Fitting wheels to a car is not difficult, but this does not mean that caution is not required. A key issue when mounting the wheels is the torque of the wheel bolts. How tight do they need to be in order to hold the hub securely while avoiding damage? You can learn all about it in this article.

Wheel tightening with a torque wrenchA torque wrench is essential if you want to check the tightening torque of the wheel.

Every driver may find themselves in a situation where a wheel must be removed and refitted. Even if one has all their maintenance done in a workshop, there is still the risk of damaging a tyre on the road and having to fit a spare wheel. In such cases, it is important to remember, among other things, the correct sequence for fixing the bolts. How much force one uses to tighten the wheels is also vital, as the use of either too much or too little power can result in hazardous situations when driving.

Removing the wheels may also be necessary to clean them properly. If you're planning to wash your wheels, check out our article: Cleaning alloy wheels – cleaners and home solutions (guide)

Wheel torque – why is it so important?

The force used to tighten the wheels on a car is an extremely important aspect that, sadly, is ignored by many people. This applies not only to drivers themselves but often to tyre service technicians as well. Often, service technicians only focus on how to change a tyre step by step while treating wheel tightening as routine. However, the strength with which the bolts are tightened has a significant impact on our safety and that of other road users.

Putting insufficient or excessive force into this task can result in various dangerous consequences. For this reason, it is worth being mindful of what torque you use to tighten car wheel bolts during seasonal re-fitting or other service work.

Insufficient wheel tightening force

If too little force is applied when tightening the wheels, you may experience a vibrating steering wheel when driving and have difficulty maintaining proper traction. This will significantly reduce driving comfort, especially on long journeys. If these seemingly minor issues are ignored, there is a risk of something much more serious happening, such as the bolts loosening and then slipping out or breaking, causing the wheel to fall off. It is easy to imagine how dangerous such a situation would be, especially when driving at high speeds, e.g. on a motorway.

Even if the wheel does not fall off, its uneven operation can damage sensitive systems in the car or the sensors for systems such as ABS or ESP.

Wheel tightening with an air wrench.Bolting the wheel with an air wrench should only be regarded as a preliminary step.

Over-tightening of bolts

A similar risk is associated with the over-tightening of wheel bolts. Though rare, using a force higher than that recommended by the manufacturer can damage the threads. As a result, the entire bolt structure will be significantly weakened. There is therefore a risk that, while driving, the wheel will break off the bolts when rotating at a high speed and will fall off.

A less dangerous but very troublesome consequence of applying too much torque is the problem of having to unscrew the wheels afterwards. This will be particularly cumbersome on the road when you only have access to compact tools such as short spanners without extensions.

How do you know how much force to apply to tighten the wheels?

Many people wonder where to get information on how many newton metres (Nm) they should use to tighten their wheels. The safest solution is to check the values recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. This can be found, for example, in the vehicle owner's manual.

However, if you have bought a used car and have not received all the factory documentation from the previous driver, do not worry. In most cases, all the necessary information can be found on the manufacturer's website.

If you have any doubts, it is also worth contacting the car manufacturer's customer service, where you should receive all the details of the car model you own.

Tightening torques for wheel bolts – table

To illustrate the differences in terms of how much torque should be applied to wheels on different vehicles, here is a table created by the well-known Continental brand. It lists car manufacturers as well as specific models. The table shows the torques for both steel and aluminium wheels. Please note, however, that it is always necessary to check the values specified by the manufacturers of the vehicle and the wheels mounted on it, and that it is these values that should be used when tightening the wheels.

Table of bolt tightening torques

MakeModelSteel wheel (Nm)Alloy wheel (Nm)
Alfa RomeoMito, Giuletta90120
147, 156, 166, Spider / GTV do 2006 r.100100
159, Brera / Spider120120
AudiAll types (excluding*)120120
*RS 2130130
*RS 4 (8D), A6 / A8 (Security), S8 (4E)140140
*Q3, Q5140140
BMWAll types (excluding*)140140
*1,3 Coupe/Cabrio (E92/93), Z4, X1120120
CadillacBLS, SRX110-
CTS, STS120-
Kalos, Spark, Nubira, Lacetti120120
Aveo od 2011 r., Captiva, Cruze, Orlando, Trax, Volt140140
ChryslerAll types (excluding*)135135
*300C, SRT8/Touring150150
*Crossfire, SRT6/Roadster110110
CitroënAll types (excluding*)100100
*C2, DS3, C4 do 2011r., DS4, C5 do 2008r. Xsara, Nemo9090
DaciaAll types (excluding*)105-
*Dokker, Duster, Lodgy110-
DaihatsuAll types110110
FiatAll types (excluding*)9098
*Idea, Stilo9898
*Punto, Grande Punto, Croma od 2005r, Ulysse110110
FordKa, Fiesta, Fusion100100
Focus, Mondeo, C-Max110110
Tourneo, Ranger120120
Kuga, Grand C-Max, Maverick130130
B-Max, Ecosport135135
Galaxy, S-Max160160
HondaAll types108108
HyundaiAll types 100100
IsuzuAll types118118
JaguarAll types (excluding*)125125
JeepCompass, Patriot120-
Grand Cherokee140-
KiaAll types (excluding*)110110
*Carnival, Sorento130130
LanciaY, Delta, Musa8698/100/120
Kappa, Thesis9898
Phedra, Zeta100100
Land RoverAll types (excluding*)140-
*Freelander od 2006r, Range Rover Evoque133-
LexusAll types103103
MazdaAll types (excluding*)103103
*CX-5, 3 od 2013r., 6 od 2013 r.128-
Mercedes-BenzA, B, C, CLA, CLS, E, SL, SLS, G130130
S, CL, R, M, GL, GLK150150
CLC, SLK110110
MiniAll types140140
MitsubishiAll types (excluding*)108108
*Pajero, Pajero Sport120120
NissanPixo, Cube85-
Micra, Tiida, Juke, 370 Z, Murano, X-Trail108-
Qashqai, Pathfinder113-
Opel/VauxhallAll types (excluding*)110110
*Ampera, Antara, Astra od 2010r., GT, Mokka, Zafira140140
PeugeotAll types (excluding*)100100
*206, 307/CC, 407, 6079090
*4008, 807, Expert110110
PorscheAll types (excluding*)-130
*Cayenne, Macan, Panamera-160
RenaultAll types (excluding*)110110
*Clio, Twingo105105
*Fluence, Grand Scenic130130
*Laguna, Latitude160160
Saab 9-3, 9-5110110
SeatAll types (excluding*)120120
Alhambra do 2010r.170170
Alhambra od 2010 r.140-
SkodaAll types (excluding*)120120
SmartAll types 110110
Ssang YongKorando, Musso130-
Kyron, Rodius140-
SubaruAll types (excluding*)100100
*BRZ, B9 Tribeca, WRX120120
SuzukiAll types (excluding*)9090
*Ignis, Swift, SX49595
*Jimny, Grand Vitara110110
ToyotaAll types (excluding*)110110
*Avensis od 2009 r.135135
*GT86, Hilux120120
*Land Cuiser130130
VolvoC30, S40, V40, V50, C70110110
S60, V70, S80, XC60, XC70, XC90140140
VWAll types (excluding*)120120
*Tiguan, Sharan od 2010r.140140
Sharan, T4170170
*Touareg, T5, Amarok180180
*Also note any recommendations of the wheel manufacturers

*Source: Data from 2015

Essential tools – tightening wheels with a torque wrench

Appropriate tools are required to fit the wheel. Initial bolt tightening can be performed with basic tools such as a hand spanner. A pneumatic tool is also ideal, as it makes the process much quicker and easier.

There is a good reason why this type of accessory is used at fitting stations, where the staff tries to serve customers as quickly as possible in order to manage the queues that are a common occurrence at the beginning of the summer and winter seasons.

It is important to know that only a torque wrench will ensure that the car wheels are properly tightened. This is what should be used for the final tightening of the wheel, which is unfortunately often forgotten.

Although the name of this tool may imply that it is complicated, its operation is extremely simple. Simply set the amount of Nm with which you want to tighten the bolt. This will allow the mechanism in the tool to loosen and give way when the desired torque is reached.

Correct wheel tightening technique

It is also worth mentioning that apart from the correct wheel tightening torque, the correct technique is also important. Fortunately, it is not difficult at all.

After the wheel has been placed on the hub, insert the mounting bolts and then gradually tighten them diagonally (this depends on the design of the car wheel and its parameters – in the case of an odd number, e.g. in a 5x100 bolt pattern, tighten the opposite bolts alternately). This will ensure that the pressure is evenly distributed and that each fixing point receives a similar load. This will translate into the perfect alignment and smooth rotation of the wheels.

If you want to learn how to safely change a wheel on your car, check out our guide: How to change a wheel on your car?