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Locking wheel nuts, and a cautionary tale!

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Locking wheel nuts, and a cautionary tale!

Old 30th Jun 2021, 19:30
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Ant
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Locking wheel nuts, and a cautionary tale!

My previous car, a Honda Civic, was my first car that had locking wheel nuts. I drove it for 21 years with never a problem with the wheel nuts nor the locking nut driver.

Last year the Civic was replaced with a Toyota Avensis, and I'm now on the third (yes, THIRD) locking wheel nut driver!



Notice the crack on the lip of the nut driver. This is the replacement driver bought a week ago to replace the 15 year old original one which failed in exactly the same way!
Got the third one free from the local Toyota dealership today.

This crack means that when you put force onto the wheel brace the crack widens causing the driver to slip off leaving you totally unable to use it. This happened obviously at a moment when considerable pressure was being applied and the brace came off the wheel and hit the tarmac with quite a bang. Could also have caused me injury!

A neighbour with vehicle mechanic experience heard the commotion, came over with a battery powered impact wrench, and was able to use the cracked nut driver without problem.

He explained that the problem actually lies in the wheel brace which came with the Toyota, the upper item in the photo below:




Because the arm of the brace is not exactly parallel to the wheel it means that as well as a desired rotational force being applied to the wheel nut there is also an undesired upward/downward component stressing the metal around the lip of the nut driver and thus causing the crack. See if you can visualise how this happens... it took me a while!

The impact wrench by contrast applied a purely rotational force such that the defective nut driver could be used without problem.

I am now using the rubber handled wrench in the picture which because of it's swivel head can be used to apply only the desired rotating force and actually works perfectly well with the 2 split units. No need for the Toyota replacement at all!!

I mention all of this because you may want to check what type of wheel brace you carry in your car or truck, and if its like the one I had you might want to look into an alternative before you get let down on the side of the road on a cold wet winter night!

Last edited by Ant; 30th Jun 2021 at 20:39.
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Old 30th Jun 2021, 20:51
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Have always replaced the provided wheel brace with a 4 legged spider brace and that always goes to the next car. Think.I got it about 1974 so it has done well
Remember garages use a impact driver so the nuts could well be done up to a higher torque than your wheel brace can safely handle. Watch for damage to you or your car


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Old 1st Jul 2021, 07:31
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Or put bricks, blocks or a jack under the horizontal part of the wheelbrace to absorb the vertical component of the force. Had to do this many times when standing on a long breaker bar driving a socket.

Last edited by UniFoxOs; 1st Jul 2021 at 14:54. Reason: mong typing
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 08:19
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Just replace the lock bolts with regular wheel bolts. The lock bolts do not prevent anyone determined from stealing the wheels, it takers approx 2 seconds longer to open the lock bolt than a regular bolt.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 08:19
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Originally Posted by Kiltrash View Post
Remember garages use a impact driver so the nuts could well be done up to a higher torque than your wheel brace can safely handle.
First thing I do whenever I've had a tyre changed is to check and adjust the wheelnut torque to a value that can be undone by the roadside, at night, in the pouring rain.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 08:44
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I use an aftermarket 4-armed one. Get the correct socket on and support the other end with the scissor jack... then stand on the higher arm (yes i'm a lazy sod).

Best locking nut tool I had was on a BMW 3 series (80s).. i lived it a neat tray fixed to the bootlid.

Anilv
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 09:28
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
First thing I do whenever I've had a tyre changed is to check and adjust the wheelnut torque to a value that can be undone by the roadside, at night, in the pouring rain.
Simple, use the enclosed wrench when you fit the wheels, removing them with the same will be easy. The length of the wrench arm will give the correct torque for the average person. No jumping, extension or hammering required, just normal muscle input.
Per
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 10:25
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Originally Posted by Kiltrash View Post
Have always replaced the provided wheel brace with a 4 legged spider brace and that always goes to the next car. Think.I got it about 1974 so it has done well
Remember garages use a impact driver so the nuts could well be done up to a higher torque than your wheel brace can safely handle. Watch for damage to you or your car
The use of which would have constituted a quantum leap in both technology and intellect at one garage tyre specialist I visited. Family, probably very, ahem, close ties firm...got there just in time to watch the owner happily "torque loading " wheelnuts on a bog standard car by virtue of a very long bar, presumably his knuckles / muscles were both calibrated in this respect, at which point simply asked for a quote... whilst moving slowly backwards. Frightening really when you wonder how many cars he'd been doing this to over the years.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 10:29
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Quite. Wheel nuts should be finally tightened with a torque wrench, NOT an impact driver, NOR a 6' scaffold pole - my car's setting is 130 Nm

A very useful thing to do on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, is - one by one - undo each wheel nut; put a little copper-ease on the threads, then put them back in and torque them to factory spec. When you need to take off a wheel by the side of the road one dark and dirty night, you will thank yourself for taking this simple precaution.

If a garage or tyre shop has removed any of your wheels, check them again when you get home.

As others have said, it is also worth investing in a good wheel-nut wrench - they are available with extending handles to increase leverage, but don't take up too much room in the boot. A handle of about 450mm length is what you need. Also a very good idea to check that other drivers in your family know how to change a wheel, and show them how if not.

Last edited by Uplinker; 2nd Jul 2021 at 10:09. Reason: Wrong torque units quoted.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 10:34
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Ant,

The wheel wrench could easily be re-jigged to a more user friendly 90 degrees. A bench vice, heat the bend with a gas torch to red heat and pull it into shape using a piece of steel tubing.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 11:23
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I've not had a spare wheel for a number of years and I I'm not even sure there is a jack supplied any more.

If you get a puncture these days, you either use a can of sealant or you call out a recovery service.

Granted, if I was living somewhere isolated things might be different, but I've managed to get by for some time now.

Probably jinxed now...
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 12:03
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Originally Posted by Saintsman View Post
I've not had a spare wheel for a number of years and I I'm not even sure there is a jack supplied any more.
I think the reasons for this are mainly to achieve emissions ratings through weight saving (because the car is measured in standard configuration) and also to keep costs down. Having had a couple of incidents over the years where a wheel change was relatively quick and straightforward but having to call out a breakdown service would have ruined my day, I'm always happy to pay extra for a spare wheel.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 12:09
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Originally Posted by Kiltrash View Post
Have always replaced the provided wheel brace with a 4 legged spider brace and that always goes to the next car.
Me too

Originally Posted by Beamr View Post
Just replace the lock bolts with regular wheel bolts. The lock bolts do not prevent anyone determined from stealing the wheels, it takers approx 2 seconds longer to open the lock bolt than a regular bolt.

Me too. An tyre installer advised me to throw away mine - he said he sees constant problems from them.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 12:10
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Originally Posted by pasta View Post
I think the reasons for this are mainly to achieve emissions ratings through weight saving (because the car is measured in standard configuration) and also to keep costs down. Having had a couple of incidents over the years where a wheel change was relatively quick and straightforward but having to call out a breakdown service would have ruined my day, I'm always happy to pay extra for a spare wheel.
i do an average about 55.000km/year (34.300mls/year) and my last flat tire was about 2005 or so. My current car has runflat tires so i feel
save enough. imagine all the extra fuel i had used if a was carrying the spare tire...
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 12:45
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About 15 years ago holidayed in the Canaries and a family member who lived there had a second hand (but nearly new) Land Rover Discovery they lent me.. The first day I took it out I got a puncture. Space for locking wheel nut was empty. Seller had long since departed.

Upshot - was off the road of 6 weeks, towed to local Santana Agent, wheel nuts drilled off and 6 week wait for new ones to be delivered from Mainland Spain and a bill for many hundreds of Euros.

Moral .. always check all the original and proper bits are there when you buy second hand...
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 13:31
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Very rarely get a puncture, perhaps 3 in 50 years of motoring but that does not stop me resetting torque and greasing once a year, just in case...
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 13:34
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Originally Posted by Ancient Mariner View Post
Simple, use the enclosed wrench when you fit the wheels, removing them with the same will be easy. The length of the wrench arm will give the correct torque for the average person. No jumping, extension or hammering required, just normal muscle input.
Per
Easier, and more ergonomic, to use a spider.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 14:44
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Originally Posted by Kiltrash View Post
Very rarely get a puncture, perhaps 3 in 50 years of motoring but that does not stop me resetting torque and greasing once a year, just in case...
Our little car got one a few days ago, a nail in a front tyre. It didnít go down completely but I felt a slight vibration in the steering so jacked each wheel up in turn until I found it. This wasnít repairable because it affected a sidewall. I ordered two new tyres as there was only 3mm of tread left on the fronts and its a fwd car.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 14:51
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I’m no fan of run flat tyres. Most tyre outlets don’t actually stock many tyres these days and they get them in to order; run flats can take longer to order. By the time you drive to the tyre shop the run flat is considered scrap. No one repairs them. It happened to my BMW and the car was off the road for ten working days. I replaced all the tyres with conventional ones after that and invested in a rubber sealant pump. I would really have preferred a full spare but the wheel well contained electrical components which meant there was no room for even a temporary spare.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 15:00
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A very useful thing to do on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, is - one by one - undo each wheel nut; put a little copper-ease on the threads, then put them back in and torque them to factory spec. When you need to take off a wheel by the side of the road one dark and dirty night, you will thank yourself for taking this simple precaution.
Didn't help me in the pouring rain a while back. SWMBO's Sterling got a sudden flat at night on way to local music gig. Got the nuts off fine - but wheel was adhered tight to the hub by virtue of the inner diameter of the wheel bonding to the central spigot on the hub. Fortunately a passer-by who lived a few yards down the road went and fetched me a decent-sized copper hammer and I persuaded the wheel off with that. Moral - don't just grease the nuts, fetch the wheel right off and put a dab of copper-ease on the hub too.
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