Is the New “Lug Nut Challenge” on TikTok Real or Just a Halloween Hysteria?

What is the Lug Nut Challenge? Imagine walking out to your Honda Civic, firing it up, pulling out, and boom, your wheel falls off. Is this a real dangerous Trick-or-Treat Trick, or just another tale to incite Halloween panic in the burbs? The TikTok challenge is said to be kids taking or loosening lug nuts from random cars and waiting nearby for someone to drive off. The kids supposedly film the calamity, howling all the while, and fun is had by all. While that feels like razor blades in Halloween candy to me, TikTok has brought us plenty of foolishness, so let’s look into it. 

a man staring at two car at a dealership with missing wheels. Is the TikTok "lug nut challenge" real or just halloween hysteria?
Two Lexus RX 350 luxury SUVs with missing wheels | Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Should you be afraid of the TikTok Lug nut challenge? 

According to The Drive, so far, all of the “evidence” for this Halloween mischief seems only to be anecdotal. Not to mention, there has been the little photo or video evidence so far. That alone shows the lack of truth. If we know anything about our younger generations, it’s that they prefer to document everything they do, legal or otherwise. 

WWLP first wrote about loose lug nuts being reported to the police in Hampden County, Massachusetts, supposedly connected to a challenge on TikTok. The reporting offered little details. The police department referenced in the article was called only the “local police.” 

The article makes general references to this TikTok prank multiple times but never with any proof. However, the local authorities and others in the area seem to be convinced. “This is not a joke; people can get seriously hurt or die,” said Operations Manager Stephen Gonneville. “If a tire comes off and you’re driving at a highway speed, bad things could happen. Somebody could hit a tree. Someone could hit a telephone pole, become maimed or fatally injured, and it wouldn’t be good.” 

If the lug nut challenge isn’t real then why are so many convinced? 

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The media is a hell of a drug. The Drive decided to take a closer look when other automotive publications began running similarly panicky stories. James Gilboy from for the Drive, “Despite the story’s unsteady factual basis, it was soon parroted by Carscoops, then a larger regional TV station in the United States, and even abroad by India’s Hindustan Times.” 

However, a slightly more specific story came to light a week ago when reports of seven cars that had been lug nutted in one San Diego neighborhood. The reports go on to say that no towing companies have actually reported an uptick in work matching this TikTok lug nut challenge. 

One of the biggest arguments against the validity of this trend is that if this crime was for social media, then where are all the posts? If you search for the “lug nut challenge” or anything like that on TikTok, you won’t find much of anything other than some mechanics fussing.  

The story is falling apart

The whole point of social media is to show the things you do socially. No one went around planking or running up milk crates or whatever the hell else on their own with no documentation. The point is to show people what you are doing. 

There is one video on TikTok that shows a woman saying her car’s wheel fell off while she was driving, but then immediately mentions that a family member had recently worked on it. She goes on to blame them, so I doubt that video can be used to prove anything other than you should tell your cousin no if they ask to work on your car. 

Lastly, the best evidence was a clip briefly available Tuesday morning, showing a Ford Focus down a wheel in an intersection. However, this tape turned out to be a re-upload of another TikTok post from July, from before this “challenge” would have theoretically begun.

So, should you worry about some kids stealing your lug nuts? There seems to be no reason to worry about that more now than you ever have before, which I assume is basically none.

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