I'd go with the manual. Excessive tightening can warp the rotors. My
son bought new tires earlier this year and had a flat. He couldn't
get the wheel off. I brought tools to help him get going. Torque
wrench showed over 130 ft lbs. All four wheels. I reset them all to
80 per the manual. Brakes seem fine - no warp to rotors apparent when
Might be a good idea check the '88 shop manual. Section 3E of the '89
manual shows a drawing of the '88 wheel (without the vent vanes). and
indicates 100ft-lb for the 17" aluminum wheel and 80ft-lb for the
The '89 owner's manual gets tangled up in a discussion of changing
wheels on the road, temporary tightening, going to where there's a
torque wrench etc. etc. then adjusting to 80 ft-lb (the correct torque
for the steel compact spare). It then specifies and 100ft lb for the
17" alloy wheel and 80 for the (steel) spare.
I if the car isn't getting much maneuvering stress, 80 is probably an OK
*Perhaps Dad might offer something here ----------->* An issue to
consider is that, if these wheels were run overtorqued I'm hesitant to
work them heavily with under-torqued lug nuts. Seems like a good way to
stress crack some aluminum.
I think that what is most important is that all lugs have about the same
torque to avoid warpage. I cannot believe that the difference between 80
and 100 is enough to make the wheel fall off at 80. I would say that 80 is
the minimum for ANY car. I would go by your owners manual. Just be sure
the manual is correct.
Agree, RTFB -- look in the shop manual and find
out what the designed torque is for the '88
Since all this will be an educated guess, talk
with a mechanic with some racing or autocross
experience (Dad's probably the best we got.)
Here we go: Torque & Pre-load 101...
Now, assume that 100 ft-lb was the original
designed lug torque to accommodate the max
anticipated operating loadings for infinite life
of the wheel, studs, nuts etc.
If you torque the lugs to 130 ft-lb and apply
working loads, the total of pre-load + working
loads may fall outside the infinite life
estimates. You are then introducing some stress
and perhaps metal deformation (wheel, stud
threads etc.) Now, you no longer have a system
that will provide infinite life using 100 ft-lb
If you then remove the wheel and re-install it,
the optimum torque for some maximum life may be
something like 105 or 110 ft-lb. Definitely not
some value at or below the original design
torque (unless the parts are made of some magic
metal that has "healing" properties).
Think of the difference between 80 and 130, not
the difference between 100 and 130.
So if the original spec torque was 80, the
optimal torque might now be 85 or 90.
If it was 100, the new torque for optimal life
might now be 105.
In both cases, the working life of the system
will be shorter than was was intended in the
We have no clue as to how much abuse the system
got when it was over torqued so it's one big
crapshoot -- but it isn't 80 ft-lb. At 80, the
wheel will experience more damage.
Hey Dad --- educated guess??
It all comes down to what the wheel manufacture says to use on their
wheel. Most times you can't find that for used wheels and due to our
"sue for anything society" I can see why. Your car model dealer would
be the best information source for stock wheels but as these cars get
older that gets harder to get from a dealer. As a guide line I have
followed these simple rules from steel to aluminum based on stud size.
Notice that I did not include magnesium as I have no knowledge of that
material and its failure rate due to age.
For smaller wheels and smaller studs 7/16, 1/2 & 12 M/M torque to 70
to 85 ft/LB, larger studs and wheels 85 to 100 with some small truck
rims using 130 to 145 with 9/16 studs. All are done with the star
pattern for 5 bolt and a crossing pattern for 4 and 6 stud wheels.
NEVER lubricate the stud threads for any reason and a clean thread
will give you the most reliable torque reading. Good NASCAR teams hand
tap every lug nut before a race. Re-torque after driving 100 miles
should always be done on new wheels and a good safety check for older
wheels if you have any doubts.
Now the disclaimer, those are target figures and do not allow for
ignorance of your thread condition, thread engagement, or how sound
your wheel is when you put it on. It also does not cover non stock
wheels and/or spacers. In other words if you reach your torque and
your wheel is still loose you got problems going soon.
Personally I use 100 ft/LB. on my factory wheels and 110 when I
autocross. All aluminum wheel failures I've seen are due to loose lug
nuts and cracks from tire change machines. That 100 ft/LB. torque
figure is stated on page 81 section 3 of my service manual that is 5"
thick. Two inches of which is CYA and duplication of redundancy just
like this post. Redundancy for tight lug nuts is a good thing.
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