Lawsuit says Ford lug nuts swell and crack, leaving the lug nut wrench useless.

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Lawsuit says Ford lug nuts swell and crack, leaving the lug nut wrench useless.

— Ford swollen lug nuts have caused a proposed class-action lawsuit that alleges the lug nuts swell, crack and delaminate to the point special tools are needed to remove the lug nuts.

The lawsuit alleges the swollen lug nuts are installed on the Ford Fusion, Escape, Flex, Focus, F-150 and F-350.

Instead of solid steel nuts, the plaintiffs say Ford sells its vehicles with lug nuts that have a steel core with chrome, aluminum or stainless steel caps attached to improve the appearance of the visible part of the lug nuts.

The caps allegedly swell, crack and delaminate to the point where the lug nuts cannot be removed with the lug wrench provided by Ford. This leaves owners and lessees who get flat tires often stranded on the roads without the ability for even tow truck drivers to remove the swollen lug nuts. This means a tow to the shop just to have the lug nuts removed and the tire replaced.

Ford cracked lug nuts
An example of Ford's cracked lug nuts

Ford allegedly chooses not to use one-piece lug nuts because one-piece stainless steel or other alloy lug nuts cost more than the two-piece “capped” lug nuts.

However, the plaintiffs claim they didn't know about the lug nut issues because when new, the capped lug nut is virtually identical in appearance to the one-piece stainless lug nut, especially since the steel core is not visible when the lug nut is snugged up to the wheel.

The plaintiffs say the changes to the lug nuts occur with temperature swings, moisture and road vibrations, changing the appearance of the capped lug nuts.

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.

The lawsuit references complaints from Ford owners about the lug nut problems, and CarComplaints.com has heard from some of these owners.

"Had a flat a few months ago. AAA had major trouble getting the lug nuts off as I now recall. Took car to dealer for routine service today. Dealer said lug nuts were swollen and needed replacing. Only way to remove sometimes is to destroy the nut." - 2014 Ford Escape owner / Rocky River, Ohio

Another Escape owner talks about how a warranty didn't help at all.

"They [Ford dealer] found the lug nuts (all20) to be "swollen. Service rep said it is due to the two dissimilar metals the lug nuts are made of. They charged $8 each, so $160 plus tax to replace all. Even though we have the "extended warranty" there is no coverage from Ford. The vehicle has never been in snow or ice, no salted roads. The new lug nuts are exactly the same as the old ones." - 2014 Ford Escape owner / Tampa, Florida

According to the plaintiffs, Ford has known about the lug nut problems for years based on reports from consumers and dealers. When dealers observe swollen lug nuts on vehicles, technicians must use special wrenches and tools to remove the failed lug nuts and owners and lessees are required and advised to buy replacement lug nuts.

But according to the lawsuit, some dealers suggest their customers buy non-Ford lug nuts because they know any replacement Ford lug nuts will fail and become unusable.

An example of Ford's swollen lug nuts

The plaintiffs say they never expected to buy replacement lug nuts within the first years of owning the vehicles, yet Ford left them no choice. In addition, the lawsuit alleges Ford does not replace for free its allegedly defective two-piece lug nuts, even when they fail during the new vehicle warranty period.

Instead, Ford allegedly shifts its warranty obligations onto its customers, requiring owners and lessees to spend hundreds of dollars for new lug nuts and the labor to install them.

The proposed class-action lawsuit includes millions of current and former owners and lessees of Ford’s Fusion, Escape, Flex, Focus, F-150 and F-350 vehicles equipped with two-piece lug nuts.

The Ford swollen lug nuts lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan - Josh Wozniak, Angel Castaneda, Raj Chauhan, Robert Desotelle, Samantha Ellis, Donald Lycan and David Mathias, et. al, vs. Ford Motor Company.

The plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman, and the Miller Law Firm, PC.

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