Lock Nut: What is It and Why is It Used? - Vol.353
There was a time when it's not uncommon to see cars resting on bricks. Yes, some of them were old cars that the owners had stripped the parts for reuse or resale. Most of them though, were missing the rims and tires because they were stolen. And the cars were sitting on bricks not because the thieves were kind enough to leave them as such instead of on the ground, the bad guys only left the cars on bricks for it's the only way they could remove the car jack so they could go rob another car.
Not even the proliferation of factory car alarms could effectively stop this theft. Most factory car alarms do not come with shock sensors so thieves can still remove your rims and tires without triggering the alarm. Plus most people are not too crazy about car alarms with shock sensors because these alarms tend to go off all the time for the most innocuous reasons.
Lock Nuts Enter the Fray
Wheel thieves finally met their match with the advent of lock nuts. They're called lock nuts because they're nuts for car wheels that require a key to open. Lock and key ? do you see? A lock nut works just like regular wheel nuts except you need to use a key between the nut and the wrench or spanner.
In the past only expensive sports cars come with lock nuts. When fancy car rims and expensive tires such as run-flat tires became popular, lock nuts also rode the wind of popularity, all the way to today when they can be found on many cars. When all luxury cars and sports cars are armed with lock nuts, wheel thieves would have to set their sight lower to less expensive cars, so it made sense for these cars to start using lock nuts too.
Removal of Lock Nuts without Key
Of course locks nuts can be removed without the key. For most things that a man did, another man can undo. Like they say, where there's a will there's a way. However, lock nuts are not as easily removable as you see on YouTube. These wiseguy handymen like to make us think that removing a lock nut is as simply as finding a socket that's one size smaller and hammering this socket over the lock nut, before removing the socket with the lock nut within it.
Rest assured that this does not always work in the real world. First of all, hammering a socket into the lock nut makes a lot of noise and the thief would have to repeat it 4 times to remove all the wheels. The rims are not worth as much unless the thief could steal a full set of 4, so this will take him a lot more time compared to stealing from a car without lock nuts.
More importantly, many lock nuts are engineered with special shapes, grooves and materials to prevent this kind of clumsy removal technique. The only way to remove well-engineered lock nuts without a key is by drilling, and that takes an infinite amount of time for all 4 wheels. Frankly, a thief with this much skill and commitment would probably set his sight on drilling and opening bank vaults instead of lowly car wheels.
Now that you know wheel lock nuts can be removed if you lost the key, there should be no more reason not to invest in a set (if you don't already have them). If you're shopping for a new car, check and see if the wheels come with lock nuts ? it's a sign of all-around quality.