How to remove a tyre with a wheel lock nut

Updated February 21, 2017

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 tyre 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 tyre with a wheel lock nut -- one of which will take five minutes per tyre, the other, 20 minutes.

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

Place the tyre iron on the non-locking nuts and turn counter-clockwise to remove the remaining lock nuts. Take the tyre 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 1.3 cm (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 minimises rebound from the impacted surface. Then place the 1.3 cm (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 -- 30 cm (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 tyre iron. Pull the wheel off the car with both hands.


As of 2010, the cost of replacing a socket was £3 to £9. The cost of a regular lug nut was less than £3, and a new locking lug nut cost £19 as part of a kit.

Things You'll Need

  • Jack
  • 2 Jack stands
  • Tyre iron
  • Wheel key
  • Dead-blow hammer
  • 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) socket set
  • 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) breaker bar
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About the Author

Russell Wood is a writer and photographer who attended Arizona State University. He has been building custom cars and trucks since 1994, including several cover vehicles. In 2000 Wood started a career as a writer, and since then he has dedicated his business to writing and photographing cars and trucks, as well as helping people learn more about how vehicles work.