Motorsports equals speed and punishment on vehicles. The faster you push, the closer you are to the limit of your car’s ability to hold together. With racing, we know eventually stuff breaks, that’s just Motorsports 101. The goal is to upgrade and maintain your vehicle to avoid failures on track. One place you certainly don’t want to have a problem is at the hub of a wheel. If a wheel goes “bye-bye” then chances are you just lost steering ability, and worse, braking ability. This is a very bad thing. In this situation, you are no longer the driver of a car, you become merely a passenger of a crash-test vehicle, waiting to run into something hard. So, for obvious reasons, one of the first upgrades for any racecar is stronger wheel studs.
ARP makes reasonably priced and super-strong wheel studs for an assortment of vehicles and are universally used by racers everywhere. Its wheel studs are manufactured from premium-grade, heat-treated 8740 chromoly steel, nominally rated at 190,000 psi tensile strength, and cadmium plated for extra durability. According to the folks at ARP, “Our studs can easily handle the tremendous acceleration, shock loads, and lateral forces found in racing applications. Our ARP wheel studs are must-have replacements for competition vehicles.”
In motorsports, different sized tires are always one of the biggest things continually changed in the ever present quest for better lap times. In order to get a certain width tire on a vehicle and still have inner fender clearance, wheel spacers are often used to makes things fit. The only way you can safely use a wheel spacer is by lengthening the wheel studs. And the wider the spacer is, the more you are asking of the longer studs in regards to strength and holding power. This is another no-brainer reason to upgrade studs as these are easy to swap out parts.
Longer wheel studs provide more options when it comes to lug nuts. There is a huge aftermarket selection when it comes to lightweight alternate metal lug nuts of varying colors. I have found during 10 years of road racing that aluminum lug nuts (if carefully installed and torqued correctly) work just fine. I like my lug nuts to be softer than my wheel studs, so if there is going to be a failure when changing a tire, like a cross thread situation, it is quicker, easier, and cheaper to replace the lug nut than it is the wheel stud.
The installation of wheel studs is not a complex job, but it takes a few steps and the right tools. The first thing to do is to remove the hub assembly so we can access the wheel studs with a press. For pressing out the studs I have seen this job done with a simple ball-peen hammer and a fair amount of cursing. My suggestion is to use a press. You don’t need a fancy air-actuated hydraulic press, an $80 press from Harbor Freight works just fine. Before you get started, make sure the new studs you purchased are the correct thread and pitch for your application. For our project we used ARP’s M12x1.5 for Hondas.
Once you figure out the best way to hold your wheel hub in place, so the press can push the stock wheel studs out (we used sockets), then you can go through the process of pressing each stud out of the hub. Ensure you make a note of which direction the old studs pressed out so you can put your new studs in the same, and correct, direction.
This is one of those moments where assembly is honestly the opposite of disassembly. Flip the hub over and press the new stud into the hub. Ensure the stud is pressed entirely into the hub or you will have lug torqueing issues. A good practice is to torque your lug nuts after every track session to ensure the studs have been properly pressed in and seated.
The whole project to do all four hubs set us back approximately $200 total ($30 per stud kit per corner, plus we purchased an $80 press from Harbor Freight). If you already own a press then you have saved cash there. Total time for the project set us back about two hours. Some people choose to hammer out their old studs (destroying them in the process) and then use a lug nut and washers to pull the new stud into the hub. We do not recommend this process, as in most cases you will need to torque the lug beyond 130 foot-pounds to get the stud to pull into the hub. You are asking the threads of your brand new studs to do more than they are designed for. Our advice, do it right, and press the studs in.