Most lug nuts are one piece of hardened steel, but Ford chose a design that puts an aluminum cap over a steel core. The cap is notorious for swelling and delaminating when it gets hot, and it’s also a great place to trap moisture and promote corrosion.
The end result? A lug nut that is too large for a standard wrench, or one that fuses so tightly you’ll need a drill, welding torch, and seven Hail Marys to get it to budge. In other words, a standard lug nut wrench ain’t gonna cut it.
At least it looks nice?
The capped lug nuts can be found on many post-2010 model years of the Fusion, Escape, Flex, Focus, F-150, and F-350. Consider yourselves lucky, F-250 owners.
Swollen Lug Nut Class-Action Lawsuit
In August of 2017, a class-action lawsuit accused the automaker of cost-cutting and not honoring its warranty.
The plaintiffs, represented by Hagens Berman, say Ford avoided using solid stainless steel nuts to save a few bucks. They also questioned whether the automaker should be allowed to label themselves Ford Tough, something Ford quickly dismissed as advertising “puffery.”
Unexpected costs of two-piece lug nuts
Because the lug nuts don’t swell in a predicatable or uniform manner, even roadside assistance services like AAA often can’t remove the lug nuts roadside. Instead, owners need to use a towing service.
When at the shop, owners are told they’ll need to replace the lug nuts and at $8 a pop / 5 per wheel, the costs can really add up.
Plaintiff Robert Desotelle says he and other owners must pay to replace the swollen and cracked lug nuts, and then cover the labor costs to remove the bad lug nuts. Desotelle says he paid $58.28 in repair and replacement costs for just one of the four wheels on his Ford Fusion.
Ford has been staunchly unsympathetic when it comes to complaints about lug nuts and says “the plaintiffs talk about swollen lug nuts as if the lug nuts should be indestructible and the warranties should last forever.” Lug nuts shouldn’t last forever, but they also shouldn’t be impossible to remove without special equipment after 10,000 miles.
Many owners have complained that any claims to replace the lugnuts have been denied while the vehicle was still under warranty. The plaintiffs argued this point but made a fatal flaw…
Unimpressed judge dismisses the case
In January of 2019 the court ruled in favor of Ford when a judge dismissed the casebecause the plaintiffs “presented no legally viable claims.”
The plaintiffs implied a breach of warranty “but the judge noted none of the plaintiffs presented their vehicles to Ford within the warranty periods.” Pro tip: if you’re going to imply breach of warranty in a class-action, make sure at least one of the plaintiffs was under a warranty that could be breached.
The judge also said that even though there’s a long list of complaints on sites like the fine folks at CarComplaints.com, it doesn’t prove Ford knows anything about the problem. Well maybe they should be more in tune with the complaints of their customers.