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Have you ever noticed massive spikes on the wheels of semi-trucks driving down the highway and thought, Those look dangerous? You’re not alone. I recently wrote about whether semi-truck wheel spikes are legal. In that article, I cited the Pittman, Roberts, and Welsch Law Firm’s claim that most wheel spikes are lug nut covers made of plastic or aluminum and would disintegrate on impact with another vehicle. But one reader commented that semi spikes caused $20,000 in damage to their truck from “a mere kiss.” So I will investigate whether this is even possible and whether the spikes on semi-truck wheels are truly dangerous.

Multiple vehicles have been damaged by semi-trucks with spiked lug nuts

If you search the internet for “semi-truck wheel spike damage,” you can find many pictures and videos of passenger vehicles with circular damage. Some vehicles, like the Ferrari in the video above, are photographed with no further context. But in other situations, the driver offers additional information.

Honda Ridgeline owner SpecOp1 posted a photo of scratches and torn sheet metal along the side of their Honda truck on the RidgelineOwnersClub forum. Their comment was, “Well, if you ever wonder what tractor trailer spiked lug nuts can do to a ridgeline…wonder no more.”

Reddit user Marilyn_Hammershaft posted a low-resolution picture of a red sedan with dented and scratched doors. They said, “Saw a post here yesterday from another vehicle who also met those super cool spiked lug nuts. I thought I’d share my experience.”

Though some vehicles have certainly been damaged by semi-trucks with spiked lug nut covers, over the years, not every one of the above stories is that simple.

Vehicles also get damaged by stock semi-truck lug nuts

Closeup of the spiked lug nut covers on a semi truck.
Spiked semi-truck lug nut cover  | United Pacific via Raney’s Truck Parts

The Reddit user Marilyn_Hammershaft was responding to a viral post from 2018. User GREENx8 posted a closeup of a torn door panel and body scratches on a silver sedan with the caption, “So you know those spike lug nuts on Semi trucks?…yep.”

Greenx8 claims to be a mechanic and was posting on the popular subreddit “Just Rolled Into The Shop,” where automotive technicians share pictures of vehicles they are currently working on.

The top commenter was user TheCadillacBoy, who said, “Y’all! This is my car. I dropped it off for the estimated today and I guess the mechanic felt like posting.” Then TheCadillacBoy posted a verification photo of himself squatting next to his damaged sedan which is, confusingly, a Hyundai.

TheCadillacBoy explained, “I don’t want to say anything about what happened because I’m involved in a dispute with insurance – but I will clarify, like a lot of you are saying, it was the lug nuts that did this. No spikes.”

This makes sense: if your car gets sideswiped by a semi-truck doing 60 mph+, even stock lugnuts will do severe damage. And without seeing the damage to the semi-trucks involved in all the above crashes, there’s no way to know whether their spikes damaged the cars or the spikes broke off, and the lug nuts beneath roughed these vehicles up.

Give semi-trucks extra room

Two passenger vehicles passing a semi truck on a steep downhill.
Cars passing a semi truck  | United Pacific via Raney’s Truck Parts

One downside of semi-truck wheel spikes is that they extend out from the rim and can slice a few inches off the clearance between the truck and other vehicles. Because they rarely extend past the widest point of the truck, this only matters if either the truck or the other vehicle is turning or swerving. One time I did find spiked lug nut covers directly in my way when trying to slip past an oncoming, turning truck on a mountain pass switchback.

But even when you are not on a mountain pass, it is important to give semi-trucks extra room. This is because big rigs have big blindspots. You could park a full-size car directly in front of some semi-trucks and not be able to see it from the cab!

Some semi-truck drivers even argue that wheel spikes are a safety tool to warn other drivers to keep their distance. I think there must be a kinder way to pass on this warning. But if we are all more aware of when truck drivers can–and can’t—see us, we can hopefully avoid more accidents.

Next, learn whether spikes on semi-truck wheels are actually leagal or watch a discussion on spiked lug nut covers for yourself in the video below: