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Several case-hardened and zinc-plated carbon-manganese steel wheel studs fractured in a brittle manner after very limited service life. The fracture surfaces of both front and rear studs showed no sign of fatigue beach marks or deformation in the form of shear lips that would indicate either a fatigue mechanism or ductile overload failure. SEM analysis revealed that the mode of fracture was intergranular decohesion, which indicates an environmental influence in the fracture mechanism. The primary fracture initiated at a thread root and propagated by environmentally-assisted slow crack growth until final fracture. The natural stress concentration at the thread root,...

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