What to do if you’ve lost your locking wheel nut key
I’ve lost my locking wheel nut key!
It’s a problem we hear a lot in all our branches. Whether you can’t find your locking wheel nut key or it’s broken, worn out and no longer works it’s a common problem.
What are locking wheel nuts?
Locking wheel nut keys are designed to ensure your vehicle’s alloy wheels can’t be stolen. When alloy wheels first became fashionable they were very desirable and so alloy wheel theft was a common problem. Nowadays most vehicles have alloy wheels fitted as standard and so theft isn’t so much of a concern, however vehicle manufacturers do protect against it by supplying vehicles with a set of locking wheel nuts and a locking wheel nut key.
Most vehicles fitted with alloy wheels have four locking wheel nuts (one for each wheel) and a matching “locking wheel nut key” to remove them.
The problems we come across regularly are:
- Lost or mislaid locking wheel nut keys
- Broken or worn locking wheel nut keys
So what can we do if your locking wheel nut key can’t be found or no longer works? There are a few factors that determine how easy it is to remove wheel nuts without the locking wheel nut key, one of those being the type of locking wheel nuts fitted to your vehicle.
The different type of locking wheel nuts
There are three different types of locking wheel nuts used on vehicles:
Type 1. Keyed head wheel nuts
The most common locking nuts have a keyed head to the wheel nut. The locking wheel nut key is slotted into this – on the other end of the key is a regular hexagonal end which fits into a wheel brace in order to remove the nut.
Type 2. Rotating Collar
This type of wheel nut is very difficult to remove without a matching key thanks to it’s rotating collar which is designed to spin around the wheel nut.
Type 3. Sheer head bolt
Often found on French vehicles such as Peugeots, these are used in wheels which have bolts as opposed to nuts. This type of bolt is designed to “sheer” off (hence the name!) if any tool other than the matching key is used in an attempt to remove it.
Where can I find my locking wheel nut key?
If your vehicle is new and you haven’t needed to remove the wheels yet then your locking wheel nut key is likely to be where the manufacturer stored it. Common places are:
- The glove box
- Under or with your spare wheel – it may be in a separate compartment
- In and under the boot — check under the carpet and in all the separate compartments and first aid kit
- Under the driver or passenger seat — check the seat pockets and under the seats
- Door card pockets
- Center storage console
Many locking wheel nut keys are stored in a small plastic box with spare wheel nuts; however some are supplied on their own in a small plastic bag.
If you can’t find your locking wheel nut key try to remember last time one of the wheels had to be removed. If you’ve had your vehicle serviced or had components such a brakes replaced the technician will have needed to remove the wheels. It’s always worthwhile ensuring you know where a garage has left it for you before you leave as it could save you a headache looking for it next time.
If you’ve lost your locking wheel nut key.
So you’ve looking everywhere but can’t find your locking wheel nut key! If it really is missing then you have the following options.
Option 1. Purchase a new key
This is sometimes the easiest option although it can sometimes be expensive. However if you’d like to use the original locking wheel nut set you’ll need to buy a new locking wheel nut key.
Each key comes with a code so you can order a replacement from the vehicle manufacturer. The only place to find this code is on the locking wheel nut storage box or plastic storage bag – which is a problem if that’s missing too!
Option 2. Locking wheel nut removal & replacement
Many customers who have lost their locking wheel nut keys opt to have them removed by our technicians and replaced with a universal locking wheel nut set. These sets will still secure your alloy wheels but are designed to fit a range of vehicles to avoid you having to purchase from the vehicle manufacturer. This option is often less expensive than a replacement key.
Removing locking wheel nuts without a key
Our technicians use a special tool to remove the locking wheel nuts without the matching key. This method is successful on most vehicles however it does depend on factors such as wheel design and whether the wheel nuts have been overtightened prior to removal. In most cases though, our technicians can safely remove the wheel nuts.