My Car Quest

July 22, 2024

How Do Locking Lug Nuts Work?

Locking lug nuts are becoming more and more common as new vehicles make theft prevention features that were once optional a part of their standard design. If you are looking to do DIY auto repair or to make your own performance upgrades, you need to understand how they work, as well as what sets locking lug nuts apart when you are working with them.

The Wheel Lock Key

Locking lug nuts work like normal lug nuts in many ways, but they require something called a wheel lock key to remove. The wheel lock key is a special socket pattern that makes it hard to remove the tire, rim, or hubcaps without the right tool. This innovation has been around since the 1960s, but it has become less effective over time because of the development of tools designed to help you remove locking lug nuts without the original key. One example is the universal wheel lock key design you can now find.

How Universal Lock Keys Work

The development of a universal lock key was inevitable because it basically uses the same methods that one would use to remove broken or stripped lug nuts, which are a pretty common issue to encounter when you work on againg vehicles. The universal lock key is in actuality a spline adapter similar to the splines you may already be familiar with from those broken lug nut removal kits. The universal key uses an over-socket design with the spline adapter of the right size.

If you lose the wheel lock key after installing locking lug nuts, you might find options unique to your lug nut brand like the Dorman-Autograde spline key adapter. This tool is designed to work with a specific line of Autograde locking lug nuts, allowing you to easily replace your lost key with an effective tool designed to do the same job.

You will also find tools like the CTA 13, an over-nut solution that works with standard impact wrenches to remove lug nuts without any drilling or specific spline orders. In this case, the tool tightens over the lug nut, allowing you to remove it with the impact wrench. Once removed, the nut needs to be placed in a vise, at which point the impact wrench can be used to remove the tool from the lug nut.

Locking Lug Nuts and Vehicle Theft

Locking lug nuts are not a great way to prevent a car from being stolen, but if you live somewhere where wheels and rims are regularly stolen, they can be a help. While there are a lot of tools out there that can get around locking lug nuts, the absence of the right wheel lock key slows down potential thieves, making it harder to quickly finish and get away. They also require power tools like an impact wrench that are difficult to use in the field with no clear electric source.

While they might not be the secret weapon against car part thieves that they once were, locking lug nuts remain an important security feature for those who invest in premium wheels and tires. Start checking out your options today.

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