How to Remove a Tire With a Wheel Lock Nut

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Wheel lock nuts are used to keep wheels from getting stolen by thieves. These lock nuts require a special key to remove the nut. The key fits on one end to the wheel nut, and on the other is a hex head for attaching a tire iron. There are occasions, however, when you may have lost the wheel lock key or you may not have it when you need it, making the lock-nut difficult. You can choose from two different methods to remove a tire with a wheel lock nut---one of which will take five minutes per tire, the other, 20 minutes.

Things You'll Need

  • Jack
  • 2 Jack stands
  • Tire iron
  • Wheel key
  • Dead-blow hammer
  • 1/2-inch socket set
  • 1/2-inch breaker bar

Key Available

  • Lift up the car with the jack. Set it down on jack stands so the car is properly supported.

  • Set the wheel lock key onto the wheel lock nut and twist it until the key locks onto the lock nut, making it ready to unscrew.

  • Put the tire iron onto the lock nut. Turn the tire iron counter-clockwise to remove the lock nut. Repeat steps 2-3 for any other locking nuts on the wheel.

  • Place the tire iron on the non-locking nuts and turn counter-clockwise to remove the remaining lock nuts. Take the tire and wheel off the car using both hands.

Missing Key

  • Lift up the car with the jack. Set it down on jack stands so the car is properly supported.

  • Place a socket from your 1/2-inch socket set onto the locking nut. Find a socket smaller than the locking nut itself but large enough to force-fitted with a hammer.

  • Hold the socket over the lock nut and hammer it onto the lock nut using the dead-blow hammer. The dead blow hammer is better than a traditional hammer because the head of the hammer is filled with sand, which minimizes rebound from the impacted surface. Then place the 1/2-inch breaker bar on the socket and turn it counter-clockwise to remove the locking nut. A breaker bar is a long bar---12 inches and longer---that has an attachment on one end for a socket. The breaker bar provides more leverage than most ratchets. Discard the locking nut and socket, as they will not be reusable.

  • Remove the remaining wheel nuts on the wheel using the tire iron. Pull the wheel off the car with both hands.

Tips & Warnings

  • As of 2010, the cost of replacing a socket was $5 to $15. The cost of a regular lug nut was less than $5, and a new locking lug nut cost $30 as part of a kit.

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