Locking wheel nuts

Posted on December 2nd, 2019 by Rob Marshall

Locking wheel nuts

Just like squirrels, shrewd motorists should know where their nuts are, or, more precisely, the location of their locking wheel nut key. While wheel nuts (or bolts) have been fitted to passenger cars for aeons, an increase in theft of expensive alloy wheels (although wheels are being stolen now for their pricey tyres) has seen locking wheel nuts being fitted that cannot be removed without a special tool.


Without the locking wheel nut key, you (or your breakdown provider) will be unable to change a wheel, in the event of a roadside puncture. Crucially, at service time, most mechanics will ask you the location of your locking wheel nut key, while hoping that their question will not be met with a blank stare. Keeping the key safe in your glovebox, or with the spare wheel (if fitted) is a wise idea.


Therefore, checking for the presence of a locking wheel nut key is also important, when buying a used vehicle. While replacements may be available through a franchised dealer, it would be an unnecessary expense. Consider also that removing a locking wheel nut is also a fairly aggressive operation that risks damaging the alloy wheel, which is why many mechanics are unprepared to do it.


Finally, if entrusting your car to a garage, check the locking wheel nut key condition. While a number of different designs proliferate, some types can become damaged, should they be fitted/removed with a garage’s air impact gun. The key on the left has suffered from broken pins as a result.