Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingWheels and Rims Lug Nut Spikes: Merely Cosmetic Or Do They Serve A Purpose?

Lug Nut Spikes: Merely Cosmetic Or Do They Serve A Purpose?

by Jordan Harris
Lug Nut Spikes

Lug nut spikes are a common modification in the trucking world. If you are a regular road user, which vehicle have you seen using the lug nut spikes the most? Yes, the answer is almost always the massive semi-trucks. But why do they have them? Is it a modern trend or something that has been carried over from the past due to some benefit that they bring to the table?

The lug nut spikes are not a modern invention though. You must have seen similar appendages pointing out of the wheels of chariots used in the war scenes of period drama movies like Ben Hur. They are sharper dagger-like objects used as weapons.

The only aim of these is to damage and annihilate the enemies and their vehicles. But are the modern lug nut spikes used for the same application? Contrary to what many believe, they are not. We will try and learn more about these and understand why they get a bad rep from the public.

Vehicle modifications are aplenty. Some are functional, while the others are merely cosmetic. Lug nut spikes belong to the latter group at the first glance. But do they serve any purpose apart from being fancy? If yes, why do people use them? In this story, we will look into the nitty-gritty of these little pointy things and their applications.

In this story, we will surf through the following subjects

What Are Lug Nut Spikes

This needs no explanation. These are large spikes that jut out of the wheels of many semi trucks we have on the roads. You may have noticed these shiny, pointy, and scary things pointing out of the wheel nuts of massive semis when you pull up alongside them at a signal.

Many truck drivers prefer to buy these spikes to deck up their machines. They choose lug nut spikes as an ornament that improves the look of the vehicle. It is in fact, a kind of personalization they choose for their office on wheels. Corporate employees try to give their office desks a personal touch by adding plants, and other decorative materials. Truckers do a similar task with the lug nut spikes, among many other modifications.

These lug nut spikes screw right into the lug nuts, making them practically an extension of the nuts. But some models even come as an integrated lug nut and spikes. They screw right into the wheel hub, locking the wheel in place. These come with a special tool that allows screwing and unscrewing them, packed in the box.

These spikes are not particularly dangerous. They may look scary, with their shiny pointy tips extending out of the massive wheels of a colossal vehicle. The scary bit gets even more amplified when the wheels rotate. The rotating lug nut spikes look like a crusher moving alongside you.

But despite this terrifying appearance, most of these spikes are usually harmless. They are made of very soft alloys or mostly, just plastic. If it did hit your vehicle, the worst damage you can expect is a deep swirl mark on your paint. But this may not always be the case. We will talk about that in a later section.

But why do truckers use them so often?

Why Are Lug Nut Spikes Used

There are many reasons for truck owners to use lug nut spikes. Cosmetic reasons dominate the list but there are a few other reasons that make them use lug nut spikes. Some of them bring more than just cosmetic benefits. Let us dig deep into them to see if the lug nut spikes are loved only for the way they look. Or are there some things else that we are missing?

1. Cosmetic Reasons

This is the primary reason we mentioned at the beginning of the article. If you own something or spend a lot of time in something, be it a truck, an office, or a home, you tend to personalize it a bit. This is a key reason we feel at home in many of these environments.

Lug nut spikes are just the tip of the modifications iceberg that truck drivers usually play with. They make multiple changes to the stock vehicle to make it their own. We will look at some of these in detail in a later section.

In the trucking community, a trend has already formed for lug nut spikes. This also creates peer influence on truck drivers and they follow their fellow semi-tamers in this trend. Multiple varieties of lug nut spikes are available in the market right now because of this strong following.

Think of it as neon lights from the very first Fast And Furious era. For that time, neon lights glowing from the underbody of the car were the epitome of coolness. And truth be told, they still look nice in the early 2000’s settings.

This fan following for lug nut spikes has made them quite popular, and we cannot blame them. They do look menacing when fitted onto a massive 80,000-pound semi barrelling down the road. But does this have any safety implications? It is still a hot debate in many forums across the realm of automotive internet but that is a debate for another day.

Everything apart, you must have understood that it is more of a style choice than a choice based on pure function. But that does not mean that it does not have many functions. They do, and they are quite important.

2. Safety Reasons

We encounter pathetic drivers on the road, every day. Some of these drivers give no regard to other road users. They jump lanes with no prior warnings, cut off other cars, and over speed. This not only puts them in trouble but also endangers the other road users.

But if a car hap hazardously merging into another lane with a car already in it is dangerous, doing that to a semi can be apocalyptic. We should know that this is an 80,000-pound monstrosity powering through, at quite decent highway speeds. It is a formidable item that we should not mess with. But these pathetic drivers usually do not have that memo in their hand while on the road.

Bringing simple physics into the equation, we know that the heavier a thing is, the harder it is to stop it. Despite the fact that semi-trucks come with state-of-the-art air brakes, and massive brake systems, it still takes a lot of effort to stop them. It is not an easy feat. Cutting a lane in front of a fast-moving truck is idiotic and not to mention, life-threatening.

To make matter worse, the massive size of the truck comes with colossal blind spots. Despite the huge wing mirrors, the trucks still have sizeable areas of the roads completely invisible to the river. If a car suddenly jumps into this gap, the truck driver may not be able to spot it. Without the newly positioned car in sight, the truck driver may change lanes, and swerve into the little car nearby.

But, How Does Lug Nut Spikes Increase Security

This is where lug nut spikes play with our psychology. If a massive, fast-moving truck does not stop these cars from merging like there is no tomorrow, these pointy spikes may. The sight of rapidly rotating metallic spikes that jut out of the wheels of this truck can scare the life out of most road users.

Threatened by the fast-rotating spikes, may car drivers stay away from the blind spots of the truck. These are mainly near the wheels, so keeping the cars away from them can help a lot. The car will thus always remain visible to the truck driver in the mirrors. the driver can thus make calculated, safe decisions based on this. This improves the safety of the trucker as well as the occupants of the car.

Lug nut spikes

If this scary little appendage can scare these people away from cutting lanes, it does not harm anyone to give it a try. Keeping someone away from blind spots is also a commendable feat. Usually, car drivers forget about the blind spots and unknowingly drive into them. The lug nut spikes serve as a mechanism to remind them of the danger if they transgress this safe boundary.

After all, anything to save a life is essential for the safety of road users. Hence, this small little modification makes a lot of sense from a safety perspective.

Counter Argument

Well, there is a counterargument to the safety perspective we just talked about. Yes, the spikes can scare drivers away from these massive trucks. But there is still a bit of risk involved. Can they cause some damage on their own?

Yes, they technically can. If the spikes are made of metals, their spinning at high speeds is, of course, a dangerous thing to encounter. As many drivers still chose metallic spikes, this is certainly a threat. So, it can be a bit of a doubt for many.

Lug nut spikes

But, if it is so, why use them? Do these disadvantages weigh out the safety advantages it possesses? We will discuss this in good detail in the coming sections of this story. So, stick around to see if using these metal spikes can be dangerous.

3. Mechanical Advantage

Now, this is an unexpected advantage. Though the lug nut spikes perform mostly a cosmetic job, they can bring about a new benefit as well. Semi-trucks travel thousands of miles every year hence their lug nuts suffer from a lot of stress.

This massive amount of stress on them can loosen them up over time. This can reduce the life of the wheels, and cause more damage to the other components. But the lug nut spikes help stall this effect for a while. They shield the lug nuts from the environment, prolonging the life of the nuts.

This shielding effect of this effect also comes with another advantage. It covers the lug nuts from the dirt, grime, and excessive moisture.  This can help increase the life of the lug nuts by a lot. The lug nut spikes protect the nuts and bolts that hold the wheel onto the vehicle. So obviously, it plays an important role.

4. Security Advantage

The lug nut spikes offer yet another advantage that is not very obvious. Some lug nut spikes act as the lug nut itself, integrating both the systems into a blingy package. But this means that the lug nuts with the integrated spikes cannot be undone using conventional hand tools.

You will have to use a special tool that comes packed with spikes to loosen or tighten them. There are some instances in which thieves steal the wheels of a car or a truck. This wheel theft is more common than you think.

How to remove lug nuts

The mandatory requirement for the usage of a special tool comes here as an advantage. It effectively disables thieves from removing the wheels as they cannot randomly loosen the bolts with conventional hand tools. If a thief has to steal wheels locked in place with the bolt-integrated lug nut spikes, he or she has to carry around all the special tools all the time. This always ends up helping the owners by securing their prized wheels.

Are The Lug Nut Spikes Dangerous Or Illegal

Now, let us open the floor for some debate. This is something that a lot of people have been talking about. But are they really as dangerous as they are portrayed by the media? Or are they completely safe, as advertised by some others? These questions can only be answered only if we stack up these arguments against one another.

Let us focus on the dangerous bit first. What are the arguments and counterarguments people present in this debate? We are diving nose deep into these details to know more about the danger element of the lug nut spikes.

Are Lug Nut Spikes Dangerous

Lug nut spikes are sometimes built of metal. A sharp metallic object jutting out of a fast-spinning wheel does sound scary, and it should be. A dalliance with these lug nut spikes can end up creating severe swirl marks on your car’s paint. It can even shear the metal deeply if you go really close to it.

But if they are made of plastic or very light alloy, the effects are almost negligible. They may leave some minor scratches before they break away. So, you do not have to worry about damaging your vehicle.

Disc brake

Metallic spikes can be dangerous, we now get that. But why are they being used by many truck users? Are they not putting the other road users in danger with the use of these lug nut spikes? The answer to this question may not be what you expect. The usage of lug nut spikes does not pose any extra danger than a regular semi-truck that does not have them on the run.

Why Is It So

This comes down to the simple fact that, if your car is perilously close to a truck, you have bigger things to worry about. The lug nut spikes do not usually stick that far out of the vehicle’s wheels. Hence, they do not brush and damage every vehicle that goes past. If your car comes that close that it touches them, you are already in extreme danger. It does not matter if the lug nut spikes are used or are absent from the wheels.

A colossal truck barrelling down a highway is something to stay away from, especially if you are in a car. Driving close to them can have dangerous repercussions, and scratches from the lug nut spikes are the least damaging among them.

truck wheel

So, even if the lug nut spikes are made of metal, they are not more dangerous than a regular wheel. In fact, the threatening appearance of rotating spikes can make some motorists stay away from the truck. This can easily reduce the chances of unwarranted contact on the road, hence improving safety. Not the answer that most of us expect but it is what it is.

Now let us focus on the next question. Are lug nut spikes illegal? Yes, there are bigger things to worry about when you are right next to a semi. But they can still be damaging on their own. So, what does our legislation say about them? Are they made illegal or is everyone free to use them?

We are not talking about long spikes that jut out a long way out of the original width of the vehicle. This will attract police attention for sure. What does the law say about the regular lug nut spikes? Let us look at that in the coming section.

Are Lug Nut Spikes Illegal

The broad answer to this question is no. Most states completely allow the usage of lug nut spikes on the wheels of trucks. So, as long as the trucking company’s rules allow it, drivers are free to use them as they please. But there is a catch.

This is for the truck drivers in Hawaii. This state has made it illegal to have these popular spikes installed on your wheels, only if they are longer than four inches. So, if your lug nut spikes are smaller than that, you can flaunt them in style while driving on the island state.

There are some other state laws that indirectly control the length of lug nut spikes. In the state of Florida for example, any vehicle, including anything fitted to it or carried by it, should not exceed 12 feet in width. Though it does not specifically pinpoint at the lug nut spikes, it does arrest their length. This happens because the drivers cannot fit exceedingly long spikes on their vehicles as it may break this law.

So technically, there are almost no laws that directly control the usage of lug nut spikes in the United States. But there certainly are several other tire and wheel-related laws that all drivers must comply with. These include the following

  • Should not drive on flat tires
  • Tires should not be body ply or belt exposed
  • The driver should inflate the tire to the prescribed levels
  • The depth of the tire groove should be more than the mandatory minimum requirement
  • The weight on the tire must not exceed the manufacturer or FMCSA-defined level
  • The rims should not have cracks
  • There must not be any missing bolts or nuts.

These will vary from state to state so do your own research before heading out.

Facts about Truck Wheel Spikes

  1. Wheel spikes are extensions that can be seen protruding out of a vehicle’s lug nuts, commonly seen on semi-trucks and other vehicles with lug nuts.
  2. Wheel spikes help prevent lug nuts from corroding, rusting, or getting dirty, and can also warn other drivers to keep their distance.
  3. These spikes could have evolved from extended lug nuts used in car racing for faster wheel changes.
  4. Truck drivers adopted and modified their appearance since they didn’t need them for fast wheel changes.
  5. Some believe the early 1990s punk and goth culture, which was fond of spiking accessories, led to the popularity of wheel spikes.
  6. Wheel spikes are not more dangerous than trucks without them since they are made of soft alloys or plastic to break off easily when accidentally hit.
  7. Various kinds of wheel spikes exist, including bullet-shaped, castle-shaped, drill-bit-shaped, and gold rods, allowing drivers to express themselves.
  8. Any vehicle with lug nuts can have spikes, and they can serve as a lug nut cover or as a warning to other drivers to stay away.
  9. Wheel spikes are usually less than 4-5 inches long and do not extend beyond the vehicle’s fender, running guard, or bumper, making them legal.
  10. It is illegal to have anything protruding from a vehicle that may harm someone walking by.

Should You Use Lug Nut Spikes

Well, the best person to answer that question is you yourself. Usage of these modifications is completely down to one’s personal preference. If you feel that your truck’s looks will benefit from a set of lug nut spikes, by all means, go get some. There is no legal boundary stopping you from you it, at least in all states except Hawaii.

But just like every other modification, you have to do it responsibly. If the lug nuts are too long, they can inflict damage on other vehicles, especially during bumper-to-bumper traffic. It can even harm pedestrians. So, stick to moderately sized units.

Of course, if you drive for a trucking company, consult their rules and regulations before you spend your money on it. Many truck companies do not permit drivers to use lug nut spikes on their trucks. Losing a job over a mere modification is not a happy story. So, make sure that you are covered on that end as well.

If all these green lights are on, you are now free to splurge on a set of lug nut spikes. But no matter how small they are, you will get some stares from people.

Concluding this story, there is no necessity for using them. They do have some advantages but none of them is too important that it is mandatory for you to use them. So the primary driving force to use them will be the cosmetic advantage they come with.

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