sunday, October 14th, 2018 AT 11:55 PM
Tiny
THOMAS LEWIS
  • MEMBER
Plus you have to take the lug nuts off to pop as you say the cover off.
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Sunday, October 14th, 2018 AT 11:59 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If you cannot get it loose or if it just spins without backing off, that was caused by the last person who put it on too tight and peeled the threads. The thread damage should have been observed and noted by the mechanic at Walmart, but sometimes that gets overlooked.

With this design where two lug nuts hold the wheel cover on, some of those wheel covers can be tugged off without removing the lug nuts, but you have to tug pretty hard. Some wheel covers do not allow for that and will be broken around that area. If only two holes will be broken, you can usually switch the position of the lug nuts so they hold it on at two different holes. This will avoid the need to replace the wheel cover.

If you do not touch anything, you will have a better case for repairs at no charge from Walmart. This also applies if you go back right away. When someone waits weeks or months, it is pretty hard to convince them that no one else has worked on the vehicle since it was at their shop. The lug nut might have to be cut off if it just spins. If the threads are peeled causing the nut to not turn, the stud will likely snap off when they use an air tool on it. That is the best thing that happen because that makes the rest of the repair rather easy. If the nut has to be cut off and the wheel cover cannot be removed first, it will almost certainly be damaged in the process. I have cut my share of lug nuts off and never been able to avoid damaging wheel covers.

If the peeled threads were caused when the lug nut was over-tightened, the mating surface on the wheel must be inspected too. It is the friction between that surface and the nut that holds the nut tight. If that surface is torn up and rough, the wheel must be replaced. That would typically be a salvage yard item. Cost for a new wheel from the dealership is usually quite high, and they often have to be special-ordered.
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Monday, October 15th, 2018 AT 6:31 PM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Hello,

If any lug nut is having an issue the car is not safe to drive here is a video that shows how to replace the lug nut.

https://youtu.be/LSZ8P0wrQX8

Please run down this guide and report back

Cheers, Ken
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Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 AT 1:33 PM

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