Wheel creaking issue


Special K

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Aug 23, 2016
1,681
Franklinton, LA
This post has been a long time coming and it was my hope that it would be documenting a problem and ending with a solution. Sadly, I’m not certain that is the case.

Having taken delivery in March of 2020, I quickly began racking up miles on my GT. Even with near total Covid shutdown I was able to log nearly 4K miles by Rally 13.

Shortly before Rally 13, I attended the Shelby Bash in Las Vegas. It was there that I started to notice clicking noises on both of my front wheels. The harder the wheel was turned, the louder the click, and the faster the wheel rotated, the faster the occurrence.

With my car staying out west until Rally 13, I planned to have it looked at after the rally. On the track during the rally, the noise became increasingly noticeable and even scary at speed. It was at this point I decided to leave my GT at Sanderson Ford for diagnostic and repair of this and a surging issue (which Ford has developed a reflash but is still undergoing testing).

The first couple of months involved parts swapping under the direction of Ford/MM. During this time, the following parts were replaced: hubs, tie rods, ball joints and steering rack all to no avail. I kept insisting that the lug nuts, and how they interface with the rim, be examined. I returned to Scottsdale in January for Barrett Jackson and at this time I visited the dealership and inspected the Ti lug nuts and rims. I noticed unusual (and minimal contact) wear patterns (pics attached) on my lug nuts compared to other GTs in for service. My car has Ti lug nuts on alloy rims. Ironically, I followed another forum member to the dealership to have his car serviced and noticed the same clicking noise on his wheels as well (his car has Ti lug nuts on carbon rims). At this point I insisted a set of steel lug nuts be installed on the front rims, and voila, the noise immediately disappeared. After several days of driving I did noticed the noise return. This time however, we checked the torque and found that value reduced. It was my assumption that previous galling had damaged the rims to prevent them from holding proper torque.

By March, the decision to “level 3” my car had been made and it was sent back to MM. Unfortunately, upon its arrival the car was rendered undrivable due to a defective steering rack being installed. To further ad to delays, another rack couldn’t be sourced so my original rack had to be found in the used parts bin back at the dealership in Arizona, then shipped to MM to be reinstalled. As luck would have it, Canadian customs decided to detain my original steering rack for another few weeks. Finally by early summer, my car had its original rack reinstalled and road testing up north began. MM was never able to reproduce the noise on my car so attention was then turned to the other car back at Sanderson still exhibiting the noise. After many weeks of similar parts swapping on that car, I insisted again that the lug nuts and interface be closely examined. I asked about thread depth, thread taper, Ti tapping techniques used, galling, and potential issues with dissimilar metals being used (specifically due to the resilience of Ti).

Eventually, it was acknowledged that galling was occurring and a reference was made to an early-on assembly procedure of applying a dry-moly lubricant to the mating surfaces of Ti lug nuts upon every time they are reinstalled. It was also stated that the dealership omitted this procedure which resulted in the clicking noise. The only problem with that theory is, my car never went to a dealer, or had the wheels removed, or been re-torqued before the noises started. So either the lubricant wasn’t applied during assembly or it wains over time. Also, as an owner, this was the first I had heard of that necessary procedure on the GT (or any other car for that matter). This solution doesn’t sit well with me, as I feel that it is merely masking the problem and I still have doubts about the amount of contact area, dissimilar metals, and machining techniques used on the Ti lug nuts.

So today, after my car being away from home for over a year, I finally said just send it home. My hope was that this process would save others the delays I’ve experienced. Please let me know if anyone else is noticing this issue and please be aware of the necessity of adding dry-moly lubricant to your Ti lug nuts every time you re-torque them.

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fjpikul

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Jan 4, 2006
11,088
Belleville, IL
K, Did you try open end lug nuts? Just a suggestion to see if there is any difference.

I did not order titanium nuts.

Perhaps Derry could contribute something since his GT nuts are world famous.
 
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Special K

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Aug 23, 2016
1,681
Franklinton, LA
K, Did you try open end lug nuts? Just a suggestion to see if there is any difference.
I tried getting my hands on some because at first I was suspecting interference due to stud depth, but was unable to source some. I think they have since been discontinued by Ford.
 

BtwoG

GT Owner
Dec 8, 2013
1,030
Atlanta, GA
I'm glad to hear you are getting your car back Kevin. That sucks there hasnt been a satisfactory resolution. I dont think I've seen galling that bad on a lug nut, even on track cars. And I'm also a bit surprised the contact patch is that small. On the bright side, I'm sure you are going to love having the car back!

I forget, does the NFGT have an unusual seat angle?
 
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Special K

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Aug 23, 2016
1,681
Franklinton, LA
I'm glad to hear you are getting your car back Kevin. That sucks there hasnt been a satisfactory resolution. I dont think I've seen galling that bad on a lug nut, even on track cars. And I'm also a bit surprised the contact patch is that small. On the bright side, I'm sure you are going to love having the car back!

I forget, does the NFGT have an unusual seat angle?
Yep, it’s been a hot minute and it probably won’t be back for a few more weeks, but I’m glad to get it back. The seat angle is standard 60° I believe. I know some GT350 steel lug nuts were used at one point for testing, they actually cut the caps off to make them open. One thing that has always bothered me is how the contact pattern is about 2mm closer to the end of the Ti nut than on the steel. My concern was that it was bottoming out prematurely and not fully contacting the rim.

Also, according to this procedure, I won't even be able to check the torque on the rim without pulling the lug nuts and reapplying the lube before checking torque. But the lube will be keeping it quiet so in the meantime the wheel could be working it's way loose and I wouldn't know about it until something catastrophic happens.
 
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Sinovac

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Jul 18, 2006
5,775
Largo, Florida
I don’t have the service manual handy. What are the lug nut torque values for the alloy and CF wheels?
 

Special K

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Aug 23, 2016
1,681
Franklinton, LA
I don’t have the service manual handy. What are the lug nut torque values for the alloy and CF wheels?
150 ft-lbs
 
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Gary

GT Owner
May 11, 2006
459
Festus, Missouri
If my nuts clicked i'd apply a little vaseline and change underwear brands.
 
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JWZ

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Nov 17, 2013
727
West Texas
Glad your GT is inbound, Kevin! Interesting to read about applying dry moly lubricant to lug nut & wheel interfaces. I get it. But……to have to reapply every time torque is confirmed?? And am assuming caution should be exercised to keep lube away from threads? Hmmmmm.. more questions. No noises from my 2500 mile ‘18. Except the roar from Heffner Pipes! Lol!
 

Special K

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Aug 23, 2016
1,681
Franklinton, LA
Glad your GT is inbound, Kevin! Interesting to read about applying dry moly lubricant to lug nut & wheel interfaces. I get it. But……to have to reapply every time torque is confirmed?? And am assuming caution should be exercised to keep lube away from threads? Hmmmmm.. more questions. No noises from my 2500 mile ‘18. Except the roar from Heffner Pipes! Lol!
I find it interesting that no one knows of this procedure... and yes it seems a bit excessive. So do you skip checking torque before the track or do you pull every lug nut and apply the lube then re-torque?
 

DakotaGT

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Dec 9, 2012
1,601
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
So sorry for all of your trouble Kevin, and also sorry hear about this issue that sounds like it has potential implications for all of us with titanium lugs who drive our GTs. Bizarre and disappointing that none of us (I don’t believe) have heard a thing from Ford about this supposed procedure with the lube on the lugs.

That contact pattern on the lugs sure seems suspect. That’s a mighty thin band of contact. I can’t believe that is designed correctly. Looks like when a 45 degree tapered lug is incorrectly installed in a rim designed for a 60 degree tapered lug.

How hard would it be for Ford to have a wheel engineer look into the matter? WTF.
 

Biginch Blake

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Nov 4, 2008
960
Rockville, Indiana
With your car being down for that long will they extend the warranty to make up for all the time they had it? Seams like the least they could do.

I have the stock lug nuts for my carbon wheels and open lug nuts for my BBS wheels. Haven’t had any issues with ether.
 
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Special K

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Aug 23, 2016
1,681
Franklinton, LA
With your car being down for that long will they extend the warranty to make up for all the time they had it? Seams like the least they could do.

I have the stock lug nuts for my carbon wheels and open lug nuts for my BBS wheels. Haven’t had any issues with ether.
I asked several times about the loss of warranty but was never offered anything but a free oil change. Considering I do my own oil changes and the nearest servicing dealer is 8 hours away, that is of little value to me. There is also a 12 month warranty on new parts installed, however my car was disassembled many times with my original parts being shipped separately back to MM only to be reinstalled. Since they are not new, I’m not being told they will be covered under a new part warranty. I don’t know what happened to my steering rack as it was shipped though customs. Could it have been dropped? Could it have been exposed to unknown elements? Could it have been disassembled for inspection? I’ve also spent over $6k on insurance and registration during that time period.
 
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Special K

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Aug 23, 2016
1,681
Franklinton, LA
So sorry for all of your trouble Kevin, and also sorry hear about this issue that sounds like it has potential implications for all of us with titanium lugs who drive our GTs. Bizarre and disappointing that none of us (I don’t believe) have heard a thing from Ford about this supposed procedure with the lube on the lugs.

That contact pattern on the lugs sure seems suspect. That’s a mighty thin band of contact. I can’t believe that is designed correctly. Looks like when a 45 degree tapered lug is incorrectly installed in a rim designed for a 60 degree tapered lug.

How hard would it be for Ford to have a wheel engineer look into the matter? WTF.
I think you’re understanding my frustration. All along I kept telling myself that what I was going through would ultimately be of benefit to all owners, but my car leaves the factory worse than it arrived with more questions than answers.
 
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Howard

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Apr 26, 2007
1,094
Florida/North Jersey
I didn't pay to download this SAE paper on lug nut design but it may shed some light on this subject:

 

Derry

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Apr 5, 2006
339
buffalo, NY
All OEM 60 degree lug nuts have a tolerance of plus 1 degree or 1/2 degree and minus zero.
Maybe the TI is changing something I am not aware of but a moly lube (no specific formula?) is dangerous on threads or the seat of a normal steel lug nut. You are asking for trouble as the tension the joint was designed for at a specified torque will be altered dramatically and can lead to stud failure. Are you saying that a Ford person said to put a moly lube on the seat? Just curious.
 

Special K

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Aug 23, 2016
1,681
Franklinton, LA
Yes, that is specifically what they are instructing me to do. I was also told this “dry-moly lubricant” was applied at MM to my car during assembly. I agree with your concerns.
 

Special K

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Aug 23, 2016
1,681
Franklinton, LA
All OEM 60 degree lug nuts have a tolerance of plus 1 degree or 1/2 degree and minus zero.
Maybe the TI is changing something I am not aware of but a moly lube (no specific formula?) is dangerous on threads or the seat of a normal steel lug nut. You are asking for trouble as the tension the joint was designed for at a specified torque will be altered dramatically and can lead to stud failure. Are you saying that a Ford person said to put a moly lube on the seat? Just curious.
This is the actual response I received:

Titanium lugs with Carbon Fiber Wheels

It is my understanding that a solution to the noise (caused by improper seating of the titanium lug nuts to the carbon fiber wheels) is to apply a dry molly lubricant to the titanium lug nuts.

Actual cause: lack of recommended lubrication on the Ti Lug nut cone surface during lug nut removal/reinstallation and torquing action prevented the proper achievement of lugnuttorque and hence tension in the bolted joint.

•Was dry molly applied to lug nuts at MM prior to shipping car in 2019?

Yes, as part of the production build process, all TiLug nuts undergo the process of applying the dry lubricant.However, steel lug nuts do not require dry lubricant application.

•How many driving miles does this need to be reapplied?

– The dry lubricant is to be applied every time the Ti - lug nuts are removed or loosened for retorquing.

•What will be the action from Ford and MM be if the noise reappears after 100, 200 or 500 miles by Ford or MM?

- Based on the road tests conducted by the dealer tech over the past fewweeks after the lubricant was applied, the issue has not returned, so there is high confidence that the noise will not return. However, if the noise recurs, please contact the Ford concierge, and we will certainly reengage.

•Is there a safety issue as my wheels didn’t hold torque after 500 miles of driving?

Following the lubricant application process for Ti lug nuts is recommended to ensure proper torquing and safety. In addition, follow standard Ford guidelines on the frequency of torque checks.

•Has Ford officially ruled out a safety issue given the lugs aren’t seating properly?


•Has MM officially ruled out a safety issue given the lugs aren’t seating properly?

Lug nuts installed per the procedure shall not present a safety issue. In this case, the lack of Ti lugnut surface lubrication during torquing was identified as a potential root cause.

•Should my rims and lug nuts be replaced from damage since there is an inherent torquing problem and there were no signs of dry molly applied on my wheels when taken off for the first time?

No permanent damage to the wheel or the lug nuts wasreported. The material pickup reported on the lug nuts was cleaned by the dealer technician before reinstallation to the car.

Lubricant application is only made on the Ti lug nuts. Steel Lug nuts and the wheels are not lubricated.
 

Derry

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Apr 5, 2006
339
buffalo, NY
Well, tough to misinterpret that. Moly dry lubes from what I know though can have different particle sizes and chemistry so I was just surprised they are not more specific. Ti does not yield like steel does so the 'stretch' of the joint that gives the tension is a bit different than with a steel nut. The metal insert in the CF wheel may be steel which would also give different torque tension relationship to the joint as opposed to an aluminum seat machined into an aluminum wheel. It would be interesting to know the target tension they are trying for at a torque of 150 ft. lbs. but I assume it is the same target as the steel un-lubed nut on an aluminum seat.
 
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texas mongrel

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
May 3, 2009
1,623
Houston Texas
So weird: I put new tyres on my car at 5000 miles, did it myself, didn’t know anything about moly lube, so didn’t use any. I then put another 2000 miles on it, including the Big Bend race (120 miles averaging 150mph and hitting 170) and never had an issue. I’ve done the same with my GT500 CFTP - now at 13,000 miles and on its second set of tyres. Once again, no moly lube involved and once again, no issues. It strikes me that if wheel integrity relies on the application of moly lube, then there’s something wrong with the design, but the fact that it seems to be just Kevin’s car makes me think it’s an issue with Kevin’s nuts.....errr, that doesn’t sound right does it?