We all know that car theft is a real concern for most motorists. It is not as big as it used to be in the old days, but still quite apparent nonetheless.
Most cars are now fitted with modern and sophisticated anti-theft mechanisms. These are to protect both the vehicle and its components, such as wheels and other external components.
If a car is difficult to get into and steal, thieves will target things such as the wheels. This is where locking wheel nuts come in.
Also known as lug nuts or alloy wheel nuts, these are wheel nuts that can be locked in order to deter theft. Wheels are definitely expensive and locking wheel nuts are a great help for combating car wheel theft.
In this article, we are discussing if all cars have locking wheel nuts or not and answer some related questions.
How Exactly Do Locking Wheel Nuts Work?
When removing a wheel from the car, you have to remove the lug nuts first. A locking wheel nut prevents this if you don’t have the key to unlock it.
There is usually only one locking nut per wheel, and the spare wheel also has one. The key can be found either with the spare wheel in the trunk or in the glove box.
To minimize the loss of these keys, they are usually in sets of two for easy storing. If all the keys are lost, your manufacturer can make a new set for you.
In case of a wheel puncture or maintenance, the key to the lug nuts can be opened in order to remove the wheels. If you do not have the key, you will not have access to the wheels.
This is great for deterring car wheel theft, as it is the first line of defense.
What Cars Have Locking Wheel Nuts?
Wheels are particularly quite expensive to replace and so most modern cars come with locking wheel nuts. Some owners also choose to install locking wheel nuts after they’ve bought the car without them.
It is now a standard feature that most manufacturers install locking nuts in their newer models. This is done to increase the overall safety of the car from theft.
Premium car brands like Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Jaguar will most likely have locking wheel nuts as standard. This is because these cars have big expensive tires that need added protection.
Smaller city cars and older model cars didn’t need to have wheel locking nuts back in the day. This might be because of the cost of manufacturing lock nuts that added even more to the purchase price of the car.
There are motor brands that need you to upgrade to a more premium-level model in order to get the locking nuts. These would then come installed on the higher premium models rather than the base models of cars.
In recent years, electric vehicles also do not come with locking wheel nuts as standard. Electric cars such as Tesla have an option to install locking wheel nuts as an option for an extra price.
When Did Locking Wheel Nuts Become Normal in Cars?
Invented way back in the 1930s, wheel locking nuts were the first way to improve wheel assembly. Before locking wheel nuts, the best way to prevent theft was to have two standard nuts on a single bolt.
Back in those days, wheel locking nuts were quite rare to come across because of the limited numbers of wheel theft.
Wheel locking nuts were used to ensure the quality of fastening to the wheelbase because of the vibration caused by road friction. It was effective because sometimes the nuts would come loose as the wheels were spinning.
The doubling of the nuts on the wheels would increase safety on the wheels. This was a sure-fire way to make sure the wheel wouldn’t go off when driving.
As time passed, wheel safety and alignment were greatly improved. This led to bigger wheels that were more expensive and needed protection.
This is where locking nuts were needed because the bigger inched tires cost way more than smaller tires.
Instead, you can just have a key to open each of the nuts in each of the tires to access the whole tire. This is the modern way to open the nut in the wheelbase when changing a spare wheel or for maintenance.
Do Locking Wheel Nuts Really Make A Difference?
Locking wheel nuts do make a difference when it comes to wheel security and reducing wheel theft. Locking wheel nuts not only give you peace of mind but can also serve as a way to upgrade the value of your car.
They make a difference in the sense not only in safety but also in economic value. This is because you can always fit lock nuts in a standard car that didn’t come with them from the factory.
Compared to back in the days when they were used to eliminating wheel break-off, lock nuts are now for security.
The importance of the wheel is mostly to do with theft and safety. Sometimes a wheel locking nut can deter the wheel from moving around and possibly coming off when driving.
How Do I Know If My Car Has Locking Wheel Nuts?
Locking wheel nuts will have a different look from normal wheel nuts because of the locking mechanism. One side of the lug nut will look like a cylinder and the other side a hexagon, different from the other three on the wheel.
The cylinder shape of the lug nuts will give it away in most cases in modern cars. Looking at all four of the wheel nuts, one of them will have a different shape. This is likely the locking wheel nut that needs a key to be opened.
The locking wheel nuts in an older model car will still have the standard type locking nuts. Newer models will likely have a different design from brand to brand.
It is important to note that even though lug nuts look similar; they are not interchangeable. This means that a set of wheel locking nuts for one car might not necessarily fit on a different set of tires.
How Many Cars Are Delivered With Locking Wheel Nuts?
Almost all modern car brands will have wheel locking nuts that come standard with the car. Not only does this prevent and decrease wheel theft, but it can also add to the overall safety of the car.
It is now known that up to 80% of all new cars now come with locking wheel nuts as standard. Smaller and less expensive city cars might not come with locking wheel nuts to decrease the overall cost of the vehicles.
Most cars that don’t have locking wheel nuts do so in order to drive the car’s price down for affordability. Those owners then have the option to install third-party wheels with locking nuts for added security.
With most cars now having locking wheel nuts as a standard feature, wheel theft is quite rare. This does not mean other security measures to protect your car are not important to practice.
If you have unusually rare or expensive tires, it is important to note that criminals will get a hold of them if needs be. So this makes locking wheel nuts and other security measures all the more important.
Can You Change a Tire Without the Key for the Locking Wheel Nut?
It will be quite difficult to change a tire when you don’t have the key to the wheel locking nut. This is to deter theft and also protect the wheel from rolling out during a malfunction of the wheel system.
The key needs to be kept in a safe place, such as the glove compartment or the trunk of the car. It is best to keep it out of sight for safety reasons and remember where it was stored.
There are three types of lug nuts, namely keyed head nuts, rotating collar nuts, and sheer head bolt locking nuts. Of all these types, the rotating collar locking nut is the most difficult to open without a matching key.
If you’ve lost your original key and need to open the lug nut, your best option would be to get a new set. It is challenging because each key has a unique code.
However, your manufacturer or dealership will most likely be able to make you a new set of locking wheel nut keys. You will then have to pay for this new set of keys after proving that the car belongs to you.
It is extremely difficult to remove locking nuts without the correct key and you will likely need the assistance of a professional. Specialists and technicians often have special tools to open and remove locking nuts when you’ve lost the original key.
Technicians will give you a quotation to remove all four of the locking wheel nuts. This is because all the wheel locking nuts will need to be replaced.
Consequently, one key opens all five of the wheel nuts together with the spare wheel. It is important to also keep a spare key at home and in your car’s safest place.