What You Should Know About Locking Wheel Nuts

When alloy wheels first arrived on the scene, they were much-loved by vehicle owners but also would-be thieves. As a result, manufacturers supplied special locking wheel nuts to protect against theft. Of course, most cars today come standard with alloy wheels which means they are not quite as desirable as before.

However, vehicle manufacturers continue to provide vehicle owners with a locking wheel nut and a  special locknut key. In this article, we share some valuable information on the different types of lock nuts, where they are stored, how to remove them and what to do if you’ve lost your key.

Types Of Locking Wheel Nuts

There are three main types of locking wheel nuts, each with a different look and varied reactions when tampered with.

  • Keyed head locking wheel nuts are the simplest and most popular. It requires a matching hexagonal socket to loosen and remove by placing it inside the keyed head.
  • The Rotating Collar nut is very difficult to remove without a matching key. This is largely thanks to its rotating collar which spins around the wheel nut.
  • Sheer head bolt locking wheel nuts are often found on French vehicles such as Peugeots or Renault. These are used in wheels with bolts instead of nuts and are specially designed to “sheer” off if you use any tool other than the matching key.

Where Will I Find My Locking Wheel Nut Key?

If you have a new car and haven’t had to remove the wheels, your key will more than likely be where the manufacturer stored it. Here are some common places you can look for it:

  • Your cubby hole (glove box)
  • Underneath or with your spare wheel (in some cars it may be in a separate compartment)
  • Inside or under the boot carpet or the first aid kit
  • Under the driver or passenger seat (remember to check the seat pockets and under the seats)
  • Door pockets
  • Centre storage console

Whilst some locking wheel nut keys are kept in a small plastic box with spare locking wheel nuts, others come in a small plastic bag by themselves. If you can’t find your special key, and your wheels were recently removed during a service, the technician would have used it. We recommend making sure the garage knows where you keep it and ask them to put it back so you don’t have to dig around for it later.

What Happens If I Lose My Locking Wheel Nut Key?

When you’ve lost your lock nut key, you have two options. You can either buy a new key specific to your vehicle or remove and replace it.

Getting a new locknut key may be the easiest option but it’s also the most challenging. The main reason is that every key has a unique code found either on the storage box or plastic storage bag. So while you can order a replacement from the vehicle manufacturer, you still need the code. Unless you made a note of the code before, your best bet is the second option.

Here, you can request technicians to remove and replace the original with a universal set. This will still secure your alloy wheels but are designed for a wider range of vehicles. That means you don’t have to buy from the vehicle manufacturer which is often more expensive.

Can You Remove Locking Wheel Nuts Without A Key?

Unless you have a special tool – something our technicians have access to – it’s extremely difficult and unlikely to remove a locking wheel nut without a matching key. This method works on most vehicles but it often depends on various factors, including wheel design and whether the wheel nuts were overtightened prior to removal. In most cases, trained technicians can safely remove them.

For more automotive news and motoring tips, please read our blog and join us on social media. If you’d like to book a service, MOT, or need new tyres, you can do so online. Alternatively, call your nearest Elite branch and talk to us about your service requirements, free vehicle checks or lost locking wheel nuts.

Our trained technicians are here to help in any way they can whether you’re in Brighton, Portsmouth, Salisbury, Southampton or Maidstone. We’ve got you covered with branches across the country.