Don`t Tighten Lug Nuts with Just Your Fingers

Don’t Tighten Lug Nuts with Just
Your Fingers
By Rob Ficiur
I want to challenge my students to do their best.
As a teacher, it’s easy to see how careless work habits will hurt students in the long run.
But how can I show them this in a way that they can see it?
The obvious answer is to relate it to their own world, but how? If a gardener makes an
error, it could be months before we know. In the garden, after all, there are other
variables that can diminish the return of a crop.
Then I thought of lug nuts. Every mechanic knows that the all the lug nuts on a tire have
to be put on tight so that the wheel stays on. If a mechanic uses only his or her fingers to
tighten lug nuts, how far will that vehicle go? Everyone knows this rule, but a careless
day can lead to trouble.
I took the entire school down to the mechanic shop where the mechanic talked to them
about how to tighten lug nuts. We explained that if the lug nuts aren’t tight enough, a
vehicle won’t make it from the colony to the highway.
After that field trip, when students do careless work, I suggest that they’re tightening the
lug nuts with their fingers. Same goes when individuals aren’t staying on task.
It has become easier for students to identify examples of others, in current events or in a
story, using only their fingers to tighten lug nuts. And as students see the results of this
habit outside stories, it helps reinforce their own need to do their work properly.
Every Day Health Worksheet #10: Tightening Lug
Nuts with Fingers
The following question was posted on a Yahoo message board:
“I was having an argument with my son, who barely tightened the lug nuts on my tires,
by hand. Is that dangerous? I have to go on a 1,311 mile trip this week…”
A tow truck driver responded: “I've also towed some [vehicles] where one loose lug nut
has eventually led to losing a tire. Tell your son step away from the car, tighten them up
tight with your wrench, then stop by a tire repair place and have them set where they
should be.”
Lug nuts must be put on tightly, or there will be damage.
Sometimes in our lives, people’s work habits are much like finger tightening lug nuts. If
we did this with a vehicle, we would drive barely a few minutes before the tire would fall
off, causing additional damage to the lug nuts, the tire, and other parts of the car. Once
your tire falls off, you have no control over where the vehicle is going.
Putting on lug nuts properly isn’t a difficult task for a vehicle owner or a mechanic. No
one would intentionally finger tighten them or leave them too loose. However, when
we’re in a hurry, a simple mistake can cause a big problem if we do things too quickly.
Finger tightening lug nuts has an immediate consequence: the vehicle won’t be driving
very far before the wheel comes off. Similarly, changing the oil in your car is essential to
the long life of your car. If you choose the careless habit of not changing the oil, it could
be only months before your motor breaks down. Not changing the oil is a bad habit; one
that, along with other factors, will lead to trouble just as surely as finger tightening lug
There are tools created specifically for putting on lug nuts. Most vehicles carry a tire
jack, for example. With the tire jack, you can take off the lug nuts, replace a flat tire, and
then put the lug nuts back on tightly. Mechanics' shops also have a tool called a torque
wrench, which will tighten the lug nuts to the proper specifications fit for that car. Most
times, however, mechanics use air-powered ratchets to put lug nuts on.
Chances are you will never forget it if you ride or drive a vehicle with lug nuts that aren’t
tight enough. When that happens. the wheel will fall off “right here and right now,” no
matter how important it is that you get to your destination.
The good habit of putting lug nuts on properly is not something people talk about
because it’s so basic. However, ignore that basic work habit, and people will be talking.
1. You are going Christmas shopping with your family. What would happen to your
trip if the lug nuts on your vehicle were only finger tightened?
2. Students need good work habits to achieve their potential. What careless work
habit have you seen in yourself or others that might cause the “vehicle of school
life” to crash?
3. Why and how could this careless habit hurt the student at school?
4. Using a pair of pliers to tighten the lug nuts won’t work. Describe another bad
(school) habit that won’t work long-term if you want to be an effective student.
5. What is an example of a positive school work habit that can help
students succeed? Explain why it helps them succeed.
5. We need positive habits in our daily life out of school as well as in school. Think
of a character in a story that kept getting into trouble.
________________________ (Name of character)
6. What bad habit did this person have that kept causing him/her to get in trouble?
7. How would this character’s life be better if he/she eliminated this bad habit?
“Finger Tight” Lug Nuts: A Real Life Story
A few months after we took the school to the mechanic's shop and learned about putting
lug nuts on, I met Mark. Mark is a fifty-year-old plumber who knows that you don’t
tighten lug nuts with just your fingers. He had a shop in Medicine Hat put his vehicle’s
tires on before he drove to Bow Island (58 km away). All was well—or so Mark thought.
Before Mark made it the 30 minutes to Bow Island, one of the tires on his vehicle began
to wobble. When he pulled off to the side of the road, he saw that the lug nuts were
loose. These lug nuts, and the rim, weren’t going anywhere again.
Look at the picture—you can see that the lug nut holes are now oval shaped. The loose
lug nuts shook around and around, carving a bigger hole in the area where the lug nuts
should tighten on. This rim wasn’t usable any more. The company that changed his tires
had to pay for a new rim for Mark because they didn’t tighten the lug nuts properly.
The wheels turn on the lug nuts. In the few mintues it took for Mark to drive to Bow
Island, the wheel turned on the loose lug nut so many times that it carved a piece out of
the tire rim (above).
Below, you can see that the six lug nuts suffered severe damage.
On the individual lug nut, you can see that about 25 per cent of the tread was worn away
as the loose wheel went around and around on the short ride from the tire shop.
When Mark shared this story with me, he said he was very grateful that no one was hurt.
Had the lug nuts been looser, or had Mark kept driving, the entire wheel could have
fallen off.
1. Describe the damage that occurred to the lug nuts and the tire rim.
2. Pretend that Mark is your favourite uncle. On the day he got this tire put on, you had
gone with him to the city. How could you and your Uncle Mark have been injured if the
wheels had fallen off while you were driving on the highway?
3. How could other people have been injured if the tire had fallen off while Uncle Mark
was driving 100 km per hour?
4. Who is at fault in this story? What did the person do wrong?
5. You and Uncle Mark did nothing wrong. The tire worker put the lug nuts on only
“finger tight.” He wasn’t getting hurt, but you and Uncle Mark could have been hurt. In
life, how can the “finger tight” choices of others hurt innocent people?
6. Pretend you are the boss at the tire shop. After Mark told you (and showed you) the
lug nuts and the wrecked tire rim, you found out which worker had put the tires on for
Mark. How do you (the boss) feel? Why?
7. As the boss, you go to the worker and tell him what happened. Worker Bill says, “It’s
not my fault. I’ve been putting on tires at your store for the last two years. And this is the
first time I’ve ever put a lug nut on finger tight.” Do you believe this is the first time he
made this mistake? Why or why not?
8. If you were the boss, would you still trust worker Bill after this? Why or why not?
9. Questions 1–6 in the first exercise talked about how using our fingers to tighten lug
nuts could be like a bad habit we have in school. Think of jobs around the colony. How
might the careless habit of working in this “finger tight” way show itself in other jobs
(carpenter, cow boss, head cook, etc.)? Explain.
10. None of us are perfect; we all make mistakes. What can we learn about work habits
from Worker Bill’s careless day at the tire shop?