Lug Nut (with theft-prevention key) won't come off!

The theft-prevention lugnut is not hexagonal (@$%#!!) and thus requires a special key that fits over it (with a hex-nut shape on the opposite end for the tire iron). Problem is, the key doesn?t fit tight enough to stay on when torque is applied ? it pops off long before enough torque can be applied. I don?t see any way this key would be useful in loosening this special lugnut (by hand using a tire iron) unless the lugnut wasn?t on tight enough to provide safety anyway.

Is this something that will require machine tools ? i.e., compression wrench attached to the special key? I need to know all options because I?ve abandoned the vehicle in far away place and any trip to rescue it will be expensive in time (and thus college-tuition expensive in financial terms). If so, would it be cheaper ? wait, less ridiculously expensive ? just to have it towed?

The winter snows will soon strand this car (and I really like this car), so I must act quickly. All geniuses (and self-proclaimed geniuses like me) respond!

You’re probably going to need a socket such as this to remove the locking lug nut.

Most parts stores sell these.


Neato, Tester… any tools that will fit snugly/strongly enough to take the torque required (me standing on the iron) to remove the nut would help, allowing me and a buddy to effect the rescue ourselves.

Update 1: Calling around to auto-parts stores, nobody’s got a part like the one you’ve suggested, and the “nut-crackers” they have for sale would not have the clearance to break the nut (I don’t mind doing this, the theft-prevention nuts are going to come off anyway). Calling around to the various shops, one says they can rent me the tool that might work to break the nut off - which would be way cheaper than sending someone out.

If any device requires some kind of mobile shop, well, I don’t know if I can bake enough brownies/stock enough beer to cover the trouble. Great deer hunting location, tho.

Update 2: My ‘duct-tape-brain’ idea is to file a hex-shape around the outside of the (otherwise round) TP lugnut - not sure just how stupid this is. Other similar idea to take a big hammer and chisel and break it off this way. Any comment?

The idea did seem odd to you at first, but if you have an air grinder or a dremel tool, you can do it. A file could take a while. You could loosen the other lugs and slowly drive around the block and maybe it will loosen up.

Thanks; any power source would have be brought in and the best I have is a 600-watt inverter.

Tried the driving-a-little, but the tire is nearly shredded as it is (huge bush-sized evil sharp rock hit too hard by driver); and the only way to get the key to work would be to weld it on (daughter suggested super-glue… and now we’re back in duct-tape realm).

Speaking of welding, you might try to weld a short ratchet extension onto the lug nut, then just use the ratchet to remove the whole thing. You likely lose the locking nut, but the tire would be off…

There are numerous ways to skin this cat. Use shims to take up the clearance between the lug nut flats and the wrench, Shims, of various thicknesses, can be made from blades from a thickness gauge, hacksaw, etc. You could drive a slightly smaller socket, six point, or 12 point, with a hammer, onto the lug nug.
If a tool is only available from the internet…there’s no need for me to finish this sentence, is there?

Just pound a slightly undersized socket onto the locking nut and take it off with a breaker bar. I’ve taken dozens of these off that way. An impact socket is best but I’ve also used standard sockets with good results. You just have to be more careful about the size selection on a standard socket to avoid cracking it.

Yikes, pounding is not good for wheel bearings but when you are desperate, you do what you must. I wonder if a Vise-Grip would work.

Otherwise buy a couple of tire irons and a little diluted soap to remove the old tire and install a good one without removing the rim from the car. You can then deal with the lock later. You will need an air compressor too. With some luck you will have a tire whose beads contact the rim and will take air immediately. Otherwise there is the gasoline explosion method to get the tire beads to seal. There may be a better method, hair spray or what? I have not researched this.

Dremel sells little tiny carbide disks that will cut through just about anything metal. They are fragile. You may go through a dozen of them, but they aren’t expensive. I use them sometimes to cut rusted exhaust bolts off. The disks are held on by a tiny screw and are easily replaced. the question is whether you can cut the bolt off or trim it to a standard hex size without damaging the threads or wheel.

My Dremel says that it needs 1.15A on high speed (about 150watt). A 600 watt inverter should be fine. You can try this at home on some scrap nuts and bolts to make sure it works before you treck off to recover your car.

Another alternative would be a BIG pipe wrench if you can get one onto the nut. Extend the handle with a two or three foot galvanized pipe and something will give when you apply pressure.

I’ve Used The Nylon Rope / Tourniquet (Around The Tire’s Tread Circumfernce) Method. Use A Tire Iron Or Steel Bar Under The Knots To Turn It.

This is beginning to sound like a “MacGiver TV Show” episode.


C’mon now, we’re talking about pounding a SLIGHTLY undersized socket onto a lug nut. If I said tapping would that reassure you? Seriously, if you’d ever done it, you’d know it doesn’t require striking it hard enough to even come close to damaging anything.

No way a vise grip will work, it won’t bite into the hardened nut. The socket works by friction alone. This is a 5 minute job, no sense making a project out of it.

I agree, this is getting way out of hand. He can’t figure out how to get the nut off and you want him to change the tire on wheel on the car?

Just simplify your life and do as Tester suggested. Either buy the socket or pound one on but you will want a ratchet along with a piece of pipe to go over the ratchet. A little pounding on the nut is not goint to hurt the wheel bearing. Take some tools along.

Otherwise, you don’t have to tow the car back, the tow truck will come out and change the tire for you. Just tell them ahead of time you can’t get the nut off so they’ll bring their favorite tool. Now if you had a motor club membership, it would have been done by now.

(I DO have roadside assistance, but only as far as the pavement goes. That leaves hours of travel to reach the vehicle - expense will the same whether they tow or fix. Rim is also damaged; a “rope” tire might work, but there’s a long way to drive on rope.)

Gotta say how encouraged I was by all the excellent suggestions… so I mounted a rescue mission with nearly all the appropriate tools. Mission failed.

The key is worthless, stripped now. Not enough clearance for pipe wrench. Couldn’t damage wheel lock with chisel or bolt cutters; did try vise grips for a laugh, which is all they provided; hammered on 12-point socket (barely clearance to do this), but it would lose it’s grip before turning the lock; drilled it for about 15 minutes, got about 1/8" in.

What I didn’t do: get special carbide dtools; try with 6-sided socket.

Tomorrow I’m touring the machine shops and hardware stores for heavier weaponry.

These kind of things have happened to mechanics in shops. You get dispatched a car and need to take the wheel off and run up against something like this,you finaly get it off and the customer wants a new set of wheel locks.

OK, good attempts so far. If the 12 point socket slipped, you have a couple choices. Was it an impact socket or a softer standard socket? You need to go slightly smaller. Often, a metric socket can be used to make a slightly tighter fit, especially if it is a “soft metal” socket. You want a 12 point socket as it has twice as many interference friction points as the 6 point. The socket will never deform the hardened nut so you want to grab it by as much surface area as possible.

Next, you want to make sure it’s as free to turn as possible. Weight off the rim, and apply a high grade penetrating oil. I suggest B’Laster PB. It’s the best IMHO and widely available. Next, I would apply some heat to the nut. MAPP gas is the easiest, most available heat source for the average DIYer. A MAPP canister can be used with an existing Propane torch head so if you have one of those, all you need is the MAPP gas canister. Heat the nut after applying the penetrant and letting that sit for 15 minutes or so. Then heat it up good and hot and pound on your tightest fitting socket. Apply force gradually rather than shocking the nut. Use leverage to apply the force evenly. Good luck!

How many anti-thief lug nuts are you talking about? Front wheel,or rear? What kind of roads are they to get to THE CAR? Can you get a two-wheel car dolly into the place where THE CAR is? If you can, the truck rental places have the dollys for about $125. Your options are getting slimmer.
The last option would be to take the whole suspension section containing the wheel, off.

DONT USE A PNEUMATIC IMPACT WRENCH ON THE LUG NUT - that is why the key wont work. Unfortunatley, you are going to ahve to have the car towed because that type of lug nut was not designed to be easily removed one the key is lost or worn out. You might get lucky with a hand-held type vise grip (It looks like pliers with a bolt in the handle). Clamp the vise grip on the lug nut and try to remove loosen it - I have never seen this work. Other alternative are to have someone weld a socket on the lug nut and then remove the lug nut that way. To avoid the expense of welding, have a friend hold a big chisel on the lug nut and knock the lug nut off the wheel with the force of a big, heavy hammer. You’ll have to replace the lug stud and the lug and then demand that pneumatic tools not be used to loosen or tighten the lug.

You got the slimming-options bit right: Although the roads to the car are navigable by even low-clearance four-bangers, they are quite rough in many places, ranging from washboards to severely-potholed asphalt to eroded dirt. It’s about a 90 minute drive from the highway turn-off to the car. A two-wheel dolly would not make the last mile (arrugggh).
Fortunately it’s only the right front tire that’s destroyed.

What about a grinding stone in a battery powered drill or whatnot? There should be enough electrical oomph in one of those to grind a small flat on each side of the offending lug.
From there a pipe wrench (preferably small one with finer teeth) and a cheater bar should get it loose. As mentioned, loosen the other lugs and try to move the car around a bit first as this could help to loosen the locking lug.

Once the car is in a better place I’d repeat the process and deep six every one of those worthless things. With every car I’ve ever owned that had locking lugs, removing them and sending them flying to the dumpster was always Step 1.